Following the hiatus of his band Modern Baseball, Jake Ewald returns with the second release from his solo project, titled Slaughter Beach, Dog. Motorcycle.jpg delves deeper into the fictional world created on debut record Welcome, whilst highlighting another side to Ewald's songwriting that couldn't quite shine through the pop punk offerings of his previous band.
This four-song EP is a charming and capable release from a songwriter who unashamedly wears his influences on his sleeve. It's impossible to not recognise the clear John K. Samson worship in Ewald's output — even his vocal delivery — but "Glowing" brings to mind the composition and texture of the most recent output from Mike Kinsella's Owen project, while "104 Degrees" find Ewald at his most experimental.
A spoken word narration, delivered in a deadpan style, "104 Degrees" recounts the story of a dream meeting between the protagonist and a woman he meets "sitting on a beach on Baltimore and reading Murakami." While the Murakami name-drop feels slightly forced, the less on-the-nose nod to Wilco with the final line makes up for it. Furthermore, the song suggests that Slaughter Beach, Dog will see Ewald experiment more and more as the project continues.
Motorcyle.jpg is a confident and assured EP from a songwriter taking a step outside of his comfort zone. While not everything lands completely ("Building the Ark" is largely forgettable), there is enough evidence on show that Slaughter Beach, Dog is going to be much more than a mere side project for Ewald. (Lame-O Records)