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(55:22, Red Fez Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Ballbuster 4:28 2. The Jester's Theme 6:36 3. Deneb 2:42 4. Tournament 2:42 5. Derby Days 8:30 6. Popeye 2:35 7. Binnaschidt 4:50 8. James Thresher Industries 0:57 9. Welding 4:51 10. Kim Philby 3:33 11. Rats And Me 4:35 12. Swing 3:38 13. Clownhead 5:25 LINEUP: Robert Lord – bass; synthesizer, organ; kazoo; vocals Justin Walton – guitars; organ, piano; sax; vocals Richard Habbib – drums, percussion; vocals With: Shaun Michaud – synthesizer, electronics William Walton II – French horn Andy Happel – violin; organ Jay Williams – euphonium Daria J. Blake – flute
Prolusion. The US band DREADNAUGHT has been a going concern ever since 1996, with a live album, an EP and a double CD compilation to their name in addition to four full-length studio productions. "The American Standard" is their third studio album, initially issued in 2001. Five years later the Russian label MALS reissued the album, and then the US label Red Fez Records released it for a third run in 2013.
Analysis. Dreadnaught was one of the first review assignments I was given when I started writing for the progressor website back in 2008. I didn't quite know what to make of this band back then, as they explored territories I had hardly ever encountered at that point. Revisiting this fine band seven years later leaves me more or less just as bemused, although perhaps not quite as directly confused, as the last time I encountered this specific material. The name of this album, "The American Standard", indicates to some degree what kind of music one can expect. This is an American band, fairly proudly hailing from the United Sates of America. And there's a substantial musical legacy that originates from there, and a lot of this has been incorporated into the music on this CD one way or another. Rockabilly is perhaps the style that is featured most commonly throughout. Rarely in a purebred form though, but explored with intense, punk-oriented attitude, in slower jazz-tinged excursions, paired off with funky instrument details and, on occasion, explored within a framework that makes me think of ska in general and UK band madness in particular. Another style frequently encountered, at least in the instrumental department, is country. Or perhaps I should use Americana as a phrase instead, as there's all that many references to the universally well-known (and sometimes loathed) traditional Nashville variety of that style. But details that do bring Country and Americana to mind are frequent, mainly by way of careful details provided by guitarist Walton, and also whenever a violin is employed. Jazz and funk are other styles frequently used that might also be described as being of a US origin. Often paired off with one of the two styles referenced in more detail, and also paired off against each other from time to time. All of this are assembled inside a framework of rather challenging progressive rock, songs that twist and turn rather frequently in sound, pace, intensity and in just about any other way you can imagine. An additional reference within this context are jambands, as Dreadnaught does have something of an Umphrey's McGee sound to their music, at least when they hit a less intense theme and stick with it for more than a brief amount of time.
Conclusion. At the end of the day I'll have to conclude that age has been kind to this production as well. This album is 14 years old at the time of writing, and yet it still comes across as a solid and fresh creation. Not one that will entice any broad audience segment, as this is demanding music, but those with an interest in music that is undeniably challenging, innovative and spirited should give this band and this album an inspection. A certain affection for Americana will probably be an advantage to be able to enjoy this CD, although I don't regard this as a requirement as such.
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