My Favorite Records:The Hangdogs – East of Yesterday

This is the another installment in my series of favorite records.

If you’ve been reading this blog for more than a couple of days, you know that I am a huge fan of New York City’s finest alternative country band- the Hangdogs.

Between 1998 and 2003, they put out some of the best alternative country music this side of the Star Room Boys. Virtually every song is excellent, and the playing and singing is nearly perfect.

Any of their first three records, Same Old Story, East of Yesterday or Beware of Dog could easily make this list. The latter two are available on eMusic.

But I’m going with East of Yesterday on the strength of Speed Rack and Drift, two of my all-time favorite songs. Speed Rack, which I’ve played more than once on our podcast, might be the perfect ode to an ex-girlfriend. Drift virtually reeks with wistful resignation. Hey Janeane shows that the usually mid-tempo band can rock. I’d Call to Say I Love You would have been a number one country hit if Travis Tritt had recorded it before country music died. They Don’t Play No Country Music on the East Side of New York is a romp that any music loving Big Apple dweller should love.

I have to assume the Dogs have broken up, since they haven’t released a record since 2003 and their lead singer and principal songwriter Matthew Grimm seems to have relocated to Iowa, from where he released a Pete Anderson produced solo record last year. It’s a shame that bands can be as good as the Hangdogs and not make a noticeable splash on the national music scene. I guess I’ll toss them in with the Star Room Boys and Steve Pride as my favorite artists that should have huge stars but weren’t.

I listed to some clips from Matthew Grim’s solo record and it sounds pretty good. A lot more rock-edged than the Dogs’ work- sort of the way Ryan Adams’ first few solo records were. I’d love to see Matthew take the cycle back to roots music the way Ryan did. Anyone who can write an alt. country song as good as St. Claire of Cedar Rapids (off of Beware of Dog) should write lots and lots more of them.

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