review by Taylor Pesqueira
Dredg formed in 1993 in Northern California and have roots in the alternative rock/indie scene. Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy is the band’s fifth studio album.
01. Another Tribe
02. Upon Returning
03. The Tent
04. Somebody Is Laughing
05. Down Without a Fight
06. The Ornament
07. The Thought Of Losing You
09. Sun Goes Down
10. Where I’ll End Up
11. Before It Began
My first thought when I started playing Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy was confused, not because of the title (another argument of it’s own) but because the first thing you hear is a hip-hop influenced track (“Another Tribe”). I thought that I had accidentally clicked the wrong album to listen to, and after I did my research it became clear that I was listening to the correct album. Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy sounds like nothing remotely close to what Dredg have sounded like on previous albums. I have never been a fan of Dredg; their music never grabbed me as a fan and it’s something that just isn’t for me, but I could see why people are fans of Dredg and I can appreciate that. Dredg is more known for their take on alternative rock and the wailing sounds of guitars and Gavin Hayes’ vocals.
The one thing that is constant through this album is that it never picks up. It’s completely monotone and has no energy. Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy sounds like the soundtrack to a depressing movie that has no light at the end of the tunnel for the main character. The lack of energy through out the entire album makes it extremely hard to get through, but there were some glimpses of light that were semi decent to listen to. Unlike the movie with no light at the end of the tunnel, I can take these tracks (“Somebody Laughing” and “Kalathat”) and say they gave a quick glimsps of hope to seeing some light.
“Somebody Laughing” is decent because you finally hear some sort of guitar, and further into the song you hear something that sounds like a sitar that carries a sweet Indian riff. But the crazy thing about this song is that it sounds like a dark version of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”. Since Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy is an album that is heavily influenced by hip-hop I feel like it’s not completely wrong to suggest that some of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” could have been used as a distorted derivative or a sample. I’m dead serious, give it a listen for yourself. I feel like “Somebody Laughing” sounding similar to “Like a Prayer” has to play a part in why i like the song. I mean even some of the lyrical content is similar to “Like a Prayer”: “Some are skeptics/and some are believers/some refuse to say/well if they’ve seen it/they’ll believe it”(Somebody Laughing lyric). But getting back on the Dredg train, “Somebody Laughing” is a welcomed change because this song loses some of the hip-hop elements and becomes a little more electro in a Depeche Mode sort of way.
“Kalathat” is a dreary climbing acoustic guitar driven song that has some bleak lyrics to go along with it. This song sounds 100% different from the entire album. It paints a very vivid picture in the listeners heads about a man who becomes jaded and finds it hard to swallow his pride to do whatever it takes to get by. Even though the lyrics are depressing the guitar and melody have an eerie beautifulness to it, and Hayes shows what kind of voice he truly has. The guitar carries the song very well but Hayes’ voice and lyrics are what ties it together.
Dredg definitely came out of left field with Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy. For the most part this album is pretty blah because it never really picks up and it keeps listeners in a stoned state of mind (not in a good way). Sometimes bands get experimental way too fast; Dredg skipped all the steps in between and took a risk that didn’t work out in their favor. I do recommend that people give “Somebody Laughing” and “Kalathat” a serious listen, and if I had to pick another track that was tolerable it would be “Another Tribe” so listeners could get a feel of what Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy will sound like. Aside from the tracks mentioned, Chuckles & Mr. Squeezy isn’t worth the time, just listen to Dredg’s back catalog if you are a fan, and hope the next release has nothing to do with hip-hop and electro mixed beats.