Friday, March 4, 2011

Scratches EP - Dog Day

Scratches EP

Dog Day
Noyes Records.

SCQ Rating: 75%

When Dog Day trekked through Eastern and Central Canada last summer, it was their first tour as a duo. After a ferocious set in Ottawa that August, Seth Smith admitted he and Nancy Urich had but a month to rebuild their live-presence, meaning that keyboards were suddenly a tossed-out luxury and Urich (who normally owns bass duties) needed to learn the drums pronto. The haphazard sense of urgency that brought their tour to fruition was radiantly displayed in their live-show dynamic, as Smith and Urich fed off each other with an insatiable punk-rock thirst.

With that memory in mind, Scratches EP sounds like a logical smattering of Dog Day’s gloominess, but pared down to its upbeat and sinister core. The gritty guitar of ‘Scratches’ immediately stands out as something dangerously sovereign from the warped carnival keys that gave Concentration its spooky veneer; at once bare but encouraged, its revved up chords next to Urich’s drum-kit spark some wonderful racket. Following in this vein, ‘Belle’ tears through anxious verses wound so tight, only the odd guitar spasm or repeated chorus hook can peer above the rush.

The blunt speed of Scratches‘ arrangements mirrors Dog Day’s live presence, be it in their quartet-days or their recent duo shows, and captures that raw energy at its most combustible. That said, it’s worth mentioning that none of these songs come very close to breaking the three-minute mark. Even ‘Give Me Light’, which slows things down to highlight Smith’s glum quiver, sticks by its steady chug as opposed to branching off into new ideas. How these songs are meant to compliment or contrast Dog Day’s upcoming full-length, no one yet knows, but let’s hope Scratches EP’s home-recorded merits don’t completely eclipse the murky, hard-fought path they’d haunted over previous albums.

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