CRAVIN' DOGS: Will The Circle Be Housebroken: Rarities, B-Sides and OrtsThe Washington Post, Friday, January 27, 2006; Page WE10
"Will the Circle Be Housebroken: Rarities, B-Sides & Orts"
THE LAST THING you'd expect from a Cravin' Dogs 20th anniversary CD subtitled "Rarities, B-Sides and Orts" is something to tie the performances together. Yet that's precisely what surfaces on this collection of odds and ends -- an indie spirit as pervasive as it is offbeat and engaging.
Mind you, parts of this 12-track miscellany are clearly aimed at longtime fans, folks who won't have any trouble warming up to a goofy, jam-happy refrain ("In the morning/In the night/Cravin' dogs/Bite, bite, bite") or embracing the tribal thump that sets a novelty called "Headhunter" into motion. But most of the songs, recorded throughout the '90s, will probably appeal to anyone who appreciates roots rock that's a tad askew. Whether offering up a gothic vignette ("At the Helm"), a slacker's lament ("Could Have Been a Saint") or a cheery Yuletide remembrance ("Christmastime"), Cravin' Dogs is clearly more interested in flexing its collective imagination than paying reverent homage to the usual array of influences.
Some of the tracks were recorded in a flash; others sport a polished and textured sound, thanks in part to producers John Alagia and Doug Derryberry. But lead singer and songwriter Caldwell Gray is in good form throughout, and among the tunesmiths represented is the band's former guitarist, John Sablosky.
-- Mike Joyce
After 140 dog years, Washington, D.C. rock champions Cravinâ€™ Dogs commemorate 20 years of inspired, rock and roll abandon with the release of their ninth full-length CD, "Will the Circle be Housebroken: Rarities, B-Sides and Orts."
Sure to unseat arm-chair music lovers with their dynamic, winsome stage presence, Cravinâ€™ Dogs have successfully traversed the tightropes spanning musical genres for a surprising 20 years with a grounded, soulful sound. Possessing an enviable array of instrumental range and vocals, the band has gracefully asserted that thereâ€™s a truly compelling Virginia musical hotbed comfortably outside, yet in reach of New York and Nashville.
Formed in 1986 as an acoustic folk trio, Cravinâ€™ Dogs got their start playing at Food for Thought in Dupont Circle. The band gradually evolved into an all-original, eclectic roots-rock outfit, playing venues between New England and North Carolina. They are described by Rolling Stoneâ€™s David Wild as â€œa veteran indie band with some major league charm,â€ and by College Music Journal as â€œsweet olâ€™ roots rock combined with a healthy amount of restless big-city experimentalism.â€
Since releasing its self-titled debut CD in 1989, the band has recorded several successful CDs on their own PREASH Records label: Sputnik (1992), El Camino (1994), Live at The Black Cat (1995), Dingus (1996), Roots Rock Paper Scissors (2000) and Road Trip (2003), as well as the compilation 1989-99: Seventy Years of Hits (1999). Roots Rock Paper Scissors was named Best Local Release of 2000 by The Journal Newspapers and earned the following accolade from Rolling Stone, â€œThis is melodic roots rock
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1. At The Helm
2. Cleopatra And Me
3. Much Too Simple
4. (Theme from) Cravin' Dogs
6. Sex Is The Solution
7. Hard Rock Candy Mountain
8. You And I
9. Could Have Been A Saint
10. Big Surprise