Dr. Dog has prescription for fun

Photo by Charlotte Cudd
“Dr. Dog delights with their 60s-style rock at Cafe Eleven on Oct. 30 with what Rolling Stone calls “feel good sounds of the 60s.”

Innovative indie-rock group takes St. Augustine by storm at Café Eleven

By Ben McLeod | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Sixties-style harmonies, cheerful music, scruffy beards, Ray Ban Wayfarers — these are words that describe the Philadelphia rock group Dr. Dog. According to Esquire magazine, “Dr. Dog is the kind of group that other bands stand around and watch, slack-jawed, blown away by performances that are equal parts of rock spectacle and jam session.”

As I was standing in the crowd at Café Eleven watching Dr. Dog perform, I realized that traveling back in time was possible, and listening to this band’s music was the trick. Dr. Dog’s new release, We All Belong, is in the same neighborhood of music by The Beatles and The Beach Boys, sounding as though it came out in the late 60s.

Dr. Dog singer and bassist Toby Leaman was able to set up a phone interview with me and discuss his band, their influences and recordings.

Let’s start with the name. When I asked Leaman what the group was thinking when they came up with it, he said simply, “We were just tossing around names, and it just stuck.” Dr. Dog’s music is just as unique as their name. Not many groups right now are using organs, horns and three-part harmonies to give the music a throwback sound.

“We try and do what we want to hear,” Leaman said. “And it turned out to be exactly the kind of music we would want to be playing.”

Leaman and guitarist Scott McMicken formed Dr. Dog only about five years ago, but have been playing together and writing songs since they were kids.

“He and I write the songs,” Leaman said, “as far as the changes, the melodies, and the arrangements go.”

The band was complemented by another guitarist, a drummer and an organ player. “I envision our band as a pop band,” Leaman said, “with more emphasis on songwriting, as opposed to style.”

Rolling Stone magazine describes the songs on We All Belong as “feel-good sounds of the sixties.” The music on this record even sounds like it was recorded with equipment from this era.

While talking to Leaman, I learned the band researched the book “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions.” “It was interesting to see how they messed with tape speed and layering,” Leaman said. “And we wanted a warm sound and didn’t want the record to be overdone.”

Dr. Dog put on a great show at Café Eleven for their fans and because they enjoy St. Augustine.

“I really like that venue,” Leaman said. “It’s beautiful and right on the beach.”

Dr. Dog has recently toured with artists such as Beck, My Morning Jacket, Wilco, Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah and The Strokes.

“As soon as we get off the road, we are going to record the new album,” Leaman said. “And we hope it is out by June 2008.”

For fans of The Shins, The Beach Boys, The Beatles or any other 60s-style music, Dr. Dog’s We All Belong is a great record to add to your collection. This band is a must see in concert, and their music just hits the spot.

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