November 29th, 2016
By: Shannon O’Dwyer
*Out of 5
Dr. Dog has never been a band short of content. Since the release of their first official album, Toothbrush in 2002, Dr. Dog has produced a total of ten albums and four EPs. The group even quips about their quantity on their Facebook page, joking that they “put out more music than the Wolfman and Frankenstein combined.” It must be easy being a long-term Dr. Dog fan, especially when they released a new album on November 29th, unannounced, titled Abandoned Mansion.
The band’s traditional sounds root in Dr. Dog’s affinity for easy-sounding acoustics and harmonies. Their songs have a long history of telling stories, questioning life, and appreciating what is good in the world. The indie rock group has been experimenting with more psychedelic sounds recently, The Psychedelic Swamp, their previous album released in February 2016, shocked most of their listeners with a more techno vibe that seemed to substitute their pattern of reflective and emotive songs.
Abandoned Mansion brings Dr. Dog right back to its roots. As a band that produces as much as they do, listeners should expect some slumps. But, this release is the exact opposite. It seems that their previous psychedelic vibe was just a phase; the group returns to their colorful harmonies, folky vocals, and indie-rock acoustics that their fans know and love.
The album breaths an easier, more reflective vibe, which is immediately heard within the first two songs, “Casual Freefall” and “Ladada”. Not only are these tracks appropriately titled for the mood of Abandoned Mansion, but they also contain a lofty air that Dr. Dog has been missing for quite some time. The album takes a turn for the romantic in all of us with “I Saw Her for the First Time”. The track features a string quartet and McMicken’s quirky, innocent voice declaring, “I didn’t know a man could fall so fast,” in a way that can only be described as adorable. A personal favorite on the album is the track “Could Have Happened to Me”. The song delves into the weighty theme of just how small and short human life is. They capture this theme beautifully through the thoughtful lyrics of “realizing I was only a drop in the rain,” combined with the imagery of daily life and a peppy background that only emphasizes life’s simplicity. The LP ends with the title track, a solid song with Leaman’s unique raspy voice harmonizing with the supporting vocals of the rest of the band to express themes of loneliness and reflections, staple concepts for Dr. Dog.
Abandoned Mansion is a breath of fresh air for both Dr. Dog and the indie rock genre. Its authenticity is undeniable; something that is hard to find these days. All proceeds of Abandoned Mansion downloads from now until the end of January will go to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is an American non-profit organization that combats hate, intolerance and discrimination through education and litigation.
Listen to Abandoned Mansion on Bandcamp or here: