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Album Review
dredg - Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy Album Cover

dredg - Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy

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5.0
dredgChuckles & Mr. Squeezy
Record Label: Superball
Release Date: May 3, 2011
dredg are a Los Gatos, California-based rock quartet who started their career in the mid-1990s as one of the many nu/rap-metal bands attempting to emulate the success of acts like Korn and Limp Bizkit. By the turn of the century, vocalist Gavin Hayes, guitarist Mark Engles, bassist Drew Roulette and drummer Dino Campanella, all active members in the band today, ditched the brawny and sophomoric instrumentation of their earlier work for a progressive style that mixed Pink Floyd-style experimentation with an atmospheric and vocal intensive bent suggestive of A Perfect Circle and White Pony-era Deftones. This shift culminated in 2002’s El Cielo, a genre-defining record that serves as direct (or indirect) inspiration for any band touting an artsy sound with a focus on emotion and vocal delivery (e.g., Circa Survive).

Since then, dredg has progressed, first with Catch Without Arms in 2005 and then The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion in 2009, more accessible albums that conveyed a poppier sound without undermining the experimentation and creativity that makes dredg unique. While I admire their unrelenting commitment to explore new terrain, dredg has come to an impasse with their new release, Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy, a record that sounds as confused and bizarre as its album name and cover art suggests. The El Cielo-era dredg has completely subsided in favor of a pop-rock band without any depth or credibility.

Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy begins with “Another Tribe,” a track that boasts potential for several seconds before the unceremoniously lifted “Gangsta’s Paradise” hook and horrendous lyrics fully set in. The song induces such highbrow pontification with “They always say they’re against the grain/Come on they all look the same/They just joined another tribe to help them build up some old fight/Nothing new to see here." It comes off as an ironic commentary on the band’s progression this record. “Down Without A Fight” opens with a corny electro beat suitable for a Britney Spears song and manages to make matters worse in the chorus with the following repeated lyrics ad nauseam: "Regardless if it was wrong, even if it was right/They went down without a fight/Believing with positivity breeds positive happenings.”

As the album struggles along, it becomes obvious that Hayes is tired and out of ideas. His lyrics, which were always passable but never outstanding, now resemble the scribbles of a confused hippie bemoaning society’s lack of self-expression. Even worse, his endearing melodic croon, once the focal point of the band, has been rendered to a somber whimper throughout much of Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy. Lead single “The Thought of Losing You,” propped up by Engles’ pleasant guitar work and Campanella’s rhythmic drumming, is undeniably catchy at first; Hayes’ continuous insistence that “The thought of losing you is not an option/The thought of losing you never was” sounds like it was plucked from a third grader’s valentine card.

Although Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy is riddled with unmemorable songs, I would be remiss not to mention some of the stronger efforts on the album. “Upon Returning” packs punchy guitar riffs and layered synths and serves as an admirable model for what the album could have been, although Hayes’ lyrics still get in the way. “The Ornament” is an older B-side that was refined for inclusion on the album and immediately elicits thoughts of songs such as “Sang Real” and “Jamais Vu” off Catch Without Arms.

Though this album might appeal to a narrow sliver of original fans and will gain them some new ones because of its simplicity, dredg is at a crossroads with Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy. They have exhausted their pop sensibilities in a forgettable manner, fashioning a record that sounds half-hearted and superficial. Worse yet, they have drifted so far from the earnestness and ingenuity of their earlier work that a musical resurgence seems unlikely at this point in their career. dredg is comprised of four extremely talented musicians, however as it stands the band lacks direction and needs to reassess their path before besmirching their legacy as an innovative and influential band.

Recommended If You LikeOceansize; Incubus

myspace.com/dredg
This review is a user submitted review from Nick Gerli. You can see all of Nick Gerli's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 9 of 9
03:56 PM on 06/24/11
#2
Gregory Robson
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This review is freaking terrific. Nice work.
04:22 AM on 06/28/11
#3
WeltallAY
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This review is freaking terrific. Nice work.
Agreed, this is the score/attitude this album merits.

The outstanding band that gave us El Cielo all those years ago is clearly gone. It's not even like a nice progressive shift in dynamics. It's just boring and often strange. Their last CD made me wary but this is the release that made me lose all interest in this band.
08:28 AM on 06/28/11
#4
genericmadness
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This is genuinely the worst album I've ever heard.
02:44 PM on 06/28/11
#5
Nick Gerli
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Thanks for the kind words.

Although one issue with the editing...

" “Down Without A Fight” opens with a corny electro beat suitable for a Britney Spears song. To make matters worse, the chorus adds nausea: “Regardless if it was wrong, even if it was right/They went down without a fight/Believing with positivity breeds positive happenings.”

What was wrong with the original version?

"“Down Without A Fight” opens with a corny electro beat befitting of a Britney Spears song and manages to make matters worse in the chorus with the following lyrics repeated ad nauseam: “Regardless if it was wrong, even if it was right/They went down without a fight/Believing with positivity breeds positive happenings.”

Ad nauseam is a commonly used Latin phrase. Not sure why it was changed to adds nausea lol.
01:43 AM on 06/29/11
#6
Nicole La Hoz
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Thanks for the kind words.

Although one issue with the editing...

" “Down Without A Fight” opens with a corny electro beat suitable for a Britney Spears song. To make matters worse, the chorus adds nausea: “Regardless if it was wrong, even if it was right/They went down without a fight/Believing with positivity breeds positive happenings.”

What was wrong with the original version?

"“Down Without A Fight” opens with a corny electro beat befitting of a Britney Spears song and manages to make matters worse in the chorus with the following lyrics repeated ad nauseam: “Regardless if it was wrong, even if it was right/They went down without a fight/Believing with positivity breeds positive happenings.”

Ad nauseam is a commonly used Latin phrase. Not sure why it was changed to adds nausea lol.
No idea what the hell is up with my residence hall's internet. The ad nauseam part seriously showed up as weird characters. The only word there was nauseam. Changed, though!
09:38 PM on 06/30/11
#7
defmytones
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Terrific Review, completely agree, even though I was hoping for so much more in this album.
04:54 PM on 08/23/11
#8
PaperHanger
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Terrific Review, completely agree, even though I was hoping for so much more in this album.
amen
02:24 AM on 05/29/13
#9
ihavechappedlip
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A fucking embarrassment. Still not over this.

(to your points about the strong spots on the album...)
Though I enjoyed Upon Returning, they're mutilation of Matroshka is painful.

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