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Dr. Dog

Shame, Shame

[ANTI-; 2010]

By ; April 16, 2010 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Six albums in Dr. Dog have yet to invent anything new. That’s not a bad thing by any means, not many bands can claim two outstanding songwriters. Their style owes so much to 60’s rock that it would be criminal if the songs weren’t so good. Up to this point, the songs have been consistently outstanding, whether you look at the lo-fi exercises early in their career or the decidedly higher fidelity output on Fate. Some of the songs on those albums are even on par with their obvious influences. I find myself listening to “The Ark” and “We All Belong” much more often than even Pet Sounds or Sgt. Pepper’s.

Shame, Shame begins in this same fashion. The chorus on “Stranger” is perhaps the finest moment in bassist Toby Leaman’s already illustrious songwriting career. That same communal aesthetic that drives Animal Collective and Man Man is present here. When a bunch of people sing together, it provokes an emotional response that can’t be matched by a solo performer. Guitarist Scott McMicken puts out some great work here too. Although he may be the inferior songwriter lyrically, the catchy melodies on songs like “I Only Wear Blue” definitely make up for this perceived shortcoming. It’s interesting to note that over the last two albums, McMicken’s and Leaman’s songs have become distinct from one another in a Lennon/McCartney fashion, Leaman playing the darker brooding artiste and McMicken playing the bouncier, fun entertainer.

The good songs on Shame, Shame are great, but the songs lesser songs aren’t very compelling at all. Leaman in particular skates by on his weaker works. There’s nothing offensive about the songs, they’re pleasant enough, but there’s nothing interesting enough about songs like “Mirror, Mirror” or “Someday” to listen to those songs over the band’s other five albums. If this filler had been removed, Shame, Shame would have made for an outstanding EP. I think it’s a lot like the Hold Steady’s Stay Positive in that respect. There are some great songs, but the lesser works seem to pander directly to the fans, rather than attempting to progress as a band or as artists. Shame, Shame shouldn’t be outright ignored, but it isn’t the place to delve into Dr. Dog’s catalog. You might as well listen to their influences at that point. The Byrds, The Beatles, and The Beach Boys all have albums that I’ll be listening to long before I spin the lesser parts of Shame, Shame again.

All of this sounds so negative. I don’t mean it to be that way; if this album is taken in a vacuum it’s much more impressive. It’s catchy; it’s fun; it’s nostalgic. It’d be a great debut, but when a band already has a catalog as extensive, and as homogenous, as Dr. Dog it’s hard for me to bring myself to give repeated listens to Shame, Shame. If there weren’t terabytes of other music spread out across cyberspace, I’m certain that I would have found myself enthralled with this album.


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