Album Review: Dr. Dog - Be The Void

by Bill DeVille

The beloved Philadelphia band, Dr. Dog, has a brand new album called Be The Void which might be their best yet! It's nice to see these fellows getting some acclaim for this one.

The group, led by bassist/singer Toby Leaman and guitarist/singer Scott McMicken, began as an offshoot of their other project, Raccoon. After years of road work, Dr. Dog has become quite a rock band, and they've done it the old fashioned way, with the blood, sweat and tears they've earned on the road and in the studio.

Be the Voidis their sixth album and their second with the Anti- label. The new album is the band's slickest and most rocking to date, which says a lot considering it was tracked live in the studio. Dr. Dog is a living, breathing band, both in the studio and on the stage. You get the impression these gents love their craft as much now as when they started some 11 years ago!

On this latest batch of songs, the band continues its mission to deliver their blend of '70s pop and classic rock, but they have also added a few new additions to their bag of tricks. The album opens with the sunny bluesy stomp, "Lonesome," and closes with the country-blues influenced, "Turning the Century," with the fuzzed-out, psychedelic freak out, "Warrior Man," sandwiched inbetween.

One thing I have always enjoyed about Dr. Dog is their focus on songs. Songwriting today can sometimes seem like a lost art form. But there are plenty of classic Dr. Dog tunes on this album, full of their signature harmonies, sharp songwriting, great melody and sing-along choruses. The kind of tunes that make you smile, if you aren't too busy working your own vocal chords! The album's lead single, "That Old Black Hole," is as good as anything they've recorded. It's a perfect song for these long days of winter with lines like, "Take this thorn from my side/Fix this chip on my shoulder/Time is racing with the clock/And I ain't getting any older/It's like that old black hole/No matter how you try/You set out each day/Never to arrive."

Other highlights include the guitar rocker, "These Days," "Get Away," which features some great Beach Boys inspired harmonies and "Big Girl," which shows plenty of rock swagger.

Now that Bon Iver, The Black Keys and Arcade Fire have won Grammies, maybe the climate is right for Dr. Dog to place a Grammy on their mantel.Be The Void might be the rock album of the year!