REVIEW: Dr. Dog album: "Fate" (music)

by sbh on Monday - 5 January 2009

in Reviews

For me, part of writing is finding the right inspiration. Sometimes that inspiration comes in very weird forms. A while ago, my wife, who has been itching to get into Dr. Dog after seeing them open for Wilco in 2007, downloaded their most recent album, Fate. I must say that these are 44 minutes of inspiration.

As I’m writing, I typically listen to something. Often this is old blues (Robert Johnson, Blind Willie Johnson, etc.), or older jazz (Davis, Coltrane, Monk, Brubeck, etc.), or my favorite rock outfits (Bob Dylan, The Band, Elvis Costello, etc.). The beauty of iTunes is that I have all of that at my fingertips, and I can arrange it however I like. With Dr. Dog’s new album, there is absolutely no need to mix and match. Just put it on repeat and let it roll! From blazing (yet, strangely cute) indie rock (e.g., “The Old Days”) to a Band inspired romp completely with 1970s horn section, ELO-esque harmonies, and a Joe Cocker meets David Bowie lead vocal yelling “Oh Yeah!” (“Army of Ancients”), Fate delivers all kind of goods.

If you’re not familiar with Dr. Dog, maybe you should be. This little band from Philadelphia has made me sit up and listen. As we were jamming (and I do mean “jamming”) to the album in the car the other day, I said to Natalie: “This is how I imagine The Band would sound if they had formed now instead of back in the 1960s.” High praise from the lights of me, as I think The Band, as a band, is probably tops in my book. But all the elements are here. Shades of Manuel on the piano, Hudson’s ghostly organ in the background, both serving as layers beneath Danko’s excellent bass work, the screaming guitar of Robertson and the pounding drums of Helm. Yet, none of these guys are present. Instead, we’ve got Stens, Miller, Leaman, McMicken, and McElroy.

The cohesiveness of the sound makes Fate a great listen. It’s already a staple of our music collection. Give it a spin!

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