Dredg - Catch Without Arms
Release Date: June 21, 2005
Record Label: Interscope Records
Dredg's first full length, Leitmotif, was an epic concept album with little to no mass appeal that somehow landed them a deal with Interscope Records. Six years later and one full length under their belts, Dredg has greatly refined their songwriting ability and delivered a solid pop-structured rock CD, though by no means does it sound like a typical rock album. Carrying on the traditional Dredg ambiance and vibe, Catch Without Arms is hauntingly beautiful, atmospheric, and artistic, yet is also stimulating and lively.
The album sounds fairly consistent throughout with beautiful vocals strong in tone and melody, intricate guitars often enhanced by reverb and a good amount of delay, bass playing relegated to a backup role a significant amount of the time, though there are frequently very interesting riffs and fills in the higher register, and passionate drum playing on an extremely tight kit. Dredg often syncopates their rhythms when they decide to rock out, and power chords are a rare find.
Though each song does pretty much sound the same, there are a few outstanding tracks. "Bug Eyes," which begins with a highly reverbed and delayed lap steel guitar, climaxes in a crushingly beautiful heavy passage. The bass playing during the verse is very cool, and the vocal melody throughout the song is both creative and sophisticated. "Tanbark" is one of the faster paced songs on the CD, features a large amount of syncopation, interesting guitar effects, and a wonderful breakdown. "Hungover on a Tuesday" is pretty similar to "Tanbark," and starts off with a really entertaining rhythm highlighted by unique chords.
Lyrically, Dredg doesn't offer anything shocking, but the concept of the album is fascinating, dealing with the positives and negatives of life. Though most of the time the lyrics don't bother me, the chorus of "Planting Seeds" makes me cringe: "Look what I have found / A seashell in a sea of shells / I'm good at planting my own seeds / To sprout endless hell / It's dark like Poe." A lot of times the lyrics are a bit verbose, but it's usually nothing too bad.
In terms of production, there is not much that can be improved upon. Terry Date was able to get fantastic drum sounds, pretty good guitar tones, and a bass sound that's both smooth and heavy. Vocally, Gavin Hayes shines, and the mix really helps showcase his talent. I'd maybe like to hear just a bit more clarity in his vocals (even a tiny bit more high frequency treble would help), but maybe I'm being picky.
My main complaints with the album are that every song is too similar, and I feel that Dredg is being forced into writing "radio-friendly" material by being on Interscope. Maybe I'm wrong and this is the direction they really want to go in, but I'd love to see them experiment a little more like they used to. Dredg has significantly changed from being an art rock band to where they are right now, but the music theyre making is still beautiful and deserves to be listened to.
Wow... this review really went under the radar, just like Dredg has.
I just about pissed myself when I saw your lack of ratings for them. Catch Without Arms is amazing, through and through.
Yes, the songs do sound the same, but thats because the band has a unique sound, and that sound is relevant in each song. They didn't take 12 individual songs and throw them together, it's a full album, and it's the sound that the album has. Leitmotif and El Cielo were the same way.
If Catch Without Arms were radio friendly, they would've been on the radio. The video for "Bug Eyes" was on Fuse for possibly a week and that's about all they got. I think it is better than their first two albums. It's more dynamic without dragging on for a bit too long. Too many instrumentals can really hurt the message in the lyrics, and Gavin has a lot of good things to say that deserve to be analyzed along with the rest of the album.
I could go on for days.... but they are one of the few bands that are truly doing something special out there, and it deserves praise beyond belief.
I'm just a little confused. I agree with the songs being too similar, but how does being part of the interscope family make a band "forced" to be radio-friendly. Isn't Marilyn Manson signed to Interscope?