Live-in-studio records often sound better on paper than through the speakers, great in theory but a real gamble in practice. On EAR OP, the upstate New York indie-prog institution Los Doggies waltz way out on that limb. The result is far more than a document of their locally legendary live prowess and their eccentric imaginations. Raw and complex, intimate but fiercely energetic, EAR OP revels in an original ensemble voice: serious post- and progressive-rock approached with an unaffected innocence that you might almost call “punk.”
Following the kind of contrarian logic that has typified their DIY career, Los Doggies went down to go up: shedding the bedroom symphonics, the immaculate maximalism, and the stylistic horseplay of their previous self-recorded releases and engaging producer Kevin McMahon (Titus Andronicus, Swans, Real Estate) to capture naturalistic live performances of four sui generis and challenging long-from songs.
The new recordings find this veteran New Paltz, NY trio at both its most precise and its most freewheeling, powering through the perspective tricks of mathy prog, the visceral urgencies of grunge, the spacious interplay of acid rock, and the homely, uncorrected values of such seminal indie guitar rock bands Built to Spill, often within a single song. EAR OP crosses back and forth between dissonant modernism and moments of genuinely anthemic pop uplift. It is played with wit and ferocious chops, sung with a willing passion as uninhibited as it is unconventional.
EAR OP may represent a new kind of prog rock—lean, idiosyncratic, exposed, and utterly without pretense and pomp. Its title track and centerpiece typifies EAR OP’s effortless fusion of indie- and chops-rock values: autobiographical and programmatic, it narrates the ear surgeries that brothers Evan and Jesse Stormo experienced as kids, both in its surreal lyrics and in its complex musical form—not exactly typical prog fare.
While their past studio efforts were difficult to reproduce live, this virtuosic trio tried its level best, with both drummer/vocalist Evan Stormo and bassist Matt Ross playing multiple instruments at once. EAR OP will require no such multitasking, allowing this band to explore a natural sound and an ensemble empathy earned over 10 years of composing, recording, gigging and unfettered searching.
Produced by Kevin McMahon at Marcata Recording
Cover Art painted by Jon Duci
Jesse Stormo: guitar, vocals
Evan Stormo: drums, vocals
Matt Ross: bass