Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Morning Show host John Richards, is “Tin Birds” by Blank Dogs from the 2009 album Under and Under on In The Red.
Over the last several years Mike Sniper -- aka Blank Dogs -- has turned the head of many a music nerd with his one two punch of lo-fi pop dreamscapery and DIY ethics. Having self-released (Captured Tracks Records) enough 7″ singles and colored vinyl LP’s to make Rob Gordon sweat, Sniper has always catered to the collector with limited runs and donation-based downloads.
Blank Dogs brilliance is immediately apparent in the EPIC, repeat EPIC, track “Tin Birds” from his most recent release, Under and Under, on In The Red Records (20-song double-wax for aforementioned collector-nerds). Sort of an undercooked My Bloody Valentine meets Barlow-era Dinosaur Jr. plated beside the hooky meat and potatoes of The Cure, Blank Dogs overflows with fuzzy guitar driven melodies, muted synthesizers and often indecipherably distorted vocals. I seriously cannot for the life of me tell what the hell Sniper is singing here but it really doesn’t matter. The song is so catchy it transcends the language barrier (or speech barrier?) with what I like to refer to as the Mogwai-effect. The Mogwai effect is essentially my way of compensating for lyrics sung in tongues other than my own. If the music is challenging enough to grab hold (I first did this as a reaction to tracks from Scottish band Mogwai’s Rock Action) I will seriously make up my own lyrics and just sing it wrong for the rest of my life. I shit you not, I have been singing “Dial: Revenge” in English for years. It’s about a pissed Scott telling his best mate to shut up or he’s going to get poisoned. It’s also about the superiority of football... The point (there is a point here) is Mike Sniper’s driving pop soundscapes take center stage -- scattering traditional vocal dominance in favor of big picture sound and vision. I’ve been singing “Tin Birds” all night -- I’m pretty sure it’s about rusted virgins.
Not surprisingly, there’s not much to find on Blank Dogs’ MySpace page except info about a few upcoming shows and more songs to preview. New York listeners, though, can see Blank Dogs this Friday when he performs at the two-day Woodsist/Captured Tracks Fest with Crystal Stilts, Vivian Girls, caUSE co-MOTION!, and many others (lineup here) at the Backyard in Brooklyn. The rest of us will have to make due with this video for another song on the new album, “Setting Fire to Your House”: