Dr. Dog waves lo-fi bye-bye 

And the band may be better off for it

The recording process has always defined Dr. Dog's sound. Since the Philadelphia five-piece began churning out homemade recordings circa 2001, its name has been synonymous with lo-fi. And even though the shoe has fit comfortably for a long time, Dr. Dog's penchant for shrouding ramshackle, '60s-style pop songs in a blanket of hiss has largely been the product of circumstance.

"Our albums have always reflected where we are at as far as the studio side of things more so than anything," explains guitarist and vocalist Scott McMicken. "There's no moral platform about it; we're not lo-fi Nazis for the sake of lo-fi. Those recordings were literally all that we could make at the time."

With their latest release, Fate (Park the Van), the group finds itself moving toward a clean and concise sound. The album opens with a flurry of flutes and slow, idyllic melodies that draw depth from a sense of fluid chemistry and musicianship that previously didn't stand out in the group's recordings.

As Fate would have it, McMicken – along with Toby Leaman (bass), Zach Miller (keyboards), Juston Stens (percussion) and Frank McElroy (guitar) – have streamlined a sound that's a far cry from the dirty, sonic clutter of their previous albums. Vocal harmonies in "The Breeze," and the fully realized idiosyncrasies of songs such as "The Old Days" and "The Ark," click with an efficiency that bears the mark of a band that's honed new chops on the road.

"With Fate, with the money we spent on our own studio [it] upped us to [something] comparable to industry standards, but we are also more of a live band now," McMicken says. "In the past we were having fun recording, and the notion of the live band was an afterthought. But with this album it felt like we went into the studio to capture what we already had a clear idea about."

Dr. Dog plays with Delta Spirit and Seth Kauffman. $12. Sat., Sept. 6. 9:30 p.m. The Earl, 488 Flat Shoals Road. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.


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