Monday, February 12, 2007
Still Got It:...dr.dog??
First Impressions are everything, and upon the first muted dry drumfill of dr. dog's 'easy beat', i fell hard for the dog. The jaded hater of all new music had something to crow about in the way all these blowhard youngsters were crowin' bout their clapyourhandssayeahs, and tapes n tapes (boring).
CMJ, i get the live dr. dog experience and am totally floored. The mercury lounge hadn't been slammed so beautifully before, not even by me (i tried). They one upped what was my new favorite album in the live setting with the sick presence of co singers scott (lead guitar) and toby (bass). Taking what on a first listen may seem like mellow pop and makin the shit rock to heights not felt since the days of real music see:60's ,70's. I mean you got your harmonies, both vocal and semi hollow axe, the drum sound of the 'wet towel' variety, tasty keys and bass, whats not to love?
Expectation Level Orange:
5 shows, one in-store and one EP later here we are. We All Belong. The new album. Well, like the English Leather Stetson Axe body spray old spice guy said, you never get a second chance at a first impression. Now I've got Ideas, pictures, memories, expectations. Stupid expectations. First listen didn't go so well. I was at work, unfair. I expected the higher fidelity and tried to not let it get in the way. 'Easy beat's 4track like fidelity was one of what i thought were dr. dog's assets. I remember talking to Scott in Austin about his dream of recording then playing it thru a boombox. set a mic up to the boombox and have that be the final mix. We All Belong doesn't sound exactly like that. The songs didn't jump out at me now. Kinda blended together. The horns and strings are cool, and don't intrude but i'm not being blown away here.'Aint it strange' and 'die,die,die' from the recent EP seemed to stand out as the front runners, with 'worst trip' coming next, a song i had also heard before. Not good. I was thinking they should have included 'fuck it', an older seemingly live only song ("sometimes u do, sometimes u don't...fuck it"), just so i could enjoy something else i was familiar with. ech. i was not being fair to anyone involved at this point.
Try again. Get home hit the couch. nothing is changing for me. Trevor Solomon's voice echoing in my head " the new record is awwwwwwesome....it's gonnnnnaaaa beee huuuuge..." I want to beleive you! I go play shuffleboard thinking the sophmore slump (not including 'toothbrush' just because) has struck again. Bummerchusetts.
New Day. try again. Like Rob Dylan said:"the tydes they are a changin'"
"A dog from the past started barkin" Here we go! I'm feelin it and not because I WANT TO. The production is cleaner but not distracting, not Nigel Godrich-y, or Friedmanesque. That ole trebbly bass is there jumpin and divin all around. The strength of 'Old Ways' is revealing itself to me now. It feels good.'Keepin a Friend' is a chuggin taught cousin to Easybeats' "wake up'. Does not supercede but gets the job done. The dog let their hair down by 'Girl', opening it up, and retaining the raw sound in this new environment. This one's gonna slam it live, I can tell.
The strength of We All Belong is definately in its side B. 'Worst Trip' is euphoric with its bursting horns and sah-weet dual guitar lead outro. 'Die die die' showcasing Toby's just soulful enough voice, still shines from it's first appearance on Takers and Leavers. The title track closer brings it back home with a nifty bridge/breakdown showcasing the horns and strings. I predict the live interpretation can possibly take the coda to even new heights with guitars in their place.
We All Belong can't be Easy Beat. I'm sure it never tried to be. That's ok. The expansion of dr. dog, as their publicity team might try to explain it, is not a failure. They could have given the same treatment to the EB songs, with similar results. But in the grand scheme of things the songs are stronger on EB. Thats not to say that We All Belong is weak by any means. It's getting better by the day in fact. Who knows how I'll feel in a few weeks. I'll reserve further judgement for the live experience in the next month or two. Will have a full report then.
To hear for yourself: http://www.weallbelong.net/index.html