Live Review: Dr. Dog; CD Review: Department of Eagles; Dave Dondero tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 5:51 pm September 30, 2008

I knew little about Dr. Dog before last night’s show at The Waiting Room. I had listened to one or two of their songs on Lala and just wasn’t feeling it. Still, their publicist put me on the list — and I got my column in early — so how could I resist? I’d like to tell you that I was pleasantly surprised, but DD sounded pretty much how I expected — a cross between Gomez and Nada Surf, a little too mainstream for my tastes. The band sports two lead singers — the bass player who has an in-your-face Roger Daltrey style, and a guitarist/keyboardist with a high, slightly nasal tone who sounded like a cross between Doug Martsch and Neil Young. It was the nasal guy who I dug the most; his subtle approach effectively sanded down the edges of the band’s over-the-top rawk that more often than not, suffered from trying too hard. Try telling that to the 180 screaming fans on hand, however, who soaked in every minute of it.

Another reason I went last night was because Teresa wanted a Dr. Dog T-shirt — not because she likes the band, but because she’s dog crazy. Unfortunately, there weren’t any dogs on Dr. Dog’s shirts, and they cost $20. I’ll buy just about any band’s T-shirt if it has a halfway interesting design and costs $10. For $20, it has to have either been a life-changing show or an AA shirt with a jaw-dropping design. Or have a dog on it.

I’ve got a lot of T-shirts.

* * *

Here’s the latest and greatest from intern Brendan Greene-Walsh:

Department of Eagles, In Ear Park (4AD) — The story of how Department of Eagles came to be is as interest as its music. In what could have been a dreaded situation, Fred Nicolaus and Daniel Rossen were assigned as roommates their freshman year of college without first meeting. As luck would have it, their friendship flourished. They began writing together, combining their different influences and ideas. Even though separated while Rossen was on tour, they continued to record and email ideas to each other. It was this cross-country collaboration that helped create the backbone of this album, which comes out next month. The recording is as eclectic and scattered as the methodology that went into writing it. While most songs on the album are down tempo and subdued — like “Phantom Other” and the title track — others take the same restrained song structure and couple it with uplifting and whimsical instrumentation, such as on the fourth track, “Teenagers.” This feat is achieved thanks to an eclectic selection of backing instruments — guitar, upright bass, piano, synthesizers, oboe and handclaps. The band keeps an even keel throughout the album, but manages to ensure that the songs don’t become repetitive and boring. Rating: Yes. — Brendan Greene-Walsh

Tim’s take: More often than not, DOE sounds like pre-synthpop, pre-Outback Steakhouse Of Montreal — i.e., earnest. echoing chamber pop . But whereas pre-bloomin’ onion Of Montreal tended to wander and bore, DOE’s ethereal quality is infused with enough hooks to make you stand and listen and wonder. It’s dream pop that isn’t interested in putting you to sleep. Rating: Yes.

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Team Love recording artist and Conor Oberst’s biggest vocal influence Dave Dondero returns to Omaha tonight at The Waiting Room. Dondero’s sets either mesmerize or stultify, depending on his mood and yours. Opening is singer-songwriter and guitar wizard Lincoln Dickison. Definitely worth the $8. 9 p.m.

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