Track Dogs play jukebox hits for the apocalypse.
“There’s some weird road ahead… into the night…” Seven albums in, this versatile Madrid-based band, seasoned on stages across the world, aims to bottle the heady brew of their live show into a single intoxicating blend. Track Dog’s third album in eighteen months, ‘Blind Summits & Hidden Dips’, acts as a showcase of their many capabilities; featuring (take a deep breath) folk, rock, blues, ska, flamenco, jump jive, rumba rhythms, sea shanties, later-era Dylan apocalyptic rockabilly, country stomps, and, an exquisite, Fleetwood Mac cover. It’s a rattlebag of styles. Every button on the jukebox is pressed. We genre-hop from the Chiringuitos of Madrid to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Opening with the dynamic Cajon-driven ‘The Way of Things’, the vibrant Latin trumpet, bringing glee to its doom-inflicted lyric: “There are worse things in the world/ you just ain’t seen it yet.”
The album is woven together by gallows humour in the face of end-of-days despair. Have you heard the one about Two Irishmen, an American, and a Brit walk into the last juke joint at the world’s end, determined to play until the lights go out? Track Dogs want you to know the hour may be late, but there’s still time to dance. Indeed, they insist on it. ‘Blind Summits & Hidden Dips’ is an active experience; it moves and grooves and practically begs you to dance around the kitchen or wherever you may be.
‘Strange Days’ is pure flamenco-infused turbo-charged skeleton band, made rich by the prominent trumpet that emphasises the Latin roots at the heart of the band. It’s a winning formula that plays like an Iberian Los Lobos. ‘Play Nice’, a song of down-home reasoning that reminds us what our mama said… “Do right and you’ll never be alone”, is Kiko-era Lobos, cut across with ska rhythms. Elsewhere, ‘Water Your Lawn’ is a Bill Monroe-esque speed bluegrass, addressing the frenzied need at the heart of human longing, yet suggesting a simpler remedy: ‘Just stay home and water the lawn.‘ It’s a bltiz. Such bouts of good time madness are mixed with the occasional tonic steadier. ‘Peace Inside’, strums along gently and draws on the group’s knack for Crosby, Stills, and Nash-esque harmonies, and asks you to “change your mind/ to look within.” While the Fleetwood Mac cover ‘Rhiannon‘, a duet with Lu Garnet, is beautifully mysterious. A rolling river with a dark undercurrent that pulls out all the witchery of the Stevie Nicks’ original.
The album’s production is bright and airy, and might lack a bit of grit for some, but the sheer rhythm and infectious joy ensures there’s enough flavour in the bottle throughout. ‘Blind Summits & Hidden Dips‘ is a good time record. Swinging and raging against the dying of the light. If you were looking to mark your card for the end of the world party; head to wherever Track Dogs are playing; for they surely will be playing. Squeeze in at the bar, drink up and thirst no more.