Tacos and Vinyl: Obscure Record Review (Dream Hog by The Suburbs)

I know. I should have ordered pork tacos for the album with the pig cover. My chi has been off since I ordered carnitas for the album with a cow on the cover, and now in beef I have balance. Yin and yang and whatnot. No ragrets.

And here to upset my chi once again is The Suburbs’ Dream Hog E.P.

Dream Hog could be the soundtrack to an 80’s movie montage of the nightmare fuel inspired by its own cover. That’s not to say that it is bad.

Side A is four songs of pizzicato riffs set over obligatory 4/4 rhythms and laced with fun, oriental inspired simultaneous guitar and synth runs. At times the vocals come together in a baritone gestalt so gloomy and sinister, I was certain that they were being breathed down my neck.

The B-side is 45-RPM club mix of “Waiting” from side A, aural candy for anyone already a fan.

Dream Hog is a slight veer from The Suburbs’ dance style post-punk into poppy new-wave, but unlike many similar bands, they charm and infect without being obnoxious. If there is any downside to the album, it’s that it is never lyrically profound. Club crowds rarely care for lyrics, but The Suburbs had a penchant for unsettling lyrics which could have taken a darker tone on Hog. Instead we got straight-forward gloom which never manages to juxtapose in a satisfying manner; plenty of yin and not enough yang.

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Tacos and Vinyl: An Obscure Record Review (Raging E.P. by The Beyond)

Should you go vinyl-shopping hungry, you may end up buying a record based on beef content alone. Likewise, I am certain that by choosing to review this album under the influence of pork wrapped in corn tortillas, I’ve skewed the criticism in the record’s favor. Hey, it’s a prog-rock record. I had to partake in some sort of illicit substance in wrapped in something.

It’s staggering to believe that, pre-Nevermind, any major label would have put out a picture-vinyl featuring a cow swimming with hammerhead sharks. EMI subsidiary, Harvest (Pink Floyd, Deep Purple), did it for The Beyond in the same year as the band’s debut L.P., Crawl. Harvest must have heard something they liked.

On Raging E.P, The Beyond shift between plodding metal and skittery jazz/blues a la Rush. In fact, they make no effort to hide their affection for Rush. John Whitby maintains clean and unaffected vocals where he could easily resort to growling. There are two live tracks on the B-Side which were well worth having to squeegee the pork fat off of just to hear; they are as tight as studio versions, which is remarkable considering the amount of technical musicianship therein.

Raging is a great listen for when you need to scratch the prog-rock itch without the risk of wearing down your copy of Moving Pictures.