Release Date: Feb 7, 2012
Record label: Epitaph
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop
What have you done in the past 10 years? If you’re Philadelphia-based quintet Dr. Dog, you’ve exited the womb, lost your baby band members, endured some awkward formative years, developed an adolescent identity, suppressed that identity to fit in with the cool kids, realized the cool kids aren’t that cool, and learned to embrace the quirky, enjoyable person you’ve always been. Oh, and you’ve earned a PhD somewhere along the way.
Always looking to tinker and experiment with their sound, Dr. Dog push their melodic, psych rock sound in a rawer direction on their seventh album, Be the Void. The album finds the band stepping away from the intricately crafted sound of their earlier albums in favor of a more vibrant, spontaneous vibe, resulting in an album that feels looser without ever feeling lazy.
Dr. DogBe The Void[ANTI-; 2012]By Henry Hauser; February 6, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetDr. Dog’s 6th studio LP, Be The Void, offers up sharp lyrical twists, quirky psychedelic rock, and exhilarating vigor that harkens back to when these prolific freaks were just “fearless weirdoes in a basement.” Building on the success of 2010’s introspective Shame, Shame, which catapulted the band into Billboard’s #44 slot, Dr.
Philadelphia’s Dr. Dog has been churning out jangly, earnest pop with a less-than-subtle nod to classic influences such as Neil Young, The Band, The Beach Boys, etc. for six records. And on its seventh, it seems, the group seems content to continue down that same path. Be The Void, the band’s ….
For a band that never really asks too much of anyone, Philadelphia sextet Dr. Dog sure sees its share of negative press. The line on these guys is that they’re shameless imitators whose quirky, lo-fi brand of psych pop never steps out of the shadows of the band’s extremely obvious influences. There’s also the bit about how they’ve been making the same album for the past nine or so years.
On Dr. Dog’s previous album, Shame, Shame, the group, for the lack of a better term, grew up. Gone was the lo-fi indie rock of their earlier work, replaced with more layered, polished sound – a change that was welcomed by critics and fans alike. The natural progression, it seems, would be to continue that expansion, yet for some reason leaders Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken decided to forget all that and on the new album Be The Void return the band to its fuzzy pop sound.
Review Summary: A solid but slightly underwhelming release from one of indie's most dependable bands.Over the course of their past few albums, Dr. Dog’s sound has become more and more polished. I wouldn’t necessarily pinpoint that as a bad thing, but compared to the raw and tattered production of gems like ‘Alaska’, a lot of their songs have started to feel rather vapid.
Shame, Shame was Dr. Dog's sixth LP, and their first with an outside producer. Though they'd hit the studio with frequent Elliott Smith collaborator Rob Schnapf with that oft-parroted aim of bringing their spirited live show to the recording booth, the outsider's presence helped the Philly rockers shave some of the shaggy excess from their earlier efforts, teasing out their bright, bouncy, McCartney-indebted melodies.
Like a fine wine, Dr. Dog gets better with age. Since the band made a strong first impression with their live shows, each new album gets closer to that perfect debut that should have gotten them noticed in the first place. For their latest attempt, Be the Void, the Philadelphia quintet added a new drummer and “electronics-percussionist-guitarist” Dimitri Manos (who, incidentally, worked with the band on 2005’s Easy Beat), and the results show.
Bookended by the loose, ramshackle rattle of “Lonesome” and the twangy buzz of “Turning the Century,” Be the Void finds Dr. Dog resurrecting the vintage sounds of ‘60s psychedelia and ‘70s classic rock. It’s well-worn territory — these retro revivalists have been digging up the past for seven albums now — but Be the Void still feels like a new direction, possibly because it arrives two years after Shame, Shame, the cleanest, biggest-sounding album of the band’s career.
Shaggy roots rockers Dr. Dog have managed to find themselves a comfortable musical niche somewhere between My Morning Jacket and mid-era Wilco, winning over a healthy number of people in the process, including Conan O'Brien. They can be relied upon to come up with a handful of good songs on each and every album, and that is still the case on Be The Void.