Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Album Review: Dr Dog - Be The Void

Dr Dog
Be The Void
***and1/2 out of *****

In 2010 Dr Dog moved over to ANTI Records and (more importantly) brought in an established outside producer (Rob Schnapf) to help them out.  The resulting Shame, Shame was the groups most polished and accessible effort, if just slightly beneath their best (that would be 2008's Fate).  Now the band has discarded those outside influences returning to their lo-fi style of production and song writing with odd changes abound and instead of leaping forward seem to be retreating a touch.

While growth or mainstream love may not be found here, the levels of oddity and vocal harmony is just as rich and in some places the best it's been.  They are never escaping the 3 B comparison (Beach Boys/Beatles/Band) yet have added some strange sounds to the proceedings perhaps influenced by found sound lover and label mate Tom Waits.  Also flashes of strange in the vein of Ween and Flaming Lips, which have always been present in Dr Dog's sound, are more pronounced here.

The first three songs are the shortest on the album and also the three most successful.  "Lonesome" takes sparse beats and vocal cries to drag the simple to huge highs as Toby Leamen lets you know just how easy it is to get into the title's mental state.  Scott McMicken puts on a Paul Simon suit next to twist around cliches floating through "That Old Black Hole" and "These Days" is the most alive the laid back bunch has sounded in a while with riffing guitar lines and urgent feelings being pumped through the keys and bass.
Other highlights are the groovy piano fills in "How Long Must I Wait" and the lazy drifting of the disk closer "Turning The Century" which sounds like it is played on instruments from the 1800's.  Other tracks here you just feel could be better if there was an outside voice in the proceedings as songs like "Big Girl" simply runs on too long, and "Warrior Man" seems like an in-joke that would be better left in the studio.  "Over Here, Over There" is the first time McMicken's animal focused lyrics seem straight out silly, forget the song trying to tell you something, it is just an excuse to bounce around at a high pace.  

While a solid overall album when the disk wraps up it is hard to shake this feeling of wanting for the group to bust out big time with a more highlight laden effort.  Perhaps they are content to be a consistently engaging band that is comfortable playing their own mid level oddball pop rock, and who can blame them for that? 

This is a perplexing disk from the Philly Dr. Doggers, some really great songs ( I can not get enough of the first trifecta) but some really shake your head moments (Never need to hear "Warrior Man" again and "Over Here, Over There" is close to that territory).  While Fate was amazing, Shame Shame was on the same level just with a slicker vibe, this one feels more like a return to the We All Belong days; simply put it is more hit and miss.  Certainly worth checking out if you are a fan and I am curious how this one will age as the years progress, this one included.  We shall see, grab the disk here and preview some songs below:


"That Old Black Hole"

"These Days" Live at WFUV

No comments:

Post a Comment