Slaughter Beach, Dog-Safe and Also No Fear

On his third record under the Slaughter Beach, Dog moniker, Jake Ewald has found a way to be an emotional and interesting storyteller.  Safe and Also No Fear is the former Modern Baseball singer’s most consistent effort with the project yet.  While the musician still paints very specific sketches of people and places, he isn’t as concerned about stories, as he was on Welcome, or finding a new voice for himself, as he was on Birdie.  Safe has the confidence of a band that have finally found their voice and wanted to make a great record that expands on what they’ve built. Continue reading

Monday Mixtape: 11/28 (The Weakerthans, My Chemical Romance, Chance the Rapper)

The Weakerthans-“My Favorite Chords”


Following an excellent cover by Aaron West, I’ve been listening to a lot of The Weakerthans lately. Since there is not a lot of new music out at this time of year, I’ve found myself listening to Left And Leaving a lot lately.

Kanye West-“Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1”


Yeezy is still in the hospital, but The Life of Pablo is sure to be on many Album-of-the-Year lists. Most of the tunes that have been played lately have been checking back on old songs for the year-end lists.

Joyce Manor-“Reversing Machine”


This cut from Cody sounds the most like an old Joyce Manor song, and it’s perfect foe late fall and early winter.

Modern Baseball-“Note To Self”


MoBo have been one of the hardest working bands of the year, while touring behind Holy Ghost. They’re about to close out the year at the inaugural Something in the Way fest, and “Note to Self” is one of the best most restrained tracks on Holy Ghost.

Chance the Rapper-“Same Drugs”


Coloring Book was one of the best mixtapes of the year. Where a lot of the music was celebratory gospel-rap, “Same Drugs” is the kind of soul ballad perfect for cuddling up with some tea or hot chocolate.

Brand New-“Degausser”


The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me just turned ten, and there have been a number of pieces about the importance of this album. One of the most memorable moments from seeing Brand New on their most recent US run was during “Degausser” as the stage was soaked in red lights.

Mitski-“Happy”


Mitski’s Puberty 2 is sure to appear on my year end list, and “Happy” has been a stand out since seeing her recent Webster Hall show.

My Chemical Romance-“Welcome to the Black Parade (Steve Aoki Remix)”


While a MCR reunion seems unlikely, Steve Aoki has kept the spirit of their breakthrough album alive by turning it into an absolute fucking banger.

Aaron West Raising Money For ACLU

aaron_west

Dan Campbell’s project Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties has posted all music on Bandcamp at a “pay-what-you-want” price.  The Wonder Years’ frontman is donating proceeds to ACLU, similar to Run For Cover Records’ donations.  The releases include We Don’t Have Each OtherBittersweet, and a sweet cover of The Weakerthans’ “My Favourite Chords.”  Listen and donate via Bandcamp.

Slaughter Beach, Dog-Welcome

slaughterbeach-640x640

In a similar vein as The Mountain Goats’ All Hail West Texas, Slaughter Beach, Dog’s Welcome tells different perspectives of people all in the same place.  Whether the songs are full band romps or stripped back acoustic numbers, Jake Ewald brings a textured town to life in his first solo effort.

About midway through Welcome, Ewald sings:

                        My friends don’t need jobs

                        Cause they all sell drugs

                        Spending Fridays setting fires

                        With their college degrees

                        And I think to some degree

                        They are more practical than me

Just like on All Hail West Texas, Jake Ewald does what John Darnielle does on a song like “The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton;” he shows that these characters are real.  Just like every Mountain Goats fan knows a Jeff and a Cyrus, Ewald and the audience all have friends selling drugs, pissing away college degrees.  While at times the album seems dystopic, Ewald shows a love in dysfunction through chugging anthems like “Monsters” or “Mallrat Semi-Annual.”  “Monsters” sees an older brother sticking up for a defenseless younger sister at the end, in a fond memory in a now deteriorating home.  “Mallrat” shows the perspectives of people on a first date, both anxious out of spite and nerves.

These guitar heavy, up-tempo songs are definitely some of the most lyrically intricate and visually interesting songs where Ewald sings about fonts on gravestones, New Year’s Eve and “Halloween in Hell.”  Some of the more tender moments come from the softer songs.  “The Politics of Grooming” is reminiscent of Garth Stein’s novel The Art of Racing in the Rain.  The song is seemingly told from a dog’s perspective as his owner watches the world she’s come to know fall apart and die around her.  “Toronto Mug” and “Toronto Mug II” are both about what it’s like to be stuck in the sort of decrepit town that Slaughter Beach is.  Whether you’re searching for a DVD or “counting cracks on Essex Street,” you only have a souvenir mug from a foreign city to provide you with a real sense of escapism.

Musically, Ewald is able to go many different places naturally on this album.  Whether it’s palm-muted power chords on “Mallrat Semi-Annual,” classic rock melody on “Drinks,” sweet finger-picking on “Bed Fest” or the funky, math rock of “Forever” nothing is out of place.  There are moments that bare some resemblance to songs like “Hiding” or “Note to Self” from Modern Baseball’s Holy Ghost, Jake Ewald’s main outfit.  Still, this sort of concept album has more to do with The Weakerthans or the Mountain Goats than it does with Brand New or The Front Bottoms.

While Welcome doesn’t have the confessional lyrics we’ve come to know from Ewald and Modern Baseball, it does have the honest quality that storyteller-songwriters always need.  In creating a fictional work in its own universe, he’s created characters that reflect real people as well as his more personal work does.  It seems as if the biggest running theme in Slaughter Beach, Dog’s songs is paralysis in small town life.  It’s an extremely pop-punk sentiment on an album that owes very little to pop-punk.  It’s a vastly personal exploration that can be both hilarious and heartbreaking within its 28 minutes.