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DOGSTAR|Somewhere Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees

Somewhere Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees

DOGSTAR

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First things first: There is no discussing Dogstar without talking about the reason the trio is famous—bassist Keanu Reeves. And there is no dismissing the fact that they traded off his Hollywood fame in the late 1990s; what other band toured and got the chance to open for Bowie at the Palladium (in 1995) despite not having a radio hit or even an American release for three years after that? They were the quintessential "big in Japan" band and broke up after their last 2002 show there. But in March 2023, Dogstar played a Napa, California, music festival and let it be known that they were back—and releasing their first album in 24 years, with producer Dave Trumfio (Wilco, OK Go) at the board. It's solid, cleanly produced and age-appropriate adult-contemporary, but maybe not the most exciting record you've heard this year. Opener "Blonde" is poppy and muscular with a dash of New Romantic flair courtesy of singer-guitarist Bret Domrose, who delivers lines with a sense of drama that recalls Ian McCulloch or Daniel Ash. Killers-aspiring "How the Story Ends" starts off with thrumming bass from Reeves—why not put the spotlight on the celebrity?—but he has a better, almost goth line on "Overhang" and casts a dark, shadowy presence on the Love and Rockets-esque "Glimmer." Reeves is no spotlight hog, though, and never overplays it; on songs like hard-rocking "Lily," he leaves air where others might be tempted to fill it with something busy. Domrose's delivery pushes for the high end on "Everything Turns Around," one of the band's sunnier efforts, and flies aloft at the end of lines for "Sleep." Drummer Rob Mailhouse's crisp drums pop on peppy "Sunrise" as Reeves' playful bass runs up and down. The band really comes to life on "Breach," with buzzes with an air of menace and urgency, Domrose's guitar searing. "Dillon Street," which shares a name with the band's record label, jangles with guitar and harmonica as Domrose seems to deliver wish-fulfillment to Keanu fans: "You can turn his music on/ Forget about everything that's gone wrong/ Told you, he can hold you/ And you don't have to feel so alone ... You don't have to worry when he's there/ To sing you to sleep." © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz

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Somewhere Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees

DOGSTAR

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1
Blonde
00:03:18

Rudyard Lee Cullers, Engineer, Recorded by - DAVE TRUMFIO, Producer, Mixer, Engineer, Guitar, Recorded by, Audio Mastering - Keanu Reeves, Composer - Bret Domrose, Composer - DOGSTAR, Mixer, MainArtist - Robert Mailhouse, Composer

© 2023 Dillon Street Records ℗ 2023 Dillon Street Records

2
How the Story Ends
00:03:14

Rudyard Lee Cullers, Engineer, Recorded by - DAVE TRUMFIO, Producer, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by, Audio Mastering - Keanu Reeves, Composer - Bret Domrose, Composer - DOGSTAR, Mixer, MainArtist - Robert Mailhouse, Composer

© 2023 Dillon Street Records ℗ 2023 Dillon Street Records

3
Everything Turns Around
00:03:00

Rudyard Lee Cullers, Engineer, Recorded by - DAVE TRUMFIO, Producer, Mixer, Recorded by, Audio Mastering - Keanu Reeves, Composer, Bass - Bret Domrose, Composer, Guitar, Vocals - DOGSTAR, Mixer, MainArtist - Robert Mailhouse, Composer, Percussion

© 2023 Dillon Street Records ℗ 2023 Dillon Street Records

4
Overhang
00:03:59

Rudyard Lee Cullers, Engineer, Recorded by - DAVE TRUMFIO, Producer, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by, Audio Mastering - Keanu Reeves, Composer - Bret Domrose, Composer - DOGSTAR, Mixer, MainArtist - Robert Mailhouse, Composer

© 2023 Dillon Street Records ℗ 2023 Dillon Street Records

5
Dillon Street
00:03:38

Rudyard Lee Cullers, Engineer, Recorded by - DAVE TRUMFIO, Producer, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by, Audio Mastering - Keanu Reeves, Composer - Bret Domrose, Composer - DOGSTAR, Mixer, MainArtist - Robert Mailhouse, Composer, Harmonica

© 2023 Dillon Street Records ℗ 2023 Dillon Street Records

6
Lily
00:02:44

Rudyard Lee Cullers, Engineer, Recorded by - DAVE TRUMFIO, Producer, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by, Audio Mastering - Keanu Reeves, Composer - Bret Domrose, Composer - DOGSTAR, Mixer, MainArtist - Robert Mailhouse, Composer

© 2023 Dillon Street Records ℗ 2023 Dillon Street Records

7
Lust
00:02:34

Rudyard Lee Cullers, Engineer, Recorded by - DAVE TRUMFIO, Producer, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by, Audio Mastering - Keanu Reeves, Composer - Bret Domrose, Composer - DOGSTAR, Mixer, MainArtist - Robert Mailhouse, Composer

© 2023 Dillon Street Records ℗ 2023 Dillon Street Records

8
Glimmer
00:04:43

Rudyard Lee Cullers, Engineer, Recorded by - DAVE TRUMFIO, Producer, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by, Audio Mastering - Keanu Reeves, Composer - Bret Domrose, Composer - DOGSTAR, Mixer, MainArtist - Robert Mailhouse, Composer

© 2023 Dillon Street Records ℗ 2023 Dillon Street Records

9
Sunrise
00:03:20

Rudyard Lee Cullers, Engineer, Recorded by - DAVE TRUMFIO, Producer, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by, Audio Mastering - Keanu Reeves, Composer - Bret Domrose, Composer - DOGSTAR, Mixer, MainArtist - Robert Mailhouse, Composer

© 2023 Dillon Street Records ℗ 2023 Dillon Street Records

10
Sleep
00:03:54

Rudyard Lee Cullers, Engineer, Recorded by - DAVE TRUMFIO, Producer, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by, Audio Mastering - Keanu Reeves, Composer - Bret Domrose, Composer - DOGSTAR, Mixer, MainArtist - Robert Mailhouse, Composer

© 2023 Dillon Street Records ℗ 2023 Dillon Street Records

11
Upside
00:02:50

Rudyard Lee Cullers, Engineer, Recorded by - DAVE TRUMFIO, Producer, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by, Audio Mastering - Keanu Reeves, Composer - Bret Domrose, Composer - DOGSTAR, Mixer, MainArtist - Robert Mailhouse, Composer

© 2023 Dillon Street Records ℗ 2023 Dillon Street Records

12
Breach
00:02:44

Rudyard Lee Cullers, Engineer, Recorded by - DAVE TRUMFIO, Producer, Mixer, Engineer, Recorded by, Audio Mastering - Keanu Reeves, Composer - Bret Domrose, Composer - DOGSTAR, Mixer, MainArtist - Robert Mailhouse, Composer

© 2023 Dillon Street Records ℗ 2023 Dillon Street Records

Album review

First things first: There is no discussing Dogstar without talking about the reason the trio is famous—bassist Keanu Reeves. And there is no dismissing the fact that they traded off his Hollywood fame in the late 1990s; what other band toured and got the chance to open for Bowie at the Palladium (in 1995) despite not having a radio hit or even an American release for three years after that? They were the quintessential "big in Japan" band and broke up after their last 2002 show there. But in March 2023, Dogstar played a Napa, California, music festival and let it be known that they were back—and releasing their first album in 24 years, with producer Dave Trumfio (Wilco, OK Go) at the board. It's solid, cleanly produced and age-appropriate adult-contemporary, but maybe not the most exciting record you've heard this year. Opener "Blonde" is poppy and muscular with a dash of New Romantic flair courtesy of singer-guitarist Bret Domrose, who delivers lines with a sense of drama that recalls Ian McCulloch or Daniel Ash. Killers-aspiring "How the Story Ends" starts off with thrumming bass from Reeves—why not put the spotlight on the celebrity?—but he has a better, almost goth line on "Overhang" and casts a dark, shadowy presence on the Love and Rockets-esque "Glimmer." Reeves is no spotlight hog, though, and never overplays it; on songs like hard-rocking "Lily," he leaves air where others might be tempted to fill it with something busy. Domrose's delivery pushes for the high end on "Everything Turns Around," one of the band's sunnier efforts, and flies aloft at the end of lines for "Sleep." Drummer Rob Mailhouse's crisp drums pop on peppy "Sunrise" as Reeves' playful bass runs up and down. The band really comes to life on "Breach," with buzzes with an air of menace and urgency, Domrose's guitar searing. "Dillon Street," which shares a name with the band's record label, jangles with guitar and harmonica as Domrose seems to deliver wish-fulfillment to Keanu fans: "You can turn his music on/ Forget about everything that's gone wrong/ Told you, he can hold you/ And you don't have to feel so alone ... You don't have to worry when he's there/ To sing you to sleep." © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz

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