Capturing the personality of country and the grit of alt-rock, Campdogzz have brought a distinct perspective to their take on Midwestern rock. This band doesn’t just scream backroads and cowboy boots, but embodies the inherent diversity within its hometown of Chicago through the dark electronics and tantalizing beats it works into its sound. The quintet’s sophomore album, In Rounds, updates their roots with a dusky undercurrent. Singer Jess Price, meanwhile, closely mirrors the vocal aesthetic of The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan, creating an intoxicating mix.
Most of the tracks on In Rounds center on consistent patterns, whether it’s surprising percussion intros or Price’s soprano. “Run Wild” tests out what seems to be a sort of soft-spoken quiet bongo drum rhythm, taking inspiration from Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” in its similarly provocative ballad dynamic. The title track shows Price’s vocal chops as her voice bends and cracks with rawness over a stripped-down acoustic guitar. The breadth of her vocal range continues to manifest as her storytelling moves back and forth from soft-spoken sadness to passionate and tortured melancholy.
A rich part of this album is picking things up rhythmically, detracting from the previously noted acoustically oriented ballads. “Souvenir” becomes a renegade anthem as Price’s voice weaves with the faster-paced percussion in a Florence Welch-esque approach. The group even leaves room for some synthetic riffs, complementing Price’s lyricism tastefully.
Adding to the fast-paced side of this album, Campdogzz amp up the instrumental versatility by sprinkling in some violin instrumentation on “Batshit.” Price harmonizes with woodwinds, adding a freshness to the band’s sound and making this track one of the more diverse cuts.
“Rawbone Ring” continues Campdogzz’s spirit of musical exploration through spirited and unpredictable instrumental choices. While stylistically similar to “Batshit,” it’s more current. The electric guitar sprawls out over the song. The intro evokes the electro-pop sound of Phoenix, but Price’s voice leads it into a folky dynamic. The quintet then showcases its ardent love for guitar rock on the ominous “Royal Rye.” Price howls over foreboding lyrics, painting a vivid picture of rebellious danger, a theme that runs rampant throughout the whole album.
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