Filed Under:

Dr. Dog: A Standout Among Stereotypes

Play associated audio

Sometimes I wonder: Do the members of young indie-rock bands know that they're walking stereotypes? There's the scruffy dude who's obsessed with everything vintage and analog, the Pavement-worshiping, whiny-voiced lead singer, the rhythm section that knows its way around every oddity recorded by The Kinks. That's pretty much how I pegged the Philadelphia sextet Dr. Dog in the early days, right through the band's first five critically slobbered-over albums.

Then I encountered "How Long Must I Wait," from the new album Be the Void. It was perplexing. Until this, I'd regarded Dr. Dog as just another supernerdy and relentlessly glib indie-rock band. "Wait" is an entirely different animal — a simple and disarmingly earnest tune, with churchgoing vocal harmonies that recall The Band's "Up on Cripple Creek."

As "How Long Must I Wait" unfolds, the tune gets thicker and more intense, and that opened the door for me. Pretty soon, I found myself in the midst of a full-on Dr. Dog conversion experience. I began to appreciate how the two songwriters, Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman, use the indie-rock toolkit in brazenly creative, subversive, counterintuitive ways. And how words that sound, at first, like free-associative gibberish have a tendency to become unexpectedly profound, as can be heard in another track from the new record, "That Old Black Hole."

The previous Dr. Dog records have their pleasantly grabby moments. But sometime in the past few years, Dr. Dog has grown into a hook-writing machine. The band's new record has a bunch of refrains that register as sledgehammers to the brain. Those hooks didn't just grab me — they pretty much demolished whatever perception I once held. From a distance, Dr. Dog's members might look like dime-a-dozen indie rockers, but few of those bands could come up with something this smart.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Chinese Dissident Artist Ai Weiwei Restricted To 20-Day U.K. Visa

Ai says he was denied a six-month visa because U.K. officials said he didn't list a criminal conviction in his application. Ai was imprisoned in China, but he notes he was never charged with a crime.
NPR

Humans Aren't The Only Ones To Go Ape Over Diets: Chimps Detox, Too

A group of Ugandan chimps has found a great way to boost their mineral intake and neutralize bitter compounds in their diet: by eating clay.
WAMU 88.5

The Politics Hour - July 31, 2015

Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies, and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

NPR

Debris Found In The Indian Ocean May Be From Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet

Investigators believe a piece of debris found on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean could be from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared in March 2014.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.