Street Dogs: Fading American Dream

Elizabeth Newton

Street Dogs release their third album, Fading American Dream, with the goal of making people think about current events, and what the album lacks in originality it makes up for in spirit.

Street Dogs

Fading American Dream

Label: Brass Tacks Records
US Release Date: 2006-10-24
UK Release Date: 2006-10-23

Punk, as a genre, is often criticized by "true" music fans, and with good reason. The purpose of punk is not to innovate, enlighten, or stretch creative boundaries. Generally, punk aims to spark action and promote unity through aggressive lyrics and a powerful -- but usually not very unique -- sound. Punk is criticized because many bands of the current generation are horribly predictable: four or five young tattooed guys, Bush-bashing lyrics, heavy drumming, and some power chords. But a band like Street Dogs arrives with great spirit and vigor, and with their third album, Fading American Dream, establishes themselves as a group avoiding niches and denying stereotypes.

Fading American Dream clearly addresses current social issues, including the struggle of the common man, the strength of unions and workers, and the corruption of government -- nothing new to alternative rock. But vocalist Mike McColgan writes from real personal experience. He is a Gulf War veteran who served on an artillery crew in Iraq during Desert Storm, and the messages in Street Dogs' lyrics reflect the goals of the group to incite thought and interest in current events, rather than ignorantly bash the government. The anthematic "Common People" opens the album with great strength, featuring a particularly rousing chorus of "This is a battle cry for the common people / The forgotten nowhere kids stuck / We're singing this song for all of the common people / Who've given up so much and got back so little". The second half of the song builds and ultimately serves its purpose to introduce Street Dogs as a group of guys that has a message they intend wholeheartedly on communicating. The next two songs, "Not Without a Purpose" and "Fatty", carry on the themes of rooting for the underdog and standing up for what's right, all over traditional punk form.

With the repeated line "First amendment, she's coming down", Street Dogs trick the listener into thinking they are just another punk band: afterall, every good punk album needs an aggressive fuck-the-police track, and "Decency Police" fulfills this requirement. But the end, highlighted by spirited woah's and heavy bass drum, is full of energy and packs a surprisingly effective punch. Street Dogs credit cultural heroes Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and Bob Marley as influences. This political (but not necessarily punk) influence is displayed in the group's decision to cover Billy Bragg's "There Is Power in a Union". However, the cover reflects Bragg's vision, but offers up nothing new.

The obvious standout track is the lovely "Final Transmission". Amid a set of songs all of a similar quick tempo and heavy feel, this track sits as a sparse, gentle reminder of the human qualities the group strives to emphasize in their music. McColgan sings of a soldier -- "He's never gonna get a chance to chase all those hopes / Lost them all amidst the war and smoke / Can you hear the sound of youth negated? / Why are all those young lives taken?" -- not in a bitter or hateful tone, but instead in an earnest, honest plea for reform and change. Street Dogs bring nothing new to the table; there is nothing particularly fresh or creative about the construction of the songs, nor anything exceptionally captivating about the technique of the musicians. That said: however predictable the form or lyrics may be, the album is a solid set of rock that aims above mere punk shock value and canned negativity towards the government. The feelings here are real and the music is genuine, and the album proves, despite its seemingly despairing title, to be a message of hope; it is a reminder that we can make a difference.


The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.