Blank Dogs, Woods, Naked on the Vague | Cobra Lounge | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Blank Dogs, Woods, Naked on the Vague Recommended Free Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Tue., March 17, 10 p.m. 2009

Now that Mike Sniper (he of the DC Snipers) has discarded his cloak of anonymity and gone public about his involvement with Blank Dogs, I’m not sure why anybody’s still arguing about the band’s “real” identity. Either it’s just him or it’s a collective he has a big part in, and what’s the difference? Nobody ever doubted actual humans were involved—Blank Dogs’ chilly gray garage pop didn’t grow from spores incubating in the darkness of an unexplored cave, even if it sometimes sounds like it. This Brooklyn outfit recorded something like six dozen songs in 2008, and I’d be lying out my butt if I said I’ve heard (or even found) half of them, but the ones I have listened to are so consistent that I’m sure all the others are good too. Sniper takes his hollowed-out lo-fi aesthetic to such a desperate-sounding extreme it’s as if he’s made a blood pact with his four-track, promising to stay faithful to it forever. Spiky guitar flotsam and catastrophically processed vocal melodies ride a fizzy wave of arpeggiated synth in a mix that’s so trashy and destroyed it sounds like it was recorded from across the street with the parabolic mike I built in high school physics (I got a C). Everything’s wildly flanged and unstable, but the craziness feels innocent, even naive, not like an attempt at menace—if these songs were a woman, they’d be adorable but doomed, the kind you’d fall for against your better judgment and then have to rescue from suicide attempts again and again. Fair warning: Sniper’s only been playing out since September, and he’s got a ways to go. You should check out a few tracks online before the show—if you don’t know what the music is supposed to sound like, you might not understand why the crowd is so into it. Woods and Naked on the Vague open. —Liz Armstrong

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