How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
The Love Dogs are eight fun-loving musicians from Boston who use Louis Jordanesque jump blues as a launching pad to other realms, including R&B, rock 'n roll and jazz. The Dogs' sound is fueled by a talented four-piece sax section augmented by vocals, piano, bass, drums and guitar.
New Tricks is the band's third and most wide-ranging release. Besides jump blues, the Dogs dabble in New Orleans funk ("Northband Train"), wacked-out zydeco ("Watch That Dog"), '50s R&B (Ray Charles' "You Be My Baby"), jazz ("Someone to Blame"), and gospel ("Hand It Over"). The album's high point is a deep-soul ballad entitled "You'll Never Know," which features a surprisingly emotional vocal performance by bandleader Ed Duato Scheer and some gorgeous blowing by the horn section. "You'll Never Know" is one of the most straightforward tunes this band has recorded, and one of its best.
On a few tracks, the lead vocals seem a bit forced or the humor too cartoonish, but The Love Dogs still have more bite than most nouveau swing outfits. The party vibe recalls Louis Prima's band with Keely Smith and Sam Butera, but with modern flourishes and funkier sensibilities. No matter the style, these musical canines show considerable chops.
The Dogs reportedly thrive in a club setting, so they might be wise to someday cut a live album. Until then, New Tricks stands as an enjoyable release from one of the better jump outfits around.
Track Listing: Don't Bug Me; Northbound Train; The Day Before I Met You; Long, Long Day; You'll Never Know; Why Did You Lie?; Nobody's Dog Part III; Watch That Dog; Well Oh Well; Hand It Over; You Be My Baby; Someone to Blame; Richest Guy in the Graveyard; Flexible Flyer/She Puts Up With Me
Personnel: Ed Duato Scheer (vocals); Alizon Lissance (piano, vocals); Myanna (alto, tenor sax); Glenn Shambroom (saxes, guitar); Jesse Williams (bass, vocals); Steve Brown (drums, vocals); Mario Perrett (tenor sax); Bruce McGrath (saxes, clarinet); Tim Gearan (guitar); Chris Rival (slide guitar, 1 track)