Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Album Review: Dr. Dog- The Psychedlic Swamp

Dr. Dog
The Psychedelic Swamp
*** out of *****
The newest Dr. Dog release dates its origins back to before the band was even formed. Co-Frontmen Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken had worked on this topic/odd-concept album before they ever formed the full version of Dr. Dog and decided to revisit The Psychedelic Swamp once again to flush out all the weirdness.  

There is an undercurrent of Joe's Garage with music being warped around society/the listener, possibly the internet acting as the Psychedelic Swamp itself, but the connections between tracks (minus the swamp interludes) are loose at best. The whole concept feels light, truly like a band's first effort and the album plays more like an EP with filler all around. It does however allow Dr. Dog to flex even more of their Beatles love, more in the vein of "Magical Mystery Tour" than say "Sgt. Peppers" big musical statement.

Opening with layers of augmented sound on "Golden Hind" the band uses its studio to full affect, burying vocals of returning band member Doug O’Donnell, amping acoustics and playing around with palpable freedom. The highlight track is "Dead Record Player" that takes on an off-kilter funk approach and winds it through a greasy filter.

Folk-Pop has always been a strong suite for the Philly band and "Swampedelic Pop" and "Bring My Baby Back" both fit in that 60's era that they crave. The first half of the album is noticeably stronger then the second which seems to stall on ideas.

"In Love" tries for the same swirling effect but falls short as a complete effort. "Badvertise" is upbeat and chugging while "Good Grief" ends the album on a fun groove that seems to be exhaling at the jokes or pain (one in the same?) lyrically. 

The constants concerning the group, it's killer harmonies/it's retro rock obsession, are going strong here. They amp up their weirdness, but lose their growing songwriting in the process; there is no "Too Weak To Ramble" or "Shadow People. While an overarching vibe is present, it's not a particularly exciting one and while The Psychedelic Swamp is obviously a place Dr. Dog is comfortable; it won't be one that the listener dives back into often.   
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We love the band and have ever since we first saw them, but aren't always on board with their studio efforts, this one is OK at best. That said, still support them, see them live, buy the album and peep some video:


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