Blank Dogs, Under and Under

Melissa Maerz

By Melissa Maerz

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

In certain New York circles, everyone knows about Mike Sniper, but no one knows who Mike Sniper is. Over the past few years, the Brooklyn-based musician behind Blank Dogs has earned a cult following by releasing dozens of limited edition, record-store-clerk-recommended albums, EPs, singles and cassettes — all without any credits, liner notes, or hints about who was cranking out these haunting, post-punk gems. The only available Blank Dogs photo showed Sniper's face obscured by scarves, and his web site suggested that he lived in Madagascar. But with this 20-song double album — which comes on the heels of his first public performances — he's finally getting his coming-out party underground.

A tender bedroom-pop hero has his coming-out party

While it's easy to hear Joy Division in Sniper's deadpan vocals and the Cure in his angular guitar melodies, Under & Under plays like a love letter to classic lo-fi rock. "The New Things" begins with a gentle drum machine beat, crackling as if it was recorded over an old mixtape. "From Here" is a sweet, noise-layered ballad that could've been a lost track off an old K Records comp. And through it all, Sniper plays the tender bedroom-pop hero, singing about books and what he can see through his window. By the time he's yelling "Setting fire to your house!" on the single of the same name, you half-expect his mom to cut in halfway through, pounding on his door and asking him to keep it down. It's a thrillingly raw breakthrough — and, ironically, one that will make it hard for him to remain anonymous.