Keeping with our premiere week, we got the exciting Psych-folk Chicago based band Dogs At Large who are back with the release of their infectious new single “Fool’s Paradise.” The song plays with the much Alternative melodies of the 90s with some hints to the band’s Roots influences.
Dogs at Large is the band and collective of musicians revolving around Chicago-based vocalist, guitarist, keyboardist, and songwriter Sam Pirruccello. For years, he’s been using music to explore and make sense of the worlds that exist inside and around us. Delusions of Paradise is his most fully realized vision yet. Released on the new Chicago-based label FINE PRINTS, founded by Robby Haynes and Ziyad Asrar (a past member of Whitney and Smith Westerns), the record will be available everywhere on March 1st, 2019.
Pirruccello has an ear for the sonic palette of psychedelic americana, and his compositions sit nicely beside those of his influences like Gram Parsons, Judee Sill, The Band, and Jackson Browne. But don’t be fooled: Pirruccello is no revivalist, and you wouldn’t mistake a Dogs at Large tune for one released before the turn of the millenium. The themes he explores are distinctively modern, with a protagonist in one song suffering from “paranoid psychosis stemming from being too anxiously involved in social media” – a feeling I think we all know too well.
Though he says that his diagnosis with a mood disorder and a “feeling of general despair” influenced the songs on Delusions of Paradise, it’s a disarmingly beautiful and comforting record. Nowhere is this juxtaposition more striking than on standout track “All Day”, about which Pirruccello says “I think people should embrace failure more often and recognize when they’ve failed.” The first lyrics are “Getting fucked up all day / shouting at a TV til the dawn,” and the lyrics don’t get more hopeful from there. The song is a slow build, and before you know it, a majestic coda has appeared: “I’ve come so far to be let down again,” he sings over a towering cushion of slide guitar and plucked arpeggios, an admission of defeat that plays like a kind of quiet triumph. It makes embracing failure feel like a warm hug from an old friend.
Delusions of Paradise was recorded completely live at Shirk Studios, aside from select vocal and piano overdubs. Pirruccello cites a desire to capture the live sound of his band as the impetus for this pared back approach. And given room to breathe, his band shines. Adam Gilmour, Jamie Yanda, and Aaron Turney (on bass, guitar, and drums respectively) expertly lay the foundations for these songs. But it’s the clever addition of slide guitarist Steve Malito (also of Chicago band Bike Cops) that lends the band its distinct tone. Throughout the record, slide guitar is beautifully employed to add pastoral hooks, melodic counterpoint, and color to the songs.
Throughout the variety of topics and sounds covered on the record, something about Sam’s approach to music always conjures a connection to nature, in a way that’s hard to explain. Perhaps it’s channeled through Sam’s day job as a prairie restorationist with a deep knowledge of botany and a love for the natural world. Or maybe it’s more closely tied to Sam’s desire for total honesty in his songs: “I don’t want to sing any songs that I don’t mean. My approach to songwriting is really subconscious, and if I want to write about something specific I kind of have to sneak up on it.”
On Delusions of Paradise, Sam has written songs that unfold naturally, at their own pace: his choruses don’t pound you over the head with their arrival, and the record flows steadily from end to end. The songs pass by like landmarks observed from a canoe on a river, ancient things seen from a striking new perspective.