Who or what is Blank Dogs?

Well, for starters, the plural is misleading: Dogs is actually the alter ego of a lone Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter/producer named Mike Sniper, who’s spent the majority of the last two years shrouded in loose mystery and mummy-style swaddling – though he’s since ‘come out’ to play live shows.

Blank Dogs seems almost to have been willed into existence by Stateside hipsters infatuated with The Cure and early Sonic Youth. On new album Under And Under, soaring melodies – melodies that Robert Smith would be proud to call his own – can just about be picked out from the dense, Sister-style fug of reverb and feedback. Recorded with degraded tape, old-fashioned equipment and deliberately obscuring modern FX, Under And Under has a similarly dusty, out-of-time quality to Ariel Pink’s classic Worn Copy.

You could be forgiven for thinking Under And Under is Blank Dogs debut, but it’s actually his second full-length release; the first, On Two Sides, came out on Troubleman Unlimited, the punk-oriented label run by Italians Do It Better’s Mike Simonetti. There have also been a slew of limited edition, beautifully crafted 7″, 12″ CD-R and cassette releases for respected lo-fi imprints like Fuck It Tapes and Captured Tracks. Rather than bemoan digital piracy, Blank Dogs has helped facilitate it: on his sadly now defunct blog, pretty much all his recordings were made available to download for free, as too were selected tracks from the little-known bands old and new that he happened to be digging.

Not entirely of his own volition, Blank Dogs is the figurehead for a talented new wave of American bands – among them Dum Dum Girls, Woods and Wavves – who are all in thrall to jangly, fuzzy aesthetic of the UK’s C86 generation and, thanks to the internet, have their reference points almost surgically sewn up. Check out the self-titled debut 7″ and Young One EP by The Mayfair Set, a coast-to-coast, MSN-enabled hook-up between Blank Dogs and L.A. librarian “Dee Dee”, AKA Dum Dum Girls. Coming over like a sun-spoiled Pastels or Vaselines, the whole project illustrates how modern musicians have become victims and beneficiaries alike of the insatiable Web 2.0 impulse to mine, catalogue and narrativize what’s gone before. For this blog-savvy lot the past is alive and vividly detailed, both an inspiration and an inescapable burden.

Kiran Sande



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