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Saturday October 25th 2014

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Ears & Fingers

by Jason Leger

Dr. Dog – ‘B-Room’
“The truth don’t stop, it makes you move…” Here is the unabashed truth:  Dr. Dog is one of the best bands around. I have no qualms with saying that and standing behind it wholeheartedly. They are consistent in the material they are churning out and in not taking too much time between records, as this one rolls out a mere 20 months after its predecessor, “Be the Void.” Theirs is a sound which is timeless and harkens back to older days of rock and roll, but never collects a layer of dust and absolutely never goes stale.

“B-Room,” Dr. Dog’s eighth studio album, finds the band getting a tad crasser than ever before and jangling through 12 breezy songs filled with plenty of upbeat rhythms and McCartney-esque harmonies. The band also doesn’t shy away from plenty of poignancy and sentimentalism throughout the album, not more apparent any place than on absolute stand out track “Too Weak to Ramble.” This particular song is distinctive because of its bare-bones and throwback to vintage blues gently rumbling beneath Tobi Leaman’s gravel-tinged howl.

This long player is the first recorded in the band’s new self-built studio, which contains the album’s eponymous room. The construction was cathartic for Dr. Dog, and provided a much needed creative boost, which then bled over onto the content of “B-Room,” as the band fully collaborated on both projects. It becomes obvious from the overtones of songs like “Distant Light” and “Rock & Roll” that the band feels refreshed and reinvigorated creatively and is continuing to have fun doing what they are good at. Let’s remain hopeful that as long as the sun shines and there are roads to travel, Dr. Dog will continue providing us with a spirited soundtrack. “B-Room” is out now via Anti- Records.

Retrospect: Nirvana – ‘In Utero’
This month marks the 20 year anniversary of Nirvana’s final album “In Utero.” We also know this anniversary means we are only a few months away from hitting the 20 year mark on the tragedy that ended Nirvana’s all too short career. “In Utero” was the band’s third full length, and the follow up to what was arguably the most important album of the ‘90s, “Nevermind.”

I’ve been recently drawn back to “In Utero,” as I was made aware of the impending release of its reissue, with loads of extras to celebrate the 20 years. Now, 20 years ago, I was 10, and was more concerned with Spiderman than Kurt Cobain. I was 14 when I finally first connected with Nirvana, and I fell deeply in love. However, my 14-year-old mind could not process things the same way my 30-year-old mind does, so many of the emotions and ideas Cobain was putting out into the open on “In Utero” were lost on me. Listening again at 30 though, a lot comes to mind.
Cobain seems to be warning of the storm which was brewing, that ultimately led to his suicide less than a year after the release. Even the title, “In Utero” expresses a desire to climb back into the womb to hide from the fame which befell the young songwriter after the success of “Nevermind.” This collection of 12 songs is laden with attempts to return to a sound which the band built its foundation on, but not necessarily one which gained them notoriety. This return to form forced many of the band’s fair weather fans to jump ship when they realized this was not another “Nevermind” and into the arms of more accessible bands like Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam. One would assume this was Cobain’s aim, as it’s very obvious on this album that he hated the celebrity he was expected to be. Whether he would like it or not, he is now a legend, gone but not forgotten. The 20th Anniversary Edition of “In Utero” is out now via Universal Records.