New novel Boomer1 has a Philly-centric soundtrack featuring Dr. Dog, Gillian Grassie, Lester and more

Gillian Grassie | photo courtesy of the artist

It’s unusual that a book has its own soundtrack. But Boomer1, a new novel by Daniel Torday, is a book about musicians, albeit fictional ones — it follows the story of a bluegrass musician and his punk bassist girlfriend — so it makes sense that the author would want a listenable component to accompany the story.

To make that happen, Torday, a professor of creative writing at Bryn Mawr College, asked several musicians to record reimagined covers of the traditional folk ballad “Pretty Polly,” a song that is featured heavily throughout the book. There happen to be a fair amount of artists with Philadelphia ties in the mix, including local favorites Dr. Dog, Peter Matthew Bauer of The Walkmen, Red Heart the Ticker, and DIY band Lester. One of Torday’s former creative writing students, LA-via-Philly harpist and singer Gillian Grassie, is featured in the soundtrack, and Torday himself contributed a cover. Continue reading →


Dr. Dog officially kicks off summer at Festival Pier with (Sandy) Alex G.

Dr. Dog | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN |

There is an old proverb dating back to the year two thousand that goes something like “If Dr. Dog didn’t play a show, did summer ever really begin in Philadelphia?” And though it’s a rhetorical question, don’t doubt the power of a good doctor. Case in point – everything in my technological wheelhouse stated that we were due for a storm, probably a big one. Scott, Toby, Zach, Eric, and Frank had other plans, and the rain that was threatening to cancel their show never showed up. It’s a rare ability, and quite frankly impossible to prove, but there were nothing but believers in the house at Festival Pier on Saturday night. Continue reading →


The Week Ahead: Mondo Cozmo, &More, Dr. Dog, Paramore and more

Paramore | photo by Phoenix Johnson | via

Maybe it’s those 90+ degree temps. Maybe it’s just that a lot of the best gigs are sold out. But it’s a quieter week than we’ve seen in a while for live music here in Philly. But that still means shows almost every day, including the possibility of setting up camp at Festival Pier on Friday night and staying straight through Paramore on Sunday. Here are nine concerts to see in Philadelphia in the next seven days.  Continue reading →


Watch Dr. Dog perform acoustic in the XPN CD Library via NPR Night Owl, see them dance across the midwest in the “Heart Killer” video

Dr. Dog | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Great news for people who like to look at Dr. Dog: you can watch three new videos of the beloved Philly rockers playing (and dancing to) songs from their recent album Critical Equation.

Last month, they celebrated the album’s release with a first-time-ever Free at Midnight concert at World Cafe Live, which you can check out a recap of here. Before the show, the band ducked into the XPN library to warm up with some acoustic renditions of songs from the new album. Fortunately for all of us, NPR was there to capture the intimate performance and has now released that footage as a part of their Night Owl video series, which you can watch below.  Continue reading →


Get an early listen to Dr. Dog’s new album Critical Equation

Dr. Dog | photo by Ryan McMackin | courtesy of the artist
Dr. Dog | photo by Ryan McMackin | courtesy of the artist

In a way, Dr. Dog has returned to its roots through a process of reinvention.

On the surface, Critical Equation — the tenth album from the Philadelphia rock band, which you can take an early listen to down below — sounds like another true-to-form installment in their catalog. Its uplifting vocals and left-of-center tones and textures could have sat easily alongside the psych-tinged anthems of 2008’s Fate, or 2010’s Shame, Shame, or 2012’s Be The Void. It doesn’t necessarily feel “new”; maybe we could say it’s refined, an older/wiser take on Dr. Dog’s younger selves. But the way the band arrived at this point was hardly direct.  Continue reading →


Listen to Dr. Dog’s brand new single “Listening In,” see them at Festival Pier on June 23rd

Dr. Dog | photo by Ryan McMackin | courtesy of the artist

After a quiet year and change, Philly rock five-piece Dr. Dog is back with a new single, a new album on the way and a tour that has the band headlining Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing on Saturday, June 23rd; Philly house show scene favorite (Sandy) Alex G opens the night.

The new single from the band’s forthcoming tenth album Critical Equation, out on Thirty Tigers on April 27th, marks a surprising first impression from the band; “Listening In” is dark, it’s pensive, unrelentingly so. As I wrote on NPR Music’s Songs We Love this morning, “It’s the moment of realization just before emotional trauma hits home; it’s a sadness so profound that it can’t be spun into a lighthearted song.” Continue reading →


Eric Slick tells us how Dr. Dog’s surprise charity album Abandoned Mansion came to be

Dr. Dog | photo via

Surprise! There’s a new Dr. Dog album out today that no one knew existed (except the band and I’m guessing some of their friends). To sweeten the deal even more, all proceeds from the album go toward the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The album, called Abandoned Mansion, is what the band described in an introductory missive as “Easy Peasy listening.” That’s to say that, as opposed to the “blips and bloops” of the band’s February release, The Psychedelic Swamp, Abandoned Mansion takes a more simplistic, traditional approach.

Drummer Eric Slick, who doubles as one-third of Philly’s Lithuania, said that the band actually recorded Abandoned Mansion before The Psychedelic Swamp, but had to let it sit on the backburner for a bit.

“We recorded it before we went into the studio to record The Psychedelic Swamp with the intention of getting it out before The Psychedelic Swamp,” he says.

In contrast to Swamp’s complex layering and production ambition, Abandoned Mansion is pretty much just the band playing live with mostly acoustic instruments.

“The intent of the record was to make something simple and elegant,” Slick says. “I think we’ve kind of gone into different trends in the band. We’ve moved toward this more psychedelic, noisier side—an experimental side—and then we’ve got this simpler side. So it’s just another exploration of our simpler side.” Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Thao and the Get Down Stay Down at Underground Arts, Dr. Dog at The Fillmore, Sonnder at Johnny Brenda’s, and more…

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down | photo by Maria Kanevskaya | courtesy of the artist

Happy Record Store Day everyone! Tonight, San Fran folk rockers Thao and the Get Down Stay Down take on Underground Arts with support from Saintseneca and Little Scream. Thao Nyugen and company are touring to celebrate the release of their recent album A Man Alive. For tickets and more information, check out the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →