Back in February Dr. Dog gave us a musical gift in the form of new album Be the Void. It was an album filled with what Dr. Dog does best: mangled pop and rock nuggets. Songs that sound strangely familiar yet completely alien at the same time. It was a great way to start out a musical year that would turn out to be a rather epic stretch for new music.
It’s now November of 2012. The year is coming to a close, but not before Dr. Dog throw us one more bone in the form of Wild Race. A five song mini-album of sorts that falls just under twenty minutes, Wild Race sounds like some leftovers from the Be the Void sessions. Mostly filled with Scott McMicken-sung tunes, this short album/long EP is a nice addition to the Be the Void song collection – though one has to wonder why they just didn’t make their latest offering a double album instead of holding onto these gems.
What should’ve been Be the Void’s title track, which somehow didn’t make it onto the album, starts this collection out rather nicely, featuring the rough-and-tumble scrappiness we’ve come to love about Dr. Dog. McMicken, who has really come into his own over the last two albums, continues the trend here. “The Sun” opens with the sound of a live audience cheering before McMicken begins singing, backed by a lone shaker and piano. Soon enough the song picks up into an all-out Dr. Dog scrapper, throwing punches like a punk running the streets of Philly. “What a Fool” is the lone Toby Leaman-sung song in this collection, and that’s a shame. Leaman has become the Philly soul crooner of the band, and like on past tracks such as “Army Of Ancients” and “Keep A Friend,” he shows both a vulnerability and a knack for hitting the right melancholy note.
“What A Fool” continues that trend, giving an almost doo wop vibe to this quiet, reflective track. That said, it’s very clean production values – and lack of Eric Slick ramshackle drumming – would’ve made this song sound a bit out of place on Be the Void. Regardless, it’s a hell of a song. “Exit For Sale” has a nice swing and cool mellotron strings that give it an otherworldly spirit. The EP’s closing track, “Wild Race,” sounds like, well, Dr. Dog. Armed with some of the futuristic noise that Be the Void’s “Warrior Man” contained, it also utilizes some of the cool reverb-y guitar and impressive harmony work that Dr. Dog are known for.
Released last month out of the blue, Wild Race is a nice collection of songs that could very well have been included with the band’s most recent long player – but for some reason were not. All the better for us, I suppose. Now we have a little slice of rough-around-the-edges psychedelic pop-rock goodness to chew on at the end of the year. And, if you’re so inclined, Wild Race will be released as a Black Friday Record Store Day goody in 12″ LP form. So go grab a vinyl copy of Wild Race and enjoy it the best way possible.