Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

National Review: B-Room, this old dog’s tricks are good enough

Posted on October 09, 2013 in Album Reviews, Arts & Culture
By dkelly

B-Room, released last Monday by rock band Dr. Dog, is less than adventurous, but who cares? This release is a continuation of what Dr. Dog is best at: churning out catchy indie-rock tracks that don’t require much intellectual capacity but are infinitely fun to listen to.

The best thing about B-Room is its familiarity. These songs are new, but they sound like what Dr. Dog is known for. That is, instrumentation is ragged with distorted guitar, loud drums and grainy lead vocals sung by either bassist Toby Leaman or guitarist Scott McMicken. Piano takes a central role in the mix, providing simple chords following an even simpler rhythm. This band has discovered something that sounds good, and they’re sticking to it. There are few new ideas on this album, but I certainly don’t mind listening to the classic Dr. Dog sounds of B-Room, which continue to sound great after over a decade of touring and recording.

Although Dr. Dog has a simplistic formula for success, good musicianship on B-Room is more than evident. “Too Weak to Ramble,” for example, is a stripped down ballad featuring only acoustic guitar and voice. This song is simple, but it does an excellent job of conveying a serious emotion. Lyrics that go, “Too low to get up / Too weak to try,” combined with raw instrumentation clearly describe a sense of helplessness. “Rock and Roll,” on the other hand, is an ode to the “good ole days” when “We were only 16, but we were sick as shit.” This upbeat track, describing early experiences with the rebelliousness of rock and roll, exemplifies the quintessential Dr. Dog. A catchy chorus and guitar riff are backed up by loud drums and a rock-solid chordal piano part.

Some listeners might be annoyed by B-Room’s lack of musical progression, but these songs are as good as they have ever been, and there is a lot to be said for a band with consistency. Fans can rely on the dependable sounds of Dr. Dog that let you groove without having to over complicate things.

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