It’s getting more and more obvious to me that years, musically, are like the Star Trek movies: the odd numbered ones are the best. (I’m actually not a Star Trek fan at all; that’s just the best comparison I could come up with). For me, 2008 was a major year for music. M83, TV on the Radio, Portishead, and Vampire Weekend were the bands that helped me discover my love for new music after I’d spent two years obsessed with the British Invasion that had occurred thirty years before I was even born. So, to my disappointment, 2009 was a much lamer year. Everybody was clamoring for Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, The xx, and Dirty Projectors. I didn’t like any of that, so I felt very alienated that year (although it did produce some music that I absolutely loved). Then, 2010 came along. Suddenly, I was into it again. I didn’t like My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy or Sir Lucious Left Foot at all, but between Robyn, Avi Buffalo, The Roots, and Love Is All, it was possibly the best year for music since I’ve been alive.
This incredible year was followed by (what else?) 2011. Once again, I just couldn’t get into it. I began working on my “1,001 greatest albums” project and, as the year went by, I began to wonder if any albums from that year were going to make it (some did). But before I knew it, the year was done and, within the first month of 2012, I was greeted by First Aid Kit’s The Lion’s Roar and the best album Leonard Cohen has put out since I’m Your Man. This is already looking like a great year in the making and, just to prove it, the year has forced me to make a fool out of myself.
In my review of The Lion’s Roar, I wondered how long it would take before an album would be able to top that on my best-of-the-year list. Two weeks. It took two weeks for an album to top it. Apparently, 2012 thought I was denying its awesome power, and decided to show me up. ‘I’ll show you,’ 2012 said. ‘Here’s Dr. Dog!’
Here is Dr. Dog with their seventh album, Be the Void. To be honest, I’d heard of Dr. Dog in the past, but I never really listened to them. I do this often, and I always end up wanting to hit myself in the head when it happens. In this band’s case, however, I may have done myself a favor by waiting until now to listen to them. While their older work is good, Be the Void is excellent. The first track, “Lonesome,” is as perfect as folky indie gets, and the album just gets better and better as it goes on. “How Long Must I Wait” is my favorite, a build-up song that pays in full with an incredible ending chant of the title phrase. Then, there’s “Vampire,” “Big Girl,” “Warrior Man.” Honestly, I love almost every song here, and I still enjoy the hell out of those that I don’t.
If there’s one band I would compare Dr. Dog to, it would be Foxy Shazam. They also released an album earlier this year, which I rather liked. Both bands share the same concept, paying tribute to old rock and roll without ignoring the fact that they are 21st century bands. However, I prefer Dr. Dog’s version of this sound, because they don’t seem as nostalgic. Foxy Shazam relies on their influences; every song seems to be saying, “Remember this? Weren’t those good times?” Dr. Dog hardly even seem to be aware of how ‘60s-reminiscent their music is; they just play their music and, if it sounds like a certain band or influenced by a certain era, so be it. As long as it sounds alright.
I learned three things from this album:
1. Always listen to any band that has the slightest chance of being good.
2. Eric Slick is one of the best indie drummers today, on par with Chris Tomson and Brian Chase.
3. Never challenge a year's greatness, because it will make you look like an idiot.