Swimming with Soggy's 2nd EP "Passion Aggressive"

Alexi Dollar tunes his guitar in between songs.
Photo by Erin Devany
At Dan's Silverleaf

Upon first impression, Alexi Dollar can come off as a very unassuming member of the Denton music community, usually found in one of various button up shirts and any varying length of khakis. However, Dollar’s time in Denton as a musician has involved a colorful array of transitions: from earlier years with retired bands such as Konklin or Playlists to short-term collaborations with projects like Bangarang and The Whiskey Folk Ramblers. Dollar’s most recent project, Soggy, has been writing and performing for about a year and a half now, and has already recently produced their second EP, Passion Aggressive (Barf Wave Records).

Dollar’s unassuming demeanor transposes seamlessly into intelligent lyrics and composition that seem almost effortless in their arrangement. Having teamed up with locally revered audio engineer Michael Briggs, the two designed an album that flows with rising and falling emotions complimented by ideas of self-doubt, uncertain romance, and struggling with feeling alone in a room full of people. The dynamics of the album throughout only intensify these feelings, beginning with the opening track “Ballad = Boring”. Dollar begins the album stripped down to just an acoustic guitar with shaky vocals describing the imbalanced back and forth between two nondescript lovers, asking “if people grew on trees would you pick me?”. Halfway through the song abruptly bursts, punching the doubt and uncertainty into full-throttle frustration.

“Otis Shredding” follows, keeping the sway of “Ballad = Boring’s” heavy ending with a jolting, mathy opening riff, followed by an almost punk-like monotonic verse. Dark rooms and dying riddle the lyrics of this edgy sophomore track, further driving Dollar’s angst to a head. The track dissolves in the middle and comes up on the other side, increasing in chaos slowly until closing with the buzz of guitar amps drifting into sonic abyss.

The third track Soggy offers is “you have to say never twice to say ‘never say never’”, the most “emo” track title on the EP in my opinion. You’ve gotta love an angsty band with song names that seem like they’re quotes from shitty made-up 90s rom-coms. This song has a very dismal, almost grungy feel, and the constant juxtaposition between soft and loud keeps your body swaying, waiting for the band’s next move to tell you how to feel. The guitar solo is dirty in a good way, the same kind of dirty that makes a cigarette after sex so satisfying. “STAY THE SAME” bellows out from Dollar’s vocals as the song climaxes in its final measures, giving the belly of the album a nice peak to slide into the final tracks from.

I admire Soggy’s dedication to recognizing our nation’s forgotten saints with the title of their fourth track, “Paul Blart American Hero”. The song begins with a very boppy, upbeat riff brimming with reverb, before it slows down into sludgy verses with clumsy music box guitar riffs sprinkled over each word. This song is an elaboration of the previous songs’ diverse movements, propelling the listener from verses that are soft and almost drunk-like in their confidence into instrumentals that soar to the rafters. The guitar tone in this track particularly grabs me, and I haven’t listened to the song once without banging my head at the end. The song ends on a note that seems lacking in resolution, and this cliffhanger sets up quite the finale.

I’d say “Maude”, the fifth and final song of Soggy’s EP, is easily the single from the project as far as memorability goes. Dollar starts off sans instruments as the narrator of this imaginary autobiography “My name is Maude…”, continuing in lyrical sections that describe a new personality (describing a new emotion). The literal interpretations the band takes with each new character are brilliant, “hate” begins to pick up the tempo of the song a little until “silence” steps in to break things up before we meet the final member of our multi-personality melody. “Loud” drills through as the band goes into full swing, until Maude comes back to face and seems to hold onto the reigns of her mood swings for the rest of the song. Overall, Maude seems like she’s on the brink of some kind of breakdown, pleading with her object of affection for any kind of connection. At the end of the song she finally cracks, “YOU’RE CALLING OUT MY NAME…but you can’t see me…” are Dollar’s final words for Maude’s defeat.

This album couldn’t have been released at a better time, as emotional music seems to be resonating within an emerging audience in Denton. Anxiety and depression are becoming all too common themes in everyday life, and the music Soggy has created embraces these internal struggles. Michael Briggs and Soggy have created a 25 minute experience about reclaiming sadness and insecurity that fans can relate to, challenging the idea that these feelings should be alienating or shameful.