American Dog
Poison Smile

If Poison Smile doesn’t get the attention that American Dog deserves in North America (Europe has been reveling in it for years now), then I don’t know what will. Then again, the Ohio band’s DIY approach to releasing albums on this side of the pond makes it a little tougher to get the word out, which is why you should take this opportunity to check out Poison Smile. Just like Mean and Hard before that, this is one blistering SOB of a hard rock album, rife with big hooks and even bigger riffs, and all the beer soaked fun you can handle. If you seek an album that at various points reminds of Ted Nugent, AC/DC, and Motörhead, then look no further than Poison Smile.

As far the established, blues-informed boogie, metal-edged, and struttin’ hard rock of American Dog is concerned, Poison Smile follows in the footsteps of both Mean and Hard, but ends up even better because of the songwriting consistency involved. It’s got the best flow from beginning to end of any American Dog album released to date. Steve Theado’s Gonzo guitar riffs and solos sound better than ever too, while the bottom end provided by bassist (and lead vocalist) Michael Hannon and drummer Michael “Hazard” Harris packs one hell of a punch.

In the simplest of terms, this is one tough collection of tunes and there isn’t a throwaway ne in the bunch. Tracks such as “Devil Dog” (a hard puncher dedicated to the U.S.M.C…Semper Fi!”), “Old Dog, New Tricks” (The Four Horsemen just came to mind), the über catchy “The Real Nitty Gritty,” the Nugent-esque “Splinterin’ Sally,” and immediate American Dog classic “Just Like Charlie Sheen” are ballsy, toe-tappin’ rockers. Then again, it’s not like there is anything on here that isn’t big, ballsy, and rocking, except for classy ‘n cool instrumental “2012 A.D.” The title track offers a righteous, mid-tempo groove that burns hotter than the sun. “Bathroom Romance” is something along the lines of American Dog channeling (and toughening up) Faster Pussycat. The boogie-woogie keyboards of guest player Nate Hollman provide the key ingredient to the song’s ass-shakin’ qualities. Speaking of Hollman, he also lends his talents to the outrageous cover of The Cramps’ “Does your Pussy Do the Dog?” which American Dog makes its bitch by, among other things, launching into a section of Ted Nugent’s “Wango Tango” at one point. Yeah, it is so fitting that it’s ridiculous.

Well slap my ass and call me sweet, sweet Sally, I do believe I’ve already praised nine of the eleven tracks here. So what’s keeping me from praising “Lust and Greed” and “Off the Chain” then? Not a goddamned thing! I just hadn’t gotten to ‘em yet. Both are straight-to-the-point, devoid of the shit of bulls, and authentic in their asskickery. Are you with me out there? I said are you with me out there, baby!? You know what I like; you know what I like! Are you getting it now? Poison Smile is a great album, American Dog is a great band, and I’ve yet to run out of Motor City Madman references. Those who already know will just keep on’ knowin’ and those who don’t can turn around and get the fuck outta here!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Scott Alisoglu
July 24th, 2012

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