The Golden Dogs: Big Eye Little Eye

THE GOLDEN DOGS [Photo: Joe Fuda]

If you're a fan of raucous, raunchy indie rock records, then Big Eye Little Eye might just be the album for you.

The Golden Dogs

Big Eye Little Eye

Label: Yep Roc
US Release Date: 2007-08-28
UK Release Date: 2007-08-27

There are bands who sound best on record and bands who sound best live. Listening to the Golden Dogs' sophomore effort, Big Eye Little Eye,, you can't help but think the Toronto quintet is one of the ones who sound best live. Now, that's not meant as a slight against the record. In fact, if anything, it's meant as a compliment to the band as a whole. They've made their name in their home and native land thanks to the sweat-fueled pop music rampages they call live shows -- and even with the release of this very same record north of the border last year, it seems that it's still those live shows that everyone wants to talk about when they talk about the Golden Dogs.

Now, we all know that plenty of bands have tried to capture that kind of live energy on record before -- and failed miserably. Playing a show and recording an album are practically two entirely different art forms, arguably as different as, say, theatre and film. Just because you know how to put on a great show is no guarantee that you'll be able to translate those same songs onto disc -- and it makes for the greatest challenge Big Eye Little Eye faces. So it's not surprising that the album's best tracks are the ones that most successfully accomplish that feat. Lucky for us, for most of the record's forty-minute running time, the songs come fast and furious.

One song after the other has a tight but gritty feel that has the Golden Dogs sounding as if they could have been recorded right off the stage of one of the dimly lit Toronto bars where they have cut their teeth. The fourth track, "Saints at the Gates", leads the charge. It's a dark, raunchy take on the ubiquitous spiritual "When the Saints Go Marching In", reworked to make it an original tune about the joys of, you guessed it, playing live. The heavy stomp of Taylor Knox's drums mix with salon-style piano and distorted guitars. Horns wail in the distance. A crunchy bass drives things forward and Dave Azzolini's vocal leads a full-out sing-a-long chorus for the catchy refrain. Without ever even having seen the band live, you can tell that it's the kind of song that would tear the roof off any downtown bar in any city on the continent. A few songs later, they're back at it with a rollicking cover of the Wings b-side "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five".

Because of how well those, their rawest tracks, go, the songs on Big Eye Little Eye that try for a more polished sound are mildly disappointing. On tunes like "Run Outta Luck", the Dogs trade in the guttural thump of Knox's drums for a more electronic sounding beat. The results aren't bad by any means, but they aren’t nearly as fresh as the rest of the record -- a few steps closer to the derivatively bland dance-rock fare you can hear coming from a hundred different bands these days.

It all combines to create the impression of a band which still has some room to grow on record, but must undoubtedly already has an incredible live show. Even if you haven't seen them in person before -- and I have to admit that I haven’t either, though I'll now be sure to the next chance I get -- you can tell just listening to songs like "Saints At the Gates" or "Construction Worker" that the Golden Dogs are sure to be a sight worth seeing. If you're a fan of raucous, raunchy indie rock records, then Big Eye Little Eye is the album for you. If not, keep your eye on your local club listings; if this album is any indication, their live show is something that no one would want to miss.


This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

Acid house legends 808 State bring a psychedelic vibe to Berlin producer NHOAH's stunning track "Abstellgleis".

Berlin producer NHOAH's "Abstellgleis" is a lean and slinky song from his album West-Berlin in which he reduced his working instruments down to a modular synthesizer system with a few controllers and a computer. "Abstellgleis" works primarily with circular patterns that establish a trancey mood and gently grow and expand as the piece proceeds. It creates a great deal of movement and energy.

Keep reading... Show less

Beechwood offers up a breezy slice of sweet pop in "Heroin Honey" from the upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod.

At just under two minutes, Beechwood's "Heroin Honey" is a breezy slice of sweet pop that recalls the best moments of the Zombies and Beach Boys, adding elements of garage and light tinges of the psychedelic. The song is one of 10 (11 if you count a bonus CD cut) tracks on the group's upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod out 26 January via Alive Natural Sound Records.

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

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