THE BEST OF 2007
2007 was the Year of the Dog
Editor's note: This the third story in a series highlighting the best that 2007 had to offer.
By MATT BERRY
STATIC and FEEDBACK staff writer
Occasionally, you will hear a band for the first time, whether it's a song on the radio or as the opening act at a concert, and essentially forget about them. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you'll hear them again and start to fall in love with their style of music. If this has ever happened to you, then you should know a little bit about my experience with Dr. Dog and how their album We All Belong became my favorite album of 2007.
After seeing the band open for the Raconteurs in Atlanta in 2006, I didn't pay much attention to them. Several months later, when they opened for the Black Keys in Nashville, I paid more attention to the band and their retro-pop-rock sound, becoming intrigued by the frenetic energy the band brought to their shows. After purchasing their debut Easy Beat and finding it to my liking, I got my hands on their follow-up effort, We All Belong. From beginning to end, this album evokes Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles at their very catchiest. The music is deceptively complex, with layer upon layer of guitar, bass, piano, and occasionally string and horn sections.
The opening track, "Old News," is a short little ditty that informs you of everything you need to know about the band and the album. A chorus of "La-La-Las" in the background from a shouting Toby Leaman leads the way in front of piano and horn riffs with a spattering of guitar and bass. The album is much more centered on Zach Miller's piano and organ work than Easy Beat was, creating the hypnotic basis for single "My Old Ways" and the symphonic title track. The group's two lead singers (Leaman and guitarist Scott McMicken) may not win any singing competitions, but their ability to go slightly off-key in a good way is one of the most endearing parts of the band. "Die, Die, Die," for example, is brought to life by Leaman's heartfelt and soulful wails, which are even more impressive in concert. McMicken is the higher pitched of the two, and the contrast between them creates yet another parallel to Lennon/McCartney. The two singers are fine enough on their own, but when everyone gets involved in providing backup vocals on songs like "We All Belong" and "The Way the Lazy Do" a rich backdrop is added.
Overall, this brand of retro-pop may not fit everyone's tastes, and I for one am not generally a fan of this genre. But the album that was produced by Dr. Dog this year is so undeniably catchy and fun from beginning to end that no other album was able to top it.
... AND THE REST OF THE YEAR
This was a slow year for me in terms of new music, as it was mostly spent introducing me to The Beatles and Neil Young (special thanks to Mark McCormick, William Tonks, and our own Nick Tavares for showing me the light in a big, big way). I did, however, find a few things worthy of my and your attention over the past year:
The White Stripes — Icky Thump: Probably their most accessible album to date, if not their best.
Neil Young — Chrome Dreams II: Not the strongest album he's produced since the 1990s, but you'll never see me complain about new Uncle Neil.
Eddie Vedder — Into the Wild: I imagine it's even better if you see the film, but I shall have to wait and see
In a slow year at the movies, Superbad, in all seriousness, may have been the best thing I saw all year. And that includes No Country for Old Men and Sweeney Todd
And finally, despite this site's aim towards music and the arts, I would be remiss if I did not express my joy at the 2007 Georgia Bulldogs football season, which yielded a Sugar Bowl victory and, in the "Blackout" victory against Auburn, one of the greatest days of my life. Seriously.