Under the Radar – Dr Dog album review
Dr. Dog: The Psychedelic Swamp
Feb 08, 2016 Issue # 56
By Joshua M. Miller
When a band dusts off an unreleased collection of music for a new album, there’s often two thoughts that can come to mind. First, there’s excitement to hear these long-lost (or hard to find) songs and discover yet another side of the band. The other, however, is skepticism that these songs will sound good or meet the lofty standards the band has achieved with their other albums. For their ninth album, Philadelphia-based band Dr. Dog decided to revisit a collection of songs that had only previously been recorded onto tape in 2001 called The Psychedelic Swamp. As the story goes, the tape was lost and rediscovered over the years until last year when the band decided it was time to shed some new light on the songs. The record is a loose concept album about a character who travels to the otherworldly swamp searching for a better life. But he eventually realizes things aren’t that great and comes to accept that life isn’t perfect.
As a whole, the songs on the album capture shades of Dr. Dog past and present. Their experimentation with lo-fi quality in early albums can be heard on album opener “The Golden Hand.” Meanwhile, a song like “Dead Record Player” shares similarities to their soul-fueled album, 2013’s B-Room. The band’s unmistakably sublime harmonies are featured throughout, as well as the band’s tight-knit and seemingly playful nature. At the end of “Dead Record Player” the following words are spoken amongst static, and they ring true mostly when it comes to the band: “The low and high fidelities are attacking my brain and it’s terrific/the music sounds just terrific.” The results aren’t always perfect, but songs like “Swampedelic Pop,” “In Love,” and “Good Grief” make this a journey worth taking. This collection shows that they were onto something even early on and leaves the listener leaning more toward the excited column. (www.drdogmusic.com)