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DR. DOG – We All Belong (CD, Park The Van Records)

Posted: March 15th, 2007, by Simon Minter

On We All Belong, the third album from Philadelphia’s Dr. Dog, and the first of theirs I’ve heard, spirits of joyousness and positivity emanate from the speakers throughout. Not in any kind of lame-ass lightweight hippy pop way, but in a dark-edged way: the band are piano-led and certainly possessed of a jauntiness and high-scale-reaching tenderness; but they counteract one-dimensionality with strange stabs of guitar, lingering background noises and lysergic weirdness that are as much Country Joe And The Fish as they are Polyphonic Spree.

The clearest reference point here seems to be Flaming Lips around the time of Clouds Taste Metallic and Transmissions From The Satellite Heart: essentially simple songs, drenched in lush arrangements and strident changes of pace and tone. So, ‘Don’t Pretend’ and ‘Alaska’ share vocal similarities with Wayne Coyne’s slightly-broken singing style; and ‘The Girl’ is driven by a hefty four-note riff which frequently breaks down into a wailing vocal bridge.

At times Dr. Dog seem to be too reverential and obvious followers of the Flaming Lips; but they manage to just about strike out with their own individuality and unique touch. ‘Worst Trip’ opens like a ’60s Motown number, then morphs into a Divine Comedy-esque operatic pop tune, before exploding into a fantastic, uplifting guitar break. ‘We All Belong’ references John Lennon’s solo, mid-paced work, before crossing over into a Beach Boys-style chanted ode to joy.

I get the impression from this album that Dr. Dog are more a product of similar influences to Flaming Lips, than simple followers of that band. We All Belong takes in aspects of the aforementioned bands, along with Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Band, David Bowie and The Beatles’ ‘I Am The Walrus’. It’s downright bizarre, but endlessly enjoyable, entertaining and life-affirming. Cynics among the world won’t find much to maintain their pessimism here, but at this time of year, as the winter fades away, this is perfect listening.

Dr. Dog
Park The Van

Simon Minter

Simon joined diskant after falling on his head from a great height. A diskant legend in his own lifetime Simon has risen up the ranks through a mixture of foolhardiness and wit. When not breaking musical barriers with top pop combo Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element or releasing records in preposterously exciting packaging he relaxes by looking like Steve Albini.


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