Review: Cool Dog - "demo"

Cool Dog - Demo
(Self-Released 2014)

For a lo-fi enthusiast like myself, when it comes to a hardcore demo, the more garbled, fast-paced and unintelligible it is the better. No band I've reviewed on this blog has fit that bill more adeptly than Minneapolis powerviolence duo Cool Dog. Everything about their debut has this improvised, cobbled-together vibe that I can't get enough of. For one, the band's name, Cool Dog, has this minimalist, nearly-nonsensical ring to it, reminding me of brutalist architecture. If the name Cool Dog were a building, it would be a square heap of grey concrete with vaguely rectangular holes cut in it for windows and doors. It may not be polished, but you have to appreciate its creator's boldness. The same goes for the cover art too, refusing to state the band name or an album title. The cartoonish roadkill, stamped onto a blank piece of paper, fulfills its purpose: to provide a picture to look for when scrolling through albums on your iPhone, but scrapes off any excess pretension.

Equally minimal and brutalistic is the demo itself. There are only two instruments in the band, drums and a baritone guitar, which allows for a deeper, grittier distortion than a normal guitar would allow. There isn't even any bass guitar. Cool Dog subsists on the bare essentials. Recorded to tape, I assume, the two instruments together form a full-on noise wall. Blasts of feedback and gnarled power chords become a near-drone, only to be pushed along by the drums, which can become a bit buried beneath the static. The vocals are unintelligible yelps that crest above the noise. In short, Cool Dog's demo is an intense effort that, if nothing else, makes me want to hear these guys live, or at least a studio recording.