It’s difficult for a new band to escape the spectral presence of their old projects when those projects include math/emo legends Algernon Cadwallader and Snowing. Frontman Peter Helmis, guitarist Joe Reinhart, bassist Nate Dionne, and drummer Nick Tazza of Philadelphia’s Dogs on Acid don’t try. “Our past bands really never come up [in conversation];” writes Dionne in a prepared statement. “We just know so much about each other that it’s never a discussion we really have.”
“Make It Easy,” the new single from their upcoming eponymous debut album, celebrates the band’s new project by acknowledging its members’ storied sonic history. The tempo distortion and discordant vocals that persist through the first seventeen seconds of the track sound like a record spinning up, as though listeners dropped a needle on a record already in-progress. The sound, lacking treble, is borrowed from Algernon Cadwallader’s “Spit Fountain,” and that song’s structure continues governing the song as its frequencies broaden. As things snap into place, the twangy guitar and clean drum work that fans might remember from those previous projects is there, but so too is an insistence on the new: Helmis spends little time on verse work before spending most of “Make It Easy” hammering home a hook, “I want time to be all mine,” that seems to acknowledge the dialogue with the past in which he is inevitably embroiled.
Like a teen accepting their parents’ role in raising them, Dogs on Acid moves beyond the sum of its parts by embracing them on “Make It Easy.” Far from an imitation or a nostalgia trip, the band’s wide-eyed sincerity and solid rock fundamentals illustrate the continued vitality of the ideas that invigorated these musicians’ projects old and new. Maybe that shouldn’t be so surprising—it’s only been four years since both Algernon Cadwallader and Snowing released their final work.
Final, at least, in those incarnations. “Make It Easy” is streaming below. Dogs on Acid is out August 28th on Jade Tree.