Rose Windows – The Sun Dogs (Sub Pop)

The seven-piece Seattle band takes influence from all over alter the mind and invigorate the senses

Released Jun 24th, 2013 via Sub Pop / By Clementine Lloyd
Rose Windows – The Sun Dogs (Sub Pop) Rose Windows’ multi-layered record The Sun Dogs evokes elements from across the universe. Spirituality and material opponents collide to bring about a psychedelic westbound tour of our modern histories. Lead by Seattle songwriter Chris Cheveyo, the seven-piece band, alongside trusted producer Randall Dunn, have concocted an album akin to that which only an amalgamation of many modern artists could have conceived.

As quoted on UK Label Sub Pop’s website, Cheveyo, vocalist Rabia Shaheen Qazi, Richie Rekow, Nils Petersen, Pat Schowe and Veronica Dye have looked at “the everyday blues that capitalism and its hit man, religion, bring on all of us”. The resultant chapters read like a schizophrenic, but joyfully invigorating, bible of all things pasty and present. ‘The Sun Dogs I: Spirit Modules’ unfurls softly, exposing flutey and choral charms. Its elemental nature is pleasant, gentle guitar riffs sneaking to lend a sunny warmth to its near desolation.

Tracks like ‘Native Dreams’ and ‘Wartime Lovers’ proffer a hint of free love, with harsher riffs emblazoned in the bygone era of 70s stadium rock. Psychedelia dripping through the haze of the former is wrapped up with the shudders of an end-of-the-pier organ, metamorphosing for the latter into a soulful lilt, complimenting Shaheen Qazi’s rich vocals.

Utilising this soulful edge in ‘Walkin’ With A Woman’, the thematic scope of capitalism bleeds into the lyrics: “Oh no, Devil, leave me where I am, because I’ve been thinking about drinking with my own man, Uncle Sam”. The parallels drawn between the two figures, tinted by the light of the bluesy delivery in slow-played reverbed riffs off syllables, frames a deliverance of two evils.

Guitar riffs like this put us in mind of the era of earnest rock. ‘This Shroud’ diversifies this into Ennio Morricone territory. Combining with the kind of slick riff that wouldn’t be out of place on a Doors track, we are soon fully immersed in the heavy psychedelic outro and ritualistic, almost shamanic, drumming.

Closing with the bookend ‘The Sun Dogs II: Coda’, the record’s flow comes full circle, pouring out a more joyous energy. Coda, meaning ending or concluding passage, gives a finality to proceedings, echoed in the tone of Shaheen Qazi’s voice. The twinkling piano keys dance with the strings emulating the sitar, rising and falling to the whim of the track. Fading to a final elongated organ note, the gentle ending acts as a parenthesis that helps you down from the paths that have been traversed.

A record that contains so many elements from conceived histories has to be expertly assembled in order to hold together as tightly as this one. Perhaps it is Dunn’s attraction to “musical anthropology” that helped give birth to this diverse record. With the help of a collective of intelligent, creative and respectful artists, the result is a labour of love. A delightful escape from start to finish.