Dr. Dog B-Room

Dr. DogB-Room
From the moment Wilco started breaking out of their alt-country straightjacket in the late '90s, it opened the door for bands everywhere with an Americana flavour to get weird. Philadelphia's Dr. Dog were one such act that eagerly came barging in, and after a half-dozen albums, the six-piece's sound remains a beguiling mix of folk-rock and modern alt-pop. That hasn't changed on B-Room, named after the self-constructed studio where it was laid down. Hints of Philly soul infuse album opener "The Truth," but the sound quickly shifts to the sort of sub-My Morning Jacket/Flaming Lips psychedelia Dr. Dog have never quite been able to pull off. B-Room regains its footing with the more rustic "Phenomenon" and "Too Weak to Ramble," featuring a moving vocal turn by co-frontman Toby Leaman. From there, the album returns to a kitchen sink approach, with songs like "Long Way Down" and "Cuckoo" containing an infectious bounce. Unfortunately, "Twilight" is a failed attempt at Mercury Rev-like grandeur, while "Love" is an ill-conceived foray into disco. The lesson should be that there are some great songs buried beneath all the studio trickery, and focusing on that would serve Dr. Dog much better next time out. (Anti)