Article by KevW
As anyone who follows alternative music knows, New York, and particularly Brooklyn, is a constant hive of activity and collaboration. Primarily the project of songwriter, singer and guitarist Ethan Donway and guitarist Liz Francesconi, Doctor Barber's debut EP 'Sick Sad World' also features The Brooklyn What's Jesse Katz on drums with producer Oliver Ignatius taking care of bass duties. Essentially, the influences they list give a good indication of their sound (Dinosaur Jr., Built To Spill, Nirvana, Pixies), and had you been told this EP was recorded in 1994 then you probably wouldn't bat an eyelid, but it's certainly not merely a retread and the songs don't stick to the same formula, so as a collection it's actually quite varied despite adhering closely to the US alt-rock scene of that period.
Opening track 'Pictures Of Your Pets' could have been a cut from the criminally overlooked debut album by Sammy, with the scuzzy guitar and slight slacker vibe of the vocals. It has plenty of melody though, and the guitar breaks do have a little J. Mascis about them. It's a great combination. The way the band can change is instantly evident, as 'Charles Barkley' adopts a grungier and also more rampant feel, with the vocals filtered a different way. Much as the first track owed a debt to Dinosaur Jr., here it's Pixies (and even a touch of The Breeders) that catches the ear, but again it stands well on its own two feet. Acting as something of a centrepiece, the college-rock of 'Seagate' merges most of the attributes shown on the rest of the EP into one song. Darkness almost descends on 'Promised I would Smile', but that guitar - which seems ever present - lightens up the atmosphere and is almost as much of a focal point as the vocals. If Sad Day For Puppets were a little rougher around the edges then they may have turned out a little something like this. Finally, a thick coating of distortion wraps itself around 'Happy Thoughts' which almost takes on a dreampop vibe as the lyrics soften and drift that little bit more. It borders on psychedelic at times. 'Sad Sick World' wears its influences on its sleeve, but it doesn't ape them too closely. A promising first offering.
Doctor Barber's website
Stream or buy the EP
The Sound Of Confusion on Twitter and Facebook