Dr. Dog | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Dr. Dog 

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I'm awfully cynical about shaggy indie rockers these days, but Dr. Dog's new album, Easy Beat (National Parking), is one of the best records I've heard this year. What the M's are to the Kinks, this Philadelphia quintet is to the Beatles: they create immaculate pop packed tight with pretty vocal harmonies, subtly shifting arrangements, and loads of catchy melodies. They could be a long-lost Elephant 6 act, except they never sound smitten with their own cleverness; recorded in their home studio, the album has a nicely ragged feel, but the songs lack the lazy, tossed-off quality that makes so much indie pop sound ho-hum. Toby Leaman is clearly infatuated with Paul McCartney--"The World May Never Know" swipes its ultramelodic bass line straight from "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"--and he sings with emotion and conviction. Though his tone is nasal and his range is limited, his simple love songs contain great zingers like "I need all of your forgiveness / And most of your love." Lead guitarist Scott McMicken plays tidy, glimmering solos that stand out starkly against the rhythmic counterpoints crafted by guitarist Andrew Jones and keyboardist Zach Miller, who sounds like he's playing an upright piano he carted out of a condemned dive bar. The boys add some rickety-sounding strings to "Oh No," and though I can't help but wonder if the title is a Yoko reference, they're not slavish Fab Four devotees; on the title track McMicken plays a guitar line whose tone sounds inspired by George Harrison's "Something," but halfway through he uncorks some effects-drenched noise. They open for Ambulance Ltd. and Autolux. Sat 4/9, 9:30 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $10.

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