Dr. Dog makes unannounced return with 'Abandoned Mansion'

With no advance warning, Philadelphia rockers Dr. Dog dropped a new album on Tuesday. The surprise release, Abandoned Mansion, was made available on the band’s Bandcamp page, with 100 percent of the proceeds from downloads of the album through Jan. 31 benefiting the Southern Poverty Law Center. A limited-edition cassette version of the album, which also included unlimited streaming on the Bandcamp app and a high-quality digital download, quickly sold out.

Recorded in 2014 in the band’s Mt. Slippery studio in Clifton Heights, Pa., Abandoned Mansion features 10 previously unreleased tracks, none of which appear to have been performed live. The album features a number of guest musicians, including Tucson-based pedal steel guitarist Connor Gallaher and a string quartet led by Sarah Larsen, a fellow Philly compatriot who also records as Hurricane Hoss.

“Thematically, this is Dr. Dog meat and potatoes,” the band wrote on its website. “Our proverbial wheelhouse. Songs of the oldest questions. Songs as tools to finding oneself. And most importantly, songs of acceptance. Acceptance of yourself and acceptance of the others around you. Enough pontificating. The album is great and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg either. Unless, you are literally made out of money.”

Although the band’s website references “a shocking few weeks,” given the timeline of the album’s recording process, there are no references to current events. Much of Abandoned Mansion is, as they say, in their proverbial wheelhouse, from the wistful opener “Casual Freefall” to the string-laden “I Saw Her for the First Time.” It’s autumnal, folk-influenced rock that fits in well with the rest of the band’s catalog.

Despite not having released a proper studio album since 2013’s B-Room, Dr. Dog has been quite giving when it comes to making its music available to the public. That same year, they released a four-song holiday EP, Oh My Christmas Tree, and followed that up with a live album, 2015’s Live at a Flamingo Hotel, culled from stops on the band’s 2014 North American tour. Earlier this year, they dropped The Psychedelic Swamp, a collection of songs written by Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman in 2001 before they coalesced under the Dr. Dog moniker. The band premiered the album live in its entirety (albeit in a different order) at a show at Philly’s Union Transfer in 2015 before properly issuing it in February.

Dr. Dog’s touring itinerary is fairly barren after a busy 2016. The band’s next scheduled date is an appearance at the Vida Festival in Vilanova i la Geltrú, Spain, on June 30 alongside headliners Phoenix, The Flaming Lips and Fleet Foxes. Fans can keep track of future concert dates at the band’s website.