THE GOLDEN DOGS
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THE GOLDEN DOGS

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I Wouldn't have thought a Saturday night at the El Mo would be the way to get me into the holiday spirit. But nicely decked out with a Christmas tree and festive decorations, the normally sparse interior of this famed club now has unexpected warmth. Guests of honour the Golden Dogs have been creating a healthy buzz in T.O. for a while, so it was no surprise that by time they took the stage just after midnight the place was near capacity and primed for the Dogs' quirky pop.

To say they've grasped the concept of image is an understatement. Spotlights, dry ice, a huge white inflatable balloon and a truly hilarious shadow puppet show along with crazy dancing signalled the crowd that it was time to make their way to the stage.

Impeccably dressed and with a confident swagger, the Golden Dogs started at 10 on the energy meter and kept it stuck there for most of the night. Believing in themselves is clearly a problem these five do not have. Their promo poster declares them "the most vibrating, gyrating, intoxicating, invigorating..." and, well, at least five other things that the Golden Dogs definitely are.

Lead vocalist and guitarist Dave Azzolini belts out the vocals with an alarmingly guttural force that leaves you half expecting blood to spray out of his mouth. When he's not at the mike, his feverish calisthenics could make even Richard Simmons blush. He's the embodiment of rawk star, and looks almost out of place alongside his bookish cohorts, who bop to the beat while dishing out Swiss-precision riffs.

Comparisons to Wilco, XTC and the Pixies suit them just fine, yet, fortunately, they've found a fresh, original sound of their own. Besides, Jeff Tweedy is too busy trying to break your heart to come up with a stage persona like Azzolini, who's closer in spirit onstage to Little Richard than either Andy Partridge or Black Francis.
- NOW Magazine


Jumping from rock to punk to pop, The Golden Dogs' debut will have you cranking up the volume in no time. Opening track 'Birdsong' introduces the obvious energy and fierce electric guitar these Canadians employ on their songs, along with spurts of Arcade Fiery harmonies. The band likes its rock messy and loud, and has plenty of character and musical imagination too. 'Parts' might take a few listens to reveal itself, but when it does, you'll understand why these Dogs are golden. - PASTE Magazine - USA


THE GOLDEN DOGS Big Eye Little Eye (True North/Universal)
Every major Canadian act seems to have a slightly narrow niche these days. Broken Social Scene are the passionate indie rockers, The New Pornographers are peppy yet oddly winsome, and Arcade Fire are doing the lush, emotive orchestral pop thing. That's why it's nice to have The Golden Dogs, who are really just fucking fun. Their sophomore record features 12 tracks that are positively bursting at the seams with energy, feeling and catchy melodies. Frontman Dave Azzolini and wife/keyboardist Jessica Grassia's infectious enthusiasm is so positively phenomenal, you can't help but smile every time their songs explode through your stereo. With all of the country's indie heavyweights taking the year off, Big Eye Little Eye is poised to stand up as the best Canadian record of 2006. Noah Love - chartattack.com


High strung, the Golden Dogs offer a collection of pop tunes deeply rooted in later Beatles, with shades of new wave and nods to the Pixies. Big Eye Little Eye jumps around from bouncy beginnings to acoustic ballads, with tinkly percussion and harder electric Brit Invasion rockers. Harmonies range from soaring and sweet to frenetic and maniacal. Keys and eclectic percussion provide the solid base while Dave Azzolini works nicely thought-out vocal dynamics. At times the layering of too many instruments combined with quirky harmonies offered at a frenzied pace can get grating, but the instrumentation and musicianship are generally quite fine. I particularly like Saints At The Gates, which has an AC/DC-meets-Pink Floyd thing going on. These guys are being touted as the next great Canuck hype, poised to rise to Arcade Fire heights. We'll see.

Elizabeth Bromstein
NOW | AUGUST 10 - 16, 2006 | VOL. 25 NO. 50




- Now Magazine, Toronto


" Deservedly well known for their celebratory live shows, Toronto's The Golden Dogs somehow manage to capture the energy of those sweat-soaked performances on their second full-length effort, Big Eye Little Eye. Much like it's predecessor, 2004's Everything in 3 Parts, it's an infectiously eclectic pop gem bursting at the seams with catchy tunes to spare. Expect to experience frustration by attempting to sit still during the bouncy electro pop of "Never Meant Any Harm", the Sloan-esque cover of Wings' "1985" or the high-energy stomp of an album opener "Dynamo". Elsewhere, the band's lively pop favourably recalls the New Pornographers, particularly on "Runouttaluck" and the horn-inflected album highlight, "Force of Nature", both of which showcase the band's inherent songwriting smarts and soaring boy/girl harmonies to generally thrilling effect." Neil McDonald - EXCLAIM! Magazine (National Publication)


The Golden Dogs don't simply beat the sophomore jinx on album number two - they leave it a bloodied heap in the corner of the ring after delivering 12 solid rounds of unyielding pop-injected rock. The Dogs come out swinging like an obsessed superhero on Dynamo, and they don't slow down as they soar through tunes that drill themselves into your consciousness. It's the combination of catchy melodies, grinding guitars and edgy vocal harmonies that make songs like Run Outta Luck and Strong such standouts. It's obvious that the Dogs had more time to work on this album, as little touches like the Casio on Never Meant Any Harm and the horns on the marching tune Saints at the Gates add to the fun. And Jessica Grassia's lead vocals on Construction Worker clearly indicate she's ready to take the singing helm from Dave Azzollini a little more on album number three. But that's getting ahead of ourselves.
Joe Reily
Ottawa Xpress - Ottawa Xpress


Sometimes a band just gets to you in a way you can't explain. It's been four days and I'm still singing those songs. I'm smitten. So allow me to throw all journalistic guidelines to the wind and pen the blissful memory of The Golden Dogs, with foolish abandon.
The show was being held at Maverick's, a much-loved watering hole in Ottawa's buzzing downtown. The venue is small, a respectable pub during the day, but after dark it morphs into a mecca for innovative underground bands and the fans who love them. There is something special about Maverick's. Some of the best shows I've ever seen have been held in this small, dark room.
It must have been an ironic sense of humour that had The Golden Dogs choose the opening band, The Golden Seals. As I watched the four-piece opener, I was grateful to learn that they were not only chosen for their name. Gently and persuasively they warmed the crowd with a charming set. I settled into the soft pop and subtle melody, took a long sip of my ginger-ale, and felt myself relaxing. I truly had no idea what I was in for.
In my dreamy state I was entirely caught off guard when The Golden Dogs took to the stage and launched into "Birdsong." The Golden Seals had been the blue sky preceding The Golden Dog's turbulent weather. Drawn by the forceful drumming and insanely pretty guitar riff, I headed sidestage, where I could see it all.
I had seen photographs, but still the visual made me grin. The Golden Dogs are a motley crew, perhaps scraped together in the corner of a library café. Quirky and unabashed, they are cool in their geekiness and their lack of inhibition.
They moved into "Dynamo" without hesitation. Front man Dave Azzolini howled into his microphone as keyboardist Jessica Grassia pounded away feverishly. I watched the drummer, Taylor Knox, move them swiftly through the applause into "Saints at the Gates" as Dave and Jessica marched dramatically to his mad pounding. Taylor was really quite the sight - picture Jack from the old Beanstalk, early twenties. Long, lean, and lanky, wearing a plaid shirt, tight faded acid jeans, and a mop of red hair concealing his face. He hunched over his kit, his drum sticks flying wickedly close to his head. The band continued with several other newbies from their recently released Big I, little eye, including the "Construction Worker," "Never Meant Any Harm," "Strong," and "Runouttaluck." These new goldies (for lack of a better term!) spectacularly highlight Dave and Jessica's vocals and their incredible harmonic possibilities. These are voices that were made to blend, like bananas and strawberries, vodka and tonic – eerily distinct but together, worth so much more than the sum of their parts.
Eyes on the guitarist and bassist, deep in their groove, I admired the band as a whole as they continued into an awesome cover of "Jet." They threw themselves into every note so fully, each in their own way but none less than the others. Bassist Stew Heyduk was by far the most subtle of the dramatic lot. In an understated way, he drew out complex bass lines and maintained a blend between shining and supporting. Meanwhile second guitarist Neil Quin was part three in the harmonic triangle and a rhythmic support to Dave's impulsive guitar solos. As a whole the five of them hurtled through the giddy schoolgirl pop with a defiant edge.
Caught in the glorious sound, I was their plaything, an insignificant piece of driftwood upon a raging ocean. They tossed me up and spun me around. Any moment that I thought I spied reprieve, perhaps a safe landing to catch my breath, the music sucked me back. Caught in the roaring, glorious sound, I was feeling a wild new urge. I, the player of no instruments, wanted to be in a rock band - and not any rock band. I wanted to be up there, right now. I wanted to be in The Golden Dogs!
Ending the set with "Yeah!," the band left the stage and briefly huddled together, while we caught our breath. Then, as if they wanted it even more than the screaming crowd, they spun on their heels and hit the stage again, for covers "Traffic Cops" and "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five." The sound that I was now willing to live for didn't last forever; in a flash it was gone, and my knees buckled with the abruptness of it all.
I consoled myself, nursing reality and my now-warm ginger-ale that had been forgotten in my reverie. It was a good thing the band played a short set. I don't think I could have handled anymore. One more song and they would have had to carry me out on a stretcher, on account of my ecstatic cardiac arrest. It was a good thing, I keep telling myself. It was a good thing.
Lara Purvis
- JamBase (Online Live Music Revue)


GRADE : 95

The Golden Dogs are the perfect students of rock. They're a grade-A student, but no brown noser; a starter on the senior basketball team, but no jock; a fine artist, but no maladjusted social miscreant. They're genuinely liked by all and boy am I going to miss them when they graduate and move on into that big old world out there. Just come back and visit sometime, OK?

In many years of handing out these report cards to eager young musicians, this may be the highest grade I've ever given out (C'MON from 2005 was pretty darn close though). The Golden Dogs are just shy of perfection, with a raucous rock 'n' roll set that toppled everything else the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern hosted for CMW. Like a talent show at an elementary school where everyone else shuffles out to sing (in nasally, high-pitched whine), to dance (no rhythm), to tell a joke (met with dead silence, even by the parents), The Golden Dogs are that kid that comes out and does backflips while juggling fire. No offense to the other kids, but that's one hell of a talent.

Frontman Dave Azzolini is the king. His spastic maneouvering about the stage and obvious love for inane guitar posturing is so terribly endearing that one can't help but to cheer him on. The other Dogs admirably back Azzolini up (especially keyboardist and wife Jessica Grassia, who is his perfect counterpart) and the stage invariably becomes their yard. Other bands should go to see The Golden Dogs for some after-class tutelage

The Golden Dogs unique brand of rock is just too damn good. You have to wonder how much they end up spending on new equipment after shows because they really assault those poor little instruments, but for the crashing and wailing they tear out of them, it all seems worth it. - Chart Magazine


"Every once in a while a song hits you so hard you end up singing it in your head all day long, and playing the shit out of it every chance you get. Sure, I'm losing friends and my significant other swears she'll kill me if she hears it one more time, but fuck 'em all, it's time for another spin of Birdsong. Lead Dog Dave Azzolini has a gift for reworking 80's masters like Elvis Costello, XTC, and The Specials into contemporary rock wet dreams, and Birdsong is just such a tune. In fact, this album should come with a complimentary box of Kleenex, because as good as the lead track is, there are at least nine others that don't fall far behind. Churning out super catchy alt rock apparently comes as easy to this band as basic addition and subtraction, but it's not the only tool in the box. Thanks to country tinged twangers like I Don't Sleep, I have just enough time to catch my breath before skanking like some two-tone hipster of yesteryear to Elevator Man. Dave, what have you done?" -Brent Rayner, Now Magazine - NOW Magazine - Toronto


Rating - CCCC
The Golden Dogs explode out of the speakers with the opening track "Birdsong", bombarding the listener with an artful blend of melodic chords layered over a driving beat and lead singer Dave Azzolini's wailing vocals. In classic mix-tape style, they take it down a bit on the next track with "Faster", only to bring it back up with "Can't Get Your Face Out Of My Head". 'Everything in 3 Parts' is a true party-rock record...the tunes just plain feel good. In addition to Azzolini's vocal fervor, keyboard player Jessica Grassia chimes in with harmonies to honey the edges even further. From the bossa nova of "Elevator Man" to the loopy, circus one-two-three of "Anniversary Waltz" and the sheer balls of "YEAH!", The Golden Dogs kick ass, plain and simple. - CHART Magazine


Discography

'Big Eye Little Eye' - 2006 (True North/Universal)

'Everything in Three Parts' - 2004 (True North/Universal)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Interesting Tidbits:

Early this year, The Golden Dogs charted in the Top 20 in the CMJ Radio charts with their first album 'Everything in 3 Parts'.

Have made international appearances at SXSW '06 & '07 (which gave them an honerable mention in the New York Times) & Popkomm '06.

Golden Dogs have shared the stage with : The Libertines, Razorlight, The Kaiserchiefs, Bloc Party, Joel Plaskett, The Dears, Blue Rodeo, Malajube

Their most recent album 'Big Eye Little Eye' has received rave reviews on dozens of 'top ten lists' across the nation.

It was a Saturday night, and only the best get to play Toronto’s legendary Horseshoe Tavern during North By Northeast, Canada’s biggest independent music festival. Most of the revelers were jammed in there to catch a glimpse of The Golden Dogs, and they were willing to wait nearly four hours to see them. At 1 a.m., the Toronto five-piece band hit the stage and the crowd erupted. Wild fist pumps, unrestrained screaming, erratic dancing – you couldn’t help but wonder what the hell was going on?
Contrary to a few people’s beliefs, The Golden Dogs’ devotees hadn’t gone insane – it was the band that was off their rockers. The Dogs launched into “Birdsong” and immediately set the place on fire. Lead singer and guitarist Dave Azzolini furiously attacked his axe, destroying strings in the process. His wife and keyboardist Jessica Grassia repeatedly smashed her keys with her fists while head banging to drummer Taylor Knox’s thunderous beats. Guitarist Neil Quin unleashed a bevy of blazing solos, and all the while bassist Stew Heyduk kept the rhythm in check.
The ‘shoe was buzzing - even a few inebriated frat kids at the back were shaking their asses, but things were just getting started. Dave’s face was dripping with sweat, Jess’ hair was sticking to her face and the audience was singing – no, screaming – along to almost every lyric. To cap this chaotic night off, the band played their incendiary cover of Paul McCartney’s “1985” and set closer “Yeah!”. During that song, as Jess pounded her keys over and over again, Dave disappeared. It was a little strange – had he had enough? Were things too out of control? The music kept going, though, and the crowd was still frenzied. Without warning the lanky lead singer stormed the stage, but he wasn’t wearing the blue blazer he started off with – he donned an outlandish, brown furry jacket that made him look like a starved Sasquatch.
For some that night, this would have been a pretty messed up show, but those familiar with The Golden Dogs know performing a high flying set is their calling card.
Fortunately, their manic energy isn’t limited to the stage. On their new record, Big Eye Little Eye, the band takes all that shambolic vigour and lays it down on disc. It’s impossible not to stomp your foot to the frantic opener, “Dynamo,” and it’s even harder to avoid shouting along to the choruses of first single “Never Meant Any Harm” and “Saints At The Gates,” a passionate track about playing live. If you’re not in the mood to air guitar, don’t worry, Big Eye Little Eye, which some critics are already calling the best disc of the year, has more to offer than just intensity. Intimate moments like the stripped down “Wheel Of Fortune,” the only song not recorded in the studio, puts listeners in Dave and Jess’ basement, while Theresa’s Beach Boys-style vocals is a touching tribute to one of the bands’ heroes, Brian Wilson.
On Big Eye Little Eye, it looks like The Golden Dogs have done everything right. And thank God, because the group almost didn’t make it this far.
It all started back in the summer of 1998 in Thunder Bay, the small northern Ontario city where Dave and Jess grew up. They met and played in a band together for a few months. Problem though: Dave was about to move to Toronto to form a band of his own and Jess was just starting university.
“For three years Jess was a voice on the phone,” says Dave smiling as he looks over at his wife. As Jess worked and traveled to Toronto whenever she could, Dave was writing what would become The Golden Dogs’ first EP. She’d eventually move to Toronto, and join The Dogs, who were just starting to play gigs around Toronto. But while Dave and Jess’ relationship solidified, their band was in constant flux, as band members kept coming and going. Somehow they managed to release a second EP. Soon after, True North Records came calling and things started looking up. The band re-released their two EPs on one critically acclaimed record, Everything In 3 Parts. They then opened for seminal bands such as Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party and The Libertines, got their performance at SXSW in Austin mentioned in the New York Times, were invited to showcase at Popkomm in Berlin and even had “Birdsong” appear in Douglas Coupland’s film Everything’s Gone Green.
Naturally, the group was anxious to record a follow-up, so they teamed up with Paul Aucoin, a prolific producer (The Old Soul/the Heavy Blinker