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New dog's old tricks

Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame
(ANTI- Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Oct. 22, 2010
Dr. Dog

Review by Tony Bonyata

Most often it takes a lot of hard work and even more time for a fledgling rock band to make any kind of impact in the music industry. Thanks, however, to the Philly-based indie band Dr. Dog's years of touring and releasing one great album after another since their debut effort, Toothbrush, first landed on store shelves eight years ago, it appears their time has finally arrived. They not been amassing universal critical press acclaim, strong radio support and late night TV appearances, but also high-profile tours & huge festival performances.

On their fifth full-length, Shame, Shame (their first release on the ANTI- record label) the quintet still stay musically close to what they know best - melodic '60s pop with touches of folkie Americana. But here they also make it all a bit more accessible with a more polished sound and production. Of course, this isn't the first album that moves forward from their decidedly more lo-fi sonic approach of their earlier records. 2008's Fate (still my personal favorite from their catalog), which saw them starting to break-out after the initial success of their We All Belong album from the year before, was their first foray into a cleaner and broader sound - incorporating more musical elements such as horn and string arrangements into the mix.

Perhaps Shame, Shame is in some ways a simpler, more direct effort than the sprawling Fate, but it still sounds like the band is making a natural progression towards a more DIY type of classic rock. This is evident on the wonderfully composed tracks such as "Unbearable Why," "Jackie Wants A Black Eye," the poppier "Mirror, Mirror" and the dreamy sway of the title track, which peppers in a wonderfully fluid George Harrison-inspired slide guitar. And speaking of The Beatles, Dr. Dog actually tones down their obvious admiration a bit for both The Fab Four and The Beach Boys. Thankfully though they haven't totally abandoned the perfect pop sensibilities of these two '60s acts, as there's still enough sweet harmonizing, catchy choruses and studio inventiveness to win over the staunchest pop-rock aficionado. And there's certainly no shame in that.

Dr. Dog will be performing this Friday, October 22nd in Milwaukee at Turner Hall (1034 N. 4th St.) For more info call: (414) 272-1733

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