CD Review: Dr. Dog - “Be The Void”

Philadelphia band Dr. Dog was formed in 1999. They bring two new members into the fold for their latest album, drummer Eric Slick and Dimitri Manos on electronics, percussion and guitar.

One can detect traces of other artists throughout this album, but none that are blatant enough to feel that Dr. Dog is copying someone else.

Leadoff track "Lonesome" has an easygoing vibe, not quite rock but not exactly folk. It would fit in fine on a Beck album.

"These Days" is one of the stronger tracks. It has an upbeat tempo with keyboards and guitars that suggest alternative rock influenced by new wave. The lyrics are about looking at the past and pondering what direction to take in the future. "I don't wanna stay here; deciding whether we should stay or leave baby/ why you wanna go now?"

The guitar on "How Long Must I Wait?" has an interesting sound, similar to steel drums.

The lead vocals on "Get Away" sound somewhat like David Bowie. The contributions of two guest musicians, Nathan Sabatino on cello and Jonka Perniss on violin, add a nice touch.

The singing and music on "Do The Trick" would have fit well on a John Lennon solo album.

"Heavy Light" is an interesting composition. It begins with drums and congos, then the bass line comes in. Guitars are minimal and back in the mix, while vocals are up front.

"Over Here, Over There" begins very mellow, just vocals and acoustic guitar. After 45 seconds the drums and bass come in. The song shifts into a pop/rock mode that brings to mind Cheap Trick.

"Warrior Man" starts with spaced out keyboards. The lyrics fit the spacey music. "Well I am the ancient warrior man/ and I hail from the ancient warrior clan/ I invented the computer man/ hubcaps and soda cans." This might be what the Beatles would be writing if they were around now.

It sounds like sitar is playing in the beginning of the final song, "Turning the Century." No sitar is listed in the credits, so this is probably a guitar effect. But a sitar would make sense, given the 1970s vibe of the album and how some rock musicians of that decade learned to play this instrument.

Dr. Dog's publicists may be hearing something this reviewer did not. The promotional material discussed how on this album the band was turning up the guitars, playing with reckless abandon and passion. Dr. Dog is more pop than rock, which is no criticism. This reviewer did not detect the "frenetic punk energy" of "Over Here, Over There." Dr. Dog is an interesting band, but if their intention with this CD was to cut loose and tear it up, they fell short of that goal.

Dr. Dog plays Neptune Theater in Seattle at 8 p.m. on Feb. 14.

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