Album Review – At The Moonbase by Slaughter Beach, Dog (2020) (Lame-O Records)

Think of the dynamics of all the groups of mates you have ever associated with. The chances are that there were always two ‘quieter ones’.
Perhaps this applies to men more, but one of these inconspicuous ones did not need to say much as he was usually just a double hard ‘bar steward’ whose mere presence could help to avoid all the damage that could have been done to the mouthier ones in the group.
The other ‘quieter one’ was the one who did not need to say much because they could rip anyone apart with just a few, carefully chosen words. Sly, snidey (usually working in sales) the victims of their reposte usually did not realize that they had just been exposed as morons, until they got home and had time to reflect upon the verbal exchange.
Jake Ewald (ex Modern Baseball) is the songwriter equivalent of quieter type 2. Whether it be attacks on faux intellectualism, the futility/ subtle joy of relationships or just the petty insecurities of the human psyche (pick any 2 from 3 from the brilliant lyricism seen in Do You Understand (What Has Happened To You), My Girl and Jonathan) he splices his songs with both sly inferences and more obvious attacks about the minutiae of people and their minute lives, with easy abandon. He would make such a great sly mate!
However, the album is not just the about lyrical brilliance, as musically, Ewald always excels. With the above tracks using more stripped down, jangly lo-fi sounds to accentuate the barbs, the album also juxtaposes Hamell on Trial style anti.folk-isms in tracks like Are You There and Notes From A Brief Engagement (at the Boot & Saddle) that imbue insistent grumbling tempos as if to bookend both ends of the release with atypical dynamism.
However, the very best of the album is seen in the sheer unadulterated beauty of Fell In Love and Van Morrison. These tracks add windswept beauty, with string laden orchestration and a stripped down production that enables the absolute vocal emotionality that Ewald is always capable of, to simply shimmer. For the olds among us, the sound is gloriously reminiscent of the Liam Frost and the Slowdown Family essence and thrives on all of its prettier reference points.
This is one those acts / albums that moves easily through multiple musical nuances and absolutely excel in all of them.




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