On the Turntable: Dr. Dog
Genre: Pop-punk folk
Rating: This band will have you pleasantly barking as you drive with your windows down.
It’s impossible not to like Dr. Dog. The only people who don’t like Dr. Dog are those silly enough to put off listening to them despite well-intentioned recommendations from loved ones. I recently had this issue with my brother. I’ve been listening to, and loving, Dr. Dog since high school. Every so often my brother would ask me who the awesome band was that I was listening to. So I’d tell him it was Dr. Dog, and did he want some of their CDs to listen to? The answer was always “no, not right now.”
Then suddenly this spring, he decided not only to listen to Dr. Dog, but to become their super-fan.
Don’t be like my brother. Don’t waste five years of your life choosing to not listen to Dr. Dog.
The band has been churning out albums from Philadelphia since 1999. They’ve become known for their scrappy, 1960s sound. They exploded into national recognition in 2007 when they released “We All Belong.” Utilizing a wide variety of instruments and group harmony, they are the perfect driving-with-the-windows-down music. Even their “sad” songs are infectious. For instance, “Jackie Wants a Black Eye,” from their 2010 album, “Fate,” is an uplifting ballad about going through rough times in life but never being alone:
And we’re all in it together now
As we all fall apart
And we’re swapping little pieces of our broken little hearts
Their newest album, “Be the Void,” was released this February. They’ve reduced the use of all their instruments to better translate how they sound during their live performances. It’s more rock ’n roll and, as always, is full of boundless energy and uplifting choruses. The album starts off strong with “Lonesome,” an upbeat, folky song easy to stomp and sing along to.
However, though they’ve scaled back, matured and become more polished, the effect is a little underwhelming. Without their scrappy sound, Dr. Dog just sounds like they’re imitating other bands. “These Days,” for example, sounds too much like something from the Strokes’ “Is This It,” and “Turning the Century” sounds like a song the Fleet Foxes would do.
I can understand what they were trying to accomplish, but I don’t mind that most bands sound different live than they do in studio-recorded albums. It gives two different listening experiences, and if they’re a good band, they can pull off both sounds well.
Though Dr. Dog’s newest album is shadowed by the musical masterpieces of “We All Belong” and “Fate,” it is still worth a listen. For first-time listeners, give their older albums a shot before tuning into “Be the Void.”
“The Sound” – Dr. Dog