Dr. Dog – [Album]

Sunday, 04 April 2010

If you've ever had a buzz from drinking right at the same time you're beginning to catch trails from that hit of acid that some well-meaning woman threw coyly into your mouth at a party, you know that magic midpoint between the world as everyone knows it and the one that materializes when you're utterly out of your mind. It's that moment when you seem to think more clearly than you normally do sober and the urge to quickly take stock of both yourself as well as every ounce and micro-tone of minutiae around you is all-consuming. It never lasts long and is usually false (because, if you're thinking that way, you're already gone), but it is a truly incredible moment with the power to elevate you higher than you've ever been before or crush you under the weight of every negative stimulus you've absorbed that day and night. There's no question that the members of Dr. Dog are familiar with that moment – if they weren't, there's no chance they'd have been able to capture it and package it so neatly in the eleven songs that make up Shame, Shame – their sixth album.

Those ethereal and hyper-realistic qualities emerge fully-formed and omnipresent from the opening strains of “Stranger” and Dr. Dog present them as being absolutely integral to the listening experience; they dominate the first song as profoundly as they do the whole rest of the record. Snippets of different instruments (guitars, vocal harmonies and keyboards, most regularly) fade in and out of the mixes of songs like “Shadow People,” “Station,” “Unbearable Why” and “Where'd All The Time Go?” but, unlike other psychedelic records of this sort, those sounds do not simply color the proceedings, they drive them to help achieve the final extra-sensory-seeming result as well as articulate a sort of rich and remarkable happening.

That experience is also very much a two-sided on thanks to the split vocal duties shared by guitarist Scott McMicken and bassist Tony Leaman. Depending upon which player is on the mic, the songs take either an ecstatic or contemplative tone in spite of the fact that the lyrical content between their performances is fairly even and not at all dissimilar; everything about the emotional differences that register in songs like “I Only Wear Blue,” “Someday” and “Jackie Wants A Black Eye” is rooted in the voice over the soulful Flaming Lips or Beach Boys-esque touchings that color the songs.

So, after listening to Shame, Shame, one has to wonder what the future will hold for Dr. Dog. As far up into the stratosphere as the band drives itself here, there is no thought or mention of the inevitable hangover that follows a good night. Will the band dedicate a follow-up album to that denouement? Maybe, maybe not (the album's title track is the closest listeners get here) – that need to see if Dr. Dog ever falls or simply stays airborne will be the thing that keeps listeners coming back to monitor the band's progress.



A selection of Dr. Dog songs from albums passed.


Shame, Shame
comes out on April 6, 2010 through ANTI– Records. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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