By SHAUN SMITH
Dr. Dog unleashes its potential on the band’s latest record, Be the Void. The Pennsylvania-based folk-rock band’s sixth album (released Feb. 6 on Anti-) reaches deep with a beautifully woven arrangement of songs showcasing blues, roots, and acid-rock jams that create a unique, bombastic folk-rock sound.
The band spent a good chuck of its career playing in the Philadelphia area. I first heard Dr. Dog when I stumbled upon the concert footage from a performance at Festival Landing on WHYY. When I heard the song, “Shadow People” I immediately bought the album Shame, Shame on iTunes.
At the Dave Matthews Caravan at Bader Field this past summer in Atlantic City, I highlighted the band’s set and got to the stage early. This is a talented group of musicians who can break down a song into a thick, groovy jam adding layers until there is sound practically coming out of your eyes.
Be the Void, the band’s follow-up record to Shame, Shame, which bought Dr. Dog well-deserved acclaim outside of the Philadelphia area, absolutely does not disappoint.
“That Old Black Hole” pulls the listener into a world that on the surface seems like loose word association songwriting but ramps up into a well-crafted crescendo that propels the song into another galaxy. The lyric, “Well I don’t know how to say it but I know that I can show,” is almost the band’s tongue-and-cheek way of saying, “Just wait, you haven’t heard anything yet.”
Tracks like “Big Girl” and “Lonesome” are a refreshing impression of the traditional blues sound that demonstrates the band’s ability to originally improve on a standard style.
The futuristic “Warrior Man” is a fuzzy and trippy acid-rock tune that expands and develops the longer it soaks.
The upbeat and loose fun of songs like “Heavy Light” are a great compliment to tracks like, “These Days” which can sound like a mental slingshot that can’t slow down, nor should it.
The acoustic-laden “Turning the Century,” sounds like a George Harrision inspired lullaby, setting a fitting conclusion to this album.
I would highly recommend shelling out a few extra bucks to pick up the Deluxe Edition to get three great tracks that explore where the band can take us. Among them is “Exit for Sale” which sounds like Dr. Dog took the Beach Boys to see the dark humor that lies in the heart of Western Pennsylvania.
The 12-track album ($9.99 on iTunes, $10.99 CD and $14.99 vinyl via the band’s merch site is absolutely worth repeating.
iTunes Deluxe Edition
“There’s an elephant in my
and I tiptoe around it
there are eggshells on the floor
therefore I never touch the ground.”
– “That Old Black Hole”