Detroit foursome, Dogleg, strike a thunderous debut which will thrill hardcore, emo & punk communities in equal measures. High energy & pent up aggression are released at breakneck pace barely stalling to take a breath across the 35mins running time. Sound good? – well wait to you hear the top drawer musicianship, & the band’s status as one of the genre’s rising stars will be screaming in your face.
Now 5 years in existence, Dogleg, have risen from the solo bedroom emo dream of frontman Alex Stoitsiadis to a ferocious college thrashy emo four piece bossing live shows adding Chase Macinski (bass), Parker Grissom (rhythm guitar) & Jacob Hanlon (drums) to the line up. The 2015 EP release of “Remember Alderaan” was well received but heavily overshadowed by their exhilarating gig performances leaving critics & fans hankering for more….if they weren’t too busy getting humped by bassist Chase Macinski at Super Smash Bros as he held fort at the gig merch table. No prizes for guessing the inspiration behind the album title.
A protracted wait for the debut LP was suffered by all as the band experimented in earnest to successfully bottle their live sound on record after “Remember Alderaan” failed marginally to capture their live intensity in my opinion. Time was spent with Italian producer Maurizio Borgna before the band settled with self production & recording at Stoitsiadis’ house. The simple things eh.
Dogleg’s sound mostly derives from early emo so right up the street of fans of At the Drive In or ….And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead. It will also appeal to those who dabbled in the early noughties emo/US punk like Brand New or early Jimmy Eat World before the genre went to shit with the crap like My Chemical Romance or worse Fall Out Boy. However for those on the reminiscent emo path, Dogleg’s higher level of craftsmanship vs the bulk of that genre will be evident from the first notes.
The record kicks off with Kawasaki Backflip which is the epitome of the band’s sound – heavy distortion, artillery like drums & pedalling riffs. This track also has a lovely melodic undertone assisted by Stoitsiadis’ depressive vocals. This is not too dissimilar to Placebo & nails a sound I would like to see them evolve & explore through time as unfortunately it isn’t revisited here again till ¾ through with the excellent Wartortle. In saying that both tracks are a rousing listen instrumentally & luckily this is a key feature throughout as the band live & die by their motto of Play Fast. Highlights include lead single Fox where speedy drums & bass lay the foundations for numerous backing vocalists, Prom Hell where grungy guitar chords open & snares come in building energy & tempo for Stoitsiadis’ vocals & Headfirst which begins with twinkly guitars before dialling up the low end.
Putting aside the musical compositions for a second, the lyrics are a little weak & basically sub standard emo. Indeed after countless listens to the record, I struggle to pick out any particularly memorable lines. In its defence, lyrics aren’t really the reason you would pick up a record like this. My other main criticism is song structure repetition. Not an uncommon feature of hardcore/emo records but there are just too many times, songs build up to a chorus of layered barked vocals that the effect eventually loses its edge.
Anyway, these are a small blot on the scorecard of what is otherwise a hugely enjoyable, energetic & fire cracker of a debut from Dogleg. This is a rugged & powerful record bursting with passion at blistering pace. Perfect for a pit.
Top Track: Kawasaki Backflip
Top Lyric: …um….
Review by Scott Bingham (Follow him on Twitter at @in_the_riot)
Melee was released on the 13th March 2020 & is available in all good record stores & on Spotify