Tag: Dr. Dog
Sure, last night’s Dr. Dog and Dawes show was promoted as a “co-headlining” bill with both bands playing solid 90 minute sets – but whoever thought putting Dr. Dog on first made a bad choice. Quite simply put, they’re one of the most exciting bands to ever see live, bouncing around in a way that makes me envision their calf muscles as boulders. With a non-talkative Sunday night crowd, the band sounded amazing in the sometimes muffled Crystal, and played a take-no-prisoners set of Dog classics – full of nothing but bumpers that almost seemed like the band wanted to prove who the real headliner was. When Dawes emerged, they sounded great, but they just don’t have the songs or the power to match the Dog’s set. The crowd would enthusiastically cheer after each song, but the level of movement in the audience became next to nothing, and after a half hour a good chunk of the crowd started to head to the door. I would have felt bad for Dawes, but I was still hyped up over the “opener’s” set. Here’s the list…
1) Heavy Light
3) The Breeze
4) Hang On
5) Do the Trick
7) That Old Black Hole
9) Shadow People
10) Heart it Races
11) Jackie Wants a Black Eye
12) The Ark
13) The Way the Lazy Do
14) These Days
15) The Rabbit, The Bat, and The Reindeer
10) Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory
Dylan Baldi’s latest album scares me in the most brilliantly amazing way possible. What started a couple years ago as a heavy, low-fi basement project has turned into the most powerful indie-shred rock on the planet. This is perhaps the only band of the past 2 decades that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Nirvana.
09) Alabama Shakes – Boys and Girls
If the Grammys have any integrity left, then the Shakes should be a shoe-in for Best New Artist. The pulsing soul-rock of the Brittany Howard-led band was my go-to record this year for early Summer evenings in the back yard, and it was hard to find a better match for sharing a cold beer with friends.
08) King Tuff – King Tuff
Tuff creates a world where he coexists with half of himself not giving a fuck about any of the pre-set boundaries of pop music, and the other half acting like the greatest pop-punk scholar of the past 2 decades. It’s an astoundingly warm land to share with him. Holy fuck this album is amazing.
07) Japandroids – Celebration Rock
They really couldn’t have named this album any better – punk rock with the melodies of classic rock boombastics and just the right usage of the word “fuck”. It’s hard not to completely love this album, and upon each listen you discover more subtleties in the recordings that make you realize how perfectly they made this record.
06) Beach House – Bloom
Luckily for all of us, the dream-pop duo essentially just made both a sonically and emotionally twin to their 2010 album Teen Dream with their latest record. Bloom has an extra spark of punch than its predecessor, but still is the most psychedelic drift-off of the year, and Beach House remain the crown-bearers of the dream-pop moniker.
05) Dr. Dog – Be the Void
A lot of the long-time fans of the Dog I know didn’t think this album was up to snub with their other masterpieces – I told them all they were out of their minds. While it may not necessarily have the striking indie-pop hits of some of the earlier records, Scott McMicken is astonishingly at the top of his lyrical game. This album tests how deep you’re willing to go with connecting your heart and soul to a present-minded yet traditional rock band, but the payoff is tremendous.
04) The Tallest Man on Earth – There’s No Leaving Now
This Swedish singer-songwriter does things with just his lyrics and acoustic-guitar that tens of thousands of folks would sell their souls to be able to do. If you love old-school 60’s Dylan, then this may the first guy who will ever come close to making you feel the same way. His first two albums were great, but this one is perfect.
03) Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes
To put it quite simply, there’s basically nobody in the same league as Steven Ellison when it comes to modern creative production. Calling him an electronic producer is an insult – he touches on classical, jazz, ambient, and anything else that would create the perfect sound he needs to manifest. The man is a true artist, and his music deserves to be showcased in the Museum of Modern Art.
02) Animal Collective – Centipede Hz
As crazy as it may sound, I thought things got a little too stream-lined on the last A.C. record, Merriweather Post Pavilion. But on this year’s album, they figured out how to once again mesh their totally nutso attack of instrumentation with the melodic pop sense of the previous record. Some folks found it too jumbled upon 1st listen, but if you give it a chance, it all makes perfect sense. It’s not only the most listenable album they’ve ever made, but my favorite of their career.
01) Sigur Rós – Valtari
The Icelandic lords of all things ethereal have had their fluttering moments of perfection since 1999’s Ágætis byrjun, but Valtari is the first full album that can stand by the magic of that breakthrough. You have no clue what the lyrics mean, but still they seem to shake the essence of your soul. This is music of the angels, and the last necessary piece of the puzzle to define these guys as one of the greatest bands of all time. Prepare for a massive shot of heart quivers.
30) Yeasayer – Fragrant World
If you still haven’t become familiar with the obscure, dance-worthy psychedelia that is Yeasayer, then this latest album is a fantastic place to start. Every song’s turn is unexpected yet comfortable, and I wholeheartedly believe they’re one of the most important bands on the planet right now. They should be opening for Radiohead.
29) Benny Yurco – This is a Future
For any of us familiar with Benny’s dominating axe-slashing prowess, it’s hard to believe there’s not one guitar solo on this, his debut record. But then you realize how great these Kingston via Brooklyn tunes are, and it all makes sense.
28) Actress – R.I.P.
The ambient electronic magic of this album falls somewhere between the subtle wonder of Caribou and the genius production of Flying Lotus. If you’re worried that every producer is being subdued by the womp of dub-step, then this album is a huge sigh of relief.
27) Heems – Wild Water Kingdom
Heems released two mix-tapes this year that made you realize that maybe Das Racist breaking up isn’t as big of a bummer as first instincts project. Things clicked perfectly on WWK, where laid-back, spun-out beats created the perfect backdrop for his hilarious and furious attacks.
26) Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
Modern soul music needed a good kick in the head, and thank God Ocean showed up to do it. Like anybody who’s heard it, I think the record is killer, but I feel it lacks the amazing hooks found in previous singles like “Novocaine” and “Swim Good.”
25) The Black Keys – El Camino
Shit, who would have thought a few years back that the Akron duo would become the biggest band in America? Bringing back Danger Mouse was a huge move, even though this album comes in a solid third to their previous 2 efforts. And yeah I know, this album actually came out in December of 2011, but it was fucking everywhere this year so deserves its spot on the list.
24) Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet on Sky
Ahhh, the 3rd album since Dino Jr.’s reunion 5 years ago is once again consistently amazing, and finds Mascis and crew truly at the top of their game. If you ever loved this band and haven’t given the new stuff a try, be prepared to love them even more than ever before.
23) Swans – The Seer
The legends of post-punk made the greatest album of the career this year, 30 years after this debut. Centered around the half-hour long title track, drone and darkness have never coexisted in such a land of triumphant light.
22) Dr. Dog – Wild Race E.P.
The tunes just keep fucking keep coming from the Dog gang, and like always, they’re undeniably amazing. I have no clue why “Be the Void” wasn’t on this year’s album of the same name, other than the fact that they needed to prove how many amazing songs they had tucked away still.
21) The Shins – Port of Morrow
Sure, James Mercer may have once again hired an entirely new band for this album, but his consistent onslaught of amazing songs makes him allowed to do whatever the fuck he wants. Deceptively complex pop music at its apex – keep em’ coming James.
Low-fi as all fuck. That’s what sums up the latest official video release from the wonder-boys in Dr. Dog. Essentially their buddy took the first video he ever made as an awesomely young child and set it to the music of “Do the Trick” off this year’s Be The Void. You know those awesome Star Wars toys that you lost down a sewer drain when you were 5 and that are now worth several hundred dollars? Well this young entrepreneur had the motivation to make an entire stop-motion reproduction of Empire Strikes Back with them. Flash forward 30 years to where he adds a couple digital light-sabers, and suddenly the innocent imagination of that creation meshes perfectly with the honest reality and low-fi dream-scape that is Dr. Dog’s music. The embrace of the innocence is essentially the tying factor with both pieces of art here. This video isn’t intended to win any awards, or even to go viral – its only intent is to make you sit back and enjoy the wonders of youth and life and this goddamn friggin’ amazing band. Enjoy.
Well hot-damn, I had no clue there was a new Dr. Dog EP awaiting my tears and laughter but Wild Race just appeared today and you can stream it live right now. I’ve got it below, but it’s one of those weird restricted videos so I have a feeling it might disappear soon. Opening with a killer Scotty tune that presumably got cut from this year’s Be the Void, (the chorus is “be the void”) my initial reaction was, Goddamn these motherfuckers just keep em’ coming. I’ve said it many times before, but Scott McMicken is my favorite songwriter on the face of the Earth these days. I really don’t even care what Bob Dylan has to say anymore; I feel like Scotty’s much more in tune with the quasi-reality I call day-to-day life and his songs always seem to seductively tickle untapped parts of my soul.
The second tune starts at 3:12 and is another solid Scotty rocker based upon the line “It ain’t just the sun that’s gotta go.” Not as poignant as the first track, but still rather friggin’ dope.
Track 3 (6:41) is a slow Tobe crooner where he more directly addresses his constantly broken heart as compared to the scattered metaphors he usually gets wrapped up in. I have a feeling this one could have been on Be the Void as well but got shelved so that the fairly similar “Lonely” could be on there instead. Deep fucking passion on this like normal though.
Track 4 (9:23) is forged on one of those heart-wrenching drop-beats and constantly frequents the line: “Let’s put up our exit for sale.” The 3-part harmonies are nailed and highlight the fact that big Frank is another integral part of this band. The chorus gets repeated more than I’m used to with a Dr. Dog song, but I give em props for really wanting to drill that idea into your head of tossing away the escape plan. It’s a good idea – it makes me feel fuzzy and it’s a much-needed concept for a time when everybody’s always concerned about the way out. Why not just keep shit together?
Track 5 (14:18) seems like one of their more collaborative tracks, but still has Scotty’s vocals at the forefront. They couldn’t write songs like this before Eric Slick joined the band on drums, and he holds down the odd time-changes like a real-deal cream-dream. There’s a killer echoed-out guitar fill early on here as well as some of those awesome analog synth wiggles we all hear when we’re wide awake at 4:30 in the morning. This tune is a little all-over-the-place but 2nd listen will lock it in your head well. “Resting Easy” in the “Silent Place” is the general notion of this tune, although the tune is rather full and sorta-chaotic.
Super solid EP overall, but tracks 1 and 4 will be the ones I’m bound to visit over and over again. This band has been on the top of their game for a long fucking time now, and they show no sign of falling off. Now if they could just get a sound-man who understands their on-stage dynamics, everything would be perfect. Seriously though, the last couple times I’ve seen these guys the sound has just been completely blown the fuck out and always leaves me aching for the crisp sounds that I know the mics aren’t picking up correctly. Either way…the dog y’all.
Following an ever-increasing routine pattern of my life, I’m again on the biggest Dr. Dog kick at the present moment. As usual, they completely floored me at the Crystal Ballroom last week. Read my full review here. And amazingly they closed out their encores with a song I had never heard – their cover of “Heart it Races” by Architecture in Helsinki. I loved it, and I loved hearing my favorite band play a song I was clueless on, and I’ve been rocking it on repeat lately. So that got me thinking this morning about how this band’s song catalog is getting so deep that they’ve now reached the realm of having hidden gems not included on albums – here’s my 4 essentials you need to know about it.
“Heart It Races” – They completely revised this song and made it all their own. If you’ve never heard the original, and you’re expecting something like this cover, than it will sound completely obnoxious to you. To be honest with you, I’m not quite sure where this seeming studio-outtake is from, but it’s fucking hot as all hell.
“Nobody Knows Who You Are” – This bonus track off of Shame, Shame has taken a huge role in my life since I first heard it a few years back. It’s basically the same ascending pattern over and over again – but they make it so huge. This is a live cut below that is hugely on fire, and includes back stage tour footage that makes you want to call this band your best friend.
“Happy Birthday Part 2″ – This Scotty solo song was the first of the encores at Governor’s Island in 2010. It was kinda cold, a little rainy, the NYC skyline was across the bay, and my heart exploded with warmth when it first hit my ears. This man is a fucking blessing – he may not be the voice of my generation, but he’s my voice. His songs encapture the bittersweet reality I seem to throw myself into more than every so often. This is the video from that actual show I was at – crowd’s a little loud, but other than that it’s great.
“Strange Day” – Another Scotty tune that I’m not sure if the band has actually ever played live. He’s got a bunch of secrets hidden under is belt, and this is one of the forgotten ones. Beautiful. I’m not afraid to say he is my favorite lyricist of ALL TIME.
So I just went deeper on this new Dr. Dog album than I’ve ever gone reviewing any other album before in my life. I think it’s got some of the heaviest lyrical undertones of any record – ever. Yep. Ever talk to people who really love The Matrix but say that have no clue what’s going on in it? That’s kind of how I see the different layers of understanding one can have with Be the Void. It’s friggin’ heavy shit if you want it to be.
It didn’t really hit me till I really listened to the jumping diddy “Over Here, Over There”. It starts with a seemingly innocent verse of natural observation, but then it quickly develops into a powerful statement of existential belief. Quasi-Buddhist, but much more a presentation of Scotty’s own psychedelic view on self and existence. First you get caught by the very Dr. Who regeneration-ish image of “Once and again for the first time/ yeah it’s old but it ain’t the same.” Then you’re quickly ankle-deep in this passage:
“We were around long before my birthday/We’ll be around to throw flowers at my grave/Me and you got a history of history/Me and you to continue as waves/So let us fill the air/We are over here, we are over there.”
I love it, and it’s hidden behind this pop-curtain, just sub-consciously implanting ideas of the expansion of civilization in the next reality into the minds of the willing listener. Here’s the last paragraph of my review at State of Mind and a link to the full article:
“All these songs are entities unto themselves; all breathing and pulsing and living in a corner of reality where voids and emotions and melodies walk the streets. “How Long Must I Wait” is the slankiest tune these cats have ever dropped, with a spacey guitar lick stripped directly from the void itself. “Warrior Man” is Toby’s finest hour — an epic 70′s rocker that sounds like T-Rex doing Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” or something Bowie would have written if he ever wore muddy boots. Honestly though, this album plays like a Tom Robbins novel — fun and loose on the outside, but somewhere in the middle lies the existential search for one’s personal dogma. You can do just fine thinking about how great Eric Slick sounds on the drums, or you can question your own physical existence — a little something for everybody.”
And here’s the boys playing “That Old Black Hole” on Conan a couple night ago. CoCo’s a big fan, as his website was streaming the entire album for the week before it’s release.
The dreamiest band on the planet by any logical or nonsensical standards. These songs just keep fucking coming, and thank fucking God for that. Read the full review HERE at State of Mind.
Plenty of bands have crossed the void, witnessed the void, or feared the void — but Dr. Dog is the first one to embrace and unify with it. There’s always been a tight bond with sadness in the Philly band’s songs, but in the warm way that perhaps only the Grateful Dead have lyrically produced before. Here on Be the Void though, we find the dueling songwriters of Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken unified in a transcendent tale of existential passage like something from a Tool record, but minus the sensation that snakes are trying to crawl out of your eyeballs. Reverting back from the polished tones of their last album, Void finds the band nestling once again in the gritty roots of rock, and modestly asserting their foothold as the torch-bearers of the nameless soul we sometimes call rock and roll…