Album Review: Ezra Furman, Day of the Dog

Ezra Furman, Day of the Dog (Bar/None Records, 10/8/2013)

An album I took a while to settle down with – having heard tracks featured on many great radio shows, including Marc Riley’s show on BBC 6Music and The Late Riser’s Club on local WMBR – and extremely glad I did. 

Having released several albums with the Harpoons, as well as solo material, Chicago native, Tufts University alum (go Jumbos!) Ezra Furman recorded Day of the Dog with a new backing band, the Boy-Friends.  Musically, much of the album recalls the days when rock and roll, r&b and country were not easily distinguishable, adding glam stomp and proto-punk attitude.  The return of Frankie and Johnny, then.  The soundtrack to a sock hop held amidst the anarchic haze of a flop house in the Bowery.

In a rough, nasal voice recalling equal parts Hell, Johnny Thunders, Alex Chilton and (in quieter moments) Neil Young, Furman sings of estrangement and bewilderment; solace found only in “cold hands”.  I don’t claim to be familiar with Furman’s work with the Harpoons, but it’s hard to imagine their playing being more evocative than the Boy-Friends.  The contributions of saxophonist Tim Sandusky are worthy of particular praise, but the entire band is exceptional throughout.

Guitars and drums swing, pianos boogie and saxophones skronk on cuts like “Tell ‘Em All to Go to Hell’ and “Walk On In Darkness”, where Furman sings with impassioned zeal of being stuck in “a little apartment in Queens”, where everyone’s left save he and “the Lord…the trash piled high and a/chain on the door/and the neighbors don’t know what the hell that means”.  Opener “I Wanna Destroy Myself” finds him treading water in a “world, rising up like vomit/filling up my ugly little mouth”.  “My Zero” (official video below, via YouTube) is deliriously gorgeous and should be a hit – 70s AM gold stripped of cornball sheen; however, since real radio doesn’t exist anymore, I can only hope some music supervisor is paying attention.  I can’t stop listening.

Highlights include:  “My Zero”, “I Wanna Destroy Myself”, “Cherry Lane”, “Anything Can Happen”.

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