Dr. Dog – Fate (Park The Van)

dr-dog.jpgI want to LOVE this record, and I almost do, or at least parts of it. Like The Band, The Dead, or Wilco, who sing about places and the journey to get there, Dr. Dog use this metaphor as the backdrop for their storytelling. An old fashioned rock band, lead by dueling melodic guitars, keys, drums and heavy dose of vocal harmonizing, “Fate” moves along like a big old train rumbling down the tracks, a vestige of a by-gone era.

So much of “Fate” is washed with a much needed look back. The 11 songs here range from the Beatleseque to the honky-tonk, but where Lennon’s vocals were nasal and wonderful, Toby Leaman tend to be a bit too thin and at times. That said this is a band, hailing oddly from Philly, who have again stitched together what we are desperately missing in this electronic age – something original, refreshing and authentic.

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Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguwar)

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No one loves quiet folk more than I, but for some odd reason on my first two distracted passes, “For Emma” felt almost too precious. On top of that, at the time I was pretty far gone into the hymn-like orchestrations of the Fleet Foxes. But standing with about a thousand swaying souls last week at the Outside Lands Music Festival on oddly typical gray but pleasant summer after noon in San Francisco, Bon Iver began to make perfect and beautiful sense.

This is largely acoustic strumming, but with layer upon layer of vocal harmony building towards these almost Pentecostal hand clapping sing-alongs. On songs like “The Wolves” it starts slow and easy enough before exploding into a beautiful percussive cacophony of restrained emotion. To call a record like this folk would be to pay them an immense creative disservice. Sure there are guitars, hushed drums, but this is so much bigger and original. On “Blindedsided” or “Re: Stacks” nothing is wasted, not a line or a strum. The nine songs here are as genuine and authentic as can be. Emma must have been quite special.

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