Wednesday, March 5
For the guys in Philadelphia-based indie-rock group Dr. Dog, the only constant is change, even if it’s gradual. After adding new drummer Eric Slick and multi-instrumentalist Dmitri Manos, the band grew closer and more committed to developing its sound.
“If you’d stopped and asked us five years ago if we saw ourselves as a band that took playing live seriously, we would have said yes,” says guitarist and vocalist Scott McMicken. “But it wasn’t truly until we got those guys that we realized how much room there was to grow.”
The band members have had several years to get familiar with one another onstage and in the studio, but they are indeed still growing. While McMicken and bassist Toby Leaman have been Dr. Dog’s primary songwriters since it formed more than a decade ago, its most recent release, 2013’s B-Room, more fully utilized the other members’ talents. “There were way more shared credits on this record than any Dr. Dog record before it,” McMicken says. “The result is pretty much this Frankenstein of everyone’s ideas, and for Toby and I it was cool to open up the writing process and be less insular and lonely about it.”
It’s likely this new collaborative songwriting approach is what has been pushing the band’s sonic evolution. Its early releases were influenced by ’60s pop as well as punk, and 2012’s Be the Void embraced an alternative-rock aesthetic which sought to replicate the band’s electric live shows. But B-Room strips things down, showcasing a band seeking to explore new territory. Tracks like “The Truth” and “Mind the Usher” give off a laid-back Motown soul vibe, and “Too Weak to Ramble” gently taps into McMicken and Leaman’s established songwriting connection, featuring nothing more than vocals and acoustic guitar—another first for the band.
“This was Dr. Dog saying, ‘Can we make a strong piece of music with just two people?’ ” McMicken says. “‘Obviously we aren’t the first people to do that, but can we? We both love it, and I feel a strong emotional connection to that tune.”
Taking musical left turns each time out, Dr. Dog keeps things interesting—something McMicken says fans can continue to expect, inter-band collaboration, too. “I foresee that continuing through our future albums.” With Saint Rich. The Neptune, 1303 N.E. 45th St., 682-1414, stgpresents.org/neptune. 8 p.m. $25. All ages.