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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dredg -- Catch Without Arms


One of the deepest pleasures I find in these Every Album I Own Reviews is exploring the 24th year of my life, when I was freshly graduated from college, jobless, and living with my parents. I already wrote about my descent into mental darkness that summer in this Cursive review. One of the deeper pits occurred when everyone in my rural area went on vacation at the same time, leaving me alone in the middle of the swamp for weeks. I documented my downward mental spiral on film (there was a lot of Wonder Showzen and alpha-stage Attack of the Show in the imitating Clarence the Puppet and commenting on Sarah Lane's daily changing hair styles...that Puppet, that hair, and my cat were the only three friends I had...). When my family returned home, they witnessed the footage...and promptly thought of having me committed. Thankfully, they ended up taking me to Grand Isle for a few days instead. Maybe it was just having the knowledge that other people cared about me, but a few days in Cajun Paradise fired me up into getting clean...mentally. A few weeks later, Glynn, LA was again emptied of all its citizens but me, but I decided that I would not lose my mind in my isolation this time. Like a recovering addict, I sipped on the fresh coffee of optimism, actually slept at night, and even got some exercise. I also got some new music: MxPx's new, slightly disappointing album, and the newest album by a band called Dredg, who I had seen once live with Deftones, and who had a cool new video on the Fuse Channel.

 Catch Without Arms, Dredg's third album, put some pep in my step. In the most basic terms, Catch Without Arms is your average rock album with three to four minute tracks, except in this case it's the experimental, energetic Dredg creating the songs. This means you get excellently un-orthodox guitar playing, featuring a combined tone, distortion, and effect that can only be described as "brain pleasure-sensor trigger." The drums and bass are both different from the norm. Vocalist, Gavin Hayes, sings better than ever. The band perform better than they ever have before. Terry Date's production work with Dredg really pays off, as well. This album sounds like a million dollars.
The only flaws with Catch Without Arms are inherent in the format Dredg worked in for the album. In their previous work, El Cielo, Dredg seemed as floating and free as that album title itself. Following that, the more radio-friendly songs of Catch Without Arms can feel just a little constrained. On top of that, Gavin Hayes' impressionistic lyrics, which worked so well previously, occasionally sound silly on top of more conventional music.
These are minor complaints, though. Catch Without Arms is a rock-solid, satisfying album. It was just what I needed to keep me sane and energized during that long summer. As a bonus, Catch Without Arms even inspired me to pick up my guitar and play it differently, something which engaged my mind, kept it occupied, and kept me trucking to the brighter times ahead.

2005 Interscope
1. Ode to the Sun 4:12
2. Bug Eyes 4:13
3. Catch Without Arms 4:11
4. Not That Simple 4:56
5. Zebraskin 3:26
6. The Tanbark Is Hot Lava 3:45
7. Sang Real 4:28
8. Planting Seeds 4:12
9. Spitshine 3:34
10. Jamais Vu 4:55
11. Hung Over on a Tuesday 4:05
12. Matroshka (The Ornament) 5:38

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