Dr. Dog - Fate
Record Label: Park the Van
Release Date: July 22, 2008
Fate drew me to this band. From a side glance at the Lollapalooza schedule, I spotted what had to be the goofiest name on the lineup (well, except The Cool Kids) and figured I’d give their newest album a spin. "A spin" turned into three or four until this incredibly infectious album had grabbed hold of me, planted its R&B refrain vocals straight into my accessible memory, and demanded I purchase a ticket to Lollapalooza. So I sold my car and house, and now I can’t wait to see them.
Dr. Dog practice the Wolf Parade brand of vocalist switching, and as with the latter group, both singers bring separate influences to the table. For every lighthearted, poppier indie number like “The Old Days,” you’ll have a full-on James Brown soul piece like “Army of Ancients,” complete with horns, punchy bass, and a completely throat shredding howl. Both styles blend the way the Beatles’ separate influences did where album play is punctuated by the identity and character of the opposing forces but it never feels divided.
Probably the best song on the album is the Steely Dan-meets-Spoon shuffle, “The Ark.” Built on an almost-danceable percussive bass line and jazz pianos straight out of "Charlie Brown’s Christmas Special," it’s a pretty good example of Dr. Dog’s signature blend of 70’s soul, 60’s pop, and new millennium indie. If for some ridiculous reason you could only hear one song from the album, I’d suggest starting here (even though it would be a criminal act to overlook the rest of these songs).
“From” is a borderline replica of the Beatles’ “Here There and Everywhere,” and that’s awesome. Obvious homages to specific bands is a kind of critic taboo, as if the fact that you can spot a reference automatically shrivels credibility, but for some reason you just can’t do wrong in aiming to be the Beatles (unless you were one of the recording industry bottom feeders in the 1960’s who tried to rewrite “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” endlessly). My point is, the vocal harmonizing that opens this track is the stuff that makes music magical. Excellent.
So although Dr. Dog haven’t made their way to the covers of SPIN yet, they’re guaranteed to be one of the major highlights of Lollapalooza and Fate is without a doubt one of the best indie releases of 2008. Find yourself a copy of this album as soon as possible.