The ’60s never seem to die. The Beatles and the Beach Boys continue to influence contemporary music — some more heavily than others. With its latest release, Dr. Dog drew heavily on its love of ’60s pop and rock music.
“Shame, Shame,” might be Dr. Dog’s best-produced album yet. Starting off using lo-fi recording techniques made popular by bands such as Guided by Voices in the early ’90s, Dr. Dog has adopted a higher level of sonic quality that fits it well. The vocals sound crisper but still passionate with some grit around the edges.
Dr. Dog clearly learned how to build songs on this album. Starting with guitar and vocals that sound remarkably like a young Daniel Johnston, “Shadow People” adds layers and harmonies that keep the track moving. The variety in songs keeps the album flowing up until the title track.
The final song on the album, “Shame, Shame,” is a disappointing closer. The song is too long, and the country twang effect on the guitar over top of the organ chords in the background doesn’t fit together — on the song or with the rest of the record. The song leaves the listener feeling disappointed with an otherwise enjoyable album.
But there’s plenty to like on the record. “Unbearable Why” features complex vocal harmonies and piano keys that point directly to ’50s or early ’60s influences, such as the Beach Boys. The percussion on “Later” features a four-four time signature that is disco-influenced and groovier than anything else on the record.
“Shame, Shame” is a modern take on a classic aesthetic. Dr. Dog shows how modern recording techniques can enhance the classic-rock sound. The sound quality of the record fits Dr. Dog well, and its evolution is clearly worth watching in the years to come.