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Dreadnaught - Hard Chargin' CD (album) cover

HARD CHARGIN'

Dreadnaught

Eclectic Prog


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4 stars The adventure begins with the cover, a phantasmagoric melange of images: a Polar bear, a mummy, a half-naked chained slavegirl, a speeding red General Lee-type car (all of which turn out to be characters in the songs) boldly arranged like an iconographic movie poster, with the title "Hard Chargin'" streaking across, some Tarantino / Rodriguez / Carnahan mash-up, a poster for a movie that was never made, or rather a movie that gets made anew in your mind every time you hear the soundtrack.

Have a Drink with Dreadnaught: the music begins with this jaunty, bouncey tune, a straight-forward upbeat rocker that is as close to anything "conventional" you are going to get on this disc. A psi-fi warbly keyboard theme interjects like an escaped flying saucer from a B-52's album, and with lyric lines like "spread your seed on the new grid" and "there's a polar bear!" we are in another dimension indeed! (Is that you Modine?) The lyrics to this tune, btw, refer to a story (penned by Geoff "Red Fez" Logsdon) about the band playing in some quasi-mystical bar where dead rock stars live and Duane Allman beats on Dennis DeYoung's balls with a bat, and you can hear his Broadway-worthy vocals howling into the night. You should read it sometime. Have a Drink With Dreadnaught.

Gaudy Baubles: it gets a bit more exotic here with strange effects on the instruments, proof in the pudding of the "veritable [&*!#]load of analog effects pedals" mentioned in the credits. And good for them! Let's hear more outboard effects than all this inboard added-later stuff! The impression of a movie soundtrack holds, a movie for your ears ala Zappa's "Hot Rats". Flute makes an appearance in the sonic mix to great effect.

That's The Way That You Do it (My Way) Suddenly Mr. Bungle roars in, a demonic distorted voice over a fast Ska?type beat, then a micro burst of Steely Dan-ish chords, like a window thrown open on The Royal Scam album, LA Fusion, then slammed shut by Bungle again, a riotous mob of hooligans chanting. This is where the adventure truly begins for me. And its only a 58 second song.

Takin' a Ride with the Fat Man (Fatta Fatta Puck Puck) the Bungle comparison continues for me here, and since I use Bungle as a touchstone / symbol of a certain type of radical genius (in your face energy / unpredictability / a will to craziness) it is one of the highest compliments I can give. I don't know about this fat man or what his deal is, but riding with him sounds like a night on the road with Mr. Toad on acid. A happy driving-down-sunny-highway melody "takin a ride with the fat man / takin a ride / fatta fatta puck puck! (my old percussion instructor taught drum parts by singing them ? "dakka dakka flubba flubba bang!" ? and you have to sing along with them to see how well it works) gives way to pantonal Mothers of Invention-like vocal parts. Rhythmic patterns come and go before you can fully get a grip on them. The music changes constantly then exuberantly unravels into a drum solo, toms rolling down a stairwell. It's over and then it isn't. This song gets the furry kitchen sink thrown in, and reminds me of an old review of Yezda Urfa where the writer advises "don't fight it just let it run bug[&*!#] thru your brain". That is good advice for Dreadnaught and their music: just let it run bug[&*!#] thru your brain!

A note on comparisons: I hear (and you will to) many similarities in Dreadnaught's music, snippets of Dixie Dregs chicken pickin', Zappa / MOI style humor, Bungle manic-ness, pick your favorite band that makes the notes jump thru hoops and do circus tricks. The band members draw from the vast palette of styles and sounds that are now available to us courtesy of the most musical century in our history. The way they put it all together is uniquely their own. Dreadnaught reminds me of many great bands yet they sound like none of them. They have their own style and sound.

Bo-Leg-Ba: One of my favorite tunes. Sounds more like "Ber-Leg-Ba" to me but no matter J Does it have anything to do with the magical-liminal figure Pappa Legba of Voudon mythology? It sounds Caribbean in places so maybe? Happy fun music, makes you wanna dance naked on the beach. And the drum sound is awesome, the toms ring round my head, I can feel there resonance as if I am sitting amongst them as they are played.

Express Delight ? More movie for your ears exoticism. In fact this whole album is the most avant / noisey Dreadnaught recording yet. Sure, meaty slabs of odd-time prog rock riffage abound, but the music is just as likely to go off into left-field noise-scapes as anything. Moments of beauty emerge amidst constant change. The Rock-In-Opposition (RIO) label applies here as a handy guide.

That's The Way That You Do it (Your Way) A return to this lyrical theme but this time as sung by a Hank Williams / Jimmie Rodgers yodeling cowboy in a honky tonk. "That's the way that you do it / that's the waaaayyyeeeeee!" I milk much hilarity out of imagining a drunk Hank groanin' an slobberin' his solo into a mic-driven distortion pedal, as he would have to do on this song! That's the waaaayyyyeeeeee!

Gets the Grease: More slice of avant garde sound sculpture, like something off Zappa's Uncle Meat, but with sax and ethereal piano, to my ears an unintentional echo of American bands like However and The Muffins. Atmospheric.

Slave Girls: My favorite tune on the album. Meaty slabs of odd-time monster riffage stalking thru the forest, knocking over trees. It Rocks! Then?completely different territory, a lilting violin plays a traditional American-sounding melody like something from Copeland's Appalachian Spring. Heartbreakingly beautiful, brings tears to my eyes.

Mummies of The Cobbosseecontee: Actual title that. More movie for your ears, sweeping, cinematic, ambient and noisey. Epic. Goes everywhere. Honestly I haven't heard it enough to fully know what it is. It's an instrumental. Let the ending riff run bug[&*!#] thru your brain!

That's The Way That You Do It (Our Way) Ends on a return to this theme, but now sock-hoppy and poppy. The Grease car flies away into the sky as the credits roll. Did I "get the Grease" there? WTF did we just hear / see? Have to play it again! 

Report this review (#1736614)
Posted Thursday, June 22, 2017 | Review Permalink
Sagichim
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Ahhhhhhh...another album by my beloved Dreadnaught. This is a good era for the band's fans, the long hiatus after the excellent Musica En Flagrante ended as we got two EPs that came out in 2013 and 2015 and now a full album with all new material. Style wise I can say the band has stayed put, if you heard any of their recent EPs, Hard Chargin' won't be any different, they keep on that cool southern american country thing going on while mixing it with a funky vibe and some weirdness all meshed together creating a wild and unique style of their own. There are tons of different ideas here, they like jumping from one to the other before you'll get too comfortable in your seat, this is 100% progressive and they do it while still keeping everything super super groovy! Their unique unmatched sound is also present, the everlasting crunchy tones of Justin Walton and Bob Lord mixed together so perfectly sometimes you can't tell where one begin and the other end, they also add keys and saxophone to the mix contributing to a fuller sound. Rick Habib is of course in good shape turning these guys into a very powerful trio. The playing is of course top notch and complex, this will take several spins to fully comprehend, although they are as far as being technical as you can think of, there are about a million notes flying all over through different layers of sounds, when they really kick it into gear you know they are trully one of the best bands out there.

The album begins with a couple of rockers, which is about the most conventional as you're gonna get from this album, although they are short (only 3 minutes) they are both very intricate, going through several ideas, especially check out Gaudy Baubles, the playing is just amazing, there is so much going on in there, it's kinda hard grasping what the hell is that you're listening to. Even in the next 1 minute track these guys are letting it all loose, jumping from heavy riffing to bizzare vocals and even a short manic solo by Walton which is on fire already at this point. Takin' A Ride With The Fat Man is the next 8 minute track, although this one lets you breath for a while it doesn't really say the trio has calmed down in any way, on the contrary they now have more room to mess with you, that's the place where they unleash their weirdest sounds, and go flying away somewhere half way through, this song again has so much going on it's hard to fully describe in words. Express Delight is going into my list of favorite Dreadnaught tracks, starting with that insane intro where distorted guitar sounds go together with a calm saxophone and flute under a fuzzy dirty bass, fantastic! the tension rises and breaks into this intricate rhythm with sax and keys, beautiful! it continues from there on and on, just check out the playing here, Walton and Lord are really nailing it there, how are they coming with those noises an phrases I will never know. Slave Girls offers another progy tune jumping through several ideas now adding a violin to the party, classic stuff! The stage is set in Mummies Of The Cobbosseecontee where they can delve into more experimental territories, this is maybe their longest song to date clocking over at 10 minutes. The intro is fantstic, very much like something from the Musica En Flagrante album. Piano, keys and drums all mixed together in an avant garde kind of theme, it then blows away and continues, It's a race car of crazy guitar licks and odd bass lines sounds, Killer stuff all the way.

Dreadnaught continues to release high quality material after all these years, and it just puzzles me how all this time and they are still pretty much unknown even in the archives. Do your self a favor and get to know this band! 4.5 stars rounded down this time. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Report this review (#1816251)
Posted Thursday, October 26, 2017 | Review Permalink

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