From the moment I heard Native Dreams from Seattle’s Rose Windows, I was hooked. I made plans on seeing them in Austin only to miss them on a couple of occasions as schedules were off. The frustration only heightened my anticipation at getting my mitts on their Sub Pop debut.
Like a female fronted Black Mountain, The Sun Dogs is a bouillabaisse of styles wonderfully blended together, as if somebody took all the vinyl you owned as a kid and then mashed it up with all these worldly influences that your friend’s cool other brother listened to because Zeppelin and Sabbath weren’t challenging him any more. The cool older brother in this instance is Chris Cheveyo who felt like he needed to branch out from his prior projects and stretch his legs a bit.
The album begins with the haunting The Sun Dogs I: Spirit Modules where vocalist Rabia Shaheen Qazi, sounding like a young Grace Slick, is leading the band at a coven for some sort of ritual. This leads into the aforementioned Native Dreams that after a blistering 1:30 intro starts off with Qazi singing “Spirit warriors move all through the shade.” Every time I listen to this song I head down some crazy wormhole in my head and when Qazi shouts the chours, “Heaven helps a friend,” I am shouting right all along with her.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Season of Serpents, a wonderfully crafted folk tune where Qazi’s vocals and Cheveyo’s acoustic are fleshed out with flute and strings. It shows off Qazi’s voice in a more delicate manner and it fits the mood of the album, in that you don’t know what you are going to get next.
Admittedly, I was a little upset that they weren’t all in hooded cloaks in those KEXP videos below but I have worked through that to enjoy another fine effort from the Sub Pop catalog.