The Format: Refreshingly Shimmering Pop

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  • "Matches"
  • "Snails"
  • "The Compromise"

The business of major labels can destroy a band before its music even has a chance to be heard. But the Arizona desert-pop group The Format chose to celebrate both times they got dumped from its label: Its members threw big parties and got to work releasing their own music. Their latest album, Dog Problems, is a nicely crafted collection of shimmering pop, in the spirit of The Beatles and XTC.

After The Format's first disc, EP, generated significant music-industry buzz, a major label released Interventions and Lullabies in 2003. But the distraction of label mergers caused the album to get lost in the shuffle, and The Format was soon left to promote its music through touring, online promotion and word of mouth.

The hook-heavy foundation of Dog Problems is aided by involvement from power-pop greats such as Steve McDonald (Redd Kross) and Roger Manning (Jellyfish). The album does a terrific job of paying homage to The Format's pop elders — Brian Wilson, Harry Nilsson and others — while keeping its sound refreshingly current.

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