Acoustic Americana trio fed on bluegrass, roots rock, old time, and vintage swing, Damn Tall Buildings are excited to release their 3rd album, Sleeping Dogs, on September 9. Whether sharing lead vocals and instrumental solos or blending their voices into loose, joyous harmony, the three members of Damn Tall Buildings—multi-instrumentalist and primary lyricist Max Capistran (guitar and banjo), bassist Sasha Dubyk, and fiddler Avery Ballotta—delight in entertaining.
Witty and engaging, Damn Tall Buildings’ energizing music finds beauty and glory in the mundane workaday struggle of everyday life: time keeps passing and the seasons come and go, you scroll too much, you smoke too much, you lose yourself, only to sit with yourself and find yourself again, you laugh with your friends, and you look out the window and dream about what else might be out there. It all keeps coming around. You carry on, intent on flourishing and thriving. This is what Damn Tall Buildings sings about, what they seek to share with their audience.
Sleeping Dogs is a bop about looking things smack-dab-right-in-the-face and is essentially about how it has become almost impossible to not be constantly influenced by current events, media, and all of the other things that surround you in your day-to-day life.
Sleeping Dogs opener, “What A Nice Life,” has some extra pep to balance out the darker “I-don’t-know-who-I-am-anymore” lyrics: “And it’s been feeling mighty lonesome now that winter’s coming on… Not sure who I've been lately… But holy sh*t can barely stand me.” The old timey, swingin’ “Dark Window Panes” (which adds Garrett Eaton [Dana Williams, Gracie and Rachel] on trumpet) and “Podcast” see the band pondering a pending apocalypse.
The velvety and rejuvenating “Cold Rain” is the album's first single, and was premiered by AmericanaUK who calls it, “music that is determinedly of Now.” For the song, they are joined by mandolin wizard Dylan McCarthy (2019 Rockygrass Mandolin Champion) and rock-steady drummer Micah Cowher [STOMP in NYC]. Micah also lays down the beat on the catchy “Sweet Girl,” with its chorus, “I am not myself, I am everyone else,” which became what the band calls, “the motto for the record; It’s basically our new anthem.”
Damn Tall Buildings calls Sleeping Dogs, “an exploration to the depths of oneself to discover who we truly are… maybe it really is as simple as buying some new shoes, and feeling really good wearing ‘em, while you cruise down the block on the sunny side of the street.” You can hear this cheery sentiment echoed in the deep groove and colorful melodies of “Lemons,” in which the virtuosic flute playing of Anh Phung [Twisted Pine] elevates the song to a new level. This fresh energy can also be felt as the sunshine slips in on “Patio.”
The mid-tempo shuffle “Painter” illustrates a re-emergence into the world; with Lars Thorson [Kane Brown] bringing the magic of the lap steel to this track. They slow things down a bit in a rainy day ode to waiting, “Quietly Heartbreaking,” and the gentle “My Baby.”
The album closes with the title track, “Sleeping Dogs,” pulling from the old proverb—“Don’t you let them sleeping dogs lie”—the song emphasizes the theme of the album: don't ignore life, get out there and live it, take pleasure and meaning from the little things that keep us all connected and growing.
Self produced and recorded, the album was mixed & mastered by Dan Cardinal [Darlingside, Lula Wiles, Josh Ritter] at Dimension Sound Studios. Dan also played keyboard on the title track, adding to the texture of the song.
The trio is individually from all over the United States (New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Montana), but were born as a band while attending Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA in 2013. They started as buskers on Newbury Street in Boston, started touring nationally, and then moved the band to Brooklyn in 2017. Since their busking days, they’ve made two albums—Cure-All (2014) and Don’t Look Down (2019)—and released a self-titled EP in 2015.
Sleeping Dogs Track Listing:
1.) What A Nice Life 3:02^
2.) Dark Window Panes 1:56
3.) Podcast 3:40
4.) Cold Rain 3:31^
5.) Lemons 2:36
6.) My Baby 4:19
7.) Patio 2:25
8.) Painter 2:27
9.) Quietly Heartbreaking 3:40
10.) Sweet Girl 2:56
11.) Sleeping Dogs 2:58