Fame doesn't help Dogstar's lack of originality
By LISA BRUNO
Scene Music Critic
Yes, Keanu Reeves is in a band. As are Bret Domrose and Robert Mailhouse. Unfortunately for Reeves, Dogstar may not prove as big a hit as "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure."
In fact, what has been touted as a rocky road for the band, may continue. Happy Ending, the band's second album, but first U.S. release, contains 11 songs, only a few of which stand out even enough to be considered as noteworthy. Regrettably, Dogstar does little — beyond having Keanu Reeves on bass — to distinguish itself from the likes of many current "rock" bands like Creed or Matchbox 20.
The band was created in the shadows of Hollywood. This becomes heavily evident after a quick tour of their high gloss website. With just a few double clicks, the suspicion that Dogstar is a little too created, a little too much like a boy band with guitars is confirmed. The problem for Dogstar is that it tries to present itself as a simple garage band, just trying to make their mark in musical history. What they don't seem to realize is that they don't offer anything different or distinct to the musical history books. They describe their songs as "lovingly-crafted, intimate songs." Crafted is definitely true, because this band doesn't feel like it's for real.
Dogstar seems to feel as if they have a doubly difficult struggle to success because of Reeves's presence in the band. This comes across almost like a chip on their Dogstar shoulder, criticizing those who have preconceived notions about the band without listening to Happy Ending. Yet, after a single run through Happy Ending, most of these notions stick.
There are, however, a few noteworthy songs, songs that may, on a musical low, cause the listener to seek out Happy Ending and press play. The second track, "Slipping Down," actually contains some of the better Keanu, lyrics, "I worked on it for awhile, until I saw that it was goin' nowhere. I gathered it into a pile and put it with the rest of the things that didn't work."
The song, "Cornerstone" is the first release from Happy Ending. And after a first listen on the radio, it may cause that all too familiar CD buyer's remorse. The eigth track, "Washington," is a pleasant ballad, however the lyrics just feel wrong — as if they're forced to rhyme, "We rode upon a town, people all around."
It seems as though Bret Domrose, the lyricist, missed the day in lyric writing class where they discussed that to be a good verse, it doesn't necessarily have to rhyme.
Dogstar's sophomore offering unfortunately leaves the listener wanting more — more uniqueness of both the album and the band, particularly today, when the radio offers so much of the same.
All Scene Stories for Tuesday, September 12, 2000