Seriously, how is it possible that Jake Ewald is this sick of a songwriter? The Philadelphia singer / guitarist and producer, known by many as half of Modern Baseball’s core songwriting duo, also leads a rotating-cast indie rock troupe called Slaughter Beach, Dog, and has done so for the past several years. Though the band is a considerably more lowkey experience than when he plays theater-size spaces to pop punk devotees, it’s no side joint either; Ewald’s attention to craft, both lyrical and compositional, is in top form here, and only continues to heighten as the project releases more music.
Named for a oceanside stretch of Delaware (and, to differentiate from a Danish band, appended with “Dog” in MoBo parlance), the project debuted with the DAWG EP in 2015, followed by the full length Welcome last year. Both those records were trademark Ewald — nuanced lyrical detail, idiosyncratic turns of phrase, catchy melodies — with a heft of lo-if fuzz. By comparison, this year’s awesomely titled Motorcycle.jpg EP is a huge sonic step forward; crisp and clear production, warm acoustic guitar, dreamy slide guitar licks and touches of keyboard. If Ewald’s MoBo songs like “Two Good Things” and “Wedding Singer” were punchy answers to The Weakerthans, Slaughter Beach, Dog is John K. Samson solo, and gloriously so.
This week, the band announced its latest venture, the Birdie LP, out in October on Lame-O Records. Based on the lead single “Gold and Green,” it takes the feeling of Motorcycle.jpg and delivers it at a much bigger scale; below, you can watch the band perform the song live at WXPN for this week’s Key Studio Session.
In addition to Ewald, this configuration of Slaughter Beach, Dog features Nick Harris of All Dogs on lead guitar, Ian Farmer of MoBo on bass and Pat Ware of Spraynard and Nona on drums. The session ranges from the catchy and clever “Your Cat,” which delightfully imagines feline reincarnation, to an unbelievable performance of “104 Degrees,” which transforms from an account of bonding with a bookstore crush over Murakami to an epic noise jam of Sonic Youth proportions “as ‘Heavy Metal Drummer’ plays us home,” like the lyrics go.
Listen to Slaughter Beach, Dog’s Key Studio Session performance in its entirety below, and see the band live this Thursday, August 17th at Johnny Brenda’s with Shannen Moser and No Thank You. They will also be at the Philly Music Festival at World Cafe Live on September 23rd. Tickets and more information on both shows can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
The Key Studio Sessions