Initial Reactions (2012): Tennis, Dr. Dog, The Little Willies

Initial Reactions are just that: my reactions to records after only a few listens (usually 2 or 3). I try to be fair, but if a record doesn’t make much of an impression on me at that point, someone’s going to need to tell me to pay closer attention if they think it deserves better. (see the sidebar for rating descriptions)

Tennis – Young & Old – [B+]: Deuce. A slight improvement on last year’s set. At times, I detect the influence of mid-90’s Sebadoh, and there’s a little more racket to match the indie-pop sound. Producer Patrick Carney brings a post-punk advantage, but unfortunately there’s no aces. I won’t  fault them for that, though. All in all, this is love-ly, and that’s no backhanded compliment. Net.   ("Origins", "Petition", "Dreaming")

Dr. Dog – Be The Void – [B]: Good and enjoyable rock and roll with a classic vibe. It’s hard not to like Dr. Dog, but it’s equally hard to love them. I think what they lack is a sense of personality. I mean, I get it. These are laid back dudes. They’ve played Lebowski Fest. But maybe they need to add a lady to the mix? And not just any lady, a real firecracker, a Neko. After all, even The Dude found his Maude in the end. ("These Days", "Get Away", "Do The Trick")

The Little Willies – For The Good Times – [B]: The Little Willies play well enough. Unfortunately, the song choices leave something to be desired. "If You’ve Got The Money" and "Jolene" = obvious. Think instead of Hem covering "Radiation Vibe" or "So. Central Rain." That’s grade-A song choice, the kind I’d expect from cosmopolitan musicians living in The City. Good times (but almost great when Norah’s got the lead). ("I Worship You", "Tommy Rockwood", "Fist City")

Quick Review (LP): Shame Shame by Dr. Dog

Dr Dog Shame Shame.jpgDr. Dog
Shame Shame
Anti/Epitaph; 2010

My Rating: B+

Best Tracks: “Stranger”, “Where’d All The Time Go?”, “Unbearable Why”

Saw these guys live back in 2004, and at that time I was really into The Band, so it all made perfect sense. Bought their first CD (Toothbrush), which turned me off, because back then I didn’t do lo-fi. Since then, they’ve released a lot of stuff, and since this one is really pretty good, it seems I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Their appeal still abides in that same good-time/goofball, working class, folk-rock category, and what’s more I don’t detect one iota of hipsterism here. I appreciate that. These guys are increasingly making AOR sourced from all the right influences, from The Beatles to The Eagles to Boston. When it all comes down to it, this one ain’t gonna blow your mind, but in my estimation, it should provide several repeated listens worth of classic rock bliss.

Wikipedia on the album (good writeup)
Pitchfork review
Paste review
Metacritic reviews
Band website