Born out of the frustration of not being able to keep a reliable band lineup cemented together, Austin Stirling chose to push on and evolve the sound of the Hangdog Hearts into a more stripped down, sustainable version of his musical vision.
The solid guitar and banjo work is still there. The rhythm section has transformed into kick pedals handling the bass drum, snare, cymbal, and tambourine, and manages to carry the songs better than many drummers can do with all four limbs dedicated to keeping the beat. Stirling’s fiesty, salt-of-the-earth vocals are punctuated by the addition of a 2nd microphone (possibly a Copperphone?) that he alternates into the mix, lending that classic scratchy “telephone” sound at vital points in the songs’ narratives.
Combining all of these elements, Stirling has managed to assemble a musical-mechanical beast that is a series of conflicting extremes: Insightful reflection inverts into bouts of murderous rage. Reckless self indulgence gives way to compassionate concern for others. The search for a meaningful relationship with a higher power struggles against a grim acceptance of inevitable damnation brought on by nefarious misdeeds.
The Hangdog Hearts prove that a one man band has no excuse for being thin on sound, shallow in depth, or missing horsepower in the delivery and execution. When the Hangdog Hearts play, people connect, the feel something, they get up off of their asses and dance! That’s a hell of a lot more than many “full” bands manage to ever do.
The Hangdog Hearts has a new ablum coming out in 2013, do yourself a favor and get it here