The never-ending string of roster changes that has plagued BR5-49 for the entirety of their decade-long career—seriously, Destiny’s Child has nothing on these guys—finally catches up to the band, now a quartet, on Dog Days. What was so interesting about the earlier incarnations of BR5-49 was that they were able to retain a distinctive, rambunctious artistic identity regardless of who was playing on their very good to great records. Dog Days, which certainly isn’t a bad album by any stretch, loses that identity for much of its length. Frontman Chuck Mead is still a charismatic singer and multi-instrumentalist Don Herron is still given a handful of opportunities to show off, but the band’s arrangements—the fearlessness of which have always been BR5-49’s selling point—on songs like “Leave It Alone” and “I’m Going Down” are so reigned-in as to border on being bland. Even on the riskier numbers, such as the wonderfully oddball album closer, “Let Jesus Make You Breakfast,” and a cover of Tim Carroll’s “After The Hurricane” that’s given serious heft post-Katrina, there’s this safety and simplicity to John Keane’s production that does little to distinguish a band that’s built its reputation on its go-for-broke combination of traditional country forms with rock-star swagger. Mead’s songwriting is occasionally inspired (“Bottom Of Priority” is a heady, confrontational story-song about Native American activist Leonard Peltier), which is hardly a surprise but which makes it all the more disappointing that so much of Dog Days sounds like a better-than-average Brooks & Dunn album. Here’s hoping that the current roster of BR5-49 simply needed to get one album out of the way to get the mojo back.
- Release Date
- February 1, 2006
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: