If you wonder too long about where to place a band like Dredg, you?ll miss where they?re going. The band slips between the cracks of whatever rock classifications you try to stuff them into. Likewise, the Bay Area is just... more » a mailing address; Dredg isn?t evocative of any particular place or scene. So what do we make of a band that makes music that?s heavy, pretty, experimental and tuneful ? sometimes all in the same song? You can be frustrated that Dredg rejects the idea that the goal of music is to be easily described a couple of buzz words. Or with attentive ears and an open mind, you can enjoy the hell out of ?Catch Without Arms.?« less
If you wonder too long about where to place a band like Dredg, you?ll miss where they?re going. The band slips between the cracks of whatever rock classifications you try to stuff them into. Likewise, the Bay Area is just a mailing address; Dredg isn?t evocative of any particular place or scene. So what do we make of a band that makes music that?s heavy, pretty, experimental and tuneful ? sometimes all in the same song? You can be frustrated that Dredg rejects the idea that the goal of music is to be easily described a couple of buzz words. Or with attentive ears and an open mind, you can enjoy the hell out of ?Catch Without Arms.?
"The winding path Dredg has taken throughout their three album career remains a rare one. While not achieving mainstream popularity, their name is still passed around like the password to a secret club. Strident in both agenda and ideals, this band from Los Gatos has achieved a manner of success from their peers through two classic albums (according to their loyal legion of fans) and overly impressive live shows. With the film-turned-soundtrack qualities of Lietmotif and the epic, Dali-influenced work of El Cielo, the artistic expectation of the next Dredg record was simply through the roof.
Then again, how can one surpass these defining moments of millenial art rock? Both great and fulfilling records, the development of Dredg's sound is truly one of people growing up and refining their sound and style. While youthful ambition is still present, the refining in songwriting and talent remains absolutely astounding throughout Catch Without Arms. The aggressive hard rock so embraced in the earlier records has been embellished with melodicism and extremely catchy songwriting. Singer Gavin Hayes' voice has achieved the sound and enthusiasm that were merely hinted at in the past two records, developing amazing melodies. The now perfect timing of Dino and Drew in the rhythm section is astounding, while guitarist Mark Engles has became almost a modern The Edge, using his guitar to coax a sublime texture into the song.
To write appealing songs doesn't mean you're kitsch or pop. This collection of twelve songs, unified sonically moreso than thematically, remain absolutely enjoyable. While considerably less esoteric than previous releases, the Dredg sound is considerably imbued into each track, astounding highs included. "Spitshine" could become a new anthem, "Bug Eyes" has a rock sound that takes over where El Cielo ended, and "Sang Real" leaves us in the desert of Leitmotif. With very few breaks (in comparison to the sound-bytes that pepper the first two records), the feel is remarkably streamline and unbelievably easy to love.
In the desolation of contemporary rock and roll, I still find this band to be one of the few torchbearers. Truly without peer and remarkably tralented, Dredg still remains one of the few bands that can inspire you both on the record and on the stage. It is unfair to compare this record to the last two; it is a step to a larger stage and to fill the void in rock that we all knew was missing but didn't know what to fill it with. Now that Catch Without Arms is here, I know I'll be satisfied. Until the next one."
A meteoric rise awaits them
J. Persh | West Bloomfield, MI United States | 07/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is probably the most highly anticipated record of the past 3 years for me. After stumbling upon "El Cielo" from reading the reviews on Amazon, I thought they were a pretty cool band...little did I realize over the past 3 years Dredg would become my favorite new band of the last 10 years or so.
In case you haven't heard Dredg, their sound has been called everything from Emo to Progressive Rock, Hard Rock and Alternative and they probably are all of the above. Gavin's vocals are very distinct and on the higher end of the register and the lyrics are...well in a word, deep. Behind him is a band of talented young musicians that collectively form the nucleus of what is the most exciting thing happening in music today.
About 6 weeks ago "Bug Eyes" appeared as a pre-release single on Itunes. I downloaded it, it blew me away and I have not been the same since. Not only is it the record of the year, but its honestly as good as anything thats ever been released in its genre. The lyrics just astound me. Well, that's great and all but I feared the rest of the record would have a hard time living up to "Bug Eyes"...
After a few listens I thought this was a good record, but perhaps not great. Slowly, other great songs ("Jamais Vu", "Ode To The Sun" & "Spitshine") started to emerge and the record started to reveal all its intricacies, layers and nuances. Then I started to like how the band was willing to experiment and grow their sound -"Sang Real" & "Zebraskin" and it became evident what a great record this in fact is.
The production by Terry Date and the overall engineering deserve kudos as well, as this is a fantastic sounding record- The instruments and vocals were all recorded amazingly well.
Record Of The Year and the new standard in Emo/Prog/Hard/Alt Rock."
The Fanboy -vs.- The Purist
JB Webb | Huntington, WV | 06/24/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"From what I've seen here already, I see two camps forming. Those who are just loyal to the band, and those who claim the band have sold out. In my opinion, neither of these opinions really matter very much. We should look at this album without preconceptions.
Now, as far as the album goes, I love it. I think it is a great album. It's not the art-rock concept piece that "El Cielo" was, but I never expected it to be. It is also not very much like "leitmotif" (which is just an OK album, but important in tracking this band's beginnings). I hate that it is being called over-produced just because it is clear. I think Terry Date has done as fine a job here as he has done with his many other projects. The vocals are finally crisp and clear, the guitars have this beautiful, mellow quality, and the bass and drums are very punchy.
The musicians on this album have really outdone themselves on this album. I think that "El Cielo" is still the better album, because of all the new ground they tread on it. However, we can't expect them to breakthrough with every album they release. NO musician has ever been able to do this. I think that the melodies and harmonies laid down here vocally are very interesting. He might not be reinventing the wheel, but the vocals are more than adequate. Lyrics, also, are a high point for this album. They aren't like the "poems" of previous efforts, but seem more cohesive. You might call this mainstream, but I just call it songwriting. The guitars are good, but seem to add more of a texture than a driving force in the music. Guitar tone is good, but not great. This band is being led by a solid rhythm section, and the bass is pretty original compared to what is popular in music right now. The drums are also very good.
The songs are:
Ode to the Sun 9/10: A little simplistic, but a nice opener.
Bug Eyes 9.5/10: I've loved this song since it was released, but it seems out of place. Seems to be one of the first songs written after "El Cielo", as it has a similar quality.
Catch Without Arms 9/10: I love the guitar riff, but the chorus is a little weak in my opinion. This song is about the state of current popular music.
Not that Simple 10/10: Great, simple song. There is nothing that jumps out at me here, but I still have this track set on repeat.
Zebraskin 10/10: I love how the synth leads this track. Gavin's voice is a standout on this track. Lyrics are good, but not the best he has written.
The Tanbark is Hot Lava 8.5/10: Reminds me a lot of The Cure (don't shoot me). Has a very punk rock quality to it, while still remaing Dredg.
Sang Real 10/10: OMG!!! This song is by far THE BEST song on the album. Everything about it is great. Worth the price of admission. I had no idea music could be this good.
Planting Seeds 9.5/10: Very haunting. Of special note, is the bass when it comes in. The song has a very ethereal quality to it. It makes me think of a beach before a storm comes. When music does that, you know you are on to something special.
Spitshine 8/10: Oddly enough, the beginning reminds me a lot of Team Sleep's new album. However, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Not too far removed from Death Cab for Cutie's "New Year" either. Still, it is unmistakably Dredg.
Jamais Vu 10/10: Very, very good song. The guitar is nice at the beginning. Vocals flow a lot, and the drums add a nice backbeat. I have no clue what he is talking about, but I don't care. This is probably my third favorite song on the album.
Hung over on a Tuesday 7.5/10: Decent, but nothing special about this song in my opinion. Good lyrics, but music is very strange. Might just be a filler song. However, a decently good filler song.
Mastroshka (The Ornament)10/10: The beginning guitar sounds like it could have been played by U2. The vocal line at the beginning has (dare I say) a Beatles feel to the melody. When he goes higher, I go back to thinking about Robert Smith of The Cure. Great way to end the album.
So, if you are still reading, this album in my opinion is definitely worth the price. I don't consider myself a fanboy, and I definitely am not a purist. Just a music afficionado who happens to enjoy this album. Overall: 9.25
Truly unique band's next amazing follow-up
IcemanJ | Ohio, USA | 04/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Dredg's good old sound is still there from Leitmotif. I can hear it in the distance, greatly improved upon and refreshed, but still there. Those signature guitar melodies and song structures no one else can come up with. There is definitely a difference here as well. There is less instrumental parts and a little less experimentation (well, a lot less than Leitmotif, a little less than El Cielo). The songs are more straight-forward... that might sound like a disappointment but it really isn't. They get right to the point and don't fiddle around with silly little interlude songs. It's almost hard to believe how far Dredg has come this quickly. Back when I was listening to Leitmotif almost every day I really thought I'd never call anything this band does "catchy" but here it is, and still excellent. Dredg is still Dredg - their music may shift and evolve (any band's music does... wouldn't be much of a band if not) but (if you're a previous fan) you can still hear that special hint of individuality.
If you haven't heard Dredg before they're tough to explain. They're artsy, but nothing you'd ever call weird or experimental on this album. They're kind of like semi-underground alternative rock. Not too heavy, not too light, not very weird, but certainly not boring. Catchy, but not overly repetitive. A very fun album that doesn't get old dispite its straight-forwardness.
Most of the music I listen to isn't really "catchy," I usually like my songs progressive, ever-changing, and not very... "ordinary" for lack of a better term. In fact when I hear that a song even contains a verse and a chorus, those words *almost* repel my interest in discovering something. Bottom line I guess is I don't listen to too much music similar to Dredg, but I am quite addicted to them and they stand out above everyone else. Catchiness certainly doesn't mean the artist has no talent and wants you to pull you in. Some of the worst songs in the universe are catchy and get stuck in your head. That's how one-hit-wonders are born. But the songs here are very enjoyable and well-written.
Dredg is actually heavier on this album than ever before. The vocals and production are also polished off much better than their other two albums. "Ode to the Sun" actually starts off with quite heavy and faster than I saw coming. "Bug Eyes" is one of the best songs here. Great drumming that you can't stop tapping your fingers to during the verses, and the chorus contains a great memorable guitar riff and wailing vocals. "Catch without Arms" is a great tune, very catchy.
"Not that Simple" actually is a bit progressive - it slowly builds up to an absolutely great vocal melody in its chorus and is probably my favorite song here. Then comes "Zebraskin" ...I really am not very impressed by this song at all. It's actually kind of annoying. The repeating of the words so much and the woozy sounds in the background just makes for not so great of a song. Sorry!
"The Tanbark is Hot Lava" spices things up a bit, emerging with quite speedy and heavier guitar work. "Sang Real" actually is the most reminiscent song of previous albums. It's a great song with some quirky, idiosyncratic rhythms, a little piano loop, and great vocals. This is probably my second favorite song here.
"Planting Songs" is another great song with a very prominent bass line and creates a wonderful atmosphere. "Hung over on a Tuesday" is another heavier one with some of the best guitar melodies on the album. "Matroshka" is a wonderful ending, the melody they create is kind of heartwarming and sad at the same time. like saying goodbye to a friend that will be away for years but you are proud of what they are doing. You even think the song is over and it continues on for another two minutes with a laid-back instrumental part.
All in all, as long as you have a halfway decent appreciation for music I don't really see who couldn't like this album, and I couldn't possibly suggest a particular crowd or similar bands.
but Leitmotif is still better :)"
A New Direction for a Talented Band
Michael McGeeney | St. Petersburg, FL | 06/24/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When the first batch of reviews (here at amazon.com) came in for "Catch Without Arms," everyone praised it as a masterpiece, a truely great album. As the days passed and people listened more and more, many retracted their reviews. Yesterday, there were upward of twenty reviews here, most of them praising the album. Now, a day later, there are only five reviews, all but one hailing the album as a dissapointment.
I went through a similar evolution in my quest to understand "Catch Without Arms." During the first five listens, I was amazed with the clarity of Gavin's vocals, the overall production of everything. Eventually, I began to see what I thought were flaws in the album. As a dredg fanatic, I naturally shrugged this off as a misunderstanding on my part. Afterall, dredg was the band that bred "El Cielo," in my humble opinion one of the greatest albums, if not the greatest, of the 21st century thus far. But as it's known, the more you attempt to ignore something, the more apparent it becomes.
The orignal source of my doubt came from track 12, Matroshka. This song, from the first listen, sounded nothing like a dredg song. It's blatant over-production, greeted by cliched lyrics, left me in shock. It was as if the record company had taken an unused U2 song and threw Gavin's vocals over it.
As I continued to wonder about Matroshka, flaws became apprent elsewhere. Not That Simple dragged at times, and the chorus of Spitshine sounded too much like what I'd heard many times before.
I wasn't yet to give up on the album, though, and I continued to listen, hoping to find that grace and beauty which emcompassed "El Cielo" perfectly. I realised what made "Catch Without Arms" so good, the fact it was nothing like "El Cielo."
I'm sure dredg knew they could make another album like "El Cielo" and have their fanbase praise them for their innovation, but dredg is a band too smart to just feed their fans the same material over and over. "Catch Without Arms" is blatantly not "El Cielo," and, like I said, and as hard as it is to believe, that is it's major strength.
"Catch Withou Arms" still has moments of beauty that equal those on "El Cielo" (although nothing touches on the level of brillance that is The Canyon Behind Her.) The first three tracks, Ode to the Sun, Bug Eyes, and Catch Withou Arms are all solid. In fact, with the exception of Not That Simple, Spitshine, and Matroshka, all the songs on the album are excellent. And even out of the album's three missteps, Not That Simple and Spitshine are still really good songs. I still haven't, and don't suppose I will ever, find anything good with Matroshka, but it's not so bad that I don't mind hearing it at the end of the album.
This album excites me for the future of dredg. While the album doesn't always shine, it shows that dredg is experimenting. And experimentation takes courage, thus dredg is a band with courage. If they so desire to continue to change their sound with each album, dredg will have a fan in me."