Every now and again, life'll surprise you. Pull the rug right out from under you. Slap you silly. Or sadistically. But, either way, it gets your attention.
Which is a good thing. Because here I've been bitching about how few 2006 record releases have truly impressed me and, all along, I had an absolute gem gathering dust on my bedstand. That record is Dog Problems. And the band is the Format.
So color me somewhat crushed when I ran a search at the Hype Machine, only to discover that I'm only about the 19th or 20th blogger to happen upon these two young Phoenix musicians (Nate Ruess and Sam Means, both in their early 20s). Dog Problems is the band's second full-length effort after their 2002 EP (logically entitled: EP) and the 2003 LP Interventions and Lullabies. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), those recordings were not exactly embraced by the record companies that released them, and Ruess and Means were freed to craft Dog Problems on their own terms. And those terms are exceedingly good.
You can hear a bit of XTC in the Format's sound. Also: Ben Folds and the Flaming Lips. But there's something of the '70s burbling up in there, too. A heaping helping of Harry Nilsson, perhaps? A sliver of Supertramp? Well, why the hell not.
Dog Problems is quite simply the best record I've heard all year - track one through 12. For the love of all that is holy in the world of "indie" music, I hope that you'll give it a listen. The record will be released by Nettwerk on July 11, but you can purchase it [here] in MP3 form (just 79 cents each) or in total (just $7.99). Believe me, you'll want the whole kit 'n' kaboodle on this one.
The Format's MySpace page is [here].
[MP3] "Dog Problems"
[MP3] "Time Bomb"