Birdie, the second LP from Modern Baseball co-frontman Jake Ewald's solo project, Slaughter Beach, Dog, softens the lines between reality, fiction, and metaphor like a drunk memory. Moments of apparently candid detail—like paying $1.25 for a taxi ride, bugs biting at skin on a porch, or "Yuppies in the prefabs holding hands at midnight"—can shift focus before a line is through. Ewald will detail a scene meticulously and then slide away to tell you that a bishop kicked his mom out the house and spun her round in a blindfold; at one point he's not sure if someone's in Echo Park or sitting in the living room.
This is a style that Ewald played with on his two previous Slaughter Beach, Dog releases—2016's full-length Welcome and this June's four-track Motorcycle.jpg. And he'd been writing vivid, maximalist pop music in Modern Baseball alongside Brendan Lukens for five years before a bout of writer's block prompted him to start this fresh project two years ago. But with Modern Baseball on a temporary hiatus (save for a one-off show supporting Daniel Johnston in Philadelphia this Wednesday), Ewald seems to have chiseled away at these songs with even more care. Birdie is a more rounded record, backing further away from the anxious, nightclub pop-punk of Welcome and relying on acoustic guitars and more restrained vocals.
"Acolyte," premiering on Noisey today, is the last song on the record. Ewald played an early demo of the song for an Audiotree session back in January and, somehow, the full band studio version is even prettier, all simple slide guitars and whistled melodies. It still drifts around different times and locations, but this time it's all for the sake of optimistic fantasy. "You won't leave the table / She won't leave your mind / Gotta get out of Ohio / Feeling short on time," Ewald sings in the first verse, before laying out a plan for the future: "We could fly to Ireland," he sings. "You know I'm good for the ticket." It all builds to one of the sweetest lines you'll ever hear in a love song: "Man, it cuts like a dull knife / When you're young and you're told / "Makes sense when you're older" / Darling, let's get old."
Listen to "Acolyte" below and take a look at Slaughter Beach, Dog's tour dates at the bottom of the page. Birdie is out October 27 on Lame-O Records.
11/02 - Pittsburgh, PA - Mr. Smalls Funhouse*
11/03 - Toronto, ON - The Smiling Buddha*
11/04 - Cleveland, OH - Mahall's*
11/05 - Lansing, MI - Mac's Bar*
11/07 - Chicago, IL - Beat Kitchen*
11/08 - St. Louis, MO - Fubar*
11/10 - Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge*
11/11 - Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court*
11/13 - San Francisco, CA - Bottom of The Hill^
11/14 - Los Angeles, CA - The Echo^
11/16 - Mesa, AZ - The Underground*
11/18 - Dallas, TX - The Dirty 30*
11/19 - Austin, TX - Stubb's Jr.*
11/21 - Atlanta, GA - Masquerade*
11/24 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge*
11/25 - Allston, MA - Great Scott*
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