CD Review: Diane Coffee “Everybody’s a Good Dog”

Shaun Fleming has spent time in the entertainment world as part of shows like Kim Possible. In fact, when looking through his IMDb, Fleming’s acting credentials are quite impressive. And with those acting credentials come Fleming’s musical credentials, as well. You might know his name as part of the band Foxygen where he played drums. Now, Shaun Fleming has taken his musical experience and put it to good use as part of a relatively new project called Diane Coffee.

Diane Coffee is a band that features Fleming on vocals with musicians Joey Lefitz, Jared Walker, Alex “Prince Thomas” Arnold, Sam France, Glenn Myers, Steve Okonski, Kyle “Hoopty” Houpt and Emily Panic adding numerous different elements and influences to create a musical concept that has more substance than the vast majority of the music industry at the present time. The music of Diane Coffee has been described as “Psychedelic Motown”. That seems to be a relatively good description as that is very close to what the band sounds like on some of their songs. However, that is just the beginning of what the band sounds like. With elements of Funk, Blues, Melodic Rock and other sounds, Diane Coffee has a lot more substance to their music than much of today’s Top 10 musical acts. And that musical blend has made its way onto a couple CDs from the band- 2013’s My Friend Fish and 2015’s Everybody’s a Good Dog.

Diane Coffee’s Everybody’s a Good Dog begins with the multi-layered track “Spring Breathes”. The track begins with a mostly a’capella passage that brings to mind something from The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds album. After that initial a’capella passage, the track switches from Alternative Rock to Melodic Rock and several other styles all within the track’s 5-minute playing time.

While the first track of the Everybody’s a Good Dog album feels slightly sporadic because of the numerous changes in style, the songs on the rest of the album calm down considerably. However, there are still plenty of changes within the album as each track has its own style and musical direction.

The new release from Diane Coffee continues with the track “Mayflower”. The track begins with a strong amount of Soul influence. The horns on the track also give the song plenty of energy. Eventually, the song evolves into something that resembles something that could have easily come from The Rolling Stones. In fact, the music will remind you of songs from that band while Fleming’s vocal delivery on the track brings to mind the delivery of Mick Jagger. “Mayflower” is a quick song with plenty of energy that feels ready-made for the radio.

Everybody’s a Good Dog continues with the song “Soon To Be, Won’t To Be”. The track takes the band’s music in an English Reggae direction with a definite Pop flavor to it. The song makes use of the Reggae influence and also contains plenty of rock reverb. The song contains enough Reggae flavor to satisfy fans of the style while still being very accessible to fans of other styles.

Diane Coffee changes the style of their music once again with the track “Down with the Current”. It is with this track that the band creates a track that feels undeniably like something from Motown and the artists that existed on the label back in the 1960s. The harmonies that exist on the track feel as genuine as anything that came out during the Motown era. Listening to the track brings to mind groups like The Four Tops and The Temptations with a modern twist.

While “Down with the Current” feels very genuine as far as the “Motown Sound” is concerned, the track “Tams Up” makes use of the Soul feel of music more than the Motown Sound. “Tams Up” feels much more like an Otis Redding track than a Four Tops song, but the similarity between the two tracks keeps the listener in the same relative time period.

“GovT” is a track that also keeps the listener in that same relative time frame. However, with this track, Diane Coffee takes their music in a much more psychedelic direction. The music of the song sounds like something from the time of the Summer of Love. In fact, the feel of the guitar at the beginning of the track mixed with certain musical effects on the song and other influences on the music all combine to create a track that could have been part of AM radio at the end of the 60s into the early seventies. All of those influences and the lyrics within the song about the government all make for a song that has a definite dated feel.

“Duet (featuring Felicia Douglass)” keeps the retro feeling of the music on the new release from Diane Coffee going. Like the three last tracks, the band does a great job in creating a very genuine pop/rock feel from years gone by. The vocals from Shaun Fleming and Felicia Douglass make for a strong track that, once again, takes the listener back to the days of the sixties and the feel of AM radio at that time.

One of the more unique tracks on Everybody’s a Good Dog is “Too Much SpaceMan”. While the track still remains very retro feeling, the band takes the opportunity to create a track that goes beyond the usual musical influences. “Too Much SpaceMan” brings the songs of Diane Coffee back to the days of Glam Rock. On this track, both the music and the lyrical delivery bring to mind songs from Marc Bolan’s band T-Rex. The Glam influence penetrates the entire feel of the track, making the song one of the more unique on the album.

Everybody’s a Good Dog from Diane Coffee is one of the more unique releases of the last year. It brings lots of different influences to life at one time and those influences combine to create a style that seems to incorporate nearly something from every different era within the age of Rock and Roll. That combination of styles makes for a solid album that’s worth checking out.

Click HERE to check the video to “Soon To Be, Won’t To Be” from Diane Coffee.  Click the links to check out the band’s label Western Vinyl as well as Secretly Canadian. Click on the album cover below to purchase a copy of Everybody’s a Good Dog from Diane Coffee.

Diane Coffee