San Jose’s Dogcatcher has typically vacillated between folk and soul, pivoting off the fusion sound of the ‘70s. Their latest self-titled EP falls on the more soulful side, drawing comparisons to other pop-rock retro acts like The Kings of Convenience, The Aluminum Group, Kisses, and even East Bay’s Ghost & the City. With seven tracks ranging from pop-rock to old school funk, Dogcatcher has an undeniable smoothness seeping from its multi-stylistic pores.
Leading off the set, “Thanksgiving Leftovers” is a light jazz chart spiced with a horn line and singer Andrew Heinie’s smoky, nightclub vocals. In less than 2 minutes and 30 seconds, this song establishes the band’s musical ethos and sets the tone for the rest of the EP.
“How to Cook Me” is a swanky, tongue-in-cheek soft rock track that draws from various ‘70s influences (think Atlanta Rhythm Section). “My Sunshine” follows in kind, while “So You Say” is a apologetic pop ballad that’s as much James Blake as it is Camera Obscura or Jenny Lewis. “The Deal” doubles down on Dogcatcher’s slow jam chops; and “Dusty Trail” switches things up with a Southwest Americana feel, a touch of attitude-laden psychobilly, well-placed delay, and distorted vocals á la Los Lobos or Mazzy Star. The set closes with a re-configured opening track, enlisting Miles Davis apostle Will Magid on trumpet and the local talents of East Palo Alto hip-hop artist Freddy Flopez.
Dogcatcher hits all its stylistic marks, while simultaneously establishing the band’s uniquely flavored sound. The E.P. is wholly enjoyable from start to finish, with tight chords, accenting keys and driving horn lines. Both an homage to ‘70s fusion and a soulful mix of something new, Dogcatcher is an irrefutable addition to your soul/rock/groove record collection.