Posts Tagged ‘Modern Baseball’

Since the band Modern Baseball announced their indefinite hiatus three years ago, Jake Ewald has committed fully to his Slaughter Beach, Dog project, releasing a handful of albums, including last year’s Safe And Also No Fear, He’s put out a whole new full-length called “At The Moonbase”, whose only advance warning was an advent calendar-style countdown on his social media accounts.

Despite being recorded in a year where it was hard to get together and make music, At The Moonbase is very much a fleshed-out effort, put together at home and at Ewald’s Philadelphia studio the Metal Shop. It’s filled with the sort of down-on-your-luck narratives that Ewald has populated his songs with over the years, twangy and comforting and filled with wry observations that cut to the bone.  it’s always wonderful seeing Jake’s song writing improve and evolve over the years and it shows quite a bit on this record in particular. it’s much subtler of an album, might even be a grower to some, but i think it’s a great way to end the year

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In the time since Modern Baseball went on hiatus, Jake Ewald turned Slaughter Beach, Dog from a solo project into a full-fledged band, and in 2019 SB,D released their best album yet, Safe and Also No Fear. With the pandemic keeping Jake at home more, he returned to Slaughter Beach, Dog’s roots, writing and recording a comparatively stripped-back new album, At The Moonbase, alone at home and at his East Kensington recording studio The Metal Shop. (He did end up getting some accompaniment, though, including sax by Wil Schade and vocals by Lucy Stone.) The album is out now, and it finds Jake’s unmistakable singing and song writing style in fine form.

Released December 24th, 2020

Produced by Jake Ewald at The Metal Shop in Philadelphia, PA and at home June – October 2020

The brain-child of Jake Ewald of Modern Baseball, Slaughter Beach Dog’s “Safe And Also No Fear” marks Ewald’s first venture into full-fledged collaboration. Unlike 2017’s Birdie, where Ewald played every instrument, he spent a full year collaborating with bassist Ian Farmer (Modern Baseball), Nick Harris (All Dogs) and Zach Robbins (Superheaven) to construct the project’s unique sound, a blend of pop music, indie rock and folk unlike anything he’d ever produced before. Safe And Also No Fear is rooted in vague sketches of anxieties and confusion, and Ewald stands at its center questioning everything he knows about himself. “Well, since when can an honest man get high after a day of honest work?” he asks on “Good Ones,” crying out as the good ones “aren’t quite as good as you had recalled.

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Produced and Engineered by J. Ewald, I. Farmer, N. Harris and Z. Robbins at The Metal Shop in Philadelphia, PA, February 2019

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Slaughter Beach, Dog, the melancholy folk-rock project led by Modern Baseball’s Jake Ewald, contributed a new song  recently called “Yellow Teeth” to the COVID-19 relief compilation Don’t Stand So Close To Me back in March. It was the band’s first new song since last year’s phenomenal Safe And Also No Fear. Today they’re sharing their second new song of 2020, again for charitable reasons.

“Fair Shot” captures that same resigned ennui and graceful melodic beauty that made last year’s album such a gem. “Now all the day our hairs turn gray, Earth moves painfully slow,” Ewald sings. “We all get one fair shot, but I think that I forgot if mine came and went long ago.” Yet this one seems focused on concerns specific to this year. Ewald begins with a scene that has become familiar in the social distancing: “Under the sun I hear my sister in the street call out to me/ They pulled the car by close so she could see her family.” And it ends on a tragic note that really sneaks up on you given the music’s loose, sighing sway.

Bandcamp is again forgoing its share of sales, and Slaughter Beach, Dog are redirecting all proceeds from “Fair Shot” Philly Bail Fund. Hear and buy the song below, and check out our recent interview with Ewald while you’re at it.

“Fair Shot” · Slaughter Beach Dog available through Lame-O Records 
Released on: 2020-06-05

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Modern Baseball are getting heavier with age. It’s just a one-off, but if “The Thrash Principle” is any indication of what their next album will sound like, it’s yet another new direction for the young band. Where most of the tracks on Sports and You’re Gonna Miss It All bounced, this one drags its feet. The band has always been good at balancing dark thoughts with a bit of levity, but they seem to have reached a tipping point, and this is the first time they feel really weighed down. Years of heartbreak and rejection have taken their toll, and relationships start to blur together like memories you’d rather forget. Brandon Lukens’ always sharp lyricism twists and turns dynamically, as he subtly corrects himself as he goes along: “Didn’t watch your ex’s set,” oh, wait, no, “couldn’t watch your ex’s set.” “And I’ve known you forever…” Or is it “yet I’ve loved you forever”? “You suggested I write a song about the first time we met, but I can’t seem to remember…” shit, nope, “I don’t wanna remember there or then.” All of these shifting thoughts provide ammunition for the kicker: “So is this the hook you wanted? Is it stuck inside your head? Can you sing it with your friends, or alone?” The final twist of the lyrical knife leaves the narrator rejected and alone,

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Modern Baseball’s second LP on yellow vinyl,  “You’re Gonna Miss It All” is the Philadelphia band’s second full-length, for one thing. Beyond that, songwriter Brendan Lukens recently finished his second year at Drexel University, and he never lets you forget what 21-year-old college students are often like , Its culturally literate,  blurring the line between introspective and self-obsessed, impressed by their capacity for clever wordplay and emotional awareness while knowing both of those qualities conspire to prevent people from saying what they actually feel. And due to the all of the aforementioned, Lukens is kinda full of it, too. He won’t exactly lie to you, but he’ll tell you what he aspires to be while doing the exact opposite.

Along with fellow Modern Baseball songwriter Jacob Ewald, Lukens frets over the past, future, and especially the present. He thinks about the next five minutes, the next morning, and whether his death will be cool enough, he worries a hell of a lot about himself, and how other people figure into that. It’s a lot to endure because people in Lukens’ situation get drunk most every night, stumble into relationships, and run from their problems. If you’re in this emotionally state, you’ll relate to You’re Gonna Miss It All directly and deeply. its a wealth of infectious songs that are both sharply observed and sharply written.

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Few bands can say they were born out of necessity, but Slaughter Beach, Dog can. In 2015, Jake Ewald, in the midst of trying to write songs for his other band Modern Baseball (which has since gone on hiatus), hit a patch of writer’s block. To get himself back in action, Ewald decided to move the focus off of himself, stitching together a loose narrative surrounding a motley cast of characters. Before he knew it, he’d written an entire album, and Slaughter Beach, Dog was no longer an exercise, it was a full-fledged band.

“When I gave myself the specific goal to write these kinds of songs and figure out how to do it, it just broke me open in a way I really needed.” What came pouring out of Ewald was “Welcome”, a 10-track debut that showed his ability to create a world of his own making, all the while blurring the line between fiction and reality. At times, he’d be singing about people and situations he invented, but the songs were still personal, often informed by experiences deep in his past, excavated for the purpose of expanding his songwriting vocabulary.

Slaughter Beach, Dog’s new album Birdie (Releases October 27th on Lame-O Records) expands upon the framework Ewald built on Welcome and the recent EP Motorcycle, retaining the hallmarks of Slaughter Beach, Dog while pushing into brave new territories A single listen to Birdie shows how much Ewald has grown as a songwriter, embellishing every detail in his songs without losing his homespun charms.

Where Welcome felt based in rock’s grand tradition, Birdie is at once more expansive and more intimate. Songs ebb and flow in the way of The Weakerthans, still rocking, but in a more scholarly way. “I took [Motorcycle .jpg] as an opportunity to get a little bit weirder than usual,” said Ewald, and it’s clear that the EP was a signpost for where he’d be taking Slaughter Beach, Dog on Birdie. “Gold And Green” sees Ewald skirt the lines between half a dozen genres, creating a song that’s able to mine vintage genres like folk and country in order to make something contemporary. Strumming an acoustic guitar, Ewald spins a narrative flush with details, boasting lyrics that are, depending on your reading, either wildly impressionistic and or plain as day.

Ewald plays into this ambiguity expertly, offering songs that use a lilting bounce to obscure the darkness of the world he’s building. “Fish Fry” is a prime example, utilizing a simple backbeat, a chugging guitar riff, and a ruminative vocal melody, the song allows Ewald to toss out references to his past work for those paying close attention. Much like on Motorcycle .jpg’s “Building The Ark,” Ewald once again finds himself dreaming of a convenience store, inviting fans to dig into his lyrics to unfurl every subplot running beneath his gooey melodies. Similarly, “Acolyte” closes the record but simultaneously opens a door, showing Ewald at his most introspectively ambitious. The song sprawls out, expanding slowly and deliberately, completing Birdie’s arch without providing any definitive answers.

Though Slaughter Beach, Dog may have started as a project for Ewald to get past a mental block, it’s grown into something more. Under this moniker Ewald has built a rich, vibrant world, one that invites thoughtful analysis from fans, and continues to expand past its initial intent. Birdie is bountiful in its scope, with songs that pile on layers of instruments and suck you into the world of Slaughter Beach, Dog. And once you’re there, you never want to leave.

“Acolyte” from the Slaughter Beach, Dog record ‘Birdie’, out 10/27 on Lame-O Records.

The first album recorded by someone other than the band themselves, Modern Baseball enlisted Joe Reinhart (Hop Along, Joyce Manor) at Headroom Studios in Philadelphia to help refine their sound on Holy Ghost. In a tight 28 minutes, Holy Ghost covers an impressive emotional range, with co-songwriters Jacob Ewald and Brendan Lukens literally splitting the record in half. The record kicks off with six songs from Ewald and ends with five from Lukens. What they ended up with was a complete record of the past two years– the highs alongside the lows, tales from the road and glorious days at home alongside songs of heartbreak and personal struggle.

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This band is so honest and down-to-earth, it’s amazing. Love the vibe of the whole album.

Philadelphia’s Modern Baseball has been one of the most refreshing and lovable surprises . Split into two halves and led by members Jake Ewald and Brendan Lukens respectively, their former themes of punk scene politics, fancying girls, and feeling awkward to deal primarily with personal struggles with death and depression. What sets them apart even further is the close relationship they have with their fans, from writing openly about difficult topics to consciously striving to make their live shows safe and accessible. Their remarkable ability to write nothing but great songs is what draws people in, but it’s their lack of pretense, sense of humor, and consideration that holds them close.

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Modern Baseball have evolved with every album, and this EP continues with that. They really are something special. Modern Baseball “clicked” for me a few weeks ago and now I’m hooked. This is a great step forward after the fantastic-ness that was “You’re Gonna Miss it All” .
Recorded, Mixed & Mastered in Philadelphia, PA
Produced by Modern Baseball

 

The first album recorded by someone other than the band themselves, Modern Baseball enlisted Joe Reinhart (Hop Along, Joyce Manor) at Headroom Studios in Philadelphia to help refine their sound on Holy Ghost.

In a tight 28 minutes, Holy Ghost covers an impressive emotional range, with co-songwriters Jacob Ewald and Brendan Lukens literally splitting the record in half. The record kicks off with six songs from Ewald and ends with five from Lukens. What they ended up with was a complete record of the past two years– the highs alongside the lows, tales from the road and glorious days at home alongside songs of heartbreak and personal struggle.

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Modern Baseball co-frontman Brendan Lukens had a pretty intense year leading up to the release of Holy Ghost, having gone to treatment for depression and addiction, which was captured on the Tripping in the Dark a short documentary film. They’re not a band that’s quick to hide their scars or laugh away their wounds—you don’t get to be heroes of the so-called “emo revival” by putting on a happy face. The thing of it, though, is that their music is so damn fun that it’s hard not to come away from Modern Baseball’s most intensely emotional and personal moments without a feeling of satisfaction, catharsis or hell, even just feeling good. Holy Ghost is split into two halves, the first comprising songs written and sung by Jake Ewald and the second by Lukens. The distinction is notable; Ewald’s spacious compositional style on “Hiding” and Lukens’ immediacy in “Apple Cider, I Don’t Mind” provide a strong contrast, though the flow and sequence still works simply because this is a band that comes together most strongly as a whole, grasping those worst personal moments and turning them into two-minute celebrations

This band is so honest and down-to-earth, it’s amazing. Love the vibe of the whole album.

Modern Baseball — Holy Ghost

‘Holy Ghost’, Modern Baseballs third album, was a change in approach. The endearing self-deprecation is still very much apparent; the lyricism is both earnest and witty thanks to Jacob Ewald and Brendan Luken’s turn of phrase. Yet the fun that Modern Baseball have used to cut through melancholy over their last two records is missing, resulting in a darker tone. It’s ironic that while this is their first album to use an external producer (Joe Reinhart), it’s the most introverted they’ve sounded.

That’s not to say the new album isn’t great, because it is really good stuff. Modern Baseball now angle their trajectory towards the more brooding bands in their scene, like The Wonder Years, which is no surprise given their Philadelphian roots. It’s less of a celebration of adversity that finds comfort in the relatable and much more an exploration of one’s own turmoil, which is compounded in the lack of interchange between vocalist Ewald and Luken. Instead they choose to split the record in half, exacerbating their isolation and commanding the record’s tone.

Official Music Video for ‘Wedding Singer’ by Modern Baseball from the album ‘Holy Ghost’ released May 13th, 2016 on Run For Cover, Big Scary Monsters Records