MANHATTAN, NY—Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken first began writing songs and playing music together in eighth grade in West Grove, Pennsylvania. Over the next few years, they played together in a myriad of bands including Raccoon, Unleash The Bastards, and Beard. Eventually they recorded and released their first album in 2001 and began playing the Philadelphia club circuit as Dr. Dog. This band’s eighth and most recent album, B-Room, was released in October 2013. Dr. Dog’s lineup presently consists of Leaman on vocals and bass, McMicken on lead vocals and lead guitar, Frank McElroy on rhythm guitar, Zach Miller on keyboards, Eric Slick on drums and Dimitri Manos on percussion and electronic effects.
Dr. Dog’s musical sound has gone from a low-fi scrappy sound in earlier years to a more polished and more rocking sound in later years, such that one might not believe the two were played by the same band. Live, however, it all came together like peanut butter and jelly. Several times during the group’s performance at Terminal 5, they played like a 1960s soul band with a summer sound that felt like a smooth ride in a convertible in Southern California. Then the band would introduce something odd to interrupt the flow, like a coarse guitar solo. The sound went from Al Green to Guided By Voices in the snap of the fingers. Similarly, the band grooved on a sleepy melody, then raged into a darker rocker. On two songs, the band welcomed on stage several members of Antibalas, making the tracks more percussion-driven. It would be challenging to identify exactly what kind of music Dr. Dog played, except to say it was an unimaginable amalgam of psychedelic jam band, guitar-riffing garage band and lead-heavy funk band. Somehow, they were able to do all this and more without sounding too alien.
For more information on Dr. Dog, go to drdogmusic.com.