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A portrait of the young dog as poet

Dog Men Poets have one of the most intensely loyal followings on the local scene, and it's easy to understand why. They're a polished, energetic, musically accomplished ensemble and their folk-funk synthesis appeals to fans of both singer-songwriter sensitivity and R&B danceability.

On their new album, Birth of the Cool, their supple way with a mid-tempo groove makes the rhythm tracks for "Slow Down," "Hold On," and the title track, among others, highly appealing. Also, the group's underexploited talent for vocal harmony is ably showcased on the intro for "Kinky Stones" (so named for the way it appropriates the Jagger-Richards chestnut "I'm Free").

Unfortunately, DMP also fancy themselves as emcees, and it's here where their erratic taste really interferes with the pleasures of their music. The chief offending track, "MILF," exploits a very tired pop-culture slang term (popularized in 1999 by the film American Pie) with a seduction lyric that would be laughable if it weren't so overbearingly crass. Check

Birth of the cool
Dog Men Poets
out this promise/warning to nursing mothers of the world: "I'm gonna suck your hooters till they're bone dry/don't care how many kids you got/let 'em all cry." What woman in her right mind could resist such a suave sweet talker?

"Pretty Lady," with its Ricky Martin fanfares and a Gerardo-like stud-rap, is nearly as pathetic: "Got me lickin' on your fingers like you're KFC/I'm gonna suck on your toes like a Slushy."

This stuff probably charms the shoes off many a listener, and more power to 'em. But while Birth of the Cool doesn't quite prove these men to be poets, it certainly argues that they can be first-class dogs. Gilbert Garcia


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