I don't know what to call the development of a band like American Dog. For most bands, you would say that they have matured as a band. But I think if bassist/vocalist Michael Hannon or guitarist Steve Theado heard me say they had matured, they would knock me to the ground, give me a wedgey and piss in my face to prove that nothing had changed in the always crazy world of Canine Country! Clearly, a band like American Dog does not "mature", Just their playing does.
Reviewing POISON SMILE is pretty easy to do in all honesty. If you have liked them in the past, you will love this. If you hated them before, well...wait until tomorrow and a new review will be posted. As a fan, I'm always excited to receive a new American Dog release because they always deliver for me. Their own special brand of made in America, barroom rock n' roll is some of the best in a genre that is very crowded with great bands.
Listening to POISON SMILE, the one thing that jumps out at me is the new tone of guitarist Steve Theado. Arguably the most underrated guitarist in all of rock music, his playing on POISON SMILE is a bit less boisterous and a bit more clean than ever before. Where on albums like HARD and SCARS N BARS Theado was a loud, obnoxious shredder, here on POISON SMILE he's almost more...dare I say it...professional sounding. Songs like "Old Dog New Tricks" showcase a much more focused and superiorly recorded guitar sound from Theado than on any other album in the band's career. That's not to say it's stale or processed in the least. It's not. There's still moments where you get that blast of midnight at the bar, raw riffs ("The Real Nitty Gritty"), but overall this is like a graduated Theado on guitar.
Someone who's clearly graduating or any more grown up is bassist/vocalist Michael Hannon. Hannon once again brings his couth-lacking vocals to song after song. Hannon loves to party, and he loves to sing about it even more. There are always times with Hannon where he strays into some obscene territories, but more times than not his tales of debauchery are lyrically genius in their absurdity. Take a song like "Bathroom Romance". While the song definitely definitely details some of the less than finer moments of being a musician that makes his living one bar at a time, the lyrics are both fun and enticing. The in-timing toilet flush at the end of the song - a very nice touch that was good for a giggle. Hannon and new drummer Michael Harris also lay down a much thicker, steady foundation than on the last album MEAN. "Splinterin' Sally", and virtually every other track, are stabilized by a thick bottom end that will have you rockin' out with each and every listen.
PITRIFF RATING - 94/100 - There's never a really unwelcome time for an American Dog record. They are definitely the leader of the pack for me over other bands like Rhino Bucket or Broken Teeth that make similar music, as their albums are always just that much more fun and ballsy. The "don't give a shit" attitude that always dominates an American Dog album is still very present here, but the songs are a touch better than the last album provided. Highly recommended.