By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
The 'Heads play their short, choppy guitar-pop tunes with comparable zest, and Franz only get as dark as the back of a cab, but neither of those bands approaches the full-on exuberance of the Dogs' sound: Every cut on Please Describe Yourself, their terrific debut from last year, vibrates with a fluorescent horn chart or a caffeinated organ part or the sort of wordless vocal refrains often heard during minor-league seventh-inning stretches.
Just as they once did on records by Madness and Dexy's Midnight Runners, producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley ensure on Yourself that these elements cohere in order to serve frontman Craig Macintosh's songs, which ruminate over Catherine Zeta-Jones's perfectly toned body and the uselessness of speaking Swahili if you never plan to go there. At Irving that tidiness was less of a concern: Stuck on a stool behind a big Roland RD-700, Quigley made up for her inability to dance by hammering at the keys like she was dribbling a basketball; Macintosh tilted his head back and formed a basketball-sized hole with his mouth during the too-rye-ay bits; all five of them rushed the verses to get to the sugar-high choruses a few seconds faster. Maybe they feared that earnest energy dies in long songs.
Later, Phoenixan open-eared pop-rock outfit from Parishappily played the first half of their "Too Young" in total blackness, illuminated only by the screams of tank-topped, high-heeled drunk women rightly enamored of the band's scruffy, sport-coated élan. Earnest energy? They were too cool.