Let’s clear some things up before getting to the review. There appear to be at least two bands named Dogjaw. This review is about the three piece punk band called Dogjaw from West Virginia, whose debut album is on Solidarity Recordings. They should not be confused with the Dogjaw from Washington, who have just released an album on Rumbletowne Records. If you ask me, I think it’s kind of funny that two bands with the same name would release new albums so close to each other. Perhaps the two bands should get together and see if either wants to spell their name differently, or just outright change it. Or maybe they’re cool with co-existing peacefully. Anyway, now that it’s been cleared up, on to the review!
If the West Virginian Dogjaw’s Facebook page is to be believed, their influences include Dead to Me and Cobra Skulls. If the music on their debut album, Pilot, is any indication, then their Facebook page should be believed. Blending a love for the post-2000 Fat Wreck sound with a crooning vocal style, Dogjaw has constructed a solid, and rather enjoyable, album for anyone who is a fan of melodic punk rock.
As I alluded to earlier, Dogjaw sounds like Dead to Me musically. Specifically they have a sound that’s a cross between the straight forward punk of Cuban Ballerina and the melodic diversity of African Elephants. This is by no means a bad thing, but it’s hard to listen to this album without thinking of Dead to Me. They don’t always sound like Dead to Me. “Insulting the Chieftain” sounds like it could have been ripped from the Cobra Skulls discography, while other tracks like “Pecan Sandies” and “Tidal Fight” hint at Dillinger Four or Banner Pilot as influences. And sometimes they also sound like Dead to Me, did I mention that yet?
Perhaps the thing that makes Dogjaw stand out as more than a mere Dead to Me ripoff is the chilling vocals provided by frontman Jim Price. Rather than having a gruff shout like so many punk bands these days, Price’s vocals have a soft, almost haunting, quality to them. While this crooning style is usually reserved for horror punk and psychobilly bands (or the Smoking Popes), Price’s voice never sounds out of place with the music, helping Dogjaw establish their own identity to set them apart from other bands.
Pilot is a solid freshman effort from Dogjaw, setting a strong foundation for the band to build upon. At times it does sound a little bit too much like some of their influences, but it also has signs that the band is already refining a sound to call their own. If Pilot is any indication, with a little tweaking Dogjaw has what it takes to become a force of their own within the punk scene.