Doctor Nod // Return To Terror EP
Recommended Track: Watch Out
Doctor Nod hails from Fayetteville, Arkansas and is thee band of Arkansas; perhaps the only band. You can probably catch them at the same hip local bar over and over. With the release of their first EP, Return to Terror, I’m hoping to see them tour to Los Angeles or, at the very least, play outside of Arkansas.
Return to Terror is seven songs long, each track consisting of various influences from rock n’ roll, psych and pop, aided by a complete pedal board. What’s important is that Doctor Nod doesn’t have a sound that immediately makes you think of another band. How many times have you heard a psychedelic rock song and promptly thought of BJM or whomever you may consider the stereotypical psych band? I’ll let you, the reader, decide for yourself on what sound Doctor Nod is trying to convey only because they deserve to be heard without a pre-existing paradigm of what psychedelic rock is. In no way is this EP the most amazing thing to hit the streets since sliced bread but it’s interesting and worth the listen.
Every song is about two and a half minutes long with the most straightforward, repetitious guitar riffs you’ll hear. Some bands struggle to strike a balance between being elaborate and being practical but when psych rock bands learn to be elementary and lock in with the groove, they’re able to surprise the listener with effects and vocals to create the unforced and spontaneous “psychedelic rock” that we all love. I mean, how can it be “psychedelic” if you expect everything that you hear? With that in mind, the top two tracks on Return to Terror are “Watch Out” and “Trip Along,” the former being the prime example of Dr Nod’s take on psychedelic rock. On “Watch Out”, the high pitched repeating guitar riff couples with the drums so well that it allows the singer to leave you in a trance with all those unearthly background chimes. Amidst the continuous unity of drums and guitar comes the lyrics: Look like you, they act like you too. Everybody loves a song about originality, right?
At least Doctor Nod know when to end a song, nothing’s worse than a 10 minute drum solo or bands thinking they’re My Bloody Valentine with the noise. Speaking of noise, “This is the Place” kicks ass. You bet the cops would be called playing that in a Los Angeles warehouse. Maybe playing in Fayetteville Arkansas has its advantages. Although, on the other hand, come on, guys, really? What’s up with that Interlude and “Talk Soup”? Those sound like you’ve had band practice for 8 hours straight, you’re stoned, tired, somebody breaks a string and, while you wait for him to restring his guitar, poof: out comes “Talk Soup.” Some things you just don’t release into this world.
So in the end Return To Terror only has five songs, two are downright awesome and the rest are a bit lacking. “Drugs” and “Take a Look” are not flawed or inadequate by any means but are deprived of this certain je ne se quoi that makes “Watch Out” and “Trip Along” SO catchy and approachable.
Doctor Nod have potential to invent some unique sounds that keep you engaged and guessing. As the band progresses and tours they’ll hopefully tap into WHY their idiosyncratic compositions work, and distinguish themselves clearly from the psychedelic rock band stereotype.