On Fridays, there’s a homeless man who plays electric guitar outside my building. We affectionately call him “Guitar Bob.” This irks and confuses Guitar Bob, because he genuinely believes that he’s Joe Walsh. To his credit, he does play a mean solo on “Hotel California,” and can also unflappably recite pretty much any mundane autobiographical detail of “his” life. Frankly, Guitar Bob is that awesome kind of crazy—fun, and committed to his delusions. If he was actually talented and obsessed with stoner pop, he’d probably rock just like Dr. Dog.
Inasmuch as your enjoyment of it depends mostly upon your level of cynicism and your definition of “authenticity,” We All Belong is like the Colonial Williamsburg of psych-pop. Most of the music here consists of cloned sounds from the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and the Band layered on top of one another, and if the best tunes (“Alaska” and “Don’t Pretend”) are any indication, the Big Pink imitation is the glue: Ragged vocals match ragged playing, with all the instruments falling drunkenly together on the same deliciously lazy beat while sunny harmonies crest and crash in time with straining guitars and drums. As ’70s revivalists go, Dr. Dog are uniquely non-twee: They proudly flaunt their obsessions with sex and weirdness, and they don’t bother couching them in elitist ironies. They’re totally authentic about being inauthentic. Like Guitar Bob, that makes them easy to love.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 20, 2007