A blend of intimate lo-fi folk and dark-toned indie rock, Slaughter Beach, Dog is led by Jake Ewald, co-frontman for Philadelphia emo outfit Modern Baseball. The project grew from a handful of extracurricular releases into the singer/songwriter’s primary creative outlet, exploring a softer and ultimately more diverse sound than his primary band. Ewald had already released the project’s debut when Modern Baseball went on hiatus. After handling most of the instruments and production on his debut and 2017′s Birdie, Ewald morphed Slaughter Beach, Dog into an expanded full-band endeavor for 2019′s Safe and Also No Fear. Working on his own again, he created 2020′s At the Moonbase during the global pandemic, taking a cleaner, more pop-driven direction. This sound continued on the 2023 full-band effort, Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling, which was inspired in part by classic singer/songwriters of the 1970s.
The project first came about with the inclusion of the track “Toronto Mug” on Making New Enemies’ Group Picture, Vol. 4 compilation in 2014. A second track arrived in 2015 on a follow-up compilation for the label before the release of Ewald’s debut 7” EP, Dawg, on his own Family Dinner imprint. While writing the more autobiographical material that formed half of Modern Baseball’s Holy Ghost album, Ewald decided to move his songwriting into the town of Slaughter Beach for the project. Creating a cast of characters to base the songs around allowed him to explore lyrical territory that was different from his work with his full-time band. Signing to Lame-O in 2016, Ewald released Slaughter Beach’s debut album, Welcome, at the end of the year, while embarking on solo tour dates.
With Modern Baseball put on hiatus in early 2017, Ewald put all of his energy into Slaughter Beach, Dog, playing more shows and recording material with bandmate Ian Farmer (Modern Baseball’s bassist). The first result of the sessions, the EP , was released in mid-2017, with his sophomore album, Birdie, following a few months later. By 2019, Slaughter Beach had expanded into a full band, which appeared on the more collaborative and darker-toned Safe and Also No Fear in August of that year.
The band had already completed a national tour in support of the album when the global pandemic hit in early 2020. Ewald reverted to his solo approach, moving from Philadelphia to a house in the Poconos where he began writing and recording a new batch of songs at home minus his bandmates. Released in December of that year, At the Moonbase was a further maturation of his ongoing sound with increasing hi-fi tendencies and pop elements like synths and saxophone, courtesy of guest player Will Schade. An even more solitary endeavor, 2022′s Live at the Cabin was a stripped-down set of previously recording song, captured alone at his house. For Slaughter Beach, Dog’s fifth album, Ewald reunited with his bandmates to produce a tightly crafted set inspired by classic singer/songwriters like Randy Newman, Neil Young, and Tom Waits. One of the project’s most fully realized albums to date, Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling, was released in 2023. ~ Rich Wilson