Review: Dr. Dog at Culture Room

By | April 16th, 2011 | No Comments

Top Dog guitarist/singer Scott McMicken

Dr. Dog’s show Friday night at Culture Room confirmed for me that the Philly retro rockers are good fun and little more. In lyrics like “No sticks, no stones could break my bones like you can/ If I knew hate, I’d call it love for you, man”, I don’t see much more at work than rhyming, none of the deeper resonance that better bands manage to hit while still pleasuring the ears. Still, those terrible lyrics come from my favorite Dog song, “The Rabbit, The Bat & The Reindeer” off of Fate (2008). It is a track I will probably listen to years from now because it’s so damn fun, so irrepressibly groovy. Hell, I’ll be listening to it all day today after hearing Dr. Dog kill it live at Culture Room at the high point of their hour-and-a-half long show.

Dr. Dog is touring on the year-old Shame, Shame, the quintet’s first album off of Anti- and, as bassist Toby Leaman told me in an interview, their first, at times awkward experience recording in a pro studio. At Culture Room, Dog played plenty off their latest release, including single “Shadow People” and “Mirror, Mirror”, which contains the woeful refrain: “Mirror, mirror on the wall/ There’s no reflection here at all.” A healthy dose of Shame, Shame was to be expected, but I was disappointed not to hear a single track off of Easy Beat (2005). In a night with more than a few tiresome songs, “The World May Never Know” and “Oh No” would have gone a long way.

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Photos of Dr. Dog at Culture Room

By | April 16th, 2011 | 4 Comments

Philly retro rockers Dr. Dog played Culture Room Friday night on their Shame, Shame tour. You can read a review of the show HERE.

Toby Leaman by Robby Campbell

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Interview with Dr. Dog bassist Toby Leaman

By | April 4th, 2011 | No Comments

Toby Leaman straining the vocals at the Masquerade in Atlanta. -- photo by Ryan Myers

Touring on their fifth studio album, Shame, Shame, Philly retro-rock quintet Dr. Dog is scheduled to play Culture Room in Ft. Lauderdale on April 15. Whereas plenty of indie rock acts leave South Florida off their tours, Dr. Dog usually pencils in a Ft. Lauderdale date, having played Culture Room in 2009 on their Fate tour and Revolution in 2007 to push We All Belong.

A year after recording Shame, Shame, their first big-studio album under Anti- Records (whose roster includes the likes of Tom Waits, Wilco, and Neko Case), Dr. Dog is already working on material for their next album. I recently spoke to bassist, singer, and co-songwriter Toby Leaman about the growing pains of getting big, coming up in Philly, and why recording the last album was terrifying.

What was the Philly scene like when you guys were growing up?

TL: Well, Scott [McMicken, singer and co-songwriter] and I didn’t move to Philly until about 2000. We grew up about 45 minutes away. There was a college town called Newark that we used to go to, and they had a pretty good scene there when we were kids coming up. It was mainly punk bands in the early to mid-90s. The best band out of there was called Zen Guerillas. A bad ass band. They didn’t break up until 2002, 2003. They were heavy soul and blues with a little bit of speed metal mixed in. It was awesome.

When we moved to Philly, the scene there was pretty tight. All the bands that stuck around Philly incubated there. The old model was if you got kinda good, you moved to New York. That’s what everybody did. But everybody that stayed in Philly was just getting better and better, and there was no one style. There weren’t a million bands that sounded like The Strokes. Everybody sorta did their own thing.

And getting respect in Philly — and I think this is still true — it’s hard-won. Bands have to be pretty good. There’s not what you’d call a “buzz band” that seemingly comes out of nowhere. It’s ingrained in the ethos of the city. Philly views itself as an underdog, being so close to New York. It’s definitely part of the culture of the city that nothing’s free, nothing’s cheap. Whatever respect you get, you earned. And then, once you get to that point, you’re loved forever.

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