Young Detroit punk band gains following
One of Detroit’s finest up and coming bands, Dogleg, is gaining momentum in the Punk world with their newest album release, Melee. Originally a solo project by lead singer Alex Stoitsiadis, Dogleg has propelled from metal frat performances at Stoitsiadis’ University of Michigan to playing South By Southwest in 2018, to being signed by one of New York’s finest rock labels, Triple Crown Records. Melee, released in mid-March, is Dogleg’s debut album following the 2016 release of EP Remember Alderaan? While Remember Alderaan? paid due tribute to early indie garage rock bands like The Strokes, Interpol and Arctic Monkeys, Melee solidifies Dogleg’s place on the punk stage. The original release of the single “Fox” had both enthused punk fans and had major news outlets such as MTV and NPR praising Dogleg’s gifted punk style. With Stoitsiadis on vocals and rhythm guitar, Chase Macinski on bass, Parker Grossom on lead guitar and Jacob Hanlon on drums, Dogleg showcases infectious, high energy musical expertise that has left critics excited for more in Melee. With 87,000 monthly Spotify listeners and counting, it’s past time to tune into Dogleg’s contagious energy and dig into what this album’s buzz is all about.
There’s no doubt that this band is composed of talented and experienced musicians. Melee’s instrumentation is exceptional throughout the album; each and every note on this record rings with clarity, precision and purpose. The same raw enthusiasm that draws in Dogleg’s crowds seems to equally apply to their composition; delightfully, this record’s air of perfection and concision manages to mesh smoothly with the magnificent messiness that is punk rock. This happy marriage permits Dogleg’s Melee to bring emotion back to punk rock—lyrically and thematically.
Macinski on bass is a grounding force to be reckoned with in nearly every song on this album, including “Bueno,” “Headfirst” and “Cannonball” as prime examples of the sophisticated yet principled use of bass that established this album’s steady musicianship. With a solid bass track, Hanlon is free to experiment on drums, ultimately inducing an ecstatic outpouring of commotion that compliments both the bass and guitar rhythms at the same time. With the backing of four reliable instrumental musicians, Melee experiments with the combination of punk and indie influences without any obvious melodious flaws.
Opener “Kawasaki Backflip” lays the groundwork for the mature guitar and bass riffs to intertwine with the quick-paced drum beat and energetic vocals. By the song “Prom Hell” the listener really gets a glimpse at the musical talent of Dogleg. “Prom Hell” begins with a tension-building crescendo of solid bass and guitar lines accompanied by complicated drum-work that releases into a contained vocal melody. This song exemplifies well-done diminuendos and crescendos as the Arctic-Monkey-esque guitar riffs escort exploding lead vocals to and from crafted instrumentals. “Prom Hell” leaves the listener craving more individual solos by skilled guitarist Grossom.
“Fox” and “Wartortle” compete as candidates for the catchiest song on Melee. Stoitsiadis’ voice shines in these two songs, which employ alluring minor chords and expert sing-along lyrics. In a consortium of lead and supporting shout-vocals, “Fox” brings a fast-punch that is dying to become a cult favorite. “Fox” is the perfect mixture of emotional passion and memorable spirit; it creates truly breathtaking moments that scream “this band is going somewhere!”
Melee wraps up with the song “Ender,” an enjoyable tune that shows off the band’s best attributes—steady bass rhythm, captivating guitar riffs and fiery drums with charged lyrics and vocals. The song has several interesting transition points that keep the listener engaged and curious about what eruptive chorus will occur next. The song fades out in a minute-long orchestral outro—a beautiful and purifying contradiction to the screamfest seconds before. The juxtaposition of this outro exemplifies that Dogleg strives to include mixed-genre influences to perfect a new punk sound.
Dogleg’s Melee may not be the most unique punk album to ever grace the markets, but it is fun, exciting and bursting with technical skill. There are points in Melee where the listener is met with too many influences at once—in “Hotlines” there is musical talent galore, but it can’t be revealed through a thick overlay of unrelated noisiness. Dogleg tries to combine indie and punk influences with their own modern angsty spin, and this occasionally comes off as overwhelming to the listener and results in over-complicated songs stuffed with unnecessary flourishes. However, in the moments that Dogleg shines, it gleams impressively. With time, Dogleg will find its sound and eliminate any frivolous additives, solidifying themselves as established punk musicians. Until then, listeners can enjoy Stoitsiadis’ strong vocals and the band’s impeccably mixed instrumentals in Melee, where punk and indie fans can jam-out in harmony.