Another year, another album, another label. Frank Black doesn't seem to be letting imprint-hopping and shrinking sales get him down, however. His third record with the Catholics, "Dog In The Sand

Another year, another album, another label. Frank Black doesn't seem to be letting imprint-hopping and shrinking sales get him down, however. His third record with the Catholics, "Dog In The Sand," furthers the ex-Pixies frontman's recent explorations into bare-bones rock'n'roll.



This time around, the Catholics' ranks have increased in number. Joining guitarist Rich Gilbert, drummer Scott Boutier, and bassist David McCaffrey is longtime Black crony and veteran rock keyboardist Eric Drew Feldman. The band also augments its sound with three other guitarists, including Pixies alum Joey Santiago.



The record's classic rock feel comes across best in the smoky sound of tracks like "The Swimmer," which features Feldman's electric piano and Gilbert's pedal steel guitar. "Hermaphroditos" has a Stones-y swagger, though Black's always inventive lyrics ("How do you love me / deeply with your scalpel?") easily identify the song's true author.



Equally as idiosyncratic is the album's closer and title track, a retooling of a B-side from 1993. Black's protagonist as a futuristic pioneer testing out living conditions on Mars, with a dog as his only companion. As the melancholy acoustic progression blankets the singer, he sees his dog digging in the sand and realizes "This is your new home / this is your new home."



And so Black settles further into the post-Pixies stage of his career, edging closer to the rocker-for-life status of ex-punk demigods like Mike Watt and Iggy Pop. The Pixies may be dead, but Black rocks on.