Words by Justin Jacobs:
For longtime fans, to track the growth of Philadelphia band Dr. Dog — from its humble beginnings around 1999 to one of indie rock's most revered bands today — is a lot like watching your child grow up. Ok, ok, that might be a bit hyperbolic. But follow me here.
For Dr. Dog's first few albums, the band created extremely lo-fi folk rock that was equal parts catchy and silly, like a kid saying his first words. There was even a song on second album Toothbrush called "Say Ahhh." Dr. Dog's next few records, We All Belong and Fate, showed serious growth, like an adolescent band, realizing its strengths and weaknesses, sounding smarter and more self-assured. And with last year's breakthrough album Shame, Shame, Dr. Dog finally reached adulthood — the album cast aside completely the lo-fi whispers of the band's childhood in favor of a clean and professional, but still inspiring sound.
Now, a trajectory like this often brings out calls of "Sell out!" for indie rock bands, but not so with Dr. Dog. While the band's actual recordings have changed shape, these Philly boys have maintained the core of their music — idiosyncratic doo-wop harmonies, lyrics filled with child-like wonder and adult ruminations on love and death, melodies hummable for days.
And the best part? You get to see Dr. Dog this Thursday, when the band stops at Mr. Smalls. The show's at 9 p.m. See you there!