Tag Archives: Merge

A Giant Dog’s Trademark Punk Raunchiness is Alive and Well on “Toy”

A Giant Dog

Photo by Pooneh Ghana.

Earlier this month, Andrew Cashen received a text from his mom. “I was listening to Top 40, to the successful musicians, and I noticed something,” she wrote. “Their songs are all about positive things, like love, relationship, and family. I just want to see you do well.”

The observation was meant as unsubtle commentary on the music of Cashen’s band, A Giant Dog, who over the past decade have emerged as one of Austin’s most thrillingly irreverent bands, and who have historically gone out of their way to avoid the very sort of pop-friendly subjects like love and companionship in favor of topics like masturbation, tampons, and getting high.

“I don’t know if it’s true yet, or if A Giant Dog should test it,” says lead singer Sabrina Ellis, still pondering Cashen’s mom’s text a week later. “Do you think that A Giant Dog should go in the ‘love, relationships, and family’ direction?”

That’s one of the questions the band ask themselves on their new album, Toy, which is the group’s fourth LP, and their second for Merge. On it, the Austin quintet still boast plenty of their trademark raunchiness (see their cover of Sparks’ “Angst In My Pants”), but the album, by the band’s own admission, also deals with the kind of heavier subjects that come with turning 30, growing up, feeling more adult, and getting ever-so-slightly wiser.

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Record Stores Labels Love


From emporiums with vast caverns of dusty, disorganized stacks, to the slick, wooden-box shops, where carefully-curated bins of vinyl are perfectly positioned next to screen prints, the world has no shortage of diverse and amazing record shops. There are the miles of stacks at Amoeba (the California-based independently-run music chain), crates to dig through at flea markets the world over—even Myanmar, the former pariah state just now treading towards democracy, opened its first record store in the capital of Yangon. And there’s my favorite, The Thing in Brooklyn, where it sometimes feels as if the head of A&R for Def Jam has dumped 30 years worth of promo 12″s into a cramped junk shop.

With the recent flood of reissues and brand-new vinyl on sale at airports and Urban Outfitters, record stores can feel quaint—what was once a thrilling hunt for rare finds is now a few clicks away on Discogs. This isn’t a treatise on the vinyl revival, that’s been written before. This is a celebration of some of the finest purveyors on this planet, as selected by labels on Bandcamp, and paired with a recent release from each.

Ally-Jane Grossan 

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