Dr. Dog, ‘Dr. Dog Live at a Flamingo Hotel’ – Album Review
As a band that cut their teeth onstage, it’s fitting that Dr. Dog have chosen this moment to release their first-ever live album, ‘Dr. Dog Live at a Flamingo Hotel.’ With seven albums under their collective belt -- the most recent being 2013’s ‘B-Room’ -- it’s the Philly indie-rockers’ live shows that have helped them make a name for themselves.
It’s something to which the band has become acutely aware, demonstrated in the fact that ‘B-Room’ was tracked live. Dr. Dog have acknowledged and wholly embraced where their strengths lie and continue to do so with ‘Live at a Flamingo Hotel.’
While they’ve remained a remarkably consistent outfit, wearing their ‘60s-era pop influences on their sleeves and keeping their ragged harmonies pervasive, Dr. Dog have no doubt evolved. It’s those very sounds -- the ones that have become so signature of a Dr. Dog album -- that have benefited from production since the band’s early, lo-fi albums. But onstage, they bring a necessary rawness, and it’s there where the songs are fully realized.
In that vein, Dr. Dog aren’t simply treating ‘Flamingo Hotel’ as a routine benchmark in their more than decade-long career. Rather than recording the album during a single show, they recorded it over the course of 20 shows, compiling the best cuts to make up the 19-track record. Since the album wasn’t recorded at one locale, the band created the fictitious Flamingo Hotel, which has now fueled an elaborate, tropical motel-themed tour that will run over the next four months.
Dr. Dog don’t treat their new live album as a logical next step as a band because that’s never how they’ve treated their live shows -- and it can be heard all over ‘Flamingo Hotel,’ from the extra bit of rasp in Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman’s shared vocal work and the slow-burning soulfulness on ‘Too Weak to Ramble’ to grittier guitars heard on album closer, ‘Lonesome,’ and the band’s fresh interpretation of the Architecture In Helsinki classic, ‘Heart It Races.'
As Leaman recently said in a statement about the new album, “Our show is vital to how we view ourselves as a band.” It’s that very vitality that can sometimes be lost when Dr. Dog go into the studio, but it’s found when they take the stage for ‘Flamingo Hotel.’