Friday, October 25, 2013

B-Room - Dr. Dog

Album: B-Room
Artist: Dr. Dog
Release: October 2, 2013

It seems to take me a long time to properly process a Dr. Dog album, probably because they really transcend explanation.  However, we're going to see them live next weekend and I wanted to tell you about their latest release, B-Room, before I hear any of the songs performed live and they get all distorted.  I'm a firm believer that a song is just never the same once you've heard it live.

What I love most about this band is that there is no such thing as a "typical Dr. Dog album".  We all know artists that kind of have a formula or a go-to sound that you can expect to hear on every album.  Well, you won't find that here.  I never know what to expect when I go to spin one of their albums for the first time.  Hell, sometimes I don't even know what to expect from the beginning to the end of a single song and I absolutely adore that about them.  When I listen to Dr. Dog, I know that they're creating the music they want to play, the music they want to hear.  They're being true to themselves every minute of every song and that is an incredible thing to listen to, probably because it is such a rare quality to find.

Another thing I love about them is the way they juxtapose heavy, insightful lyrics with bouncy, jangly music.  It makes for some crafty little songs that make you think about the broad picture of life and your place in it, but that somehow keep from being downers.  B-Room is packed full of just this kind of song.  Take for instance "Broken Heart", a song about a life devoid of actual true love or even a belief in it.  Depressing song fodder for sure, but somehow it's still catchy as can be and not sad at all. 

I read somewhere once that Dr. Dog were never known for being good lyricists.  Personally, I think that's bullshit.  I think they write amazing lyrics, you just have to pay attention, which is probably why some people don't appreciate them.  Maybe it's because they don't often write quick little lines that you can quote on twitter and have them make any sense.  Their songs often read like short stories and taken from beginning to end are well-crafted and endlessly clever.  I also enjoy that you never really know what they're up to, it makes it fun to listen to songs like "Cuckoo" that very well could actually be about a tiny wooden bird trapped inside a clock and nothing else.

Like other albums in their collection, B-Room refuses to be slipped quietly into a particular genre.  I would never call this pop music and even rock doesn't sound right, exactly.  For some reason I'm sick to death of hearing people refer to their music as having a 60's feel to it, although I guess in some cases it's true.  I did notice earlier (I've listened to B-Room about 5 times today) that "Love" has a kind of acidy 70's thing happening in the background that I'm  digging.  Dr. Dog almost demands the creation of a new genre, one that should be called something like 'Richly Layered Creative Rock'. 

My two favorite songs on the record just so happen to be polar opposites.  Mixed in with all the retro sounds and thinly veiled love songs is the aptly named "Rock & Roll".  It's an upbeat, coming of age jam about the discovery of rock music, love and all sorts of fun things.  It's a lot of fun to listen to and to sing along with.  Then there is the quiet moment on B-Room and it is amazing.  The song, "Too Weak to Ramble" is an acoustic number sung by Toby Leaman with Scott McMicken singing harmonies.  It is stripped down, full of angst, and tailor-made for Leaman's delivery.  It's remarkable how such a simple arrangement can be so powerful.  All in all, I think B-Room is a great addition to the Dr. Dog catalogue and I'm thrilled to have in my collection.

No comments:

Post a Comment