Courtesy of Elizabeth Weinberg
Dr. Dog – “Ain’t It Strange”
Classic rock is dead and defiled.
Victoria’s Secret uses the Rolling Stones’ tunes in their commercials to sell bras; The Who’s “Don’t Get Fooled Again” is most closely associated with the shiny, spinning wheels of the latest Ford; and recently, Luvs used The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love” to sling diapers. Somewhere John Lennon is furiously turning in his grave.
But the Philadelphia-based quintet Dr. Dog performs a much-needed revival of the early classic rock sound that’s been so eagerly pilfered by commercial enterprise.
In “The Breeze,” the first track off Dr. Dog’s 2008 release Fate, which has received positive reviews from indie critics, lead singer Scott McMickens’s voice croons gently over bright Beatles-esque acoustic plucking. On the track, spectral vocal harmonies slide languidly behind McMickens’s strong, soulful voice, creating a sound that begs comparison to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”
Though its music certainly reflects a deliberate attempt to emulate the Fab Four, the quintet supplies a fresh take on its distinctive sound. In “100 Years,” Dr. Dog melds the pleasant piano chords and harmonies characteristic of the group with deep bluesy bass and jazzy piano bopping. In the opening of the song, McMickens howls, “Gonna cry myself to sleep at night / Somebody show me how” with a soulful urgency deserving of Lennon’s envy.
Dr. Dog also successfully re-envisions the music of the Beatles and infuses its established characteristic sound with reggae, blues and even ragtime elements on the track “The Rabbit, The Bat, and The Reindeer.”
Most often, indie bands are celebrated for creating something completely innovative and original. But Dr. Dog’s success lies in its ability to take music hackneyed by years of commercial ubiquity and create something with originality that helps us see early classic rock in a new way.
—By Entertainment Blog Editor Alex Blum