I am nothing, if not a rabid Dr Dog fan. Ever since seeing them at Lollapalooza a few years back I have made a point of seeing them every time they come around, so I was crushed when the Tampa Bay Area wasn’t part of the tour announcement following the release of their last album, Shame, Shame. In fact, I summed up my review of that album with the following, “This one goes on my personal essential listening list, and if these guys come anywhere near you, don’t walk, run to the show…and tell them to get their asses back to Tampa.” That said, you can only imagine my glee when I got the announcement that they were doing a second leg of the tour and they would be playing The State Theater on Record Store Day.

Opening for Dr Dog was a band out of Asheville, NC called Floating Action. I had never heard them before, but I liked them pretty much instantly. The first thing their sound evoked for me of was Band of Horses and maybe a little Fleet Foxes, mainly because of their harmonies and twanginess. Looked into the band post-show, it turns out that their last album, Desert Etiquette, was actually produced by Band of Horses’ bassist, Bill Reynolds. I will definitely be picking this up. Seeming not to notice that they weren’t in the mountains any more, lead singer Seth Kauffman was wearing both a stocking cap and a blazer in the 80+ degree heat. I was already pretty darn warm in my t-shirt and shorts, but by the fourth song I, along with much of the the almost capacity crowd, was dancing and clapping (and sweating) along. Highest praise of all may be that members of Dr Dog kept coming out from beside the stage to watch the performance.

As I settled closer to the stage in preparation for the main act, a friend of mine asked about what she was going to see when Dr Dog took to the stage, if it was going to just be a couple guys. If you’ve seen this band before, you know why I couldn’t help but smile at this. Dr Dog has 5 members, 6 on this tour, and they filled the whole stage even before they start dancing. You can tell these guys genuinely love what they do. They transform a simple concert into an all out experience, playing every single song as if it was the last song of the final encore. This also happened to be the last show of the tour, but you’d think it was the first with all the energy they still somehow had. Even the more low key songs are played to the fullest, like when Frank McElroy’s rhythm guitar set the mood for an achingly slow and heavy rendition of “Someday” and when they put on a sweat-drenched rendition of “The Beach” that fucking killed me. I am, in fact, dead now.

I had the chance to chat with the newest band member, drummer Teach (Eric Slick), after the show and he made my night even greater when he said they’re already ready to work on their next album, which is apparently going to be produced by Dangermouse (Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz). I can’t wait to hear what a more edgy Dr Dog sounds like and, even more exciting, I can’t wait for the next tour.

Check out more pix from the show by the Drunk Camera Guy


Coming out of Philly, Dr. Dog is a five man band with everyone not only playing an instrument, but also singing. It creates a fun, full, old-timey sound that is unlike much of anything else I’ve heard. They’re one of my top favorite bands, and one of my tippy-top favorite live acts, so when I saw a new album was coming out, I hoped that would mean another Tampa show would be here soon. They’d played as close as St Augustine last March, but I had to miss it because of a friend’s baby shower. There are no Tampa dates on their website, but I’m staying optimistic and using this time to learn every fantastic lyric.

You know how when you love a band and you get their new album, you’re hopeful and excited, but also just a little bit nervous to listen to it? Just a little anxious about having your heart broken when you find that while you’ve been apart they’ve changed and now you have nothing in common any more? Well as soon as I worked up the nerve and pressed play, “Stranger” came on and I knew our reunion would be just as I’d hoped. I instantly loved the lyrics, like the line, “Well I plan to hit the bottom, the bottle, then the top.” Their songs always have great lyrics that are cleanly poetic, without a hint of pretentiousness. And the harmonies hadn’t gone anywhere, either. Happy as a clam, I settled in for the ride and I think I played the album at least 3 times in a row.

Listening to the album, I couldn’t help but think at times of how great some of these songs are going to sound live if/when they head back my way. Songs like “Mirror, Mirror”, with its simple chorus so perfect for singing along to and its frenetic ending that puts an image in my mind of all five of the guys jumping around the stage. Another standout track for me is “Someday”, which caught me off guard at first with how much the crooner-style singing at the beginning reminded me of Jamie Cullum, and then it quickly picked up and got to business.

I also have to mention “Jackie Wants a Black Eye”, which has some of the heaviest lyrics on the album. McMicken discussed it on their site as follows, “I had this one particular night where I was particularly depressed, to the extent that I realized that I needed to get out of the house. So I walked to this bar about four blocks from my house, and I don’t even drink, but I knew I’d run into people that I know, and I ran into my friends Jackie and John, who are both the main characters in the song. It turned out that Jackie and John had arrived at the bar that night in a very similar position, where they were both really bummed out about stuff in their lives, and I stumbled into this situation with two people that I could really easily commiserate with. We sat and talked for a couple of hours, and the way I felt upon leaving there versus how I felt when I showed up was such a radical shift that I couldn’t help but feel like there was some greater significance or something to be incredibly thankful for. I went home that night and I wrote that song.” I don’t know how anyone could resist listening to a song after reading that, so check out the mp3 below.

There’s not really any new direction being taken on this, their sixth full length album, but that’s not a bad thing. Not in the least. Dr. Dog has this classic bluesy, poppy, and super soulful vibe that has one foot in today and one in the 60’s, and they are one of my foolproof go-to cures for a shitty day. This one goes on my personal essential listening list, and if these guys come anywhere near you, don’t walk, run to the show…and tell them to get their asses back to Tampa.

Dr. Dog – Jackie Wants A Black Eye
Dr. Dog – Strainger

Dr. Dog’s Official Site, Dr. Dog on myspace, Buy Shame, Shame


Hoots & Hellmouth is a trio from Philadelphia consisting of Sean Hoots, Andrew ‘Hellmouth’ Gray and Robert Berliner, with Sean and Andrew Gray being the primary songwriters/singers, and The Holy Open Secret is their sophomore effort.

The Holy Open Secret was recorded at Philadelphia’s American Diamond Studio with Bill Moriarity (Dr. Dog, Man Man) sharing the producing credits, and what an interesting cd they birthed. Quirky, catchy and an all around good time, it only falters when the band tries to settle into a more traditional sound/feel. There are sounds and influences galore on this cd and it seems to be at it’s best when they let go of the reins and let them just run amuck. I think PopMatters summed it up perfectly when they reviewed the album, “The album wrings a lot from the tension between the band’s two songwriters and vocalists, Sean Hoots and Andrew “Hellmouth” Gray. Hoots’ songs are generally the better ones. His melodies move in more unexpected directions—the soulful gospel vibe and bluegrass rhythms seem to be his contribution. In comparison, the Hellmouth tracks—mostly contemplative singer-songwriter ballads—seem very routine and predictable.

Slow points aside, The Holy Open Secret is certainly worth checking out.

Hoots & Hellmouth – What Good Are Plowshares If We Use Them Like Swords
Hoots & Hellmouth – Root Of The Industry
Hoots & Hellmouth – Watch Your Mouth

Hoots & Hellmouth’s Official Site, Hoots & Hellmouth on myspace, Buy The Holy Open Secret


Considering I drive from St Pete to Sarasota and back every day for work, there are very few things that will get my happy ass back down there, but finally seeing The Pack AD is definitely one of those things.  I’ve had to listen long enough to Autopsy brag about seeing them at Deep Blues last year, now was my turn to catch their show for myself.

The show was scheduled to start at 8 and we got there around 10, figuring that the two openers would be done and we’d be right on time to see the main act.  However, as we walked up to the venue we saw Becky and Maya (aka, The Pack A.D.) chilling out front and they advised us nobody had played yet, but that they were going on second instead of third now.  Eh, fair enough, more drinking time.  We caught a little of the opener, Mumpsy, a 4-piece who reminded me of Dr. Dog with maybe a dash of TMBG, headed to the back with our drinks for a bit, and then it was time for The Pack to take the stage.

Hot damn, these women fucking rock, plain and simple.  On stage Maya seems to be the ambassador, joking around between songs and interacting with the audience.  When she’s working those drums, though, she’s lost in the songs.  Meanwhile, Becky plays the ever living hell out of her guitar while channeling Janis Joplin with that great, big gravelly voice.  When they first took the stage I seriously thought to myself, how the hell is the voice I’ve heard on their CD’s going to come out of her?  Well it did.  All of it.  Wow.  When Maya announced that they were playing their last song for the evening I didn’t want to believe it was almost over, but that was it.  Rock and roll, cut and dry, with no pretense and apparently no encore.  If you’re lucky enough to have their tour coming your way as they head back North towards Canada, you definitely need to catch this show.

Check out The Pack AD’s website for the rest of their tour dates here
See the rest of the pix from the show here

The Pack A.D. – All Day Long
The Pack A.D. – Making Gestures
The Pack A.D. – Wolves & Werewolves