Sundogs - The Code

If Sundogs' The Code makes you dust off old Steely Dan albums, that's probably a good thing. This Seattle rock group's fantastic album includes many sonic reminders of that stellar 70s duo. Also, like Steely Dan, these 'sundogs' are also primarily a duo - Stan Snow and Jed Moffit. This pair grew up together in Fremont, California, which is not exactly the showplace of the West. However, friendship and a deep love of classic rock have led to a collaboration that's already produced three albums.

Snow is primarily a guitar player, while Moffit's instrument of choice is a keyboard. One called "Mystery Car" is the album's first Steely Dan aural hint. It has a stuttering funky groove, accented by a horn section. Lyrically, it's smart and - like its subject matter - wonderfully mysterious. The album's title track is more organic, as it kicks off with a plunking acoustic piano part. Its harmonized vocals and moody feel bring to mind vintage Bruce Hornsby recordings.

Everything on this twelve-song album is expertly played and enjoyable. Yes, as with Steely Dan, the listener walks away with deep respect for Sundogs' solid musicianship. Better still, though, this act is equally skilled at writing literate lyrics. Steely Dan held a similar appeal. With half of Steely Dan passed on (the late Walter Becker), perhaps Sundogs will help carry on many of the best elements from that act's wonderful legacy. Even if you're too young to have loved Steely Dan, though, you'll likely still love The Code. It's that good.

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