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Dog Society – In The Shade Album Review

Coming full circle after their major label debut Test Your Own Eyes (East-West/Atlantic Records) and their critically acclaimed 2013 release, Emerge, the renown New York City pop rock collective, Dog Society, has created an album that continues to fulfil their promise as a great American rock band.

Their latest album, In The Shade, was released last week. In The Shade is a move forward from Emerge lending this band to sound evermore like those distinctly grungy 90s rock bands such as Nirvana.

Dog society

Dog Society

There are a lot of brilliant tracks on this record. To start with Heal Me Friend kick starts the album off in a grungy meets pop fashion. The chorus, “Please, please/Heal me friend…” sounds strangely familiar as if this song is a reworking of another. Heal Me Friend is upbeat with a fast tempo and repetitive guitar riff that makes this song easily recognisable. Straight away it allows Dog Society to show their Nirvana-esque style. It’s hard to believe this song didn’t exist in the 90s rock scene.

The next track, Oleander Girl, is slower and more relaxed in comparison to Heal Me Friend. This is a romantic number, the ballad of the record, “I once had an Oleander girl/A voice as soft as falling snow…” The vocals on this song are just perfect – they’re not showy; they’re simple, soft and effortless. Oleander Girl has a really solid sound to it – the electric guitar is minimal, the drums predominant alongside the vocals while the acoustic guitar can be heard clearly giving it that lighter rock sound.

Emerge features next and builds the album back to that faster pace and grungier tones. The electric guitar steps up a notch and the vocals take on a much more distinctive and strong tone. Emerge is a track that you can’t help but fall in love with. The lyrics are exposing of human behaviour, talking about the desire men have for women, “You give me something/And it feels so good just touching you/What a sight/Emerge/You circle and you weave/I am married and I am satisfied/I’ve rearranged this mess of mine so many times…”

Losing Her Again is another song that sounds very familiar in terms of musical arrangement and lyrics. It starts with a sole electric guitar riff with the vocals gradually making their appearance. This track is quite experimental – the vocals sound a little 60s as they’re more raw while the music is edgy and feels more spontaneous. It’s a brilliant track that’s worth a listen.

Dear Brother however is a really punchy Blues rock song that again resembles a different era. Dear Brother has recently been premiered on True Blood. It’s an outstanding Blues rock track with a fantastic jam section just over half way through. There’s so much going on in this track; the electric guitar is blending Blues and rock traits in its riff and chords, the bass line is predominant in parts demonstrating those Blues elements while the drums never soften, they’re dramatic all the way through. Musically, it’s an immense song that really shows off Dog Society’s dynamics as a band.

Dog Society are producing a sound that is around 20 years too late but that’s OK. Their music is the sort of music that always features on those American comedy films (think Road Trip, Ten Things I Hate About You and, dare I say it, Freaky Friday with bands such as American Hi-Fi). There’s a strong sense of reminiscing when you listen to this band and this may well be why they’re gathering so much attention. If you like Nirvana, American Hi-Fi and The Beatles then take a listen to Dog Society and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

In The Shade is out now.

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Dog Society – Emerge Album Review

New York band Dog Society are to release their new album Emerge as an independent release 19 years after their well-received debut, Test Your Own Eyes which was released by Atlantic/East West Records. They explain the gap simply as: “…life getting in the way”.

Dog Society’s newest record, Emerge, was co-produced by Rob Schnaapf and Tom Rothrock (Beck, Elliot Smith) meaning Emerge is the sound of the band recapturing their spirit.

Dog Society are tricky to pin down in terms of musical style and genre. They definitely are American rock yet a Beatlesesque Sgt Pepper style seeps through occasionally as in the opening track Being Here and later track, Pink Sun.

The second track A Good Friend slightly oddly combines a sweet accessible vocal and acoustic guitar in the verses but dropping into heavy rock for the choruses. This combination works much better on Scraped which has echoes also of Nirvana with tortured lyrics: “Crawling round a white padded room..”

There’s musical talent here and Dog Society are not afraid to use it. But perhaps the 19 years account for a coming together of too many ideas all at once. The mix of songs on the album can be confusing, almost experimental. Shade Grown is reminiscent of some Pink Floyd numbers and the Bowie style Spaceboots is possibly close to genius if the production could only keep up with what this track has to offer.

The Fuse Before and Suffer A Smile are more cohesive and accessible, the latter is rather sweet and catchy in a groovy Californian fashion.

The album artwork is delightful. This band has a lot to offer but perhaps they just need taming a tad.

Emerge is out on November 19.

By Kate Dexter

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