Review: Slaughter Beach, Dog — Birdie

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, November 1st, 2017 at 5:45 PM
Review: Slaughter Beach, Dog — Birdie by Livia Homerski

Review:★★★★☆

I happened upon Slaughter Beach, Dog while sifting through the latest releases and decided to check out if their interesting name correlated with interesting music. “Birdie” brought forth an odd familiarity, especially regarding the vocals, in an all too pop-punk way. I picked my brain for the twangy voice and distinct Philadelphian accent, and realized I had stumbled upon the side-project of Jake Ewald, also known for his work in Modern Baseball.

Modern Baseball is the most recent flash in the indie/pop-punk pan; they officially disbanded at the beginning of October 2017. Slaughter Beach, Dog has been Ewald’s side project since 2014, and “Birdie” is the second full-length release.

The themes are similar to ones discussed in Modern Baseball’s work, but approached with maturity. “Birdie” is a nuanced confessional album with more intricate detail in the way the subject matter is portrayed, and limited repetition in the lyrics, even in choruses.

The focus of the album seems to be on scenes of Ewald’s life and childhood, especially on tracks “Pretty Ok” and “Sleepwalking.” There are plenty of calls to failed relationships, and Ewald addresses the mysterious and reoccurring character of “Annie” throughout the album as well on “Bad Beer” and “Acolyte.”

In addition to this, there are vignettes of depressing scenes of a life in the lower-middle class that melt into the narratives. The seventh track, “Fish Fry” mentions White House Beach Trailer Park in Delaware and the lyrics allude to a struggling alcoholic. “Shapes I Know” offers several depressing domestic scenes in the verses with parallel choruses between Ewald and a girl named Emily.

“Gold and Green” was the first single released and one of the strongest tracks on “Birdie.” It is awfully Iron & Wine-esque with acoustic fingerpicking and the softly sung “Oohs” on top of the bridge. This track is one of the more upbeat songs but shares its solemnity in the swaying minor notes in the melodies of the bridge.

I was so excited to hear some whistling on the final track “Acolyte.” Whistling is an underrated musical skill, and it was nice to hear that staccato whistling riff, even if it eventually gave way to some falsetto “Ooohs” and milky hammer on riffs. I would have loved to hear more whistling on the rest of the album, it definitely suits the folky-country undercurrents on “Birdie.”

The album falls flat in a few places. All of the tracks calmly blend together in a blur of clean, countryish slide guitar riffs and walk-down chord progressions. There is only one track that stands out completely from the rest, but not in the most coherent way. “Friend Song” features lo-fi vocals over noisy, overblown organ chords. A click track and quietly crashing cymbals contrast with lyrics that run through the song like a train. It is not a bad track, but in the context of the folky vibes in the rest of “Birdie,” it just doesn’t mesh. If there were more songs with similar  elements, then it would not feel as out of place.

As much as I rocked out and screamed to Modern Baseball’s “You’re Gonna Miss It All,” I like what Ewald is doing in Slaughter Beach, Dog. His songwriting is definitely distinct, and it works in this folk-punk album with slight country touches in the guitar work. There’s a newfound sense of maturity in “Birdie” is a subtle departure from Modern Baseball, and Ewald flexes stronger songwriting skills. 

Standout Tracks: "Gold and Green," "Acolyte" and "Bad Beer."

Livia Homerski can be reached at ae.spectator@gmail.com.

View Our YouTube Channel
Edinboro TV
 
Find Us on Instagram