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Bark Your Head Off, Dog

by Hop Along

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Malcolm McDowall
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Malcolm McDowall Extremely catchy hooks dispersed between a unique lyrical style that can be disorienting but once you get used to it makes lots of sense. Yummy guitar tones that settle in the arrangement and stand out only when they need to. Favorite track: Not Abel.
Mike Swag
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Mike Swag As catchy as it is nuanced.

We were covered in each other’s snot / in my childhood bed / It seemed like we were being sweet Favorite track: How Simple.
James Oxales
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James Oxales Took a bit to grow on me but when the songs clicked, they really hit me. Every song has been stuck in my head simultaneously. Last time I had to have an album on repeat was Painted Shut. Frances' vocals are as intoxicating as ever. So much thought and effort went into this album. Love it. Favorite track: How Simple.
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about

Written over the course of 2016 and 2017 and recorded in the summer of the latter year by Frances Quinlan (songwriter/vocalist/rhythm guitar), Tyler Long (bass), Joe Reinhart (guitar), and Mark Quinlan (drums), Bark Your Head Off, Dog addresses disappointment, particularly in man's misuse of power, and relates accounts from the periphery -- one's attempts to retreat from the lengthening shadows of tyrants, both historical and everyday. It considers what it’s like to cast off longheld and misguided perceptions, yet without the assurance of knowing what new ones will replace them. Much like on Hop Along’s first and second records, Get Disowned and Painted Shut, Quinlan seeks in real time to work through these issues.

Throughout the album, one gets the sense that Quinlan is wandering in the thicket of a forest—a state of being that will feel familiar to longtime listeners—and on this outing, she hasn’t left a trail of breadcrumbs behind her. The album’s artwork, which Quinlan painted herself, invites the listener into that forest, as well. “There is a terror in getting lost,” she says, “the woods are at the same time beautiful and horrifying.” This curious wandering gives the album, both lyrically and musically, a heightened dimensionality.

Bark Your Head Off, Dog is, without question, Hop Along’s most dynamic and textured record yet. Self-produced and recorded at The Headroom in Philadelphia by Reinhart and Kyle Pulley, Bark Your Head Off, Dog features the familiar sounds that have always made the band allergic to genre: grunge, folk, punk, and power pop all appear, with inspiration from ELO to Elvis Costello to ‘70s girl group vocal arrangements. This time around, they’ve added strings, more intricate rhythms, lush harmonies (featuring Thin Lips’ Chrissy Tashjian), along with a momentary visit with a vocoder. In more than one place, Mark Quinlan drums like he’s at a disco with Built to Spill.

Most significantly, Bark Your Head Off, Dog shows the band at its strongest and most cohesive. Hop Along (which originally began as Quinlan’s solo project under the moniker Hop Along, Queen Ansleis) has never sounded so deliberate, so balanced. “So strange to be shaped by such strange men” is a line that repeats on more than one song on the album. “I’ve been thinking about that a lot. That I just deferred to men throughout my life,” Quinlan says. “But by thinking you’re powerless, you’re really robbing yourself. I’m at a point in my life where I’m saying instead, ‘Well, what can I do?’”

credits

released April 6, 2018

Produced by Joe Reinhart and Hop Along

Written by Frances Quinlan and Hop Along (ASCAP)

Engineered by Kyle Pulley and Joe Reinhart at The Headroom in Philadelphia

Assistants Pat Quigley Ethan Farmer Ben Weiss

Additional Engineering by
Mark Watter
Phil Edfers
Jackie Milestone
Shane Woods

Mixed and Mastered by Ryan Schwabe, Rare MP3s, Philadelphia

Artwork and layout by Frances, except Canvasbacks, by her mother

2018 Saddle Creek

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about

Hop Along Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Hop Along is Frances Quinlan, Mark Quinlan, Tyler Long, and Joe Reinhart who all went to rural suburban high schools (except for Joe, who went to a suburban suburban high school). Eventually they moved to Philly and started playing music together.

Get Disowned is their first full-length release. It was made piece by piece, over the course of two years, at Headroom Studios in North Philadelphia
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Track Name: How Simple
I suppose one who hasn’t seen
the earlier frames could say
I am advancing
I am advancing
Pale as a banshee sun—
think I should stop checking
myself out in the windows
of cars, when I could see
my future in her pictures of relatives

How simple my heart can be
How simple my heart can be
frightens me

Don’t worry
we will both find out,
just not together.

Your hand was on me
It seemed like you were
being sweet
Here I am, again
at the reserve to drink

It’s not that I thought
like all of a sudden you change
We were covered in each other’s snot
in my childhood bed
It seemed like we were being sweet
Her pictures of relatives

How simple my heart can be
How simple my heart can be
frightens me
Track Name: Somewhere a Judge
There you have it, the beginning
and the end
The intern’s shovel still
covered in shit

Death, indiscriminate drags off
the newborn buck with the
broken leg

In the shadow of conversations
had while I was asleep
not to mention the years
of conversations you’ve had
without me

Afternoon vanilla sun
crawls away across the lawn
through the phone I pull you
and drag your voice around
Afternoon vanilla sun
crawls away without a sound
Through the phone I pull you
and drag your voice around

You don’t know I know what’s wrong

Notification: 8 executions by drug
to beat the expiration
A shelf life of reason, is that what
this was Arkansas?
Somewhere, a judge stretches himself
out on fine tropical sand
I went back to work then
took the train home
I saw a fire in the distance

Afternoon vanilla sun
crawls away across the lawn
Through the phone I pull you
and drag your voice around
Afternoon vanilla sun
crawls away without a sound
Through the phone I pull you
and drag your voice around

I don’t know why
I’m so mean each time I come to visit
I don’t know why
I’m so mean each time I come around
Track Name: How You Got Your Limp
Poured the professor
into a cab, avoiding
as best as one can
the voice of a
doomed man
condemning his students
in my lack of power
I knew him

I can hear you;
The whole bar can.

The supervisor lied over the phone
He never got up to check
next door on that
nineteen year old kid
who came in to work, but was
nonetheless reconvicted
Over the counter, Nora told me
all about it

I can hear you;
The whole bar can

I know what you’d like me
to say, but you got to do
exactly what you wanted
That’s how you got your limp
All your strength came
from her humiliation

I can hear you
I can’t do anything

Quitting the bar
perfectly understood in the end
he will be leaving
a garbage tip as his
revenge
Track Name: Not Abel
The whole town lined up
outside the tent
what those kids
thought they saw-
do you really want to remember this?
Today, think of all the alien
shots in the dark, that at one time,
all at once, coexisted

I mean aside from all the burning
Hurry by the shanties beside the road

Sunset on a cart
pulled home by a white horse
Conscience of the husband
was righteous and coarse
There must be a limit—if
we only circle around
there’s no hurry in reaching it

Shirt bloodstained and yet it was
not Abel but Cain
who got to hear
the voice that for so long had
been a stranger
Not one word of all the time
They spent growing up brothers
Even love
Yes even love, something to lose
What if the details there
were suddenly shared?
Tender moments siblings keep secret

Sunset on a time
when no words could
be spared. Unknowing
mother rocks soft
in her chair
There must be a limit
This has happened
This will happen
This is happening

Voice on the radio again
strange to be shaped by
such strange men
It’s the hottest summer again
Strange to be shaped by
such strange men—but where
will you go? where

Where? Where? When
you asked me that question,
it sounded like a joke a
rubber hand extended to shake
Outside my kitchen the sound
of fists on the door in
the early morning light
A death! So small
and sentimental
Daddy giving
the middle finger to the Kodak lens
when I saw her face she smiled,
“I don’t know why I
saved it all this time.”
Track Name: The Fox in Motion
The youngest
but that does not
matter now
she and her sister laugh
I was asleep with my mouth
open the whole drive down
on a sheet
on the beach
small lunatic birds
We watch them as they
rush and retreat

No, I wasn’t changed tonight
or it has not yet been recognized

When we saw the fox run
just a few feet in front of us
I thought something must be
wrong; she looked like
decay in motion
We saw the fox run
like a ghost
lost and embarrassed
I thought something must be wrong
she must be sick

Cousin take me home
All the way off in the city
His distant regret

The youngest—
but that does not matter now
Her sister and I on
opposite ends of the beach
Island after island
Go the thoughts within
Each of us off on our own
in the dark scavenging
me on my phone
scavenging

Cousin take me home
All the way off in the city
His distant regret

How can I explain it
having been seen
What would that mean?
Track Name: One That Suits Me
Meanwhile, the scientist,
pounding on his skull
his skull—two blew
themselves away working on it
In storms the general
Grabbed him by his collar
“Well you old crackpot, what
have you got to say?”

In an open field, man is guilty always
mud is yellow and the ground
is moving
sun is yellow and the ground is
moving. The ground is moving

The century turned and your
old man stumbled in
saying, “Of course I am for peace.
One that suits me.”

For the first time
the Captain’s at my side
Look now, here the Padre comes
here he comes
about to go on his lunchbreak

“Son, you and I both know
the real criminal is time
I understand your crime but
what makes you think
you’ve got the right
to be young?”

In an open field, man is guilty
always.

The century turned and your
old man stumbled in, saying

“Of course I am for peace.
One that suits me.”

And now the mother of
them all, she is just
about to fall
In the history of man
reality becomes softened
Track Name: What the Writer Meant
Gold, alone
clinging to a stem
Pretty soon this will be
a skeleton
Metropolises before
silent and smoldering
Above the wild giant wailed
Never will I do that again

So strange
to be shaped by such
strange men
Elizabeth, explain what
the writer meant

That God is the one who changed.

The General,
Buck toothed, bright eyed
frothing red.
Baltimore, you on the floor
me on the edge of the bed
We saw him in one
brutal gesture tear
that rabbit open
You turned to me, “Isn’t this
Supposed to be for children?”

So strange
to be shaped by such
strange moments
Elizabeth, the train
when will I see you again?

Will you tell me your mind has changed?

So strange
was I shaped for just this moment?
Elizabeth, explain
what the writer meant.
Track Name: Look of Love
Jane Austen
in the hospital
Your handwriting on the legal
pad was barely legible

Waiting, I wonder if I
could go all the way back
would any of it still scare
me for example the labrador
down the street
Mom carried me down
from off the car
Neighbor scolded I’d upset him
every time he took off
my thoughts got dark and menacing

Go on Romeo, bark your head off
My last terror of ignorance
is still to come
couldn’t quit it, you dumb dog
chasing speeding cars
I heard the engine
and then you
lay like a good boy
on the hot summer tar

That night, the awful relief
Now, what
are ya gonna do to me?
First symptom of guilt
then became
a permanent shame

And now I can get close
enough, close enough
to see you’re
overgrown
with a look of love

I still dream of spiders
crawling across my bed
The present, I have no place in it.
I still dream of being watched, but
not by—well, I know your
thoughts on the matter
we don’t need to discuss it

Around 3 am you will come to
your roommate’s pissed his
sheets right through
years from now,
you will build beautiful
black flowers

I came home and you directed
with your hardened hand
all of your birds who have
come back to dine and rest
in your garden again
They’ve come to rest
in your garden

Now I can get close
enough, close enough to
see you’re overgrown
with a look of love.

Bark your head off, dog
Track Name: Prior Things
Just a few minutes after
taking them, I realized
hundreds of buzzing flies
were all over me

I looked up and there you were
reading
You were on vacation
vacation means leave
means obliterate all prior things

Here, why don’t I try
why don’t I try to make you mine
why – is a lack of imagination
the crime?
why don’t I try
why don’t I try to make you mine
why don’t I back you up against this
moment

So when you finally go
when you choose to go
I resume my little lower road
and nobody needs to know
will know that I ever meant
to leave my
little lower road

I watch the bird feeder
out back in my parents’ yard
the weight of that bluejay
the bully steals it all

And what must happen in your mind
when you create those silences—
Nevermind, I don’t want to see
I know it’s got nothing
to do with me.

Here, why don’t I try
why don’t I try to move aside?
I’m still soft
I’m still in my prime
Why don’t I try
Why don’t I try to move aside
I’m still soft
it’s still my time

And when you finally go
when you choose to go
I resume my
little lower road
Nobody needs to know
will know that I was only
holding your place on this, your
little lower road

Your little lower road

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