Dr. Dog brings 1960s sound to Anchorage

Daily News correspondentAugust 30, 2012 

"Do you feel like you're stuck in time?" is a question that comes early on "The Breeze," the first track on Dr. Dog's 2008 album "Fate." It's a line befitting a band that sounds like a reminder of AM radio's days full of catchy tunes and harmonies.

For a group that's clearly inspired by the Beach Boys and pop music from the 1960s, Dr. Dog isn't just self-aware. The band is enthusiastic about the comparisons.

"We embrace whatever seems to put a smile on someone's face," lead guitarist and vocalist Scott McMicken told The Onion's AV Club.

That embrace of '60s sounds includes a "Wouldn't It Be Nice"-type sentiment, a wide-eyed view of the world.

"If your appreciation for Dr. Dog requires some understanding that it's naïve or bubble-headed, I would encourage that just as much we make lofty claims of integrity or artistic merit or something," McMicken said.

The band's popularity has steadily grown since its inception in 1999, culminating in the release of this year's "Be the Void," which debuted at No. 45 on the Billboard album charts.

The group's history goes back further than that, though. McMicken and bassist Toby Leaman (who share lead singer duties) have been playing together since well before Dr. Dog.

"Toby and I have known each other for 20 years now," McMicken told AV Club. "The first time we ever hung out in the eighth grade, we went and played music together.

"I don't really have a sense of myself as a musician without him and vice versa," he added.

That synchronicity is at the heart of seven full-length releases. With Dr. Dog, the pair plays the music that they know and love.

"It's about just enjoying yourself, so that's kind of been the main measure of if we did something good," McMicken told music magazine Death and Taxes.

While "Fate" remains an indie-rock favorite, the band's most recent effort finds the group earning more accolades than ever. While you can still find tracks on "Be the Void" that are exactly what fans come to expect from the band, there are some left turns. "Get Away" is vocally driven in a way reminiscent of contemporaries like Fleet Foxes, while "Heavy Light" uses dense production to create layers of sound previously unheard from the band. While "Be the Void" has been well received, Dr. Dog is perhaps better known as a live band. It's a reputation Leaman was aware of when he spoke to Boston University's Daily Free Press: "Our live shows are sort of what have made the band a success."

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