ALBUM REVIEW: ‘B-Room’ an A-list quality production

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First Posted: 9/30/2013

There’s an inclination urging me to name “B-Room” one of Dr. Dog’s most polished albums, but that’d be dressing it in pressed slacks when a tailored denim would do the trick. The Philly band’s 7th LP has a satisfying cohesion.

With two lead singers sharing the mic, it’s easy for a band to favor one sound, or for the album to have jerky, Jekyll and Hyde transitions. That’s especially the case when the voices in question are as different as Toby Leaman’s hip-swiveling grit, riding low with his basslines, versus Scott McMicken’s, which mimics his plucky guitar.

“The Truth,” “Broken Heart,” and “Distant Light” shine as the kind of music that allows Dr. Dog to reach such diverse listeners as college radio devotees and the Top 40 fans who will catch Dr. Dog opening for The Lumineers later this year.

Banjo, fiddle, and jangling percussion build in “Phenomenon,” which harnesses the driving thunder and ensemble power of Dr. Dog into the swell of an Edward Sharpe-style chorus before closing out with distortion and a kick drum pulse. “Twilight” opens with the final phrase of “Cuckoo,” transitioning into astral auto harp. If it was stretched beyond its modest 3minutes and 41 seconds, “Twilight” would score a slew of indie films and get renamed “Rhapsody in I Only Wear Blue.”

“Rock & Roll” reminisces over the intoxication of the early stages of audiophilia as Leaman sings, “Who’d ‘a known / it would be rock & roll that would terrify me / that would haunt me so completely.” “Love” grooves over shoulder-bobbing beats while “Nellie” gets campfirey with handclaps and harmonies curling into the night sky like smoke.

“B-Room” appeals across the Dr. Dog fan base with post-“Shame, Shame” production value, signature whimsical lyrics, and laissez-faire lo-fi-style that’ll convince die-hard disciples of “We All Belong” to take this album back to church.

Dr. Dog ‘B-Room’ Rating: W W W W