Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Sure, the companionship might be worth a damn. It's what dogs get all that credit for - the man's best friend tag and all - and that's well and good, but they're still mostly a pain in the ass, right? They're worse than children, but at least children grow out of it. Dogs require a lot of attention and they usually cannot keep their emotions or impulses in check. Therefore, the canine is an animal that I'll write off and of which I never think about when I'm into thinking happy thoughts. That being said, there is one thing I'll give dogs and it's the only time there's even the slightest yearning in my bones to own one of those suckers. It's the image that we see in pharmaceutical advertisements and in scenes of meditation or of solemnity, as a man is walking barefoot or in boat shoes along a sand bar - with pant legs rolled up to half-calf - tossing a slobbery chunk of a stick into the surf. The dog - usually a Labrador or a golden retriever - is beside itself with unbridled joy, bounding into and against the lively waters, fetching the piece of wood and bringing it back to its master, only to do it again and again until the sun sets or the man gets tired. We never see either of those two things happen though - just the man and dog living for that moment. It's a spectacular setting - with a sky the color of burnt butterscotch and a head leaden with concerns, though tentatively unburdened. We do believe that the men of Holiday Shores fantasize about these faded moments of splashing and bonding on the beach with pooches as much as we do and they're likely quite a bit more fond of dogs than we are, so it makes it all that much better. The last time that we wrote about the Florida band, we couldn't help but lose ourselves in how tanned they make us feel, as if they were sunshine themselves - all of them - just giving us all of the light we could ever want or need. They will always do that. It's part of their creed, but there's always more to it and with the new songs that they play here, we recognize that though they do great deeds for our sheen and our bronze, they also give us a rich joyride of introspective grooviness too, letting us feel the full spectrum. They offer depression as an emotion that's doing more fleeting than staying, as if we can simply will ourselves into happier states. Lead singer Nathan Pemberton sings, "I shoot for the top, with all my heart/And I'll never go wrong, but I'll pick you back up/All day long," giving us a hint of the cheery, yet somewhat woesome times that get experienced when we are out just living our lives. There's a lot of failing, or half-succeeding. These times feel like the downtown scenes that Robert Suchan of Koufax used to write about when his friends were growing up, getting married and not being as good of friends anymore - or of the deadened feeling of going out to clubs and bars as an older man. The time comes when older age catches up with us and we're left more alone than we've ever been - mom and dad pass away, people move - our friends have better and more important things to do than hanging out with us and we complete our time with our spouses, kids and dogs, our tight little unit. It's not bad. It's actually just fine. It's just different. It's better if there's sand and salt water involved.