Dr. Dog | Be The Void A Review

Dr. Dog has been around for a number of years now delivering some very impressive deeply psychedelic roots rock. It is the kind of music that finds its way into indie movie soundtracks and on road trip playlists of friends attempting to impress. You see, Dr. Dog is an acquired taste for most, but what really draws in hardliner fans must be the unrestrained heights that some of their anthems can reach. Dr. Dog’s latest album Be The Void is yet another quality collection of songs from the Pennsylvania based band. Some may be more inundated with another reboot rock band which is more well-known, called The Sheepdogs. The problem with any comparisons between these two bands is that they both relying heavily on the influence of a past for musical style, but you can tell it is a different wedge of the same wheel of well-aged cheese both bands nibble on. That being said, Be The Void is a diverse and likable album which has hints of contemporaries such as Fleet Foxes in their track Get Away and Vampire Weekend in Heavy Light.      

As with other bands before them Dr. Dog ascribes to the philosophy of sharing the lead vocals in order to create diverse musical sound from track to track. Two singers also have the practical benefit of not having all of the weight of performing on one set of vocal cords. The result of swapping lead singer duties is done to great effect by front men Leaman and McMicken. Both singers have such different voices; one has a very explosive gruff and gravelly feel to it, while the other is more piercing and boyish in tone. The result is very engaging for the listener.

Be The Void has a number of memorable songs that strike at the core of what this genre of music should head towards in the future. The only issue is that this album is not the band’s best work and at album number six fans of Dr. Dog might have to brace themselves for the unfortunate creative plateau that almost every band eventually faces. If you really want to hear Dr. Dog at their height listen to 2008’s Fate.   


My Grey Horse | The Let Me Know (About the Waves) Video

The English band My Grey Horse is set to release The Marley Banks EP in mid-February of 2012.  As a taste of things to come the band has produced a music video featuring one of the EP’s songs, Let Me Know (About the Waves).  As with My Grey Horse’s last music video for the song Waste of Air, band member Peter Butler helmed the director’s chair. The opening sequence to the video is reminiscent of what you might see in a Wes Anderson film; it visually engages the viewer with its vibrant colours and scenic view while someone behaves in a slightly odd and entertaining manner.  It shouldn’t be any surprise that a music video set on a sunny beach would have an upbeat rhythm and an energetic chorus, which is exactly what you get with Let Me Know (About the Waves). The latest from My Grey Horse serves as a reminder that there are still some bands working hard to produce quality music accompanied by entertaining videos.   


The Big Pink | A Review of Future This

The Big Pink is an English band based out of East London. Their debut album, A Brief History of Love was met with critical praise when it was released back in 2009.  It’s hazy distortion riddled music were softened by the almost pop like tones that the more popular tracks off the album exuded. And with their follow up album, Future This, the band does not stray far from the path they cut with A Brief History of Love.   

The two main members that make up this band, Milo Cordell and Robbie Furze have an extensive musical background one in music production the other as an accomplished guitarist. With all this experience and the success of their first album behind them, the band has created a follow up with Future This that contains the same style as their debut. The problem is Future This lacks much of the heart and energy the band’s first album had in spades.

It might just be that after The Big Pink came out with A Brief History of Love music listeners became inundated with similar musical releases. Throughout 2010 there were a number of albums that came out by an almost innumerable and unmemorable indie acts. Perhaps as a result of this oversaturation of this big sound, which is at its core deeply poppy electro rock, we have collectively fallen out of love with this once considered innovative reimagining of a bygone musical style.

There is nothing inherently wrong with Future This. It hits all of the same musical heights as its predecessor. The lyrics even have a less dreary tone to them, this should make the album resonate more with its listeners as it is loaded with well-formed anthems.  

If this album was released in early 2010 it would have received a much warmer welcome from the listening community.  Future This only fails on account of it being released in 2012.    


Henry Wolfe | Linda Vista A Review

You all have one. It’s that go-to album that you never really listen to, but can always be left on in the background of your house or during the morning commute.  A pleasant ambiance that you know can be artificially attained just by playing it. Henry Wolfe’s album Linda Vista is one of those atmospheric albums that keeps a steady mood throughout and doesn’t really have a bad song on it. The California based solo act has a style similar to that of Kings of Convenience but with a southwestern bluesy flare.

Detractors of Wolfe’s musical style may consider some of the tracks little more than the dressed up elevator music to be played/sold at local Starbucks.  This may not be completely untrue in that Henry Wolfe’s music will no doubt be played in coffee houses and yes maybe even department stores that actually still have elevators with music being played in them.  However, there is always room in one’s musical library for a little bit of easy listening. It’s pleasant. It’s relaxing. It’s ornate and has well-crafted and well performed songs.  

Henry Wolf’s music may not be what you will be putting on your IPods workout playlist to get yourself keyed-up but it just might be the cure for road rage on your way into work.   


Girl in A Coma | Exits & All the Rest A Review

The San Antonio Texas trio, Girl in a Coma released their fourth album Exits & All the Rest back in November of 2011 to much critical praise but the band still has a minimal following.  The band’s style is fairly straightforward, they are an indie punk band, which is a lot like a mainstream pop punk band but they are not still whining about high school girls.  And within the different veins of punk music that exist that of Girl in A Coma is closest to that of The Smiths or if we are looking for a contemporary they would be closest to Magneta Lane.

If you need to put your finger on the one element that separates this indie punk band from others it’s Nina Diaz, that is to say, it’s her voice. Let’s face it there are a lot of people making garage punk (literally in their garages) and a lot of the instrumental portions of the this musical food are on par with what we are hearing on Exist & All the Rest.  But what they are often missing is a lead vocalist who can actually sing, and that is what you get with Diaz. Her singing style is similar to that of an early Gwen Stefani, in a few ways, such as the way it rounds those tonal corners from crisp and steady golden to a rich and rumble. But unlike Stefani, Diaz doesn’t suffer from a high pitched nasal whine.  

Exists & All the Rest starts off with the track Adjust which has a bit of a bluesy baseline to it but doesn’t properly demonstrate the band’s musical chops.  It’s with Smarts and Cemetery Baby where you can hear the reboot punk and that dreamy haze inducing tone that is so excellently executed by the band. Especially in the way the lead singer adds a sort of weight to the chorus of Smarts. It’s a great song, and should be used as a benchmark for other bands who wish to indulge in 80s inspired punk.

The album may have come out a bit too late in the year to make it onto any ‘best of 2011’ lists but it will no doubt live on in the musical libraries of those who listened to it.