Having just played a main stage set at Lollapalooza and with another showcase upcoming at this week’s Outside Lands and Pickathon festivals, Dr. Dog has a come a long way since their humble lo-fi beginnings in Philadelphia. Having released their latest album, Be The Void, back in February, the band’s profile has gradually grown since the release of their breakthrough Fate. Having long ditched the lo-fi for a more modern sound, the band has slowly but surely converted the non-believers.
The brainchild of founding members Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman, the band wandered in the abyss a little before finding a powerful ally in My Morning Jacket. The sextet toured with the Louisville rockers, which is how they cut their teeth and learned how to blend garage rock with a bigger, psychedelic sound. By the time Fate arrived in 2008, the band finally started to see results, yet have been steadily climbing since.
Due to the critical approval of that record, the band’s profile grew, placing them on programs including Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Late Night With Conan O’Brien and the Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson. Not too shabby considering they’d been toiling in relative obscurity before.
With acclaim came a new record label. Dr. Dog left Park The Van for Anti- Records and thus came an even more polished sound. Shame, Shame was the first album with the new label and saw the band’s sound inch a bit towards the mainstream while combining elements of punk rock, featuring electric guitars, which helped translate the vibe from their energetic lives shows onto the record. Again, their profile gradually got bigger, with the album reaching number 44 on the Billboard Top 200. Pretty impressive for an indie outfit.
Finally, we’ve reached Be The Void. The process was a bit different during these recording sessions. Armed with a flexibility that they hadn’t experienced since their early days, the band was able to comfortably write and record songs on their on schedule and at their own studio. There wasn’t any external pressure for them to make an album outside of their comfort zone and were actually influenced by literature this time around instead of music.
Most of the album was dependent on what the band was feeling when they recorded. It made for a much more fruitful process and helped lay the groundwork for future sessions. As a matter of fact, Dr. Dog is planning to release a few outtakes from the Be The Void sessions on an EP at the end of the month. If you were wondering how far their sound has expanded, take a listen to what’s on there.
Sometimes it takes a while for a band to climb into the hearts and minds of music listeners. As we’ve seen with Everest, the best music isn’t often the most commercial and fans have to work in order to discover it. Dr. Dog is no different. Though they’ve been critically acclaimed, they’re still pounding out songs with the exuberance of newbies than the rising stars that they are. If you’re at either Outside Lands or Pickathon, check the Philly-natives out, you won’t be disappointed.
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