How to (not) listen to music: Why Dr. Dog are The Beatles of the future
Why are Dr. Dog and The Beatles so similar? Besides of how they wear the same elegantly disheveled haircuts and dress like they exist in the same decade? Since their new album, Be the Void has been out long enough for me to properly digest — like everything else from Philadelphia, it takes awhile — I have had Dr. Dog on the brain. The fact is, I love Dr. Dog and I love the Beatles. I don’t file them in the same rolodex in the annals of rock n’ roll history’s filing cabinet, but I like to think that just as everyone loves the Beatles, everyone does — or should — love Dr. Dog. The more I learn and think about the quintets’ similarities, I can’t deny that fate has a funny way of coming round . . .
Similarity #1: Inception. Dr. Dog started as an off-shoot of founding members Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman’s first band, Raccoon, while the Beatles were predated by Lennon and McCartney’s band the Quarrymen. Rumors continue to circulate which man is actually the ‘leader of the pack,’ if you will, although as a bassist and a songwriter, Leaman definitely has way more balls than McCartney did. His snide attitude towards lost love on songs like “Hang on” and “Vampire” gives McCartney’s equivalent, “The Long and Winding Road” a forceful shove into self-loathing obscurity. Let it be Paul, let it be.
Similarity #2: Trajectory. Both bands had a strong start with ardent support from their local fan base and their early music reflected a departure from the old mainstream. While the Beatles were dishing out reheated Elvis leftovers, Dr. Dog’s early recordings found them recording lo-fi glimpses of greatness-to-come in their bedrooms. Needless to say — whether you care for Please, Please Me or not — a graphical representation of both group’s musical quality is a straight shot through the roof. I swallowed Be the Void through clenched teeth at first, not straying far from the album’s single “That Old Black Hole.” As an album, it is heavy artillery for total indie domination.
Similarity #3: Sonic fingerprint. Both bands have it. There are definitely groups that draw similarities with the Beatles and Dr. Dog, but few bands have that unmistakable mold only they can fill. McMicken plays E, A and D just like every other chump that picks up a guitar, except he does it with a solid 62 inches of smirking magnetism. Like McCartney and Lennon, Dr. Dog’s two song-smith’s have their own, equally appealing lyrical styles that bounce off each other seamlessly on their albums. Like fish without chips, or cheese without steak, a Dr. Dog album would be just as lost without both voices as a Beatles album would be without McCartney’s whining and Lennon’s left hooks. This is a recipe for disaster when it comes to post-group solo careers. Sorry guys.
Similarity #4: The George Harrison factor. At this relative point in their careers, neither Dr. Dog nor the Beatles tapped their second guitarist (the seven-foot-tall Frank McElroy in this case) for his full potential. Depending on how you tally their releases, the Philly quintet is right around the Rubber Soul or Revolver phase in their career. Which by my thorough calculations means the next release we hear will be equivalent to Sgt. Peppers in both scope and artistic direction. Once McElroy throws his weight into the ring, Dr. Dog will hit their stride and reinvent their sound. I can’t wait.