Dog Society Spreads Its Welcome Shade

Bruce (guitar & back-up vocals), Rich (bass & back-up vocals), Brian (lead vocals) and Joe (drums) make up Dog Society, a long-standing band from New York City. After their debut album, Test Your Own Eyes from 1993, it was a long time until the next one, with Emerge coming out in 2013. And just like buses, along comes another one in hot pursuit, with the third full-length album, In The Shade, scheduled for release on July 22nd, 2014.

They come from NYC but sound more like a West Coast band on this 12-track release. With jangly guitars and pleasing harmonies that strongly echo The Beatles and other 1960s sounds, that magical decade is never very far away.

Behind the cover art of a lonely-looking tree against a blue-rinsed, storm-promising sky, joy and melancholy reside together on In The Shade. As for their band name, it refers to the traditional dance of the Hidatsa Plains Indian tribe. You knew that, didn’t you.

Of the 12 tracks, the following stand out for me. First one up is Heal Me Friend. Short and sweet, it’s a catchy tune, as if grunge had gone back in time to the 1960s with Rickenbackers and cute fringes. Emerge and The Laughing Song (my favourite) both build layers of soothing psychedelic rock. In the Shade,the title track, takes us for a walk,starting with a Latin percussive beat, leading us to a path strewn with Stone Roses and ending with the psychedelic scent of incense wafting on an Indian breeze. Losing Her Again blasts us with Sgt Pepper-era, Beatle-like harmonising and heavy drum beat.

Showing off their rock guitar feedback, Dear Brother shows that the band can be heavier when it feels like it. The Killer You Can’t See drips languid guitar, taking us somewhere where Richard Hawley’s grandeur has been transplanted from the streets of Sheffield to distant golden sands. Our Own Parade has great harmonies and percussion, but is also a departure. Its wonderfully soaring trumpet solo doesn’t really belong, but I’m glad it’s there, and the 6-piece brass band adds a madcap free for all, elevating the track to something unique.

In The Shade is music to blow bubbles to, to walk in the park to or to seek the shade of a lonely tree and listen to it whisper between the songs.