Preface: Kicking Every Day came out at the end of August and pretty much flew under our radar. Here’s the (late) review.
All Dogs are an Ohio band just coming out with their debut. Kicking Every Day is a peppy layer of grungy punk with a softer layer underneath once you peel away the dirt and distortion. They belong to the same lo-fi indie that Waxahatchee (especially on her latest album), Hop Along and Swearin’ take part in. All Dogs effortlessly craft the 90s-nostalgic rock that plays out without much surprises, but instead prides itself with songwriting to dig your teeth into. ‘That Kind of Girl’ is your next favourite rock song, ‘Skin’ is the kind of emotional heartbreaker which lets All Dogs build up and break down a song with ease. They even bring out the acoustic guitar for the intimate closer ‘Garden’, which is when Maryn Jones’ brutally honest lyrics become pretty and simple. However, there’s much too repetition and filler on Kicking Every Day for it to pleasantly surprise in any way.
‘Leading Me Back To You’ is where All Dogs slip up slightly. Apart from the twinkling guitar that runs through the track, the track is fairly simplistic and not in the blunt way All Dogs are trying to portray. Jones’ voice will be familiar to anyone who likes Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield’s voice because it’s much like hers, only Jones tends to push her voice harder on songs like ‘That Kind of Girl’ or the chorus of ‘Leading Me Back To You’. Occasionally it veers dangerously close to where Jones can’t sing if she pushes especially hard, but it never becomes painful to listen to. On the other end, sometimes the instrumentation of Kicking Every Day is uninspired and a simple power chord thrash. It can’t qualify as punk because it’s too sweet and and it can’t become just indie-pop because songs like ‘Ophelia’ or ‘Flowers’ hit too hard. Sure, a bit of genre-straddling is fine – but the instrumentation is way too bland on both sides to work.
However, for the most part, All Dogs deliver exactly what they should – honey-sweet vocals, catchy instrumentation and lyrics that are simple and honest. ‘That Kind Of Girl’, as mentioned before, is their catchiest song yet with a deceptively optimistic instrumentation hiding painful lyrics about ‘dragging you under’ and ‘I know that I am always fucking up your world’. A lot of the lyrics make Jones seem like she’s blaming herself for her problems, where she sings ‘I will cry, I will lie’ on ‘Skin’, but finally on ‘The Garden’ where she finally finds her peace when she sings ‘And I’d really like that’ and makes demands that sound more like questions with ‘Take hold of me’, like she’s finally in control, not someone else. It’s on ‘The Garden’ when it appears Jones is the one making the decisions now.
All Dogs’ Kicking Every Day accomplishes what it sets out to achieve – even if it comes at the cost of the bloodletting of Maryn Jones. Her lyrics are often scary and thought-provoking and it almost seems as though there is no hope, until the sweet acoustic of ‘The Garden’ comes along. The rest of the band are always there with an indie-rock gem now and then, and come tantalisingly close to providing a quality instrumental outro in ‘Leading Me Back To You’ and ‘Skin’. Kicking Every Day is the stepping stone of a fledging band finding out their strengths and weaknesses. It suggests there’s much more to come, especially in the lyrics of Maryn Jones and the more experimental instrumentals.
Funnel Recommends: That Kind of Girl / Skin / The Garden