Damn Tall Buildings is prepping for the release of their new album. It’s titled Sleeping Dogs and has a drop date of September 9th. But first, for those of you not yet familiar with the act in question, a bit o’ background.
Damn Tall Buildings
According to the band’s official website, Damn Tall Buildings is an “Acoustic Americana trio” consisting of multi-instrumentalist and main lyricist Max Capistran (guitar, banjo, and vocals), Sasha Dubyk (upright bass and vocals), and Avery Ballotta (violin, banjo, and vocals). Individually, they hail from the US states of New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Montana. The group, however, was born in 2013 at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
They first performed on Boston’s Newbury Street, began touring the US, then relocated to Brooklyn, New York in 2017. The group’s rockin’ resume features two previous full-length releases and an EP. Their premiere platter, Cure-All, dropped in 2014. They have also performed at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, MerleFest, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, and the 2016 Freshgrass Festival where they scored in the band competition.
Damn Tall Buildings’ signature sound is a mix of multiple music genres including Americana, bluegrass, roots rock, and vintage swing. When it comes to inspiration Capistran commented: “Brooklyn has an endless influence on our music. Yemeni music on iPhone speakers at the deli.”
He continued: “Reggaeton from the street side auto shop across the street rattling our windowpanes. West African guitar rhythms on the walk to the train. It’s insane. We love it.”
The band acknowledges that it is nigh impossible to avoid being constantly influenced by the media, various current events, and everything that is a part of daily life. “The impact that things outside ourselves have on us, specifically, the rise of social media and all that comes with it, leads to an exponential increase of people’s awareness of other people’s lives, and how that affects them and how they feel about their life.” They are also inspired by literature. Neal Sephenson’s “Snow Crash” is reportedly “high on the band’s reading list.”
Sleeping Dogs is an 11-track album. Capistran wrote the majority of the songs here. The band agrees this work is “an exploration to the depths of oneself to discover who we truly are… maybe it really is as simple as buying some new shoes, and feeling really good wearing ‘em, while you cruise down the block on the sunny side of the street.”
Track by Track
The album opens with “What A Nice Life.” The brighter music here contrasts nicely with the darker lyrics.
The second selection is “Dark Window Panes.” This one has swinging music and lyrics that focus on the end times. Garrett Eaton guests on the trumpet.
The next number is “Podcast.” Co-composed by all three band members, it certainly is a timely track with its own individualistic sound. Whether it is about current events, the end of life on earth as we know it, or both is questionable. Still, what really matters is it’s humorous and just plain works.
Capistran said: “We are all pretty hip when it comes to what’s happening out there in the world, and you can be sure that it finds its way into the art and music… ‘Podcast” is definitely about the end of the world. A nice funk to it. Some sticky icky guitar picking. A little fiddle chuck. Bass thump. It all feels like it’s going south for sure, but we are groovin’ to it.”
The first single is the refreshing cut “Cold Rain.” It features guest musicians Dylan McCarthy and Micah Cowher on mandolin and drums respectively. It has its own sense of fun.
“Lemons” has a memorable melody and a positive perspective in terms of the lyrics. By now, the band’s signature sound is solid to any careful listener. Guest musician Anh Phung appears on the flute which further helps to give the track its own little identity.
The sixth selection is “My Baby.” Avery Ballotta wrote this one for his fiance Emily Gervaise Moran. Guitarist Moran guests on this tender tip of the hat written just for her.
The seventh songful serving is “Patio.” This is yet another refreshing, upbeat piece that might be a bit overshadowed by previous pieces and yet it still stands alone.
The mid-tempo shuffle piece, “Painter”, puts the musical spotlight on perseverance, and reinvention of oneself. Lars Thorson, referred to as “an adjunct member of DTB since the beginning,” appears here on lap steel.
The band slows things down on “Quietly Heartbreaking.” This one was written by Sasha Dubyk. It is said to be “an ode to waiting.”
Also included here is “Sweet Girl.” It is an admittedly catchy cut containing the chorus, “I am not myself, I am everyone else.” As the band notes, it is not only “the motto for the record; [but also]…our new anthem.” Cowher encores on the drums.
The closing cut is the tunefully textured title track “Sleeping Dogs.” Yes, we’ve all heard the ancient axiom: “Don’t you let them sleeping dogs lie.” But the band has taken these words of wisdom and made them a major theme here.
The song is about going out and living your life. It’s about learning and growing. It’s a fine finish featuring mix-master Dan Cardinal on keys.
Overall, the album is an apt intro to the act, its country back porch band sound, and its musical purpose in life. Damn Tall Buildings essentially looks at the various aspects of everyday life and tries to turn them into something both musical and positive via multiple music genres and their own personal perspectives. The talented trio notes that they make music because their “innate desire is to connect with people on a level that’s beyond day-to-day interaction.”
They hope that with this release they can somehow pass along the joy they felt making it and that listeners might, in turn, take the positive vibes “with them to pass along to someone else. It’s a shared celebration of positive energy…” So Check out Damn Tall Buildings’ newest disc and you might just discover you’d rather not let “Sleeping Dogs” lie after all.