MUSIC REVIEW: Doghouse – Mongrel (2023)

Twelve tracks of electronica madness from Cardiff’s, ever so slightly barking, Doghouse.

Doghouse has been cocking his leg up on dancefloors and tentpoles for quite some time now. He first came to fame as front man for Sicknote, but he has been knocking tuneage out on his own since 2015. He long ago gave up just doing vocals (although anyone that saw Sicknote will agree that he didn’t just do vocals). He has been honing his craft as an all-round producer, singer, dancer, smart arse.

He is not completely feral though, he has been running with the Clown Jewels pack, so is partially house trained (or should that be techno trained?). Most of this album is his own work (whose a good boy, pat on head) but he does get some occasional assistance when the likes of David Hotknife, Jeremy Deadwood and Anatol come sniffing around.

The album opens with ‘Raise the Dead’, a psychobilly meets dark techno number. Presumably the dead are being raised for their bones.

Next up is a song called ‘Coke Monster’ which is presumably about something he has read about someone else doing drugs – officer.

‘Psychic Attack’ blends the psychobilly with the drugs, to reflect upon moments of vulnerability when the mind is open to an attack from beyond the grave

We wander into Victorian children’s entertainment for ‘The Ballad of Mr Punch’, with tales of the ups and downs of married life in the world of seaside puppets, but with an added twist; the usually familiar drunk and violent Mr Punch goes to counselling to save his marriage, and becomes a monument to married bliss. All done to the soundtrack of carnivaleque ska beat. That’s the way to do it!

The theme of slightly deranged fun and games is interrupted for five minutes and fifty eight seconds as we sniff around politics for ‘Blue Passport Blues’. The lyrics aren’t particularly insightful, Bob Dylan need not worry about his crown being nicked any time soon. But perhaps that’s because the title of the song prompts us to think about Brexit and we don’t really need to be preached at. We get what he is talking about, so can concentrate on dancing. There’s some blues guitar and harmonica thrown in to spice up the beats and help that dancing.

‘All Hope Finishes Here’ has a deep down and dirty bass line at it’s heart and vocal style reminiscent of a sixties sci-fi b-movie. Fuck knows what he is singing about, what the hell is ‘Bakelite pornography’? But this is dance music after all, I’m not sure you are supposed to think about the lyrics – although if you were tripping they would freak you out a bit.

In total, we get twelve tracks. They have been recorded over a number of years and they vary in style and tempo. ‘Notice to quit’ even dips it’s toe into dub reggae. Vocally the Doghouse is quite versatile, one minute soprano, the next minute baritone, often in the same song, but always with a gravelly edge, like a dog growling.

‘No Borders’ is another tune that hints at politics without preaching. We all know what he means.

The blurby thing on his Bandcamp page states: Doghouse, the original idiot savant, presents an album of 12 tracks weighing in at one hours worth of schizophonic manifestations.

The unreleased, the experiments, the collaborations and the downright insane.

Songs are like clingy children; some of these bastards have been hanging around for far too long… surely It’s about time they earned their keep

Here’s hoping that some of you will adopt them and give them the love they deserve…

All tracks produced on a shoestring… This is what DIY sounds like…

And that’s it in a nutshell. It doesn’t sound like an album that has been recorded after being locked in Abbey Road for a month, it sounds like sonic post-it-notes recorded in a kennel over a period of time with different ideas in the head. It is varied, but not disjointed. The themes meander from politics to drugs, from mental health to the paranormal, but they all come out of the same head and are unmistakable Doghouse. Which aint a bad bone to be chewing on.