Release Date: Feb 5, 2013
Record label: Carpark Records
With Velvet Changes, songwriter and instrumentalist Phil Jones gives us his promising, fogged-over vision of bummed-out, smoky beat-pop—and not without modest success. Velvet Changes sounds great—simple instrumentation mixed well, each song with a punchy, gutsy drum rollick and florescent melody woven out of guitar and keys. Jones' songwriting is simple, tight and effective to the point of a Strokes comparison (perhaps with a little Deerhunter thrown in, too), and if there's one downside here, it's the subtle uniformity of all the tracks, with the possible exception being “You're Not That Great”—an odd and easy flume into more gloomy, garage-y territory.
On Dog Bite's debut album Velvet Changes, Phil Jones offers his own take on the atmospheric pop terrain he helped Washed Out explore. However, Jones doesn't rehash that outfit's chillwave-defining sound; Velvet Changes is straight-up dream pop. Dog Bite may not be quite as shoegazingly nostalgic as some of Jones' contemporaries, but he's partial to spacy synth washes, languid guitars, and breathy vocals longing for something that once was (or could never be).
Amid the flurry of chatter inspired by the sudden release of the first My Bloody Valentine album in 22 years earlier this month was half-serious speculation about how m b v would affect the legion of indie bands still drafting in Loveless' jet stream all these decades later. Now that Kevin Shields was "back" orchestrating perfect storms of ugliness and beauty, would it put dozens, if not hundreds, of ineffectual faux-gazer outfits out of business? The answer is: not exactly. But it does put records like Dog Bite's new Velvet Changes in a fresh, not-so-flattering perspective.
Phil Jones is a man of few words, and by few, he makes Marc Bolan sound like Wordsworth. “Hot dream, warm touch / Cool bed, you’re tough” breaths Jones on “Supersoaker”, the second track on his debut LP, Velvet Changes. Branching out from his main gig as Washed Out’s touring keyboardist, the Georgia-born art school dropout, now Dog Bite, searches for a melody that won’t harsh his mellow.
Dog Bite is the brainchild of one Phil Jones, whose approach to music is much indebted to 1980s and ‘90s dream-pop. Dog Bite’s debut album Velvet Changes is a soft-edged platter of ethereal pop nuggets which aims to mine the same vein as such bands as Lush and Cocteau Twins, but utilizing Jones’s male vocals. The results are mixed. Some songs gravitate toward a certain spacey comfort level, but too many others are as vacuous as cotton candy: even after repeated listening, it’s impossible to call them to mind.