Crying Laughing Waving Smiling by Slaughter Beach Dog album review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions


Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling

Slaughter Beach Dog

Jake Ewald of Modern Baseball fame knows how to write a song. With lyrics that could stand as published poems on their own (but which sound even better sung), he has put together ten songs (one that stretches past eight minutes) that cash in on fable-worthy storytelling and instrumental richness, with his band Slaughter Beach, Dog, called Crying Laughing Waving Smiling due out September 22nd.

“Not a poet, not even close / Surfing New Jersey,” he starts the album off, humbly, on the song of the same name. Unlike his emo-tinged former band, this music is Americana rock ’n’ roll, with a bit of a David Berman drawl and charm. Other tracks remind me of Christian Lee Hutson with their expert combination of witty storytelling and melodic greatness, though while Hutson seems burdened by his first name, Ewald deals intelligently with Christian themes on the album.

The first song, for example, has him telling the humorous story of seeing an image in his toast, “bearing the image of Christ.” And on the song, “My Sister in Jesus Christ,” he talks about how he thinks he “might burn in hell” because his girlfriend talked to him about BDSM. There’s not a lot of typical religious imagery on the album, however. The last song, “Easter,” captures the feeling of rising again with imagery like a “Big brass band / playin at my funeral / playin on my coronation” and arcades and ice cream stands and French fries. “Son of God / Prayin o’er my shoulder / Makin potluck casserole for me.”

The album travels a great distance in its duration, from “strange weather in Tokyo” to a story about “Henry,” whose mother gets him to play the upright bass to lose weight, and falls in love with Charles Mingus and decides he wants to go to Europe to make his jazzy waves across the pond. Until his bitter mother interrupts his plans and sends off to the army, forcing him to quit his dreams. “He never heard no Charles Mingus again / And Lord knows he lost more than weight.”

That type of compelling storytelling is all over the album and the band fills out his singer-songwriter songs in good form. The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn, who wrote a bio for the album, said that this is the type of album that will be played ten, twenty years on and sung word for word at their frequent shows around the country. It’s an impressive album of catchy and memorable songs and is sure to win more fans over to a songwriter long in his game. It’s a beautiful, story-rich album that should stand the test of time.

order Crying Laughing Waving Smiling by Slaughter Beach Dog HERE


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