Slaughter Beach Dog-Safe and Also No Fear

When you simply love the songwriting and connect deeply to the music, you can’t help but write a glowing album review. Slaughter Beach Dog
From July29,2019

From July 29, 2019 (Soundblab Review)

When I began listening to Slaughter Beach Dog’s latest album, Safe And Also No Fear, I instantly connected to Jake Ewald’s songwriting ramblings and lyrical journaling. Each song provides a window to his world, through his unique perspective. His lyrical storytelling is compelling, introspective, and a masterpiece of his everyday moments. 

“I live upstairs
I wash my hair
I take my meals alone inside the parlor room
I win the war
I feed the poor
I get anxious and I curl up on the floor”
-”One Down”

Then it hits you, the power of the punch. A struggle unfolds in his seemingly disjointed phrase choices. Each song grapples with his past and his future and his coming-of-age. He recognizes something is different but is not sure how to handle it. It is meaningful and something we all have to face. His struggle is my struggle, our struggle.

Safe And Also No Fear, the third album of Slaughter Beach, Dog will be released via Lame-O Records on August 2nd. At the heart of it are delicate, radiant folk melodies. There is a simplicity in it’s language, but collectively the words translate a bittersweet understanding. He is struggling with his fading youth and grappling with his inevitable adulthood. Ewald examines his existence and humanity in such a cunning, casual way. The conflict almost slips by unnoticed as it’s carefully hidden in upbeat sparkly tunes. Then with reflection, the wisdom of his everyday ramblings hits brilliantly.

Jake Ewald, formerly of Philly emo-punk group, Modern Baseball, went off on his own after the band’s breakup due to exhaustion and mental health issues. His albums with Slaughter Beach, Dog, Welcome and Birdie garnished a loyal following with Ewald’s breakout songs based on fictional characters. His latest project is further enhanced by the addition of more members, with bassist Ian Farmer (Modern Baseball), guitarist Nick Harris (All Dogs), and drummer Zack Robbins (Superheaven). Their creative input and dynamic helps Slaughter Beach, Dog to be more cohesive and complete by adding depth to the simple folk tunes, creating a collective mosaic of sound. Welcomewas raw and experimental. Birdie was a healing departure, by Ewald writing about something other than himself. But the third album, Safe And Also No Fear, hits harder and is clearly a creative, deeply diving personal gamble.

On Safe And Also No Fear, Ewald’s warm, vulnerable vocals unleash simple storytelling masterpieces. His songwriting is more developed, mature, and keenly observant. As his buttery vocals are softly offered in each song, the acoustic guitar and changing musical arrangements balance the foundations by filling each song with an expansive complexity.

The first track on the album,“One Down,” is clearly autobiographical. It is a testimony to Ewald critically viewing his life in an open, honest way. He begins with his folksy, acoustic roots, while confessionally listing his everyday actions. As the song progresses, it shifts from being a solo singer and acoustic guitar to a gradual introduction of other instruments. The music builds into something more complex, but continues to stay vulnerable and tender. “One Down” immediately alerts the listeners the album is going to have a broader, more expansive shift, and move in a compelling new direction.

“Good Ones” is chock full of clever lyrics, heavy bass, and pounding beats which add the perfect tinge of punk defiance. His artistically creative, poetic lyrics tumble out rapid-fire which contrast the slowing tempo, shaping the puzzling verse.

“Into the void, a plea to make it through the night 
My kind of man, always right,
Dead on deployment sea, your dog went toward the fight
Licking his wounds, with stars in his eyes”

Each song on the album needs to be sifted, sorted, and listened to on repeat to discern the beauty and the hidden hefty meanings. “Black Oak” because of its risky seven minute length requires that breakdown. Beginning with a simple strum of guitar and a repetitive thumping of a drum, it’s entirely spoken and unveils a murky, curious story. This peculiar dark story tells of ingesting everyday objects like a tea towel, refrigerator magnets, and a watch on a dare, only to get sick in the street. When spit out, the magnets perfectly spell out his lover’s name. He then goes searching for her. The narration finishes with a shocking twist, and for the second half of the song, the instruments beautifully blossom among soothing hushed choruses. The fictional story reflects his ability to create characters outside of himself, compared to other, more realistic songs on the album. This proves to be a well-done, thematic outlier on the album.

An odd addition for its rawness and lack of sleek production is “Petersburg.” The fuzzy humming background, which sounds as if it was recorded in a space separate from the rest of the album, provides a needed diversion from the rest of the album and reflects Ewald’s past songwriting, an ode to his roots.

Many of the tunes on the album embrace a happy catchy beat, but after further examination prove to be darker in subject, including the songs, “Good Ones,” “Tangerine,” and “Heart Attack.” As one of the poppiest songs on the album, “Heart Attack,” expresses the exaggerated result of leaving a message and waiting for some kind, any kind of response. Ewald’s ability to make light of the torturous waiting allows him to express his deepest fears of rejection in the context of humor.

“One Day” expresses the internal urgency to be better, do better, and behave better despite our basic humanity and inescapable flaws. Supporting the theme throughout the album, Ewald delicately balances his youthful behavior and lifestyle with the person he wishes to be one day. A steady drum beat and expansive shiny guitars emphasize his analytical lyrics. 

“One day you’ll be good
You won’t know why it scared you
You’ll act just like you should
You’ll fix that awful hairdo
Anyday now, Anyday now”

“Map Of The Stars,” a favorite of mine, sentimentally reflects on his life, bandmates, and friends. It openly exposes his fragility and shortcomings while simultaneously making a concerted effort to mature. 

“Begging for brains in your prayers
Falling asleep on the stairs
Waking up angry and scared
Coughing up sand everywhere”

He inspects his vulnerability again in the final tune, “Anything.” Through the mundane responsibilities like picking up groceries and not being recognized by friends, he implies a transition between his boyish youthful self and his gradual attempts to become an adult. Although “Anything” is upbeat, it’s lyrically quite touching and meaningful. Beginning acoustically, it builds gradually to a full band. A haunting humming synth sound evokes emotions and grounds the album, as a final bow to his youth.

“I tried to tell about difference in the nighttime
But I could not tell it then
If I needed you to swim 
Would you swim back?
Would you come to me again?
Anything you want to know, you could find out
Any place you want to see
I can promise I will be a friend to you 
If you will be a friend to me”

Jake Ewald delicately exposes his weaknesses and deepest desires through his everyday thoughts and vivid, charismatic songwriting. Safe And Also No Fear uses simple but powerful lyrics to uncover complex, thoughtful ideas on life, growth, and change. A creative risk because it appears to be deeply personal, the album proves Ewald is a musical force. The addition of a full band and their close collaboration is the instrumental emphasis to the album’s coming-of-age theme. Clearly putting aside any anxiety or fear, Slaughter Beach, Dog is something worthwhile, unbearingly honest, relatable, and truly brilliant. 

(Sandy) Alex G-Bobby

The fiddle and the banjo emphasize the light expression of affection and the unusual ease at which one might sacrifice it all, or withstand any condition, for continued companionship.

 

Who is (Sandy) Alex G?

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At only 24 years old, Sandy, or aka Alex G…Alex Giannascoli, has a huge catalog of songs and eight albums to date. His latest album, Rocket, was released only last month, but a few songs trickled out earlier in anticipation of the fourteen song album. “Bobby” is one of them. After seeing him live at Savannah Stopover two years ago, I knew he had something special. I really couldn’t put my finger on it. His show made me strangely curious. He rarely looked out in the audience, rocked back and forth, and at times sang softly and occasionally only mumbled some of the words but then would surprise the audience with shouts.

I now recognize these mannerisms as refreshing, endearing, and a part of his appeal. There was something genuinely naive and tender about his confessional lyrics and unrefined whisper-singing voice. On each album, he explores and dabbles in lyrical stories teamed with the addition of sounds and styles. Rocket is the same, on steroids, but it seems more intentional and measured. Chunks of styles prevail throughout the album, electronic, blues, southern rock, pop, folk, and alt-country music. Each song is carefully wrapped in distinction and a bit of youthful experimentation, but more thoughtful. Perhaps his style is growing and developing as he becomes a bonafide adult.

Perfect fodder for a couple of depressing, rainy days after a lovely week long vacation at the beach. I needed interesting music more than ever!

After listening to the album over and over, the song “Bobby” stood out. As a listener, I felt as if I was eavesdropping an intimate confession of a love. The fiddle and the banjo emphasize the light expression of affection and the unusual ease at which one might sacrifice it all, or withstand any condition, for continued companionship. A song with an undeniable charm.

Listen.

(Sandy) Alex G- Bobby

“Bobby’s just a friend of mine
He’s on his back
I’m on his mind
He wakes me when he goes to work
His hands are cold
His breath is smoke

I’d leave him for you
If you want me to
I’d leave him for you
If you want me to
I’d leave him for you
If you want me to
I’d leave him for you
If you want me to

Do you forget when we first met
You grabbed my hand
I tore your dress
I felt things I cannot express
But I lost my way
I made my mess

I’d clean it for you
If you want me to
I’d clean it for you
If you want me to
I’d clean it for you
If you want me to
I’d clean it for you
If you want me to
But I know what you’re doing
I know what you’re doing
I know you
I know you
I do I do I tell you what

I paint pictures of my heart
The colors blue and purple start
To bleed into an endless dark
It’s only you it’s only you

I’d burn them for you
If you want me to
I’d burn them for you
If you want me to
I’d burn them for you
If you want me to
I’d burn them for you
If you want me to

But I know what you’re doing
I know what you’re doing
I know you
I know you
I do I do I tell you what”

The Burgeoning-Beautiful Rampage

Indie rock-pop perfection with all of the much needed elements in place, a tight drum beat, a creative and catchy instrumentation, even a guitar shredding solo. The perfect balance of pop and fresh indie rock.

Mood Monday

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Joy.

Holy Cow, music brings me so much joy.

The beauty of blogging new bands is watching them grow and develop over time. The Burgeoning is a perfect case in point. I am excited they have a new album, Loud Dreams, releasing on October 28th. After blogging their music several years ago and hoping and wishing for their success, I now think they are in a place where they can tour beyond their Philly roots. If the rest of the album follows this lead off, I am totally sure of it.

Hard work pays off and I am thrilled to share their newest song. “Beautiful Rampage” is indie rock-pop perfection with all of the much needed elements in place, a tight drum beat, a creative and catchy instrumentation, even a guitar shredding solo. Then, lyrically solid, it is all swirled together by a lead voice that can melt an ice cube with its lovely tone.

Become a fan.

The Burgeoning-Beautiful Rampage

“Your secret’s out
You left the key inside the door
You lost all your marbles
but you’ll find some more
find some more

‘Cause when the day is done I’ll call you up
and you know you always have my love
When everyone is not, I’ll be there
Oh

So do it, be it, live it
Believe yourself, believe yourself
A beautiful rampage is what we’ll be
So let it grow

‘Cause when the day is done I’ll call you up
and you know you always have my love
When everyone is not, I’ll be there
Oh (3x)”

 

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Photo cred: Nemá Etebar

The band members are Logan Thierjung (Lead Vocals/Rhythm Guitar), Alex Thierjung (Bass), Taylor Knowles (Lead Guitar), Brandon Bradley (Drums), and Mark Menkovich (Keyboard/Synth/Guitar). They have found the delicate balance of pop and a fresh indie rock sound….songs noteworthy enough to listen to the music with a friend, but they also have the morphing ability to be a fun group jam for the weekend party.

From their website,

“Logan’s admiration of trailblazing British indie rock manifests in his crunchy guitar riffs and, at times, delicate vocals while Brandon’s propulsive drumming is a result of his tenure performing with church groups at an early age. Mark’s sugary guitar melodies reveal his love of all things Beatles, and Alex’s rumbling bass lines pay homage to the 90’s alt-rock giants who formed the genre.”

Just in case you can’t get enough….Here’s what I blogged back in 2013 for another site (HERE )…and this is the tune-“Lighthouse”. I think you will enjoy their playful spirit captured in the sound and the whole vibe of the video.

Way to go guys! Please, please, please place Atlanta on your tour musts!

Mood Monday-Kurt Vile-Pretty Pimpin’

“Who are you?

Who, Who, Who, Who?”

 

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Do you ever wonder? Do you look at your reflection in the mirror and try to recognize the person looking back at you? I guess this Monday is probably the best day of the week to experience this soul searching, questioning mood.

This is my mood today.

“Who are you?

Who, Who, Who, Who?”

Who am I? What makes me tick? What is important and what is just silly stuff on the side? You know, the stuff that is the condiment and isn’t really necessary? Why, after all these years of living with myself, why don’t I know the answer to this yet?

I’d like to think that I am always growing…evolving…and hopefully becoming the me I am supposed to be. Sounds so very nice, but does it really ever flower and bloom the way we want it to? Humph, I think the idea might be up for some serious discussion.

I love to be around people who are always questioning their worth and their role in the world. They are the ones that inspire the heck out of me because they are never stagnant. They are constantly on the move in a positive, self awareness, kind of way. They are the ones who are never satisfied and continue to learn all they can about the world. They throw energy into whims and ideas to find what sticks and is solid.

So could it be possible, not recognizing the person in the mirror might actually be a positive thing? The energy you exude in your confusion and struggle, may be the catalyst that keeps you propelling forward, seeking, loving, and constantly questioning everything? Therefore, you might be learning beyond the norm?

Perhaps, the person you are meant to be is the one who stays forever unsure.

Hmmmm….

 

Kurt Vile is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer from Philadelphia. He is best known for his solo career and as a former member of  the indie rock band, The War On Drugs.

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His latest hit, “Pretty Pimpin”, is a tune that becomes a fun sing along anthem in your head and yet it has some powerful ideas behind it. The album, B’lieve I’m Goin Down drops September 25th. Known for his undertone of melancholy, I just can’t resist the beauty of the sweet guitar picking in this song. Despite its questioning personal confusion, I find it to be a memorable, thought provoking, honest tune.

A song which fits my mood perfectly.

“All I want is to just have fun, live my life like a son of a gun…”

Chris Zurich-The Sounds

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Sometimes, I come across a new song that makes me pause and listen. This is one of those times. The song is aptly named “The Sounds” and the artist is Chris Zurich. Chris Zurich is Philadelphia based and has a musical background, but the album, Black Ink, is his most recent project. It was released in mid-October, and other tracks prove to be just as appealing. This song is my favorite, for now.

The guitar in “The Sounds” has a rock-roots vibe, the vocals are thoroughly pleasing, and the lyrics are reflective. At 2:03 there is a nice guitar led instrumental that adds some real depth to the song and awakens the listener from the dreamy, soothing vocals. Listen and like Chris on his Facebook page.  When you go to his page, you will get the added bonus of seeing a claymation video of this same song. I found the video to be both, fun and entertaining. Enjoy!