MANHATTAN — It may not live up to the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds," but New Yorkers will soon be rocking out to an animal-themed album that's all about furry friends living in the big city.
Inspired by the dogs, cats and birds of New York, "Just Sniffing Around" is the new album set to hit the shelves from the band Pet Rox, a group of the city's pet professionals who have turned their passion for other people's animals into a collection of catchy tunes.
"I draw upon all of my experiences as a household vet in New York City," said Pet Rox lead singer and founder Dr. Jeffrey Levy, a licensed veterinarian in the city.
"The stories I see, the relationships between people and their pets, between the pets and the households, the happiness and sometimes sadness I see in it all...I draw upon that for my lyrics."
Pet Rox, which is based out of a private studio on the Upper West Side, sings original songs that are all written by Levy, who recently made headlines when DNAinfo reported on his other pastime — performing pet acupuncture.
"The tunes seem to come to me when I'm traveling between house calls," Levy added after a rehearsal with his back-up singers, "The Roxettes," last Sunday.
"It's usually when I'm on the A train."
Other members of the band include tambourine-playing dog nanny Jackie Krim, back-up singer and pet beauty pageant producer Leslie Hughes and cat rescuer Eric Mauriello.
Organized as a six-piece band with guest artists, a trio or as a solo act with Levy, Pet Rox has been rocking out to tunes like "Raining Cats and Dogs," "Urban Jungle" and "Chicken Little" at animal benefits and fundraisers at venues such as Union Square and the Boat Basin for more than 10 years.
Currently, the band is rehearsing for the annual Dogswalk Against Cancer benefit in Riverside Park on May 6. In the past, the band has also helped the ASPCA, the Central Park Conservancy and the New York City Veterinary Medical Society at a party on Staten Island.
At these functions, the band often plays songs like their song "Outta Here," which tells a story of life in the big city from the pet's point of view. "Outta Here," specifically, tells the story of Dr. Levy's cat, who looks out the window and wishes he could play and hunt birds.
"He's been a vet for so long that he really gets into the pysche of the animals and speaks from their hearts," Hughes said about lead singer Levy. "It's really, really cute."
Like other members of the band, Hughes is a multitasking artist and pet professional. She has been performing with Levy since he approached her after her annual Barking Beauty Pageant, a puppy dress-up event and talent show, nearly six years ago.
Although the band falls into a distinct niche, the members said they are liked by a diverse group of fans who have followed them over the years at various fundraisers in the city.
Things look so promising, in fact, that the animal-loving band members are turning their eyes to record stores and the Great White Way with the release of their first album and a new children's play about the first dog to go into space, which is currently in developmental stages.
Levy says they are so popular because they sing about pets, but the songs double as metaphors that everyone in the city can relate to, from the dating scene in New York to losing a dog best friend as a child.
"I believe ultimately that the voices of our human being selves are metaphors for life, metaphors for human activity. So ultimately, I think, the music touches on the human condition," he said.
"Although the animals play a very important part of it."