Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog is a noise rock trio, formed by Marc Ribot himself (guitar/vocals), Shahzad Ismaily (bass), and Ches Smith (drums).
“With the group’s latest offering, Hope, we find Ribot in the mood to talk. Take, for instance, the opening number, “B-Flat Ontology,” from Hope, Ceramic Dog’s latest recording. It’s a bit of punk-ass, talking blues with lyrics visceral and true questioning the meaning of fame and the fawning over fame. Or the reggae-esque “Nickelodeon,” a free-flowing, summertime jam with New York-hip lyrics of epic nonsensical joy. Fans of Ribot’s Los Cubanos Postizos records will connect on this one.
Hope is not a jazz record, other than its anything-goes sensibility, but Ribot has credentials as a guitarist and artist who can morph into any style and still come out sounding only like himself, which is central to the jazz aesthetic. “Wanna” offers the flavor of reminiscent of the Pixies at their best. “The Activist” slams with all the rage of Bohemian-era Lenny Bruce. “Bertha The Cool” (my favorite title) is what it might sound like if Ribot jumped inside George Benson’s body for a tune. When saxophonist Darius Jones jumps in to guest on “They Met In The Middle,” the energy skyrockets with angst, only to give way to the calming, then epic beauty of “The Long Goodbye.” Ribot rounds out this great set with “Maple Leaf Rage,” which shows off his guitar genius, and “Wear Your Love Like Heaven,” an offbeat ballad with plenty of overdrive.
There’s a great deal of anger here, fueled by Ribot’s concerns over COVID, a president he despised, global warming and not being able to see the ones he loved due to the pandemic.
It’s a raw, honest album, one most of us can absolutely understand. It’ll make you want to throw a fist in the air and shout, “Hell, yes!” “
-Frank Alkyer Downbeat July 2021
Ceramic Dog’s sophomore album, Your Turn, landed on several ‘Best of 2013’ lists including PopMatters, Alarm Magazine, and Something Else. PopMatters writes: “The scary thing about Marc Ribot and his new(ish) band is that all of these styles and quirks are pulled off so convincingly… with their first album well behind them, they are even fiercer than before… 8 out of 10 stars.” All Music calls the album “an absolute scorcher… this band can do nearly anything,” and Robert Christgau says “Ribot’s new hard-rock album with Ceramic Dog ranks amongst his most daring,” in his review on NPR’s All Things Considered which can be heard here.
“…when it comes to Ceramic Dog, his agit punk trio with Shahzad Ismaily and Ches Smith, Ribot mostly eschews nuance in favor aggressive funk, deconstructed flamenco, and scathing punk.”
–Aquarium Drunkard 2018 Year in Review
“Guitarist Marc Ribot’s wildest project doesn’t mess around. The guitar legend, with bassist Shahzad Ismaily, and drummer Ches Smith, merges funk backbeats with the taut chaos of Sonic Youth and flashes of Woodstock Santana.”
–NY Magazine, 2018
“Ceramic Dog’s bark is just about equal to its bite on the trio’s pissed-as-punk new YRU Still Here? … The music snarls and snaps with self-awareness, righteous fury, and, inevitably, cynical detachment.”-Village Voice
“Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, whose style is experimental…though much more pleasing on the ears, was one of the best surprises of the festival.”
– AV Club review at All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival 2011 curated by Portishead