Rounding the dogleg with Dogleg
Mike Donovan | Friday, March 27, 2020
Dogleg intercedes 30 minutes after you and your friends raid Lafayette Coney Island at which point four coneys “all the way” with fries and a Coke metabolize into a madness threatening to drown the night’s Super Smash Bros. Melee marathon in heartburn. Needle dropped on “Kawasaki Backflip,” volume cranked well past 11, bandleader Alex Stoitsiadis’ high-gain guitar shakes you into a steady bob — meal-prep for the feast that unfolds when Jacob Hanlon (drums), Chase Macinski (bass) and Parker Grissom (backing vocals) send down Stoitsiadis’ jet-fueled vocals on a Falcon Punch straight to the gut. Bowels be damned as Dogleg delivers you an overblown portion in a way that is, against all odds, pleasurable.
The Detroit-based outfit, whose basement-bred recipe of sweet and savory speed punk (as melodic as it is ferocious), brings to 2020 a particular flavor of the underground not tasted since Minneapolis’ Husker Dü perfected it in the mid-80s. Michael Azerrad’s description of the Dü’s “bloodcurdling howls […] as direct, honest and arresting as an infant’s howl” can just as easily be ascribed to Dogleg’s debut LP “Melee” (named after the aforementioned video game), though Dogleg’s version of the speed punk sensibility descends upon a generation raised on Smash Bros. and calcified in the light-speed sensitivities of the information age — a generation intuitively prepared to dance, dream, crumble and cry in hyperspace.
“We can destroy this together,” Stoitsiadis emotes mid-“Backflip”: fingering a collective consciousness validated in an age where COVID-19, Trump, college debt and climate change are seemingly conspiring to cut our fuel lines before we’ve even launched. “But you don’t talk to me,” he qualifies.
It’s refreshing indeed to witness a guitar outfit looking outward, daring from its tiny perch to shout over the navel-gazery of its lump-summarized indie rocking peers. “Barraged, eager, and brave” (toughened against the stones thrown by many eminently meme-able “Prom Hell[s]”), Dogleg’s impenetrable self-assurance (“I know this feeling, it’s in my home, myself, my name”) gives way to unbridled action: “I wait around for nothing / I can’t wait for nothing.”
Sadly, we’re forced to our relationship with “Melee,” a collection of bottled fire best experienced in person, while we lie in wait — all shows, community and scene-building suspended indefinitely in the wake of an insidious virus. But, with quarantine comes compression, time and spacelessness to let reflections run rampant, compile our disparate snippets of rage into a single block emotion that will undoubtedly explode from our cramped subjectivities the second Stoisiadis, screaming from the stage, reminds us of our time spent “stuck inside [our] head again,” and we, pins pulled, disintegrate into a mosh pit of collective catharsis.
“There’s a popular idea that the flirtation with chaos is something you must grow out of,” Lester Bangs writes in his essay “Growing Up is Hard to Do.” ”[But] I believe that you shouldn’t hang onto your adolescence like it was a state of grace, you should leave yourself the latitude to go berserk from time to time.”
I’d like to echo this sentiment. I want all of you to go f—ing ballistic. I want you to do so with Dogleg’s “Melee” ringing your ears, so you actually feel heard as we careen around this cultural dogleg faster than our communal train can handle.*
Soon you’ll be “crashing to a way out of this place that you call home.”
*Hehe. Jokes. Imagine having a reliable interstate public transit system! Not me! Not my America!
Label: Triple Crown Records
Favorite tracks: “Fox,” “Ender”
If you like: Husker Dü, Foxing, Super Smash Bros. Melee
Shamrocks: 4.75 out of 5