Release Date: Oct 1, 2013
Record label: Anti
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Neo-Psychedelia
While the old cliché claims that you can't ever go home again, B-Room, Dr. Dog's first album in their new studio, makes a pretty strong case for just building a new home. Continuing to use the same collaborative process the group began to explore on Be the Void, it feels as though a place to call their own was the missing ingredient for the bandmembers.
My first Dr. Dog experience came in the form of a Fate-era Los Angeles press showcase. The spread was pleasant enough: complimentary fish tacos and Dos Equis, and a tribe of thickly bearded, sunglass-clad dudes from Philly doling out ’60s throwback pop rocks to the absolute cream of the noontime indie-rag press. They played; we ate Wahoo’s and left the cozy hotel reception room with eardrums a’throb.
Dr. Dog has been reliable for quite some time when it comes to churning out hook-filled albums, and B-Room is another win for the Philadelphia-based band. The psychedelic-folk feel that the group has come to be known for is present and accounted for with an apparent rejuvenated energy behind it. After leaving Meth Beach, the recording space they’ve used for the last eight years, the band built a new studio from the ground up within an old silversmith mill.
Delaware Valley psychedelic rockers Dr. Dog return to the forefront of hip indie with their latest release B-Room. With less than a year’s time elapsed since Be the Void, the band’s 2012 commercial and critical break-out success, it seems the band is losing little time or momentum fulfilling a unique golden-era vision of what makes a pop song. From lo-fi origins in the early ‘00s, Dr.
Since their 2002 debut Toothbrush, Dr. Dog has been consistent and unchanging in its steady stream of even-handed well crafted records. Unlike many of their indie pop/rock contemporaries, Dr. Dog’s music isn’t particularly witty or clever; indeed, much of their critical lukewarm-ness seems to come from the fact that the band, in its admirable, plain-sighted drive to deliver a quality, durable batch of songs every eighteen months or so, doesn’t always give journalists a whole lot to work with.
From the moment Wilco started breaking out of their alt-country straightjacket in the late '90s, it opened the door for bands everywhere with an Americana flavour to get weird. Philadelphia's Dr. Dog were one such act that eagerly came barging in, and after a half-dozen albums, the six-piece's sound remains a beguiling mix of folk-rock and modern alt-pop.
"I don't ever want to go back to the old days," sings Dr. Dog's Scott McMicken on "My Old Ways", a song off 2007's We All Belong. They're kind of ironic lyrics coming from a band that keeps scraping the bottom of a barrel of older influences—the Beach Boys, the Band, the Faces, the Dead, CSNY for good measure, Captain Beefheart in interviews. And yet, it's a fitting personal statement considering Carl Wilson's recent evaluation of another critically panned, fan-beloved outfit: Mumford & Sons.
All signs suggest that the dudes of Dr. Dog like where they’re at. That’s in part a critique of the band’s imperturbable, easy breezy attitude, but it also goes a long way toward explaining the music. Early records like Toothbrush and Easy Beat took the band’s groovy, psych-laden jams in a decidedly lo-fi direction, but lately the band has gravitated toward a cleaner studio approach that better accents the finer points of its live set.
From the title of their new album, B-Room, to the band’s label, Anti-, the Philadelphia sextet, Dr. Dog, is dropping hints that they’re not sprung-out on current music fads. Their solution to industry trends is simple: they’re not going to be a part of it. Though their withdrawal doesn’t exactly have them branching out to undiscovered turfs.