Posts Tagged ‘Bark Your Head Off’

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Philadelphia indie rock quintet Hop Along’s latest LP Bark Your Head Off, Dog found its way onto our albums of the year 2018 list and one of its singles “How Simple” has a stellar video. “How Simple” offers both a whimsical edge, with its keyboards and guitars, and a familiar sound, with its introspective theme and Frances Quinlan’s rich lead vocals. Its video marks the first time the band has starred in one of their videos. Starring Quinlan and directed by Derrick Belcham, the video features a spotlight that follows the singer as she spontaneously dances, wanders around and eventually eats some cereal as the band performs in the dimly-lit room. Quinlan joyfully dances like no one’s watching amid a flurry of flashing lights and it’s this juxtaposition of a euphoric emotional display and a backdrop of solitude that’s inspiring and immensely gratifying.

Hop Along – How Simple From the album Bark Your Head Off, Dog – Out Now!

Hop Along performs at Cheer Up Charlies in Austin, Texas on March 16th, 2018.

Hop Along doesn’t sound like any specific band from that decade, cutting their spiky guitar-pop with the occasional dreamy melodies from lead singer/songwriter Frances Quinlan. Live the music is given considerable muscle by drummer Mark Quinlan, the rare drummer in indie-rock who knows how to swing. Having these dexterous rhythms as their anchor gives Hop Along are a kinetic kick that might not otherwise be heard in their delicate, nimble songs, and while that’s enough to separate the band from their peers, the group is also fun to watch because there’s a genuine warmth to their banter. In a week that can be as grueling for artists, such humor goes a long way.

New album Bark Your Head Off, Dog – Out April 6th, 2018

Philadelphia’s Hop Along will release their third studio album “Bark Your Head Off, Dog” on April 6th! Available on black vinyl, and a tri-color striped vinyl that is limited to 750 copies and sold exclusively on the Saddle Creek Store.  The formidable 9-song collection is the band’s strongest and most cohesive album to date. Crafted by Frances Quinlan (songwriter, lead vocalist, and rhythm guitarist), Tyler Long (bass), Joe Reinhart (guitar), and Mark Quinlan (drums), the album considers what it’s like to cast off longheld and misguided perceptions, yet without the assurance of knowing what new ones will replace them. Quinlan has been meditating a lot on power.

In this particular moment in history, this thought begs a greater question: what do we do with power and the men who so freely brandish it? “So strange to be shaped by such strange men” is a line that repeats on more than one song on the album. “I’ve been thinking about that a lot. That I just deferred to men throughout my life,” Quinlan says. “But by thinking you’re powerless, you’re really robbing yourself. I’m at a point in my life where I’m saying instead, ‘Well, what can I do?’

On album opener, “How Simple,” Quinlan wrangles with what it’s like to learn about yourself—which can get ugly. Quinlan explains, “People romanticize the idea of finding themselves, but when they do, at least in my experience, it can be really difficult. You see how you fail others and how others fail you.” Offering fans a classic dose of Hop Along’s searing songwriting and unabashed honesty. 

Self-produced and recorded at The Headroom in Philadelphia by Reinhart and Kyle Pulley,Bark Your Head Off, Dog features the familiar sounds that have always made the band allergic to genre: grunge, folk, punk, and power pop all appear, with inspiration from ELO to Elvis Costello to ‘70s girl group vocal arrangements.

This time around, they’ve added strings, more intricate rhythms, lush harmonies (featuring Thin Lips’ Chrissy Tashjian), along with a momentary visit with a vocoder. In more than one place, Mark Quinlan drums like he’s at a disco with Built to Spill. Bark Your Head Off, Dog is, without question, Hop Along’s most dynamic and textured record yet.

Throughout the album, one gets the sense that Quinlan is wandering in the thicket of a forest—a state of being that will feel familiar to longtime listeners—and on this outing, she hasn’t left a trail of breadcrumbs behind her. The album’s artwork, which Quinlan painted herself, invites the listener into that forest, as well. The record calls upon references that Quinlan has woven throughout all of the band’s albums: the wild presence of animals (rabbits, foxes, dogs, and blue jays all appear on this record) and historical touchstones (from a podcast on World War I to books by Karl Ove Knausgaard). Hop Along’s songs continue to reveal the curiosities nesting in Quinlan’s mind.

“If Philadelphia is the capital of indie rock, then Hop Along sits at the table with its top leaders.  […] Quinlan’s gripping vocals, an earworm of a chorus, and an unexpectedly dreamy violin outro. “How Simple” may leave you feeling a touch of whiplash, but the ride is undeniably fun.”
– Pitchfork,

Best New Track“ …with some extra touches like layered vocal tracks and a touching string outro, [“How Simple”] is a song that hits all the emotions that Quinlan can reach in one breath.”
– Esquire

“How Simple” is easily one of Hop Along’s poppiest moments, and as the two parties at the center of the song try to make sense of their confused situation, the answer comes in a glorious gang vocal you can’t help but sing along to: “Don’t worry, we will both find out, just not together.”
– NPR

New album “Bark Your Head Off, Dog” out April 6th!