Two months ago, I was kidnapped. It was unprovoked and carried out with the stealth and skill of a navy seal. Taken to a dusty room hidden behind a recently emptied bar room, I sat blindfolded and waited for my grizzly end, hazy with the smell of good scotch. Now, I'm not accusing Dr. Dog of anything here - it may have been anonymous do-gooders, it may have been divine intervention, or it may have been a device to justify the fact that I'm seven weeks late in writing this review, but either way, Easy Beat_ is what I was soon to be subjected to.
This is truly ramshackle and broken down indie-rock that staggers more than swaggers and perhaps rolls more than it rocks. Not to say that the five anonymous gents who make up Dr. Dog don't have control, nor know how to raise some fists - 'The World May Never Know' bounces tightly led by its elastic bass line, piano stabs and kitschy shoo-wop backing vocals. 'The Pretender' follows suit, darting between country wails and sweetly off-kilter harmonies. If the bearded, neurotic lovechild of Pavement, Wilco and My Morning Jacket were ever let out of his grain silo, he'd make sounds like these. The brilliantly titled 'Oh No' is where these ideas meet and make Easy Beat's most satisfying cut. What starts as a foot tapping stop-start country affair welcomes in unexpected fluttering strings before sailing sweetly into a overdrive-ridden joyfest with all the obligatory ecstatic keyboards and drunken sing-along vocals.
There's chaos and drunken crooning ('Fools Life'), misery ('Dutchman Falls' borrows Tom Waits' more tortured moments) and, well.. filler (the derivative 'Today'). 'Say Something' is the last dance in that dusty back room - ten feet tall drums pound away while delicate keyboards and high guitar notes swing above them like chandeliers. But it's the coda that follows the sleepy 'Wake Up' that takes the last word though - three voices, tired but absolutely joyous sing "Wake up, wake up, wake up! / We're only part of a dream!"_ to simple strums and handclaps. It's a brilliant moment of stretched vocal chords and only-just-harmonies, and a perfect awakening from a night blindfolded and lashed to a barstool.
7Jesus Chigley's Score