Saturday, October 8, 2005

Hank Dogs

If you've never heard the music of Hank Dogs, check it out. It's a folksy British acoustic trio of a dad, daughter, and ex-stepmom who perform wonderful singer songwriter material in a Modern Americana or Alternative Country style, with ethereal harmonies and guitar. The lyrics are melancholy, often about interpersonal relationships from the point of view of someone who has absorbed the vocabulary of psychological self-help enough to affect their world view. The title track of their second album Half Smile (just recently released in Britain) includes the gem,

Clever as always with your timing
another kick when a person's down.
Springtime, little rosebuds,
the upturned corners of a half smile.


The delivery is mysterious and haunting, with well-paced repetitions and dark, lilting vocal harmonies that underscore the speaker's bitterness. We often listen to this album while we're going to sleep; it's soft and soothing despite the melancholy overtones in most of the lyrics and much of the music.

The album is full of psychodramatic tidbits of interpersonal dysfunction:

Sitting here my guts aching
Don't you think by the morning I'll still
Have a clear picture
I'm held, you say I think I'm held
Against a wall, I'm pinned not against my will ...


and also poignant insights like this snapshot of life in the countryside:

This is our track, hidden away up in West Wales,
Five years old & riding bareback ...
Whole way, whole way she goes,
Saving her money for a horse of her very own.


I recently got hold of their first album, Bareback, and it's also really wonderful. I keep playing the song "Daddy's Arms" over and over. Hank Dogs is totally one of my favorite bands now.

Visit the Hank Dogs' Home Page!
(Includes some audio and video clips)

Buy their CD's at Amazon!

Download Bareback at E-Music!
(Pay service, requires subscription to use).

20 comments:

Jason Collins said...

Hi, I live in South London and go to Andy Hank Dogs Acoustic night most wednesdays, his guitar picking is very good and the songs are beautiful esp when performed with Piano his ex. Your not the inspiration for Chicago library boy Henry DeTamble TIMETRAVELLER'SWIFE are you?

Regards

Jason

Chicago Library Boy said...

You're so lucky! I hope they tour to Chicago someday.

I doubt I am the inspiration for anything ... but you can think so if it makes you happy!

Thanks for commenting

Anonymous said...

How funny--I just came across your blog while trying to find out info on Hank Dogs for my blog (also via blogger.com). I've just posted a story I wrote on them for Dirty Linen back in 2000: pamelamurraywinters.blogspot.com

I'll have to look them up next time I'm in London (on a Wednesday).

I can't get the URL for their Web page to work, though.

Pam

Anonymous said...

Jason, since you see Hank Dogs frequently, how about recording them and sending us a tape or cdr?
where can I contact you?
Me at sinoel43 at aol dot com

I have tons to trade.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing, I've been having a "Hank Dogs" day today, only two CD's produced. So, I did a quick Google to see if they had made any more CD's and came up to yur blog about these fine people.

As you mentioned the song "Daddy's Arms" and how you liked it so, it was playing right then. Typical occurences. Yes, it's a compelling song and worthy of many playings. Mine is "Mind Thoughts".

I did see them live in Portland, Or. opening up for Jethro Tull. They are so deceptively deep in thier folkys way and for me made the evening. Also talked to Lilly (I believe) on a muscians board several years back, that was cool. They'd played P'land since we spoke and said they would like to play here more often. I believe they have Washington St. connecions (probably Seattle).

Thanks for your blog on this great little UK folk band. All the best to them and your blog-n-all.

16 Dogs

Anonymous said...

Funny thing, I've been having a "Hank Dogs" day today, only two CD's produced. So, I did a quick Google and come up to yur blog about these fine people.

As you mentioned the song Daddy's Arms it was playing, just shows to go ya! Yes, it's a compelling song and worthy of many playings. Mine is "Mind Thoughts".

I did see them live in Portland, Or. opening up for Jethro Tull. They are so deceptively deep in thier folkys way. Also talked to Lilly (I believe) on a muscians board several years back, that was cool. They'd played P'land since we spoke she said they would like to play here more often. I believe they have Washington St. connecions (probably Seattle).

All the best to them and your blog-n-all.

18 Dogs

Anyway, thanks for your blog on this great little UK folk band.

Cozytailmom said...

I discovered the Hank Dogs a couple of years ago and LOVE them. I just found their myspace page and they are in need of some friends. :> Add them.
http://www.myspace.com/hankdogs

Brian said...

My introduction to Hank Dogs came via a CD set called 'DET Live, volume 2. It was part of a series of live in-studio recordings released by WDET here in Detroit. They used to run some truly amazing music before they started screwing with their format and have, in my opinion, utterly ruined what was one of the best non-commercial music stations in the country.

Anyway, that's another story. 'DET Live volume 2 included an in-studio recording of Daddy's Arms that is simply beautiful. I like it even better than the original from the album and would highly recommend it to any fan. The rest of the album contains other artists, but almost every track is phenomenal if you can find a copy.

Unfortunately the CDs are not available for purchase anymore unless you can find them on eBay. However, if anyone wants a copy of the Hank Dogs track, send a note to sagaciousmoke at gee mail dot com and I'll see what I can do about ripping a copy.

Brian

Anonymous said...

I worked the show when they played at Jannus Landing in St. Pete, Florida...and they were amazing. I sat next to the monitor board and was mesmerized by Lily, and of course, the rest of the band. I got to meet them after the show, and they gave me an autographed copy of Bareback (Dixie also signed it). I was literally blown away by there performance and wished I could see them again.
LouieG

Cal said...

I, too, Googled "Hank Dogs" and ended up here. I guess they are no longer a going concern - no album for years, their webpage doesn't work anymore etc. A real shame, their music was truly special.

Unless anyone can say otherwise?

Josh said...

Any word on whether Hank Dogs will have another album?

thanks!

Jason said...

Just read comments on a blog about The Hank Dogs. I see Andy HankDog at his Easycome Acoustic Club regularly. A band I’m managing may be playing a gig with them soon, check out
http://www.myspace.com/cornrigs
http://www.youtube.com/user/cornrigs

It’s shame that they haven’t got more profile. I know Andy has a fantastic new album waiting to come out. His own solo songs, CAMBERWELL BEAUTY, MARGARET FINCH, COUNTLESS KITTY COTY CAULDRON KENT are real gems and faves of the punters at the Old Nun’s Head in Nunhead on a Wednesdays.

I’m going to try and get some footage of him and Piano when they play next.

Jason

Anonymous said...

Hank Dogs rules!

Anonymous said...

Ditto what many have said here about Hank Dogs. I first heard '18 dogs' on the esrtwhile (and sorely missed) public radio show World Cafe years ago - I guess the format was too 'esoteric' to keep up the ratings here in mainstream San Diego. Point - I was instantly enamored by '18 dogs' and that sent me out to purchase Bareback. Like most music lovers, I listen to a lot of music so I may not get around to hearing any particular album for months - but Bareback is one of my favorites and whenever I come across it again - it gets played instantly. And that ethereal sound you describe speaks to me in a way few bands do. The crystal guitar sound, the harmonies, the arrangements - I love the way they use the 'spaghetti western' horns on Bareback. Now that I've read your blog, I'll have to look for the second album. I hope they do plan to make another one soon.

Anonymous said...

they actually style after the english folk tradition, no? I bet if you dug around in that genre you'd find a bunch more delicious ear candy.

I saw them years ago when they played at a coffee shop here outside philadelphia where I worked.

And to the previous commenter, World Cafe is still around - I'm pretty sure you can stream it live from the web!

Jason said...

I've recently posted some Hank Dogs footage on my 'rugshort' youtube profile from a summer gathering at Gaunts House in Dorset 2008. Enjoy!

Jason said...

Does this work?

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andyp said...

I first saw The Hank Dogs by accident as it were, they were opening for Eliza Carthy at Southampton in about 1999. Bought Bareback soon after - blown away then and still am. Many favorites, but Way of the Soul, Daddy Arms and I'm an Angel stand out, as well as Bed of Rice, Let Alone Me and Whole Way from Half Smile....

Regards
AndyP

Anonymous said...

wow!! so im a little late to the party!! yes, saw the hank dogs in chicago when they came thru on their short u.s. tour. my friend alan did some promotions for them in the states, and asked me to go. it was a hour and a half drive, and i was leary about going to see a band, that i had never heard one note of. by the end of the night, i was sitting there, slack jawed, knowing that id just seen one of the best shows id ever seen. (and i have see A LOT of shows) well, i think part of the reason that alan asked me to go, was because he knows that my hobby is recording live bands.... i walked out of that chicago show, with a sparkly crisp clean soundboard digital recording that even now, some 14 years later, remains amongst my favorite musical memories.. i would travel to london just to see them, but would need to know in advance, where they were playing, and when, to maximize my time seeing them!! taperroy@powerlynk.com