I Love Rock & Roll: Current Bands Worthy of Attention Part 2: Dr. Dog
I hear the phrase uttered often, "There are no good Rock & Roll Bands any more" and there has been recent talk about the death of mainstream rock and roll. Over the next few weeks I will highlight 4 modern day groups that deserve attention from young and old fans of mainstream Rock and Roll.
If there was still great rock and roll radio channels for free out there these bands would be getting much bigger recognition then they already have. These aren't indie acts, they aren't no-names, they are just a reminder that there is some really great rock and roll music being produced and you will be able to grab all of it from our catalog.
Up Next: Dr. Dog
The Philadelphia group of minstrels has been crafting some of the finest pop-rock around for the last decade-plus. When the term pop shows up these days it is a dirty word, but the group hearkens back to a time when popular did not mean bubblegum mass marketed dreck.
The group can be compared to three pillars of pop-rock royalty; The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and The Band. The three B's are lofty comparisons for any act, but Dr. Dog has earned it with well crafted studio albums, rambunctious live shows and stout song writing.
The vocal care with which they put together songs elevates them above many of their peers. While the song writing and lead singing duties go to bassist Toby Leaman and lead guitarist Scott McMicken the group as a whole works meticulously on the harmonies and background singing. Eric Slick keeps the beat while Zach Miller works the keys and Frank McElroy sings and strums along on rhythm guitar.
The group's democratic sense of unity is refreshing; the songs can seem individually constructed yet fit together perfectly to form a cohesive whole. Albums are tight with layers of sound that propel the tracks to float along with ease.
Like any band in this series Dr Dog is incredibly comfortable in the live setting having toured with everyone from My Morning Jacket to The Strokes in recent years. Gaining in popularity has seen the band also grace the stages of some of the biggest festivals (Bonnaroo, Coachella) in the country to rousing receptions. Pulling off their studio polish isn't always easy but the band soars when they take the stage.
Guitars, keys, plucky bass lines are all present behind the soaring vocals as the band oozes a laid back vibe that seems omnipresent on all of their tracks. The lyrics worm into your brain but the beats make you move your hips and can be just as infectious. Studio wizards and live magicians the group has it all, let's dig into their catalog.
First: Fate (2008 Park The Van Records)
The album that turned the band from indie darlings to a force to be reckoned with world wide, Fate was a spectacular coming out party for the band. The group got their wry sense of irony on the forefront here but also nail some straight ahead joys, ("My Friend", "The Breeze"). When the meaty bass line from "The Ark" bubbles out it immediately gets the head bobbing and a winding trip into the forest via "The Rabbit The Bat and The Reindeer" makes the freak-out feel natural. It can be easy, or it can be twisted and complex, but what you have here is from start to finish a great disc.
Next: Shame, Shame (2010 Anti Records)
The first time the band has worked with an outside producer (Rob Schnapf) finds the group making perhaps their most accessible album yet. The disk works up to a fantastic ending with "I Only Wear Blue," "Jackie Wants a Black Eye" and the title track, but nothing beats McMicken's ode to his Philly friends via "Shadow People." A fantastic journey that rewards with every listen:
The Rest: Full catalog of Dr Dog here at NYPL
We All Belong - (2007 Park the Van Records) Psych-Pop expansion, the group relished the studio time and put together their first major opus here with the closing title track. There are some other great gems here as well like the hooky "Old News" and bumping "Worst Trip."
Stay Tuned next week for Part 3 until then do you have any Dr. Dog stories or comments?