You’ve noticed the grass that, despite the odds, pushes up in the most urban of settings. In the midst of concrete and steel and glass these little barely green blades remind you that, after all, the city is built on earth. There’s something about that hard scrabble grass that reminds me of the band Dr. Dog. There’s a gritty underbelly to their sound that reminds you that even though they make their home in the middle of Philadelphia, there is an essence of roots music that reminds you of rural environs and rusting junkyards. Yes, Dr. Dog’s music gleans classic rock, particularly the psychedelic rock of the late 1960s, but the sound also carries hints of Americana folk and blues. This isn’t a band bent on making pretty pop songs. Instead they’re content to offer lived-in songs with spontaneous arrangements and limited productions.
Dr. Dog’s songs are built on the harmonies of vocalists Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman. The playing is raucous, with a vital energy that makes you feel part of the recording session. The band’s approach on their previous album Shame Shame featured meticulously structured melodies. Be the Void feels more cathartic, more experimental and expansive and accentuates the role of guitar. New band member Dimitri Manos amps up the guitar offerings as well as percussion and electronics. Dr. Dog also features a new drummer, Eric Slick.
Dr. Dog has never been noted for it’s lyrical depth but I do give the snaps for their clever use of Marcellus Shale in the lyrics of “Vampire.” Be the Void is all about the ability to ignore your surroundings and drift into the music.