There are just entirely too many things to do that offer no immediate and literal reward. Between the millions (yes, millions if you really dig deep enough) musicians out there, the excellent television shows where the best ones are only getting longer, and the continual releases of some brilliant books released straight for download, there is not enough time to really get into it all. Thank Hollywood for recycling garbage movie reboots the last few years, our only respite for us pop culture and entertainment enthusiasts.
There just isn’t enough time, which is a perfectly reasonably excuse for missing Dog Society in the grand shuffle of ‘things happening.’ The group’s music takes that time and patience not always provided by other less flattering genres of music. The group’s third release. In the Shade, is an exploration in dogmatic principles. It is not a passive listen. It encompasses a lot of different influences, and two in particular would give you the most impressive idea of what they are trying to do. The group tries this Nevermind-era Nirvana sound through their down tuned guitar work and focus on drawling vocals and intrepid lyrics. But Dog Society lacks the big ‘gotta catch them all’ pop hooks Nirvana ironically become known for, instead opting for more Beatles-esque soundscapes and larger theatrics.
The title track paints a vivid picture, with its pummeling bass and echoed vocals. “Oleander Girl” is comes out of the post-grunge playbook, channeling some of those traditional grunge sounds but revamps it for modern audiences. “The Killer You Can’t See” is a melancholy ballad that is stunning in its dark underbelly matched with its uplifting sound. You know something is gone terribly wrong- but around which corner?
The lyrics are nothing to write home about, covering tropes of love lost and gained. But Dog Society touches on topics of family loss, broken families, and finding the silver lining in misery. It is something anyone with a degree of soul has been affected by indirectly or directly, which makes Dog Society the everyman’s group. Their music is enchanting enough to remain elevated amongst more straightforward pop-rock peers, but approachable enough to not leave most listener’s confused and disengaged.
Dog Society took a 19 year break from music, a number that is headache inducing after thinking about it for even just a moment. You can’t say they returned 19 years after their major label debut in 1993 to make a quick buck (this is my assumption, but I say it is a fair one). The only thing you can say here is that Dog Society found something special in themselves all those years prior, a special magic that became illuminated again at a recent reunion- and prompted the band to explore the orifices of depression in “The Laughing Song” or the power of surfacing out of the muck in “Emerge.”