Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it. Greta Van Fleet already exists. Ahhhh, said it. This is not being said because of bitterness, loathing, or any vendetta against bands like White Dog. It is being said out of indifference. Rock, in the guitar soaring and majestic grandeur up until the 2000s, is simply not mesmerizing anymore. Radio won’t touch it unless it is classic rock and the word on the street is about Ghost BC and Gojira, not “Have you heard that new rock ‘n roll record?” Even rock fans are relegated to dive bars hearing tribute bands and getting loaded on 3 for two-dollar picklebacks.
Which is why White Dog’s self-titled debut is nothing short of forgettable. The barrier of entry for debuts are incredibly high now. The amount of content is overwhelming to access, so you must be unique to have staying power. White Dog simply does not possess that. Sure, the nostalgic enterprise they undertake is fascinating. Everyone loves a good attempt. There are elements of Wolfmother, wisps of Rod Stewart, and the fantasy of wizards, caves, and lanterns. All the puzzle pieces are there for a powerful album. Twin guitar harmonies that guide every track, captivating song titles, and stoned vocal delivery. Allman Brothers would smile. Put the puzzle together, and it becomes another picture of cats playing with a ball of yarn. It is nothing new or extraordinary.
White Dog’s problem is they try too hard to recapture Led Zeppelin’s already vanquished territory. White Dog? Black Dog. The album cover has statues of Bonham and Page overlooking hillsides. They have a song called “The Lantern”. The song remains the same in a sad way. The first song “Sawtooth” is unimpressive, the second song “Black Powder” is tired lyrically. The singer sounds constipated groaning out “Ooh, I want your black powder.” Well okay, then go buy some at the hardware store. It isn’t even a good euphemism. The syllabic frolic and sunny meander of “Snapdragon” is entertaining but then it is followed by more exhausted songs like “Crystal Panther”, which could be a fragrance from Anchorman. The drums are uninventive, the lyrics could easily have been generated from a lyric database, and the band overall sounds like every county fair headliner that are paid in hot dogs and a handshake.
As a debut, White Dog is trampled underfoot. It isn’t worthy of a sophomore slump even. They skipped right past the first glory to get to that.