Best Dog Award: Faith-Based Space Place 

Local rock act Best Dog

Award's second EP is a remarkably cohesive effort for a band that is overflowing with ideas. Instead of playing as messy and unfocused, Faith-Based Space Place takes a myriad of themes and textures, and weaves it all together with a grace and finesse present even in its most chaotic moments.

Best Dog Award's initial musical impression is one of constant gear-shifting—sci-fi organ tones envelope all of the other instruments in gauzy atmospherics, from which kinetic, tumbling drumbeats and spiky guitar melodies occasionally come close enough to the front of the mix to be tangible and visceral.

Grounding the trio's musical and arranging prowess is sharp, idiosyncratic songwriting and Joel Crocco's expressive and affecting versatility as a singer. That's not to say that the mournful accordion-like textures and exclamation points of guitar in the evocative "Duh, Jobe" are mere window-dressing, for example; the disparate but smooth interactions between conflicting moods and sounds prove that the record's title is not just stoner nonsense—it's a universe of possibility.

As Faith-Based Space Place progresses from start to finish, it's clear that Best Dog Award's lack of adherence to any particular style is their style: The shape-shifting soundscapes underpin Crocco's distant, yearning lyrics and delivery. Though his lyrics are oblique and occasionally cynical, the manner in which they are sung never feels cold or remote. The primary theme suggested in every track, musically and lyrically, is a need to connect and a romantic fight against alienation—and that's what, above all, makes Faith-Based Space Place an unforgettable listen.

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