Dr. Dog – We All Belong

Dr. Dog
We All Belong

Certain bands sound like other bands — they sound noticeably similar to their influences. In such circumstances, these bands are trying to distinguish the unique sound characterized by a particular other band. Thus is the case with Dr. Dog and their new album, We All Belong, which just happens to be appropriately titled: all of their influences “belong” to their brand of rock that features jangly guitars, loosely hinged songs, striking pianos, and everyday-life lyrics.

They do sound like The Beatles and they do sound like The Beach Boys and they do sound like The Band — all at the same time. The remarkable thing is that they are able to take all of those influences and interlace them to create their own unique sound. This is fairly simple to do, considering that they have the unique knack of using a lot of three-part harmonies and diminished chords.

The opener, “Old News,” suitably showcases what you will hear on the rest of the album: a catchy hook, their voices scrappily layered on top of each other, some piano background, and the guitars and bass perched just above the mix so that they are nicely heard. And sure, sometimes you will hear the lead on top, while the band sings “la-la-la” in a three-part harmony behind it (Doo-Wop influenced, I’m sure).

Whether it is the lovely, dreamy “Keep a Friend,” the gritty “The Girl” (complete with yelps and grinding guitars,) the mellow “Alaska,” or the Jamaican-vibe of “Weekend,” the band is able to perform many different forms and styles. Even the affecting, yet trippy, “Die, Die, Die” is engulfed in sounds of psychedelia and slow-paced 70s rock.

The trio of songs between the second and fourth tracks stands out, with “My Old Ways” being the winner with its instantly catchy, hummable melody. The piano and drums pound away while the singer belts, “I don’t ever wanna go, no, I don’t ever wanna go back, to my old ways again.” Throughout this, the guitar and bass shine with some melodic riffs that truly add dimension and substance to the music. The final song, the title track, closes the album out with an uplifting piano recalling The Beatles’ “Let it Be”—granted with a livelier, more ragged approach. It’s supplemented with a soaring style shift in the middle of the song that features an ending that resembles “A Day in the Life.”

Either way, if you are a fan of any of their influences, which are sprawling, yet distinctive, then Dr. Dog is the band for you. Their music wouldn’t be branded mature or sophisticated, and it is “lo-fi” sounding, but it is also a very fun album. Everything comes together in a melting pot of rock and pop that is both delightful and intriguing. It has melodies, smart and quirky lyrics, and the band features some unique musicianship that is executed well. It’s the kind of charming album you can play loud on expensive speakers or out of your old pick-up truck while you and your buddies share a six-pack in the park.