The opening guitar riff of Heart of a Dog hits like a mouthful of gravel, and I mean that in the best possible way. It's crunchy, grainy, and makes an immediate impression. But strangely, the more you chew it, the better it tastes.
Turns out that's the defining characteristic of Kasey Anderson and The Honkies' debut album. With alumni from an impressive list of prominent Northwest bands on the credits, bandleader and producer Kasey Anderson has fashioned a little Stones, a little Waits and the best bits of Springsteen into his own crispy shtick. The contorted, intersecting guitar and welcome contributions from keys, harmonica and accordion grow on the ear with subsequent play-throughs.
Heart of a Dog zeroes in on the classic rock tropes—the bad boys, the cannonball women, a dash of disillusionment here, a dollop of ego there. The songs are capably penned and fairly unremarkable. But they combine neatly with the instrumentation to escape their on-paper limitations. Straightforward and unpretentious, Heart of a Dog is an old-fashioned album with dirt on its knees. It's one of the better pure rock 'n' roll records I've heard in the past year.