Thursday, October 09, 2008

Dr. Dog- Fate

For a band to play D.C.'s Iota Club & Cafe (it gets it's name from it's minute size) on one tour, and then months later play D.C.'s legendary 9:30 Club (with a 1,200 capacity) is a pretty good indication that they're onto something good, and Dr. Dog, who have been touring in support of their latest release, Fate, are indeed.

From it's packaging to it's sound, the common theme on Fate would be nostalgia. The album's lyric booklet, which resembles a Civil War-era newspaper, also includes a picture of the band in period garb. The band's use of three-part harmonies, lightly distorted guitar and twinkling piano along with singer Scott McMicken's well-controlled warble create an album reminiscent of those by 60's pop groups like the Band and the Beach Boys.

On the swinging "Army of Ancients," McMicken’s croons escalate to a frantic yelp as he sings “I don’t want to wake up/ I don’t want to move/ I’ll skip the sermon and stick to the booze/ I’m sorry.” Strings and punchy, muted horns add to the vintage sound.

Along with “Army of Ancients,” many of the songs on Fate have minor-chord mentalities, and wouldn’t sound out of place in a dingy nightclub. “The Ark” is a slinky, slow-building track filled with lyrics about eagerness to please and self-doubt.

More positive songs, such as “From,” a love song, showcase the groups ability to harmonize and knack for instrumental arrangements, including one memorable guitar solo. The organ is used on many of Dr. Dog’s song, and shines on the hymnal “100 Years.”

Album-opener “The Breeze” is a sweet ditty that encourages the listener to “put that needle to the groove, and sing” is they ever feel “stuck in time.” At its climax, the drum mimics a beating heart while band members “Ahhh” in tandem. As the band sings of the breeze blowing them all away, winding flutes play cycling chords, almost interpreting the song literally.

Stand out track “Hang On” follows “The Breeze.” Drawing as much from 60’s pop and as old soul records, McMicken pleads, “I don’t need a doctor to tear me all apart/ I just needs you to mend my heart.”

On the horn-jabbed “Uncovering the Old,” McMicken sings, “Nothing means nothing to me.” However, Dr. Dog truly care about the art of music and their love of the craft is on full display on Fate through their emotive vocals, contemplative lyrics and the inventive arrangements.

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