Combining sounds that reminded me of a diverse group of bands, from Oasis to The Beatles and including Nirvana, Dog Society’s Bruce Erik Brauer (guitar, backup vocals), Rich Guerzon (bass, backup vocals), Brian Schnaak (lead vocals) and Joe Ranieri (drums) from New York have put together a catchy rock album. While the sounds and the inspiration are quite diverse, two things hold In the Shade together: strong lead vocals and talented instrumentation.
The catchy opening track “Heal Me Friend” is the shortest of the album, and a throwback into old school grunge rock with a pop finish. The tempo on this rocker is fast (except for a short, slower break in the middle); the melody, featuring enthusiastic drumming supported by equally enthusiastic guitars, repeats itself in a way that keeps it fresh. The song itself would fit on a Nirvana album.
The tone completely changes with the second track. The slower, more relaxed, ballad-like “Oleander Girl” primarily showcases the band’s vocals and drumming, kept simple with some acoustic but only minimal electric guitar. The tempo only increases slightly with “Emerge”, which does, however, bring back some of the grunge elements of the opening track through guitars. The vocals yet again emerge distinctively in this track.
The title track “In the Shade” seems more complex (and longer) than its predecessors in the layers it contains and the various elements it brings seamlessly together: Latin, Indian, grunge, rock, and ballad-flavoured vocals. The follow-up, “Losing Her Again”, takes us on a familiar musical trajectory. It starts with a lone guitar, to which vocals are then added, and then ultimately joined by drums and bass. This is also a feature in the songs “No Reason” and “Everything She Do” which come later in the album.
The album then kicks it up a notch tempo-wise with the heavier “Dear Brother”, a light, grungier number featuring an attention-grabbing instrumental section near its middle. The energy goes back down with “The Killer You Can’t See”, a melancholic song which brings again at the forefront the band’s vocals. The opening notes of “The Laughing Song”, played on an electric guitar, were much slower and different, but reminiscent of Jesus Jones’ “Right Here, Right Now”. But that is the extent of the comparison. The concluding “Our Own Parade” features great harmonies and drumming, but nothing prepares the listener to the trumpet solo and the six-piece brass band topping it off. It’s both unique and a little overwhelming at times.
Dog Society’s In the Shade features a collection of infectious tunes that make for an interesting listen. More information about the band can be found on their Facebook page.