Friday, August 2, 2013

Dr. Dog - B-Room

Dr. Dog has gotten to the point where its songs sound effortless. It’s not about intricate construction – although there’s nothing sloppy or flawed about any of these songs – but rather a mood. Scott McMicken, the lead guitarist and vocalist, explains it like this: “[…} the sound creates a feeling that is intuitive rather than intellectual.”

And that’s how Dr. Dog songs work. They don’t make your think. They make you feel. In a world where every small wrinkle in plans can become a preoccupation, this Philadelphia crew has given us a refuge from the pains of everyday life.

You turn on B-Room and the problems melt away. Life is instantly sunnier. The songs here swing by, sometimes with an old soul vibe, other times more upbeat, but always with the easygoing attitude that feels like the perfect summer day on a hammock.

The band recorded the album in a brand new studio they built from the ground up in an old silversmith mill. Perhaps leaving behind the studio they’d recorded in for eight years is what gave them the freedom that’s reflected in the spontaneous nature of B-Room.

The country twang of “Phenomenon” is coated with an effervescent chorus. Between fiddle solos, layered harmonies streak across an unforgettable chorus. “You’re always leaving,” McMicken sings, “But you’re never gone/You’re everywhere at once/Like a true phenomenon.” It’s simple, it’s relatable, and it’s everything we’ve come to expect from a band that seems to churn out endless songs that reminisce about the ’60s, but remain rooted in modern times.

Dr. Dog gets funky in “Love,” reprising some of the sharp, jangly pop music they perfected in 2012’s Be the Void. But the band also displays a much more mellow side in the ballad, “Too Weak to Ramble” and the trippy “Twilight,” a very twisted lullaby.
The first single, “The Truth,” is a slow-burning soul song, rooted in the very basics, from the languorous beat to the classic piano tune and synthesizers that seem to hover in the background. It’s one beautiful song on an album full of them. These tunes are ripe and ready for picking, the fruitful results of a band that grows infectious melodies by watering them with good instincts.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Washed Out - Paracosm


It’s easy to fall in love with Paracosm, and nearly impossible to quit it. Ernest Greene, the man behind Washed Out, is back with his second record of escapist romantic grooves that enter a parallel universe where every month is summer and the even the chirping crickets are charming. Here, Greene sticks with the samples that made his debut gorgeous, but also adds vintage electronic keyboards. Resultantly, the mood is as chill but also more expansive than ever. Each song floats into the next seamlessly, equal parts beach dance party and lounge fest. Ambient bird calls and party people make up the background of “It All Feels Right,” a song filled with enough dreamy melodies and shimmering keyboard bits to power a thousand fairy tales. This is the kind of music where you tune in, drop out, and just revel in getting lost in the middle.