Dr. Dog – B-Room

written by: October 3, 2013
Album-art-for-B-Room-by-Dr-Dog Release Date: October 1, 2013


Living within Philadelphia’s music scene can truly acclimate you to the almost cult fervor following indie folk/psych group Dr. Dog.

It’s no surprise that the group’s following spreads out from the City of Brotherly Love to the nooks and crannies of the country’s music scenes; B-Room is Dr. Dog’s eighth album, a feat many indie bands never reach. The album finds the group honing its signature sound—harmonic vocal compositions, classic- and psychedelic-influenced lo-fi rock, and storytelling lyricism—with an impressive level of maturity.

With B-Room, the group ditched its usual studio space in Philadelphia for a converted silversmith mill on the outskirts of the city, which inspired the title. The recording process also saw a change; Dr. Dog opted to record live in an attempt to capture its cohesion and natural flow as a group, and to bring in a more faithful translation its famous live work.

Songs “Broken Heart” and “Distant Light” come early and strong on the record. Both utilize funky bass lines, catchy hooks, and great harmonic breakdowns. They jump out as single-worthy, and are the most aesthetic tracks on B-Room.

Acoustic ballad “Too Weak to Ramble” is raw in its twangy catharsis.

The track reaps the benefits of the live recording process, as it possesses an aura lost to many a song today. The closer “Nellie” is slow-churning, sweeping song of Beatles-infused lo-fi, and certainly one of the highlights of the album. Its lyrical simplicity and jumping piano are an apropos ending to the live show-inspired album—a grand sing-along sure to be a crowd favorite.

Despite some standout tracks, the remainder of the album waddles in what feels like a Dr. Dog back catalog.

It is hard to justify the essential-ness of this collection of songs when the group’s trajectory and evolution remains stagnant. This , is probably by design, though, as Dr. Dog is more than happy to fill its role in the indie music world.

And perhaps this should not be a point of detraction for these musicians; the songs are catchy and nostalgic, they are musically mature and fleshed out, and they appeal to an established fan base.

It is no stretch to call this a comfortable record, where expectations are met, not exceeded, and satisfaction comes to those with an ear for what Dr. Dog has been preaching for years.

By retreating to its own studio outside of Philadelphia, the group effectively shutters any outside influence that could bring an exponential shift or evolution of style. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; Dr. Dog has done what it’s been doing very well for a long time now, and the choice to record live is the knob-tweaking adjustment that allows for the best studio adaptation of its frenetic and fun live performances.

Still, it’s almost criminal for such talented songwriters to settle for the stands, especially when young, psychedelic-laced guitar rock is on the rise. B-Room is an admirable record that is carried by a handful of catchy and true songs, but lacks an X factor to make it formative.

Dr. Dog – B-Room tracklist:

  1. “The Truth”
  2. “Broken Heart”
  3. “Minding the Usher”
  4. “Distant Light”
  5. “Phenomenon”
  6. “Too Weak to Ramble”
  7. “Long Way Down”
  8. “Cuckoo”
  9. “Twilight”
  10. “Rock & Roll”
  11. “Love”
  12. “Nellie”