Local punk band Dogs on Acid recently released their debut full-length album on Jade Tree. Taking cues from 90s rock bands that add a sense of nostalgia to their tunes, Dogs on Acid creates a sound that feels relaxing and familiar yet expansive and exhilarating. The band’s members have been involved in acts like Algernon Cadwallader and Snowing, but these musicians have whittled down their artistic ability in order to produce a more focused and mature record.
Dogs on Acid contains a refreshing mix of upbeat, warm tracks that rely more on the sum of its parts than any particular instrument standing out and taking the lead. The rhythm section is truly the driving force of the record, Nate Dionne’s bass lines provide straightforward, resolute thumps while Nick Tazza’s drums bring in playful, galloping beats. Tucked in with this powerful rhythm section, Joe Reinhart and Peter Helmis add bright, imaginative riffs that are as sunny as they are subtle. Helmis also leads the band on vocal duties, and unlike some of his previous vocal work, his voice is clean and melodic. Each song’s aesthetic basks in the direct yet confused emotions that come through Helmis’s lyrics, making the entire album feel full and conscious.
On “Ideal Decanter,” Helmis shares personal thoughts, “I had a talk with a friend, told me to believe, that misery’s grip was just a handshake,” as the track starts off somewhat slow. However, shortly in the song speeds up with fluttering guitars and a battering bass riff, while Helmis comes to meaningful realizations about his surroundings, “The view is pretty at the top, but the real estate is shot / truth is, there’s better company at the bottom.” Following determined drum beats, the song loops back around to its quick riff for a relentless ending sung in harmony, “I thought this was legitimate.” Most of the record finds itself in this weird emotional space, trying to move forward personally while constantly making sense of the environment around them, which results in a mix of totally optimistic tracks and solemn moments.
On the upbeat side, “Flushed” contains some of the album’s most impressive riffs, which playfully bounce and untangle into the track’s stellar chorus. The twangy guitar centers itself around that riff, while putting different spins on it and veering off into feedback for more raw moments. Following suit later on in the album, “Sun Bleached” moves fast with a full, dazzling mix of distorted guitars. The chorus steps in with spastic riffs and its forceful rhythm section which makes for one of the most dynamic songs on the album. While there are more somber tracks like “No Trigger,” more often Dogs on Acid mask negative emotions with cheerful sounds, especially on”Let The Bombs Fall Off.” The track feels elated, seemingly a few steps ahead of Helmis who is trying to move past turmoil, “Crashing my dream car just to see you shake / let the bombs fall off, let the bombs fall off / been cursing for sport, in pretty good shape / let the bombs fall off, let the bombs fall off / blowing up my whole vicinity / let the bombs fall off, let the bombs fall off / I’m learning to stop worrying.”
The final track on the record, “5th of July,” may be the most successful in merging a totally enthusiastic sound with oppressed feelings. The riffs glisten and Helmis energetically shouts his lines to lightheartedly make sense of his dazed feelings, “My brain is scattered, like M80 cases on the 5th of July.” Overall, Dogs on Acid is a record that seeks to flourish over feelings of misery by creating music that is, to put it simply: fun.
Featured image by Tim Owen.