Man's Gin
Smiling Dogs


4.3
superb

Review

by Greg Fisher STAFF
January 23rd, 2011 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Combining elements of blues, country, folk and gothic rock, "Smiling Dogs" superbly showcases what can be described as post-apocalyptic Americana.

Colorado native Erik Wunder may not be considered one of the most siginificant musicians in the underground metal scene, yet he's definitely on his way to be one very soon. Being responsible for the whole instrumental part of Cobalt's cherished black metal debut entitled "Gin," Wunder is a multi-instrumentalist whose interests surpass the metal realm. In fact, his new project Man's Gin is not a metal act at all being likely to attract completely different group of listeners that would have never thought of acquiring Cobalt's album. "Smiling Dogs" can be described as a booze-laden, dark spin on American roots music. The sole connection between this album and Cobalt's "Gin" lies in its themes. Both discs deal with the overall decay of civilization, each taking a completely different perspective on it. While "Gin" shows the whole destructive process, "Smiling Dogs" has some evident post-apocalyptic undertones in its lyrical content.

Combining elements of blues, country, folk and gothic rock, the album indeed showcases what can be described as post-apocalyptic Americana. This is the record that's capable of evoking depressing, yet surprisingly inspirational images ingrained in the prose of Ernest Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson. These writers are deservedly cited as a major inspiration by Wunder whose lyrics rely on apt, yet bitter observations of American lifestyle. This is accompanied by raw, stripped-down music projected by acoustic guitar, piano, upright bass and thumping drums. Being heavily influenced by the moodier side of Southern rock, the music has its own very drone-like style that has its unparalleled charm and beauty.

Even if Wunder often gets his message across at the expense of vocal style and diversity, his strong baritone voice complements this kind of heavy-on-atmosphere music perfectly. His emotive, often grumpy vocal delivery instantly recalls the likes of Eddie Vedder and Layne Staley. In general, Alice In Chains in their acoustic mode might be the main point of reference in enthralling, yet magnificently eerie "The Death Of Jimmy Surgis" which climaxes in a chilling guitar solo. The other standout song is surprisingly upbeat "Free" drenched in the lively acoustic passages of traditional delta blues and occassional fuzzy electric guitar. On the other hand, "Stone On My Head" has a classic rock'n'roll vibe made creepy by doubled vocal lines, whereas "Hate.Money.Love.Woman" combines folk with country in a catchy manner.

Despite rather obvious influences, "Smiling Dogs" is sufficiently diverse and has its own unique power of raw, unrefined beauty that drives every single song on it. The album also feels totally genuine and passionate throughout, which stands as a remarkable achievement for Wunder and his crew. Profound and ambitious music of this caliber is not composed very often these days.



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user ratings (17)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
greg84
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2011


7423 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

http://www.myspace.com/mansgin

Highly recommended!

Digging: Dope Body - Lifer

pizzamachine
January 23rd 2011


12571 Comments


Very nice, professional review. Good work Greg!

BallsToTheWall
January 23rd 2011


44714 Comments


great work

Digging: Reverend Bizarre - Return to the Rectory

Eskate87
January 23rd 2011


959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

great review. ive been meaing to listen to this for a while now since i love Cobalt so much. ill get on this asap.

Bleekill
January 23rd 2011


832 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Awesome I've been wanting to review this so bad but just been busy. Nice review. It was my AOTY

Jethro42
January 23rd 2011


12494 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cool, another Greg' review! This sounds pretty interesting. Not surprising since your taste in music is almost as good as mine.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2011


7423 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Thanks for the support guys.

More people should check this out (which is always the case as regards the albums I review sigh).

@Bleekill: It's a great choice for AOTY. I clearly like some songs more than the others on here, but as I stated the music always feels genuine. So yeah, this would definitely end up on my top 2010 list if I listened to it earlier.

@Jethro: Thanks. You're right my taste is almost as good as yours bro. How modest of me. Haha.

Wizard
January 24th 2011


19556 Comments


Great review, couldn't get into this to save me. Maybe it's because I don't understand America.

Digging: Nero Di Marte - Derivae

shindip
January 24th 2011


3536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great album and review!

greg84
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2011


7423 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Thanks a bunch. I know it's not for everybody and fans of Cobalt's Gin may not like it because the
music is totally different. Here's the band performing Nuclear Ambition:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMWEyGCqYlo

Bleekill
January 24th 2011


832 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cobalt is one of my favorite, if not favorite black metal band so I was on this album right when it came out. It's got heavy play, definitely my most played from last year. Every song just clicked with me right away, I'm suprised I haven't worn it out yet. That's how I am with Cobalt too, these guys just know how to fucking make music.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
January 25th 2011


7423 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Agreed. I'm not really a black metal fan, but this Cobalt debut got me interested as well. I look
forward to what Wunder's gonna do next.

Jethro42
January 29th 2011


12494 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Woah I want this!!!

Jethro42
January 29th 2011


12494 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I got this. Fan-fucking-tastic!!!

greg84
Staff Reviewer
January 30th 2011


7423 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Yea. I knew you'd like it. It is growing on me with every listen. Doggamn it! It's fucking ace!

Powerban
August 9th 2011


2380 Comments


surprised this album doesn't have a bigger cult following on here tbh

greg84
Staff Reviewer
August 9th 2011


7423 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Surprised that you're surprised. Sputnik users check out only the albums that are hyped. And this didn't even get reviewed by Pitchfork (though it seems to be their cup of tea).

Wizard
August 9th 2011


19556 Comments


This wasn't very entertaining so why should it be hyped?

greg84
Staff Reviewer
August 9th 2011


7423 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

So that more people would check it out? I don't know what you mean by 'entertaining'

Jethro42
August 9th 2011


12494 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

rules



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