Trump Dawgs has a definite spiritual side (in the group's liner notes, bassist Anthony Case thanks "all my nuns"), but other than on "Lullaby" (Hold me/my savior), the group refrains from overtly religious references. At one point, Carter even issues a common crowd-rousing chant (Everybody throw your hands up in the air/and wave 'em crazy just like you just don't care), but he delivers these familiar lines with such honest enthusiasm that they don't seem like a desperate last resort, as they do during so many creatively bankrupt R&B tossaways. Musically, the band's rolling bass lines and gentle guitars bring to mind 311 at its most mellow, with easygoing harmonies taking the place of that group's tightly clipped rhythmic outbursts.
The core of what would become Trump Dawgs originated as a trio roughly a year ago, when Carter conceived the band as a means of recreating the songs on his solo disc Kenny's Little Trip in a live setting. Carter still produces material for his KLT project -- his next disc, Butch, serves as a soundtrack for the exploits of a superhero of his creation -- but with the addition of his cousin Donald and guitarist Luke Sullivant, his erstwhile touring band became a full-fledged entity in its own right. After almost six months of on-and-off studio work, the group released The Art of Crushin', a debut that offers an accurate reproduction of the Dawgs' bark. It's the band's live shows, which feature sprawling funk-drenched jams, that produce its real bite.