Second Stage: Little-Known Bands You Should Hear

Second Stage: Dog & Panther

This photo uses a long exposure to capture all three members of Dog & Panther in a single frame. Pictured: Ben Vrazo, Ian Sigmon and John Katona. i i

hide captionThis photo uses a long exposure to capture all three members of Dog & Panther in a single frame. Pictured: Ben Vrazo, Ian Sigmon and John Katona.

Courtesy of the artist
This photo uses a long exposure to capture all three members of Dog & Panther in a single frame. Pictured: Ben Vrazo, Ian Sigmon and John Katona.

This photo uses a long exposure to capture all three members of Dog & Panther in a single frame. Pictured: Ben Vrazo, Ian Sigmon and John Katona.

Courtesy of the artist

Michigan trio Dog & Panther creates hard beats topped with feathery electronic ruffles that are best heard on headphones. The group's summer 2010 full-length, What Happenedan album full of melodic programming and carefully-crafted lyrics — is evidence.

Lead singer Ben Vrazo's pipes sound remarkably akin to Ben Gibbard's - which certainly isn't a bad thing. His lyrics at times even echo the Death Cab singer's familiar mild depression draped in lacy poetry. However, by stacking meshable sounds and incorporating earnest electronic elements throughout the album, Dog & Panther prove themselves more than a tribute project.

The acceleration of "Hurry Hurry" picks up like a hurried firefly dance, ambient in its frantic yet relaxed beauty. "Hollywood" follows, with morgue-centric prose at a glorious pace to match.

And then there's the band's December 2010 release, the Giant Hands EP. Dog & Panther peppers the title track with expertly placed hand-claps and cheery piano strikes. Hints of confused desperation dot through in lines like "And it scared you how tightly I was holding/ And it scared you to let go/ You never told me I was pretty/ You just drove the wrong way home," and the super poignant: "Love is fear under a veil."

Unfortunately, we can't expect to see Dog & Panther gracing any of this spring or summer's festival line-ups. You see, none of the guys in Dog & Panther call "musician" his most-worn hat. "We all kinda have bigger life things going on besides the band," Vrazo says. "We have these career and/or family things going." Such circumstances prevent extensive touring, though Dog & Panther does plan to record another full-length in the near future.

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