The vibe here is homey and lo-fi, swampy blues and surf-rock tunes served sans frills. Susan’s no-nonsense drumming and Tim’s versatile Fender six-string bass handle the bulk of the workload, economically embellished by a few handclaps here, a shake of a tambourine there. The pair share vocal duties but gravitate toward distinct personas. […] But when the duo locks into a sultry backwater groove, as on “Interstate Blues” and the moody instrumental “Elbmur,” – that’s “rumble” in reverse, don’t cha know – the sparse instrumentation is hauntingly effective.
And if you’re one of those who looks askance at a guitar-and-drums group (a configuration that was done best by Flat Duo Jets and then worn out by endless other duos – I’m lookin’ at you, pasty-faced Jack White), I’d encourage you to set your preconceptions aside and give a listen. Year of the Dog is a fine release that gives equal time to Susan’s vocals as it does to Tim’s. And since both musicians play multiple instruments – the rare Fender VI is used extensively, for example – there’s more texture than you might expect from a two-person lineup.
The tracks of ‘Year of the Dog’ greet you with the familiar, controlled rock chaos that this husband-wife duo have become so synonymous with. These tracks – complete with little more than growling guitar and rumbling drums – are steeped in bluesy undertones and tossed in a number of rock n roll sub-genres.
‘Year of the Dog’ is surf-flavored, lo-fi, gritty garage-rock at its finest. You won’t find any elaborate guitar solos or drum fills peppering this release. Instead, they adhere to a no-frills, straightforward song structure and composition.
“The album’s 12 tracks pass by fast, like dusty mile markers momentarily captured in the headlights of a jalopy speeding down a country road to nowhere in particular but bound to get interesting. These are songs fueled equally by restlessness and compassion for life. The recording is crisp and clean, which may be the only arguable flaw here: the studio simply can’t recreate the ominous, feral growl of Bark playing live in a small club, like their home base at Knoxville, Tennessee’s Pilot Light.”
“While the TL3 could rock they mostly snuck in nifty melodies for all to hear but Bark is a different animal altogether. Susan, who plays drums here, had apparently never played drums before (just like she has never played bass before the TL3 started) while long-goateed Tim is still on the axe and yeah, It’s just the two of ‘em (with a few guests, but not many) this time out and the songs are just as strong, but darker, moodier but hey, they still have fun, too.”
“With Year of the Dog, Tim Lee and Susan Bauer Lee peel back the layers to give us just the naked songs. Gone are the chiming guitars and exquisite feedback. In it’s place, we get raw honesty. It’s a Helluva risk, if you think about it. And while the bass dependent nature of the recording may take some getting used to (at least for this long time fan, it did), it also provides some insight into the creative process.”
“… it became apparent from the outset that if the Tim Lee 3 is a shiny vintage Camaro IROC-Z, painted bright and buffed out, then Bark is a ’71 Plymouth Hemi ’Cuda, painted matte black with a few Bondo spots on the bumper but with a completely restored engine growling beneath the hood. “Year of the Dog” kicks off with the righteous swagger of “Miss Me,” the two instruments rattling off of one another with as syncopated orneriness that’s the sound of a snarl set to rock ‘n’ roll; a couple of songs later, they’re crawling along the side of the highway like an overheated copperhead on Mississippi blacktop, a steady-and-deadly meander toward an uncertain fate.”