Park The Van Records
Release Date: July 22, 2008
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Sounds like: The Beatles’ endearing psychedelia, The Band’s rootsiness, and The Beach Boys’ crystalline vocals, all wrapped in a modern-day Philadelphia-soul/indie-rock package
Full disclosure up front: I’ve been a rabid Dr. Dog fan since 2003. I can still remember the hazy, drunken evening when Toothbrush, the band's self-released debut album, first set my insides aquiver… nostalgia aside, the band's fourth full-length Fate stands as quite possibly the strongest outing from this quintet of quirky Philadelphia retro-rockers. Although they’ve been dogged by constant comparisons to The Beatles, in terms of musical touchstones, you can’t ask to be lumped in with better progenitors. On Fate, the give-and-take songwriting team of Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman exhibits considerable growth, evolving into a deeper and more complex unit while still maintaining the band’s firm foundations: heart-tugging multi-part vocal harmonies, peculiar yet pleasing ‘60s-era recording techniques, and the kind of emotional depth and self-confidence most indie rock bands can only dream of. Album opener “The Breeze” rolls softly to shore with yearning lyrics and tender acoustic guitars from McMicken, along with quasi-tropical percussion and beautiful pianos. From there, the band takes a trip through jazzy yet passionate territory on “Hang On,” jumpy, off-time shimmying on “The Old Days,” and the slow-as-molasses R & B/classic-rock/weeping-soul amalgamation “Army Of Ancients.” As always, McMicken’s nasally delivery serves as the perfect counterpoint to bassist Leaman’s growling vocal power, which rises to a cataclysmic peak on the simmering slow-burner “The Beach.” Packed full of monumental organs, smoldering guitar solos, and true sing-along catchiness, “The Beach” may just be the best Dog song yet. This is all assuming you dig heart-on-your-sleeve exuberance and upbeat yet reflective pop songcraft. But if Fate garners the same positive responses as last year’s excellent We All Belong, Dr. Dog could stake a firm claim as one of the most enjoyably eclectic bands on the contemporary music landscape.
Official band site: www.drdogmusic.com
“The Old Days” mp3