All Dogs Go to Heaven


If you told me a year ago I’d be standing outside a hundred deep in line to see Dr. fucking Dog . . . it’s just that nothing makes sense. The band’s from Philly, for one, not the U.K., and their sort of nasally lo-fi bumpkin-pop doesn’t sound anything like the slick and scrappy dance-rock that audiences this attractive tend to go for. Band members’ beards grow not out of choice but neglect, and chances are the lead guitarist was wearing those cheap sunglasses for medical reasons. Dr. Dog! Three of their songs are Steely Dan rips! Nobody minds.

So maybe we’re buying into the dream here—that the good Doc’s indie pop is just regular pop on a budget and a college education, unmired by industry politics, of for by about ordinary dudes, etc., etc.. Maybe this band’s all about the music; the dirty flannels and the bassist’s cobbled-together guitar (he used a light dimmer as a replacement volume knob) definitely help with that image-not-image; so too the shambling Monkeeisms of “Oh No,” turned out with plenty cartoon rubato. The sloppiness is just to hide their chops, and it almost works.

Even then, though, I’m not sure how the spacey folk-rocker “Say Something” inspired the girl next to me to grind her butt into her date’s pelvis, or the guy behind me to tap my shoulder and confide that said grind was “so hot, ain’t it, dog.” Somewhere, “Something” is somebody’s wedding song.

Point being, it’s possible the band resonates more deeply than anyone might expect. Beyond the nerd struts and puppy yelps of “Easy Beat” happen those quick and barbed hints of desperation, fear of loss, and aging that made Weezer’s Blue Album work so well: “We all lost our dog to the hunter and the fog now,” and we clap and sing and grind along because that line could mean pretty much anything, but we all know what it really means. It means people like dogs.