Heads Held High - Dogs and Cats, Living Together (Cover Artwork)

Heads Held High

Dogs and Cats, Living Together (2010)

Fail Safe

Dogs and Cats, Living Together is the latest from Cleveland natives, Heads Held High. Borrowing from the hardcore styling of yesteryear, the band manages to do two things significantly well: They manage to simultaneously tip their hats to older acts that once waved the hardcore flag in the streets of L.A. and D.C. during the 1980s while also establishing themselves as a notable force in today's contemporary music environment.

Dogs and Cats, Living Together is a fuck-it-all approach to simple yet eclectic songwriting set against strong instrumentals that pack a serious wallop. The album is comprised of 10 tracks served up in just over 20 minutes. While proving to be considerably short in length, this album more than makes up for its brevity by offering listeners songs with a dynamic structure and unbridled energy to boot.

It's easy to take a typical hardcore song made popular in today's industry and simply chalk up its success to a tried formula that's proven to work in the past. You could anticipate the usual brazen breakdown progressions and fits of chaotic screaming until you're blue in the face, but that's not what you get here. There's nothing trite or cliché about this release. Each track takes on the shape of an entirely different animal, and they've all got fangs.

Songs like "Waiting for the Barbarians" and "Groundhog Day", while stylistically impressive, all lead up to a slightly odd gem that gives Dogs and Cats, Living Together a truly strong finish. The song in question is called "Van on Fire, Head Hurt". It starts off as a heartfelt acoustic number and, without warning, plunges into reckless abandon. The song provides listeners with a springboard into feelings of loss and deep regret, which ring true in the lyrics of the band's frontman, Elliott Frank. This song is undoubtedly strong and duly palpable and serves as one of the record's strongest offerings.

Since their release of So Say We All in 2008, Heads Held High have really excelled musically and have grown into an outfit that's proven itself capable of releasing a truly solid record; one that's nicely produced, very well-written and guaranteed to leave a lasting mark.