Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Heart, Humor, and Punk Rock on A Giant Dog’s Latest Album ‘Toy’

A Giant Dog "Photograph"
Austin, Texas punk quintet A Giant Dog’s new album is filled with boisterous melodies and clever lyrics. Titled Toy, and released through Merge on August 25, is the group’s fourth release overall and its second on the label. It finds the group honing its songs into three-minute, hook-filled gems that are both heartfelt and brimming with caustic wit.

Lead single “Photograph” is a raucous love song powered by Graham Low’s bass and Daniel Blanchard’s drums. Guitarists Andrew Cashen and Andy Bauer chug, aggressive but catchy, alongside the group’s rhythm section as vocalist Sabrina Ellis belts out an ode to “lasting devotion and desire for one’s lover even as their body succumbs to the ravages of time:” “I wanna see you with your sagging tits / I wanna  see you when your jeans all split / I wanna kiss you when your teeth all rot / I wanna kiss you when your memories have been forgot.” Ellis explained the song’s inspiration in an interview with the Houston Press, “We wanted to write something romantic but not unrealistic that expresses the idea of feeling sexual and feeling lust but knowing that this person will be affected by the years and the life you spend together.”

A Giant Dog
Image used with permission by copyright holder

“Fake Plastic Trees” is an album standout that shares a title, but has no other discernible relationship, with a Radiohead song. A wonderful piece of garage rock, the guitar lines are both catchy and crunching. A playful melody in the chorus helps lighten the mood of the slacker narrator’s desultory monologue, and a handful of strings make a surprise appearance in the song’s bridge.

“Angst in My Pants,” unlike “Fake Plastic Trees,” is a cover of the classic Sparks song. It adds a bit of texture to the album. The track opens with a rapid-fire drumbeat, joined not long after by the bass-line. When the guitars eventually arrive, they are quieter than on previous tracks. This relative subtlety allows the song to rise and fall multiple times before eventually building to an outsize crescendo.

A Giant Dog’s Toy is out now on Merge Records and is available through Amazon, iTunes, and the Merge Records Shop.

Terence Praet
Terence Praet contributes to The Manual’s New Music Monday column. He studied Philosophy and History at Skidmore College…
9 top tips so you can get better sleep every night
Incorporate some or all of these tips and get more z's
Man sleeping

By now, you're well aware of the importance of sleep and that you need to know how to get better sleep whenever you can. It sits high atop a physiological throne, commanding just about everything. If you don't get enough of it, there's a serious trickle-down effect. Suddenly, you're not thinking straight, you're lacking energy, and your biological clock is off -- you're not you. And that's not fair to your health and the health of those around you.

Alarmingly, the CDC estimates that one out of three adults is lacking significantly in the sleep department. Worse, that figure was dropped before the pandemic, back in 2016. Surely, that percentage has only risen. We've found creative ways to cope with the new normal, but what we really need are lasting patterns that will ensure a good night's sleep. Try some or all of the sleep tips below as you pursue your worthy quest of catching more z's.
Upgrade your mattress

Read more
How to ditch your home’s ‘dorm room’ feel, according to an expert
If you bring a date home or cook them dinner, you want to impress
Fluide design + relocation

Stacey Herman has seen it all over her years working with men as an interior decorator and pro on how to decorate an apartment: The mattresses lying on the floor, the stolen road signs that harbor sentimental value, the collections of liquor bottles atop the kitchen cabinets. But it's all got to go. "You're an adult now," said the founder and chief transition officer of Stripe Street Studio. "You have to live in that adult world to accomplish the goals you've set out for yourself."

With her guy-focused design firm firmly planted in Miami, New York, and Tulsa (and consulting even more widely), it's obvious that American men are clamoring for advice and guidance when it comes to transitioning from dorm room to board room. But if you're anything like her myriad hapless clients, breathe easy: With a few pointers, you, too, can make that jump with ease — and even better, without a lot of money.

Read more
Best TV deals: Save big on Samsung, Sony, LG, and more
Vizio 65-inch V-series 4K TV in living room.

We consume so much of our content from TVs, that' it's probably not a surprise that the TV market has boomed massively in the past few years. Whether you want a new TV to watch the news, your favorite show, or to hook up a console or gaming PC, there are a lot of great options out there. That's why we've collected some of our favorite TVs across various brands so that you can pick one that you're comfortable with, or that matches the ecosystem you're already in. Also, be sure to check out our guide on what size TV you need before taking the leap so that you can get a better sense of what is going to work best for your space.
Best LG TV deals

LG makes some of the best TVs around making it an easy brand to recommend to most people. It sells a wide range of different products so you can buy an inexpensive 4K TV from the company as well as high-end OLED TVs with the latest technology. The C3 and G3 range are the most up-to-date but there are often some great discounts on the A and B ranges if you want an OLED TV without spending so much. webOS and its Magic Remote make browsing for content super simple too.

Read more