Sometimes a first impression is all that matters. On their phenomenal debut Easybeat, Philadelphia quintet Dr. Dog takes all the meaty features of indie pop and filters it through the sedated chillness of post-Peppers Beatles with gracious harmonies. It seems like these guys know the short cut that can take you from South Street into Haight-Ashbury.
From the first seconds of the opener “The World May Never Know,” John, Paul, George, and…uh, well mostly Paul comes to mind with its soothing quasi doo-wop aesthetic. “The Pretender” is some folk/soul goodness as singer Scott McMicken (how Irish is this dude’s last name?) sings with an effervescent hippie coo to a rhythm that sounds as if it came from a long lost Motown slow jam. “Fools Life” is just layered with psychedelic dimensions while Andrew Jones’ guitar loiters around the track, unleashing a series of “caws.” It sounds like the sonic equivalent of the Merry Pranksters letting loose a flock of ravens at an acid test while Country Joe and the Fish are on stage.
But it’s not all ’60s all the time with Dr. Dog. Even though I wasn’t born in the ’70s I can assume that “Oh No” would bring back the sunshine pop side of that decade’s singer-songwriter movement. In this track comes a small slab of classical music with jingling sleigh bells that, when mixed together, reminds me of the scene from all one-billion movie versions of A Christmas Carol, where Scrooge wakes up grateful that the Ghost of Christmas Future didn’t annihilate him, running through the snowy streets happy as ever and screaming “Merry Christmas” to all the townspeople. And that is only before it slips into a more NRBQ oriented barroom boogie mode.
Easybeat beautifully comes together as an album that finds sunny pop mixing with chill soul, and is kaleidoscopically peppered with cinematic tinges. Simply put, Dr. Dog are the hottest thing to come out of Philly since the beef fresh off the grill at Pat’s Cheesesteaks.