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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Shame uplifts while exploring difficulty, disappointments

    Leave it to Dr. Dog to record an album in which dismal and dreary feelings are contrasted by uplifting accessible sounds in such an effective style. What other band can leave a smile on your face while singing along, “When you can’t be yourself, there’s just too much to be?”
    That’s because Dr. Dog, the quintet from Philadelphia, Pa., has made a career of creating catchy songs which cause you to nod and scratch your head at the exact same time.
    What’s different about its latest release, Shame, Shame, is the adaptation of more intimate and straight-forward lyrics, lyrics filled with frustrations and personal disappointments without sending you into depression.
    The pop/rock album is loaded with such themes and lyrics, while sprinkled with toned-down psychedelia or experimentation.
    Where its last release, 2008’s Fate, showed a focus of lo-fi production effects, horns and string arrangements, Shame, Shame maintains a more stripped, yet higher quality sound without losing its identity.
    Dr. Dog’s influences can be clearly noticed in any album as The Beatles and The Beach Boys. It’s hard not to sound like these iconic bands when you have background harmonizing vocals on every track, something that is slowly overdone. Its third typical influence is regarded as The Band which can be seen on the album’s third track, “Station.”
    Bassist Toby Leaman uses his raspy and more Southern-tinged vocals on this one as the slide guitar eases in, embracing a slower tempo. The lyrics give it nod to country or Southern rock as it talks about the constant leaving at the train station, which can be noticed as a hint of Dr. Dog’s constant touring.
    Those who are not familiar with the band may notice the alternating vocals throughout the album.
    That’s because Dr. Dog is anchored by two lead vocalists and songwriters, Leaman and Scott McMicken. While their song writing is nearly identical, Leaman’s vocals have a scruffier and Southern vibe where McMicken’s serve as the boyish, poppier effect. They virtually take turns throughout Shame, Shame, which is as pleasantly soothing as it always has been.
    “Shadow People” could be the best song here, if not the catchiest. McMicken leads the way with his acoustic strumming. The song slowly builds and evolves with each verse until your singing phrases you don’t know the meaning of, “Where did all the shadow people go?”
    The song represents the craftsmanship of Dr. Dog. They can skillfully add layers to each song allow them to naturally evolve throughout the process. The only drawback is that some of the songs seem to evolve in a similar fashion.
    But the fact is there are no duds here. Dr. Dog delivers 11 tracks worthy of your attention.
    Whether it’s the personal and down-trodden title track “Shame, Shame” or finishing guitar solo on “Someday” that closely resembles the intro whistle to Disney’s “Robin Hood.”
    Whatever it is, Dr. Dog will leave you feeling like spring even through the summer months and beyond.

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    Shame uplifts while exploring difficulty, disappointments