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CD Review: Dr. Dog Easybeat

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Dr. Dog make Arcade Fire feel like the altogether wholesome marriage between a picture-perfect jock and head-cheerleader, “Funeral” being the clean-cut, picket-fenced product of their consummation. In comparison, Easybeat is the long-haired deadbeat who’s more than happy to leave the world of high-school reunions behind. That is to say, Dr. Dog sound like they know no one’s ever going to hear their songs…and they don’t care.

The album starts off with a sound like that of “Abbey Road” (Toby Leaman in particular sounds like he’s the perfect bass player for Lennon & McCartney-type blues excursions), but as one soon sees, Easybeat is filled with more familiar turns that the spiral patterns on a stretch of forgotten 70s carpet. In fact, one could argue that musically, there’s not a single original element to be found on the album…but yet that’s the most wonderful thing about it. Dr. Dog take sounds that are so over-used they’ve long since curdled and make something endearingly original with it.

Of course, things are kept considerably lo-fi throughout, but there’s a party goin’ on here – a dirty, rugged attractiveness and a tangible sense of team spirit that’s hard not to find appealing. There’s a looseness to songs like “The Pretender,” “OhNo,” and “Easybeat” that somehow always pulls things together enough to flirt with the notion of anthemic genius. Tracks like “Say Something” and “Wake Up,” on the other hand, will have you following their trail until the path has changed unrecognisably…the destination becoming something unforeseeably brilliant.

The cascading doo-wop harmonies and Scott McMicken’s wavering (sometimes faltering) bathroom-vocals become elements that will eventually have their way with you. To put it simply, this album is a grower; it’ll all arrive on your door like some strange figure that turns up unannounced and undemanding, only to have you offering up your couch for life within minutes. The final moments of the album finish things up wonderfully with what sounds like a campfire sing-along, screaming: “Wake up, wake UP…wake uuuuppp! We are only, part of a dream. Oh, the things in your heart, like the things in your head, are only what they seem.” In an era of creative saturation, we need more records like Easybeat, not only because it proves that there is a quality of life to be found in aesthetic recycling, but just simply because they’re damn good.

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