Dr. Dog
Be The Void


3.0
good

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
February 9th, 2012 | 16 replies | 6,703 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A solid but slightly underwhelming release from one of indie's most dependable bands.

Over the course of their past few albums, Dr. Dog’s sound has become more and more polished. I wouldn’t necessarily pinpoint that as a bad thing, but compared to the raw and tattered production of gems like ‘Alaska’, a lot of their songs have started to feel rather vapid. Be The Void sees the band returning to its roots with a jaunty “live feeling” album that lusts to create the organic sensation of a stripped down jam session.

Be The Void is Dr. Dog succeeding in that quest, loading itself to the brim with mid-tempo grooves composed of soulful guitar play, pitter-pat drumming, and long winding choruses. From the infectious sway and borderline country groove of folk stomper ‘Lonesome’ to the straight up bluesy closer, ‘Turning the Century’, the band flexes its songwriting muscles and demonstrates its ability to write insanely memorable and relatable songs – a knack that has always allowed them to survive come hell or high water. Lead single ‘That Old Black Hole’ is another prime illustration of their songwriting ingenuity, featuring a sure-to-catch-fire chorus of “I don't wanna fight, but I'm constantly ready/I don't rock the boat, but it's always unsteady." On songs like these, Dr. Dog chooses energy and dynamics over perfectionism, giving the music an appeal that is less immediate but far longer lasting. With every shift in momentum we can feel the immediacy of the music, lending it a sense of emotional and literal proximity that hasn’t been matched in quite a long time. It all ends up feeling pleasantly warm, as if Be The Void was an album made in the moment, for the moment.

There’s only one problem: it’s still nothing we haven’t heard before. The retro vibe is again pungent, reeking of the same 1960’s influences that Dr. Dog has always worn on its sleeve: the Beatles, Beach Boys, Neil Young, Tom Waits…any avid fan has heard the comparisons before, and they are no less prevalent on Be The Void. Expectedly, the album leans just as heavily on sunny pop from over five decades ago as it does on indie contemporaries such as The Flaming Lips and My Morning Jacket. That isn’t to imply that Dr. Dog does nothing unique, but it would be a stretch to say that they do anything other than squeeze by in the originality department. Even those who disagree about the aforementioned influences would be hard pressed to come up with ways that Be The Void differs from other Dr. Dog releases. Outside of them scaling back production and choosing to return their focus to a distinctly raw sound, the band simply fails to be anything more than “reliable.” Thus, Be The Void’s consistent delivery ends up being bogged down by its inability to walk a path less traveled.

As a whole, though, Be The Void is a solid effort from a band that has really begun to establish itself in the indie community. All of the material here is passable, with a few highlights that will surely leave a positive impression on listeners. Newcomers may find this record more alluring than the Dr. Dog faithful, if only because they have no frame of reference. But even in spite of the aforementioned stagnancy in the band’s direction, Be The Void is an exceptionally crafted, extremely fun album. In the end, that is what we have come to expect from Dr. Dog – and once again, the doctor delivers.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 8th 2012



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Stream is already posted in this week's news, but here it is again for those who don't feel like moving:

http://music.aol.com/new-releases-full-cds/spinner#/7

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
February 8th 2012



7021 Comments


I enjoyed this but I'll probably forget about it by year's end. This band seems to be capped at a 3.5 - they don't seem to be able to make a truly impressive album.

Digging: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

Anthracks
February 8th 2012



3668 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Gonna listen to this tonight bought it yesterday!

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 8th 2012



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah Lucidity, it took me forever to write this review because it's like a slightly more raw version of their past 2 albums, I mean ???

Their stuff is always solid but never amazing (with the exception of We All Belong - that album has personal meaning to me)

Kiran
Emeritus
February 9th 2012



6000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

one of the most dependably enjoyable bands around

Anthracks
February 9th 2012



3668 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm also pretty underwhelmed with this release.

They trying to write a Fleet Foxes song with Get Away?

ethan2012
February 9th 2012



2 Comments


Yeah, I agree with Kirgasm. It is quite a good band.

Sevhead
February 9th 2012



569 Comments


review is stellar, disappointed in the low ratings here but i'll avoid this one i guess

Kiran
Emeritus
February 9th 2012



6000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i disagree with the implications of this statement:

I wouldn’t necessarily pinpoint that as a bad thing, but compared to the raw and tattered production of gems like ‘Alaska’, a lot of their songs have started to feel rather vapid.


vapid seems like a misguided term when you regard dr. dog's intent.


SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 9th 2012



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I understand what you're saying and that makes sense. I was making a comparison between their newer stuff and my favorite song by them, which just so happens to be one of their deeper songs (IMO). But when you look at their discography as a whole, the "deeper" sound that I spoke of isn't their norm, which is something I fully acknowledged at a later point in the review. the sentence was questionably worded, I'll consider rephrasing it so that it doesn't give the wrong implication.

londoncalling457
February 9th 2012



2590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

solid, nothing tapes "fate" in my opinion though

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 14th 2012



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

rather surprised by how little attention this got

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
February 19th 2012



7313 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is pretty much spot on. I've always found their stuff to be mildly enjoyable but they seem incapable of moving up to another level. Some of these songs seem to outstay their welcome a bit too.

lancebramsay
April 20th 2012



1585 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

This band doesn't make bad music but I doubt they will ever make something quite as magical as Fate was. Good review, hit the nail on the head, minus the minor discrepancy in rating.

lancebramsay
April 20th 2012



1585 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I felt the baselines in this were remarkably funkier than previous releases though.

fuckthatnoise
June 30th 2012



1479 Comments


really been digging this band a lot lately. not really getting why this is being considered a step down. i like it about as much as Fate and Shame Shame.



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