Pat Veil is an artist that has evolved diagonally. He utilizes musical doorways with forced entry and lurks down avenues of dark, intellectual passage, and it has put him in his present and most interesting situation to date. That situation is a band called Sir Dove.
Sir Dove is the culmination of the best of The Brighton Bar alumni. Guitarist and producer extraordinaire Skiz is best known (besides his stellar production work here) for his role in The Chilling Details, Montagna & The Mouth To Mouth, and as an accordionist for Weezer. Bassist Ben Ross also did time in The Mouth To Mouth, as well as stints in Mothguts, Fake Gimms, and Wet Wolf. Tony Detroit spent time in Hogan’s Heroes as well as his current position in the band Extras Inc.
Their recent May release is titled Stay Home, and it features 12 compositions running the cynical gamut of culture, society and music scene fashion all wrapped in a dirty, smartass pop style of The Godfathers, Get Up Kids or Promise Ring.
Stay Home goes right for the throat with the kick off of “Season 7.” Veil waxes poetic on the odd culture of seasonal television and its power of handing out lethargy. Is this a draining of societal creativity? Is this the outcome of a self-centered lack of action by the masses? Or, is it the analogy of a failing government hierarchy and the deliberate prayers of canceling us before we make season seven? Chords clang clean and clear as drums and bass punch up through the floor, securing this high flyer on the tarmac of Veil’s prose.
“Battling Band” pokes true fact fun at the horrible tradition of making young (and old) talent crawl all over each other in the demoralizing quest for free guitar strings and subpar studio time given out by guys that belong behind the counter at Best Buy. Marshall Crenshaw meets The Dead Milkmen rage on this choppy, poppy, kick in the teeth. Veil tells his story well, spitting out venomous brushes with low expectations all sponsored by some money grubbing douche at the door.
“Same Coin” covers the unsettling conundrum of voting criminals in and out of the same old system. Veil nails it as he says, “I don’t know how many times, I can hear the same old lines with the same results.” Musically, the band reminds me of good Kinks and even The Records. Skiz lays out smart and simple Townshend chords before digging into a melodic lead jangle that would make a gin blossomed Peter Buck take notice. Politics may be forever skewed, but the kids are alright.
“Older” immediately launches an agreeable 1980s pop attack as Veil snaps and snarls à la Dave Pirner. What I like about Veil is his ability to change at a moment’s notice. Stylistically he’s tough to pinpoint when thinking of a particular style or genre. Sure he has his predictable moments, but I’m pretty sure because of his attitude approach, he could sing jazz standards and pull it off. Hell, Elvis Costello did it, so why not anyone else? The song zips along on the rails of two-string bends knuckle bleeding down strokes and bass and drum conundrums.
Another mentionable song is the dark, sonic mid-tempo of “Metal Tube Of Death.” This is the tale of the powerless feeling of air travel. Veil and crew wind up a chilling and rusty Crazy Horse sound to go with the imagery of faux safety and the horrific realization of having nothing to stop them from plummeting to the earth below. Guitars gnash and slash traditional E chord vamps and double bends that spread ominous warnings of impending fuzz bass that crawls across the middle of the song like a monitor lizard.
“Tylenol” may seem to be self-explanatory, but just when you think that’s the case, Sir Dove explain their charming lyrical meaning on the song page. “This is an advertisement for cyanide. It’s a testimonial. It may not be recommended by as many as nine out of 10 doctors…but it sure puts a quick stop to a headache.” So, with that in mind, this song reminds me of an early Roxy Music period piece. Once again, Veil switches gears to deliver a full-bodied and melodic vocal delivery. Guitars sweep as Skiz takes great big down swiped shots across the spectrum. Drums report, firing hot shots of single counterpoint snare under Veil’s chemically induced journey through self-termination.
“Nothing Like You” is the true rocker of the disc, and it doesn’t disappoint. Combining the fury of Richard Hell and Billy Corgan with the guitar sensibilities of Steve Jones, “Nothing Like You” hits all the sweet spots when you’re looking for compositionally genuine rock and roll. Dynamic passion packs power and believability into a genre that’s been done to death by every hipster that’s picked up a Les Paul Junior.
Another high point on the disc is the dissonant goodness of “Black Room.” The drum and bass shuffle into dark and glittery electrics as Veil stumbles down the rabbit hole of all things black. I especially like the choruses that run a blitzkrieg of guitar grit all compliments of Skiz. The guitars roar before receding into the back to support bass and drums as Veil leads back to the powerful chorus. Veil and crew describe this song on their page as, “Anton LaVey lived in a black house. I drive a black car. Burzum composes black metal. Black is easy on the eyes.”
The double timed, capitalistic symbolism of “Prostitutes At The Pump” fires up next and Sir Dove have the uncanny ability to get their message across in a logical way without surrendering attention to the musical details. Loud, fast and furious, this may be considered pop music, but to me I see a clear level of statement, humor and the musical ability to put their subject matter where their mouth is. This is what Dramarama could have been in a different world.
Speaking of Dramarama, the disc sums up with the aptly named “First Cigarette.” Could this be the tongue-in-cheek play on “Last Cigarette?” Maybe it is, or maybe it’s the completely alternate universe of Pat Veil’s lyrical coding. Sir Dove scramble into the middle of the subject via minor chord ladders, free-for-all chanted choruses, and a roller coaster of syncopated rhythms. Veil rasps for all he’s worth as he laments the travail of the ages here at the Jersey Shore, a Shoreworld littered with magnificent musicians and bad decisions that have melted into the forgettable and ghostly regions of the Union’s most quizzical state. This is Sir Dove’s fist-raising anthem, their cry to battle and Veil’s poignant shot at the Jersey Shore scene that has repeatedly fallen back into its own predictions.
Stay Home probably won’t get featured on most of our better known commercial or college radio stations, which is completely predictable. This is music that represents the real fan of rebellion and the venomous spit that rock was always supposed to be about.
Sure, you’ll discover them on alternative web shows and online stations, but Stay Home will probably be way too unconventional to see the light of day any place else in the land of the chosen. The problem, which has been around for ages, is that true expression scares commercial convention to death. And that’s exactly why I love Sir Dove and Stay Home.
Sir Dove will be appearing at The Brighton Bar on June 23 as the opening act for Kepi Ghoulie of Groovie Ghoulies. For a taste of Stay Home, head over to sirdove.bandcamp.com.