In 2004, the idealistic young quintet of Philadelphians known as Dr. Dog found itself shoved into the national spotlight, thanks in part to a sparkling profile in The New York Times
--essentially a declaration that these were the fresh-faced young messiahs of rock 'n' roll. The Times
praised the band's first official release, Easy Beat
, for its lo-fi charm and ingenuity, as well as its distinct nods to baroque pop's founding fathers. According to guitarist and founding member Scott McMicken, however, their newfound success wasn't immediately tangible.
"We'd still play in clubs to crowds of only ten or fifteen people," says McMicken. "The attention wasn't really sudden, so we were able to ride a steady, organic sense of ambition and learn the craft of recording and engineering as we went."
That wave of ambition carried Dr. Dog into their next release, 2007's We All Belong
. While We All Belong
retained the sort of '60s-style soaring pop ballads that made Easy Beat
so striking, it was clear that Dr. Dog were delving into a more sophisticated style of recording. The album was rich with warm string arrangements and well-crafted three- and four-part harmonies that proved this was more than a college rock band with a four-track recorder.
In July, Dr. Dog released their fifth full-length album, the 11-song opus Fate
. While it has been well-received, some critics believe the band's gradual transition into a more finely tuned recording process has diminished one of their strongest attributes: innovation. When making Easy Beat
and the two full-lengths that preceded it, the band was limited by a lack of space and sophisticated equipment, and those limitations led to sundry, pieced-together percussion parts that frequently sounded as though they were sampled. With the group's move to Pro Tools, however, this kind of tinkering was no longer a necessity. Read the full story here.
Sun., Sept. 7, 7 p.m., 2008