Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Album of the Year: 2010 - #4

Man's Gin - Smiling Dogs

Remember Gin, Cobalt's 2009 effort? (You should, as it was a great album and found its way into my top ten for the year.) Assuming that you are on the right track so far and hungry for more material from Erik Wunder, you're in luck here. Man's Gin takes the lighter part of Cobalt's sound and builds on that with additional American folk elements. While the album is primarily acoustic rock and has its fair share of up-tempo and hopeful tracks, do not mistake this as a complete abandonment of what we heard on Gin. Despite the departure from the realm of metal, Man's Gin still manage to weave a convincingly dreary tapestry for the more lyrically gloomy and pessimistic tracks on this release. Wunder's vocals are surprisingly strong on either side of this coin and show a pretty strong grunge influence - actually, for whatever reason, I get the impression that Wunder is a Meat Puppets fan by listening to his performance on this album. But maybe that's just me.

Whether the Curt Kirkwood comparison is warranted or not, it's certain that Wunder has established himself as a very capable vocalist who has a definite flair to carry this kind of material. Seriously, take a listen to "Nuclear Ambition" and tell me which vocalists could pull that one off as well as he does - go ahead, I'll wait... Just as I commented on Gin last year, this is another piece of work that sounds utterly organic and natural and the vocals play a huge role in bringing it all together. Even at its darkest and most angry, the music is undeniably catchy - and not the "sick to your stomach from and overdose of processed sugar" kind of catchy, but the real honest-to-goodness kind that you'll be happy to have stuck in your head for days. Recommended for fans of Alice in Chains, Meat Puppets, Nick Cave, Dax Riggs, Tom Waits (namedrop much?)... hell, I'll recommend this to anyone. With two top ten albums in two years, I am extremely excited to see what path Wunder will follow with his musical future - if the past is any predictor of the future, it is sure to be quality.

Best Tracks: Nuclear Ambition Parts 1&2, Doggamn
Rating: 10/10

No comments:

Post a Comment