“Hey Werewolves” by El Dog – Clever Marketing, Awesome Music, Free (Pay What You Like) Album

Back at the start of October, I noticed that a lot of Werewolf News Twitter followers were beginning to retweet material from a Tumblr site called Hey Werewolves. The site’s sole content: werewolf photos and illustrations from elsewhere in the Tumblr ecosystem, posted with minimal commentary and a credit to the source. The site seemed to come out of nowhere, and with its stark logo, spartan layout and the clocklike regularity of its posts, it was hard to ignore. I’d started something kind of like it ages ago, but Hey Werewolves was doing it more consistently and with a style I admired, so I followed the Twitter account and enjoyed the steady stream of werewolf drawings and Instagram photos.

Then a week ago came a post titled “An album about being a Werewolf“:

A Glasgow band called El Dog are releasing a concept album about being a werewolf today. It’s free (pay what you like) to download and you can get it here.

I clicked through, and low and behold: the title of El Dog’s album is “Hey Werewolves”, and the cover art is the “Hey Werewolves” site logo over a field of lunar craters.

My initial reaction was to get indignant – how dare someone trick me like that? Win my interest and then advertise at me – but just as quickly, I realized 1) the material posted on the site was still great, and was still being posted, and 2) come on, a name-your-own-price concept album about being a fucking werewolf. How awesome is that?

Answer: real awesome. “Hey Werewolves” is great as a site, but even better as an album. I’m no music critic but I know what I like, and I like this. An album about werewolves could easily descend into melodrama or screechy angst, but El Dog have written nine songs that manage to be cinematic, intimate, earnest and dignified all at the same time. Imagine the delicate sincerity of Midlake crossed with the monolithic rumble of Pelican and you’ll be in the right neighbourhood. It’s certainly worth a listen, and if you like what you hear as much as I did, maybe send them a few bucks before you hit “download”. They’ve got MP3s and tasty FLACs, and they’ve even tagged the files with artwork and lyrics, bless ’em.

El Dog have got it figured out: Write a concept album full of great tunes, then market it directly to a niche audience that’s guaranteed to enjoy the marketing and the concept nearly as much as the music itself. It worked on me! Other bands, take notice.