Review: Damn Tall Buildings – Sleeping Dogs

Damn Tall Buildings is a trio hailing from all over the states; Avery Ballotta of Bozeman MT (fiddle and vocals), Max Capistran of Bedford NH (guitar, banjo and vocals), and Sasha Dubyk (upright bass and vocals).

The first question to arise about Damned Tall Buildings, is this bluegrass? Damned if I know! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun!)

They’ve called their style “guerilla roots”, rising from Americana and bluegrass, as far as guerilla I can tell you it certainly will sneak up and then grab your attention.

Take bluegrass, some old-time, folk, country, a bit of swing, add a good dose of pop sensibilities and some New Orleans style funk, then add a big pile of fun, and I can tell you that you end up with a huge grin!

“Sleeping Dogs” opens appropriately with a sound vaguely reminiscent of cranking up an old Victrola to put on the song “What A Nice Life”; low-fi sound and hi-fi fun that is a perfect introduction to the rest of the album.

Don’t let the old-timey sound fool you, the third cut is “Podcast”, thoroughly up-to-date lyrics, string band harmonies, overlaid on an acoustic sound that (like the rest of the album) defies the calendar and leaves you wondering just *which* era you’re in!

“Cold Rain” segues nicely into “Lemons”… the latter which seems to be more about hard times than fruit(!), and as I’m writing this review in the midst of the December 2022 record cold front these seem more than fitting,

“Patio” is a lilting call to enjoy life “on the patio at your mother’s house”. It might be winter now but you can smell spring and summer in this song, with a reminder to stop and smell the roses along the way.

“Quietly Heartbreaking” is a quiet introspection out a rainy car window. There are songs that you can spend time analyzing lyrics, and ones that you should really just sit back and absorb the atmosphere. Really you should probably do both, but I find myself lost in the atmosphere of this one.

The album closes out with “Sleeping Dogs” which carries fiddle runs with echoes of barn dances, and is yet another fine example of the band effortlessly trading leads and harmonies.

I *really* hope you give this album a listen… I *really* hope you find it as hard to categorize as I have… and I really hope you have as much fun listening to it as I’ve had! And add Damn Tall Buildings to your “Gotta See Live!” list while you’re at it!

Mark Hudson

Mark Hudson is a long time local HVBA member and music lover who, unfortunately, had to move away. He misses the local scene but will look for you at Greyfox!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *