Fans of 311, O.A.R. and Slightly Stoopid will dig the reggae-tinged jam ‘n’ groove of Dogs in a Pile’s sophomore LP, “Bloom.”
And longtime fans of the Asbury Park jam band will be glad to hear that they live up to that title with a maturation of their songwriting and vocal harmonies to match their always stellar musicianship.
The nine-song follow-up to the 2021 debut LP, “Not Your Average Beagle,” opens with the album’s first single, “Today.” The dreamy reggae-pop nugget ala 311 ponders loneliness in the age of social media.
Both “Bent Strange” and “Stranger” make me think that the boys have been listening to Depeche Mode and Duran Duran on the tour bus because both have a fun ‘80s danceable rock vibe. The former is an ode to a love who plays hard to get, while the latter is Joy Division eerie.
“All the Same” is a love song fueled by empathy and a soulful gospel blues, especially the stunning organ playing throughout by keyboardist Jeremy Kaplan and a tasty guitar solo by Jimmy Law. “Fenway,” another 311-tasty track, lives up to a longtime live version with cool ambient keyboard vibes, freaky tiki wordplay and one of the most stirring guitar solos you could hope to hear.
The Dogs then channel Steely Dan on “Hesitate” with a slick, jazzy, harmonic vibe reminiscent of “Josie” that will appeal not only to jam ‘n’ groove fans but also those of the yacht rock variety.
In a tale about a rock ‘n’ roll vagabond, the band gives a nod to AyCee with the ever-funky fan live favorite “Trunk Rum,” featuring thick-as-molasses grooves thanks to the rhythm section of bassist Sam Lucid and drummer Joey Babick, muscular jazz-blues guitar solos, and punchy horn lines. Continuing on the rum tip, the sugar cane sweet and equally pretty “Rum & Roses” has a Randy Meisner vibe that fans of The Eagles and other soft rock will enjoy, especially the rich, mellow vocal by Sam. Another Randy — Newman — comes to mind with bouncy earnestness of the closing “Say Something” that serves the kind emotional wallop of “Louisiana 1927” over the piano charm of “Ragtime.” A soaring sax solo by Ben Pinnola, a fantastic multi-instrumentalist from Long Island, helps bring the impressive album to a fitting close.
All the tracks were co-written by various members — mainly vocalists-guitarists Jimmy Law and Brian Murray — except for “Fenway,” which was composed by Brian alone. The guitar tandem share lead vocal duties either alone or together throughout. Producer Chris Pappas also shares in some of the writing credit.
Relentless road warriors, The Dogs’ tour schedule will bring them from New York and New England to the Midwest and Colorado before heading to Iceland in May to join forces with the Disco Biscuits. A jam-packed festival season will include Skull & Roses in Ventura, Calif.; Dark Star Jubilee in Thornville, Ohio; Summer Camp Music Fest in Chillicothe, Ill.; Electric Forest in Rothbury, Mich.; Hog Farm Hideaway in Laytonville, Calif., and Peach Fest in Scranton, Pa.
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