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Dr. Dog Gets an "A" for B-Room

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Dr. Dog has a new album out, B-Room, and it’s very good, certainly not B-anything; we’ll give it an “A.”  It’s odd to be able to hear their influences, artists as diverse as The Travelling Wilburys and David Bowie, and recognize they've produced an amazing and coherent album.

There are lots of influences evident in their sound but this is no tribute album.  With every new release they are sounding more and more like Dr. Dog, regardless of the influences we hear in their songs. They have a sound, aware of their influences but becoming something new.   

Old Dr. Dog

Passed Away (2008) and Easy Beat (2005) both had recognizable Beatle influences as the band worked toward their own sound. Then 2012’s Be the Void had something new in it—not that their previous albums weren’t good.  It’s just something new happened with Be the Void, and now something newer yet has happened with B-Room.

Now Dr. Dog

“The Truth,” for instance, is clearly Dr. Dog and deserves a good listen.  It starts with a simple drum beat and then the xylophone comes in; that’s right, the xylophone. This is one of the most musical bands to come out in some time. Their sound does not fit neatly into those current subgenre filters that tell us what’s what.  They can play, they can write lyrics, and they can bring it all together into Dr. Dog.  It’s hard to say how they will do in the grand scheme of it all.  They are probably hard to dance to and you have to listen to them to get their lyrics. “The Truth” is kind of a big song, about rainfall and the devil: “The devil’s done. I paid my dues, but he just won’t quit. He don’t like to lose.” And then “The truth don’t stop.”

There is also the line “let the rain fall” in that song, as a chorus.  And here they do that Beatle thing where you can hear it two ways.  It sounds like “let the rain fall,” but it also sounds like “let the rainbow,” as overlaid voices. It’s up to you which it is. Don’t underestimate this crew. They’re layered.  “Long Way Down” and “Too Weak to Ramble” are those lyric-heavy tunes that you have to listen to to get.  It would be difficult to dance to them, too.  Dylan, Harrison, and Petty would have been tough to dance to once too.

Remember the Wilburys or Rubber Soul?

The Travelling Wilburys have had some influence on these young men.  “Distant Light,” easily one of the top three songs on the album, would make any of those older musicians pretty proud of what they’ve done, influentially. “Phenomenon” may owe something to the Wilburys as well, though in this instance it’s the Dr. Dog sound. 

“Broken Heart,” the second song on the album, has a Lodger-era Bowie sound that works very well.  It’s a great tune.  Don’t forget that The Beatles were all about other sounds until 1965’s Rubber Soul, excellently descriptive title and all, hinted at what they were to become.  B-Room is that Rubber Soul moment for Dr. Dog.

Today’s listeners will call them Indie, which often just means good musicianship and lyrics, tough to dance to. And that’s what they are, indie. Time will tell.  Traditionally though, good lyrics, good musicianship, exploration, and a unique sound spell longevity and long-term success. Keep it coming, Dr. Dog. 

AH

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