On stage a couple Fridays back, opening for Paranoid Social Club (who also have new work on the way shortly), 6gig frontman Walt Craven was as relaxed as I've ever seen him. "It's hot up here," he said at one point. "I'd take off my sweatshirt, but then you'd see how fat I am. So I'm just going to keep it on and sweat."
The man is not fat. But the band, which has tentatively been getting back together for gigs after nearly a decade apart, still sound huge. Jim Begley was running sound. He looked over at one point, just after a harmony-filled and quickly delivered chorus of "what I found I found myself," and said, "No one else does that."
It's a mix of heavy and melody that is, indeed, rare, and not just around here. There was a rather embarrassing time when I would have called it "nü-metal," but it's really just a combination of the down-tuned sound of hardcore, a sharp industrial distortion, and '90s-rock vocals. They keep grunge's sing-along qualities, but with a meaner bottom end.
And now, 10 years since their second full-length, Mind over Mind, they've dropped the surprise Dogs EP, with four new songs that again explore these mixes of heavy, driving rhythm and bright melody (they've also unexpectedly released four B-sides from Mind over Mind, including an alternative version of the excellent "Free").
Why not? Post-6gig projects like Ruler of the Raging Main and Lost on Liftoff have come and gone, and we know Craven and drummer Jason Stewart don't have Sidecar Radio rehearsal to worry about anymore (and you want to talk pigs? Former Sidecar frontman Christian Hayes likes nothing better than a full-on pig roast).
The songs are still there, too. "Planets" shows off an exacting and precise pace, with Craven classically at the very top of his range, his voice breaking with the effort: "I think I am one of the lucky ones." The ultra-quiet bridge building into the screamo finish is just the kind of dynamic this band have always done right, bassist Weave and guitarist Steve Marquis in lock-step and willing them forward.
If you want to listen for it, too, you can even hear pontification of the band's return in relationship lyrics from the likes of "Sleeping Dogs." What would it feel like, Craven wonders, to spend one more night together, "or maybe more?" So good you decided to write songs together again? If they can keep pumping out choruses that punch you in the gut like this, let's hope so.
Regardless of whether this is a short dalliance or a true rekindling, you'll still love them in the morning.
DOGS | Released by 6gig | 6gig.bandcamp.com