Dr. Dog: “That Old Black Hole”
Dr. Dog started out in a Philadelphia basement back in 1999 with small ambitions. Those early years were filled with all-night jam sessions between singers and four-track tapes filled with odd little songs that they would pass among friends. But when their first proper album, 2002′s Toothbrush, was slipped to My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, the world suddenly started calling. Since then, the group has released several critically-acclaimed albums, opened for My Morning Jacket and Wilco, and toured the world. The ambitions have only gotten bigger with time.
Yet album number six–the brand-new Be The Void–is an attempt to tap back into the youthful energy of their old Philly basement. Rob Schnapf, who worked with Beck and Elliott Smith in the past, produced Dr. Dog’s 2010 effort, Shame, Shame, but for Be The Void, the band opted against using an outside producer. The result is a more live-sounding record that relies less on the bells and whistles that have characterized their last few releases.
At its heart, the group is a dynamic rock band that’s built around its rhythm section and the harmonies of co-singers Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman–and that’s easily heard “That Old Black Hole.” With just a basic groove and an even more basic melody, Dr. Dog turn the song into a big sing-along, a particular specialty of theirs. Like the record it comes from, it’s dark in places, perhaps reflecting their new-found fame. But Be The Void sounds like a necessary step back in time when the band played for their own pleasure. “Making this album felt like that again,” Leaman insists. “It was like we were just putting a bunch of tunes together, just to have a good time,” a feeling that you can certainly hear in today’s song of the day.