Dr. Dog “Exit For Sale”, Wild Race EP

I’ve been a fan of Dr. Dog ever since I first heard the Grateful Dead/Beatle harmonies of “Worst Trip” and The Band homage of “Alaska”. Yes when they first started, they were a “revivalist” band, perfectly happy to ape the ‘60s status quo.  Things started to change around Shame, Shame when they released the biting “Take Me Into Town” as a bonus track. In February 2012 Be The Void followed, showing Dr. Dog at their most creative they had been in years. It was no longer just spitting out the music of their forebears, it was adapting it, putting it through some weird kind of dimension where all time periods existed at once. I still consider it one of the best albums of the year.  8 months later Dr. Dog released Wild Race EP  containing this neat little number “Exit For Sale”.  Featuring a menacing chromatic piano line and bluesy guitars, the song explodes into some beautiful harmonies during the chorus and remains an example of the goods Dr. Dog has to offer.

Take Me Into Town – Dr. Dog

Exit For Sale – Dr. Dog


Worst Trip – Dr. Dog

Alaska- Dr. Dog


Selections From The Obscure: “It’s All Over Now”, Paradise & Lunch, Ry Cooder (1974)

Ry Cooder brought the Buena Vista Social Club, the famed celebration of old Cuban music,to fruition, but his career is more diverse and stylized in the music of Americana.  On Paradise and Lunch, arguably his best LP, he merges traditional spirituals, delta blues, soul numbers and even a Burt Bacharach tune into one big melting pot of the American songbook. It’s quite a thrilling expedition and despite its rampant anachronism, it contextualizes quite well. “It’s All Over Now”, written by Sam Cooke protege Bobby Womack, and made famous by The Rolling Stones was by all means a sweaty 60’s r&b number but Cooder turns it on its head, making it into a soul/reggae fusion with great vocal harmonies that truly makes you pause on realizing this is a number by a white virtuoso session man.  It’s one of the many reasons to grab the complete album. I’m also including “Tamp ‘Em Up Solid”, the traditional ballad that leads off the album which wouldn’t be out of place on a soundtrack for a modern film about the Civil War (or perhaps on Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained).

It’s All Over Now – Ry Cooder

Tamp ‘Em Up Solid – Ry Cooder

For the endless deluge of indie bands out there that have tried to follow through on the sounds like Talking Heads witty world pop mantle (see Dirty Projectors, Vampire Weekend), UK transplant Theme Park are looking like the best challenge yet, though with an updated sound. It’s really “Milk” one of their first singles from their upcoming debut album (due out in August) , that nails down the frenetic David Byrne vocal with some nice energetic dance-floor indie pop a la Hot Chip. However, if “Jamaica”, their latest single proves anything, Theme Park is no flash in the pan and they know how to write a catchy summer hook.  

Milk –  Theme Park

Jamaica – Theme Park 

RIYL: TV On The Radio, Talking Heads, Phoenix, Hot Chip

For being blessed with one of the most powerful voices in soul, Darrell Banks is often at best considered a side-note in the very congested history of soul music (for “Open The Door To Your Heart”). A belter worthy of Wilson Pickett and J.J. Jackson, his career was tragically cut down when he was shot by an off-duty police officer in the midst of a heated exchange. “Forgive Me” comes off of his 1969 release for Stax Records subsidiary Volt, Here To Stay. With a string arrangement evocative of Impressions records of the period, it’s Banks pleading emotional croon that makes this song so powerful.

Forgive Me – Darrell Banks

RIYL: Wilson Pickett, The Impressions, J.J. Jackson, Stax Records