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Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8.25
Musicianship 8.25
Lyrics 8.5
Production 9
Creativity 8
Lasting Value 8.75
Reviewer Tilt 8.75
Final Verdict: 85%
Member Ratings
Vocals 7.5
Musicianship 8.88
Lyrics 7.75
Production 8.13
Creativity 7.38
Lasting Value 8.63
Reviewer Tilt 8.25
Average: 81%

Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame

Reviewed by: Jeremy Aaron (04/07/10)
Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame
Record Label: Anti/Epitaph
Release Date: April 6, 2010

I hope this review doesn't devolve into some meta-analysis of other people's opinions of Dr. Dog, because I would imagine that would be boring as sin. I'm way too scatterbrained to actually have a plan before I start writing, though, so who knows where this could go? In any case, as a keen observer of music criticism, I couldn't help but take note of how oddly divisive their work has been, having generated a ton of praise but also the occasional harsh commentary, and for what, I'm not exactly sure. Dr. Dog hardly masquerade themselves as a band for artsy-fartsy, head-in-the-clouds connoisseurs-- they even hint at this on "Stranger", the opener of their new album Shame, Shame-- and their innocent folky jams don't even seem capable of launching some shitty trend, so why take such offense? And every half-hearted comparison to The Beatles surely ignores the fact that they sound distinctly North American and far more like a modern take on bearded roots-rockers like The Band than the shaggy-haired quartet from Liverpool. Their brand of rock sounds like music made by folks who know about that quiet hideaway out beyond where the paved road turns to gravel and dirt, where the world-weary can gather to blast tunes and enjoy beer and cheap wine-- and then blog about it the next day. You know, sensible people caught between modernity and Sarah Palin's "real America," an oddly gratifying place to be, an honest-to-goodness best of both worlds.

But wait! What the hell does all that even mean? In short, it means you shouldn't be dissuaded from listening to Shame, Shame, regardless of whatever else you might hear about it. I've yet to read anything about this new album, myself, but I don't really need to. This old Dog hasn't learned any new tricks, but it has more than mastered the ones it already knows and remains loyal to its fanbase. Press surrounding the new album shouldn't be much different than it was for Fate. And the fact remains, Dr. Dog continue to create music for those who would prefer to delight in a record than scrutinize and deconstruct it like a professor scouring a thesis for inaccuracies.

Early cut "Shadow People" is a clear illustration of what this band does best, with its casual hook, led by vocal styling out of the Doug Martsch and Ben Bridwell playbooks, rhythmic piano, and guitar that hangs toward the back of the mix, occasionally emerging to make a briefly fuzzy clamor before retreating again. Or maybe it's "Station", the shambling, mild-mannered ballad with enough twangy slide guitar to spare, that finds Dr. Dog at their finest. Truthfully, it's hard to pick genuine standouts, because the Philadelphia natives sound comfortable and in their element all across the album. Those harmonies are so tight on "Unbearable Why", it sounds like Good Old War doing vocals on a Spoon song. The intimate backing vocals are also key to evoking a jaded-but-not-defeated feel on "Where'd All the Time Go", making its reflective nostalgia all the more convincing.

Maybe "Later", a Desaparacidos-like thumper complete with an almost Oberstian bark, is a little left-field for Dr. Dog, but its sprightly cadence still seems to work, and it seems no less genuine. It's not too long before they're back to their A-game, though. On "I Only Wear Blue", we're offered the line, "When you can't be yourself, there's just too much to be. Let's get on with it. We haven't got too much time," a fittingly life-affirming statement from a band who only knows one way to be, and whose approach is one of laid-back urgency, not the type of urgency where we need to start checking off items from our bucket lists right away, but more the type where we don't forget to enjoy the smell of the freshly cut grass while walking from the office to the car.

The record is teeming with thoughtful melodic turns, and perhaps the My Morning Jacket-like "Mirror, Mirror" is the strongest of the set. It's also packed to the rafters with the sort of lived-in songs that are stark and pensive but simultaneously uplifting, epitomized by "Jackie Wants a Black Eye". And pervading the album, and Dr. Dog's catalog in general, is that blend of drawling homeyness and subtle sophistication, and "Shame, Shame" is a perfect example of this. The point is, there's nothing not to like about Shame, Shame unless you're looking for some inscrutable puzzle to solve. However, if you want something you can just sit back and soak up, well, missing this album would be the real shame.

Track Listing1. Stranger (3:43)
2. Shadow People (4:13)
3. Station (3:11)
4. Unbearable Why (3:13)
5. Where'd All the Time Go (3:54)
6. Later (3:09)
7. I Only Wear Blue (3:43)
8. Someday (3:20)
9. Mirror, Mirror (2:50)
10. Jackie Wants a Black Eye (3:04)
11. Shame, Shame (5:16)


Check out Dr. Dog on Myspace and last.fm.
Preview/Buy the album at Amazon MP3.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 22
01:25 PM on 04/07/10
#2
provethatIexist
i must have read a thousand faces
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swell review; meant to pick this up yesterday.
06:44 PM on 04/07/10
#3
NorthstarPark
Jiggin'
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I just got it today, I'm going to listen to it tonight. I know it's going to be good. I love Dr. Dog to death.
07:19 PM on 04/07/10
#4
owiseone35
You need human heat
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Gotta say with the hot weather I love blasting this around in my car. It's a really good album for a sunny day.
08:44 PM on 04/07/10
#5
Wake Up
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good review to match a good album
04:39 AM on 04/08/10
#6
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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I'm still working on trying to get into them. I hear they're all the rage.
07:17 AM on 04/08/10
#7
Sikbeat37
You like music too? Woah.
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Haven't listened to these guys before, but I get the Beatles connection immediately (not that it's a bad thing).
07:20 AM on 04/08/10
#8
topher465
every shining time you arrive
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Riyl?
07:22 AM on 04/08/10
#9
jkretz
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gotta give this a few more spins. dr. dog are great, but i still feel like their high-water mark is "we all belong". "fate" was good, but in my opinion not mind blowing. thus far i've felt the same about "shame, shame".

it does sound great though. rob schnapf did a great job with this.
07:27 AM on 04/08/10
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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Everyone compares them to the Beatles. Use that as your jumping off point.
07:55 AM on 04/08/10
ninthandash
ninthandash.com
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Reminds me of The Band
08:00 AM on 04/08/10
Jeremy Aaron
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Everyone compares them to the Beatles. Use that as your jumping off point.
What just about everyone else says about this band is bunk. Comparing this band to The Beatles is incredibly reductive, as if there's a short list of bands that have drawn influence from the Fab Four over the past 40 years. A more accurate comparison, if we're going with current bands, would be My Morning Jacket or Band of Horses without the reverb. The one vocalist is even a dead ringer for Bridwell at times.
08:05 AM on 04/08/10
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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What just about everyone else says about this band is bunk. Comparing this band to The Beatles is incredibly reductive, as if there's a short list of bands that have drawn influence from the Fab Four over the past 40 years. A more accurate comparison, if we're going with current bands, would be My Morning Jacket or Band of Horses without the reverb. The one vocalist is even a dead ringer for Bridwell at times.
Okay then.
08:18 AM on 04/08/10
touchofgrey04
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If you can see these guys live and not think of Sgt Pepper, then hats off to ya.

Also:

09:08 AM on 04/08/10
ihaveblink
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Saw them in 06 and loved them. Just picked this up and haven't really listened to it. Saving it for the weekend.
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