Photo by Laura Musselman taken at Easy Street Records in Seattle, WA 3/17/06
March 17, 2007
Let’s spend it all like sailors, babe, and pretend we just got paid…
The brief history of Philadelphia quintet Dr. Dog has been an extraordinarily lucky one. After their home-recorded 2004 album Toothbrush caught the attention of Jim James, he invited them along on tour with My Morning Jacket. Since then, Dr. Dog has toured with The Strokes, The Raconteurs and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and has garnered mainstream praise from the likes of Rolling Stone, SPIN and The New York Times.
Funny thing is, Dr. Dog is the exact antithesis of your typical hype generator. St. Patrick’s Day at the Crocodile marked the third time I’ve witnessed The Dog live, and their performance has grown even more satisfying in the past year and a half. Dr. Dog wears its influences with pride—they like the Beatles and the Beach Boys, who doesn’t?—trotting out perfect pop songs with delightfully unself-conscious joy. With beards dripping sweat and eyes masked by plastic sunglasses, they galumphed across stage while crafting delicious three-part harmonies. They’re completely goofy and loads of fun; it’s hard to be pretentious when you’re from Philly. Dr. Dog isn’t really lucky. They’re just damn likeable.
Dr. Dog doused the jovial, sold-out crowd with favorites from their 2006 LP Easy Beat and a cheese steak-size portion of We All Belong, released last month on Park The Van records. If the members of Dr. Dog grew up listening to their parents’ Beatles records, Ringo’s songs must have made the most lasting impression. Guitarist Scott McKicken’s pleasantly nasal vocals recall those of Mr. Starr, while his co-frontman, bassist Toby Leaman, takes the lead on more bluesy songs like “Keep A Friend” with a grainy, stretched holler that references Harry Nilsson and Joe Cocker. We All Belong is a fetching album on its own; paired with Dr. Dog’s boys-next-door theatrics, it makes for a pretty perfect evening.
If challenging, Pitchfork-certified creativity is what you seek, look elsewhere. But if you’ve ever spent a humid August night at the Jersey shore—or if you count cheap beer and backyard barbecues as essential for living—you’re in the club. As the wise Doctor says: oh my, we all belong.