Dr. Dog surprises fans with new album release

Lorin Dent

One of the biggest strengths of neo-psychedelic lo-fi indie rock band Dr. Dog is their ability to compose a theme and tone throughout each of their albums. In the band’s previous album, “Psychedelic Swamp”, the band creates a hallucinatory world through the use of bizarre sounds placed throughout the thick, winding songs. With the surprise release of their newest album “Abandoned Mansion” on Nov. 29 the band did it again but instead stepped back from the psychedelic aspect of their music and returned to the genuine and gentle lo-fi tunes they are known and loved for.

As someone who could at one point sing every lyric to every song Dr. Dog has released, I fell in love with this album and with the band yet again. It took me a couple run-throughs to find the full value of the album, but eventually I did and I couldn’t stop listening.

The beauty of this album comes from the simplicity of it. All songs were recorded live and it shows in a very good way as you hear the soul and emotion that only come from live performance. Each song flows into the next and narrates experiences every human can relate to: self-acceptance, separation, healing and feelings of stagnation. The way Scott McMicken and Toby Leamon emote each story within songs and compliment each other perfectly matches the atmosphere set by the instrumentals.

The album begins with McMicken’s “Casual Freefall” and immediately sets the relaxed tone which is only slightly deviated from throughout the album. McMicken’s repetition of the phrase “I’m where I am, instead of where ever I’m not” pushes the idea of self-acceptance and being aware and okay with whatever situation you are in.

Dr. Dog’s odd, outsider style along with a very unique comedic and emotional streak throughout their music has allowed them to grow a large and dedicated fanbase.

This leads into the next song on the album, a slightly faster, more upbeat song called “Ladadada.” It maintains the soft tone set in the first song but features semi-arpeggiated guitar picking which flows just under Leamons bluesy, emotional voice. What this song does is build on the messages of the previous song and tells the story of companionship.

By far the most powerful song on the album is Mckmicken’s “Jim Song” which maintains a simple melody and arrangement but most importantly revolves around Mcmicken’s raw testimony of heartbreak. Anyone who has felt the heartache from separation will find that the emotions that they have felt are perfectly narrated through Mcmicken’s writing because he doesn’t focus on just the person he has lost but also the loss of pride.

This is shown in the chorus where he says “I don’t really miss her like I miss my pride.” This just shows how in touch with the human condition this lyricist is. A later song in the album titled “The first time I saw her” calls back to this song but speaks about the beginning of said relationship and features a string quartet with a beautiful melody in the violin.

Throughout the album Dr. Dog maintains the feeling of genuineness. The album continues to switch between Leamons emotional and dynamic rambling style and Mcmicken’s metaphoric writing until the album culminates with the title track, “Abandoned Mansion.”

This track acts as a perfect summary to the journey through your own life that you have just traveled. The symbol of an old abandoned mansion perfectly represents the tone of the album and as it is “a forgotten space, full of precious artifacts and antiquities, only made more valuable by the passage of time,” Camellia Hartman, writer at The Wild Honey Pie, said.

Overall this album is one that represents Dr. Dog in the most perfect way with songs to take you on a journey of “self-acceptance and acceptance of others,” Dr. Dog said when they released the album. Through the narration of human emotions this album guides you through what it means to be human as well as being great album for “easy-peasy listening.”

Photos courtesy of Luke Orlando 

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