Friday, April 10, 2009

FDF Volume 2 Issue 134: dada - Puzzle

By: March

Album - Puzzle
Artist - dada
Key Players - Michael Gurley - guitar and vocals, Joie Calio - bass and vocals, Phil Leavitt - drums
Produced By - Ken Scott

Release Date - September 8, 1992

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I caught myself humming the track "Dim" out of the blue a week or so ago now. Its been far too long, I am glad i listened to this record again, what kept me away?

Overview - This was the debut record from Los Angeles band dada. The debut would score a modest radio hit in "Dizz Knee Land" and the band would tour extensively for the record. They'd release a follow up two years later, but their label (IRS) was in the early stages of folding. They'd sneak a third record out under the IRS label and then sign with MCA records, but by their fourth record MCA was having their woes. In 1999 the band "took a break" but reformed in 2003

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The album opens with Calio on the bass with some guitar riffs from Gurley before the drums come up and "Dorina" gets rolling. Gurley has a pretty cool sounding guitar that has just the right chime and punch to it. For almost the first minute there are no lyrics but then Gurley and Calio harmonize very well. This is a very strong suit for the record, you are almost assured of good/strong harmonies. The song keeps a steady pace and never gets overly flashy. The groundwork has been laid on a strong opening track. Gurley gives the guitar quite the workout at times during this track, show casing his chops. "Mary Sunshine Rain" follows and is a little more laid back, with the acoustic guitar lead. Again, Calio and Gurley are in strong voice and after the acoustic intro the bass of Calio kicks off more and Leavitt gets into more of a drum groove. The song has a good pop sensibility about it. Within 1:15 we are more "rocking" than you'd have expected with the intro and the song keeps a steady, rock feel. Gurley has a cool wah wah guitar solo as well. The acoustic guitar intro returns on "Dog" and after a few notes the band comes in. The band does a great job of working the acoustic and electric guitars. This track is a little more streamlined, and the focus returns on the vocals and wonderful harmonies. A great guitar section seems to be the running theme as well and Gurley nails another perfect solo, perfect for the song, not too flashy but just the right fix. The bands biggest hit "Dizz Knee Land" is at the right place on the record, not too early. The single guitar opens with a drum rush that falls into a very smooth groove. As the lyrics are sung the drums have a hard "whap" to them and the bass chugs along, but the build up, and the chorus are great in show casing the bands vocal harmonies once more. The guitar effects and punchy bass keep the fun lyrics moving right along and your toes are tapping as you try to sing the high harmonies (good luck!). A terrific track that hasn't aged one bit (well barring a reference to flipping off President George..which still works right?). "Surround" also has a quick acoustic guitar open and falls into a bass groove early with playful guitar parts over. The vocals are little more hushed at the outset, we are not forcing things and it blends well with the feel of the instruments. Leavitt keeps the drum line basic and the bass keeps things in check. Gurley works in an appropriate solo as the song begins to come to a close. "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" begins with a lone guitar and some bass and drum call and response fills. The lyrics are given almost "spoken" at the outset and the harmonies later are strong. Musically it has a twangy feel before it locks into a more rock mode close to two minutes in before Gurley gives a country swollen guitar solo. The track gets to be more urgent both lyrically and musically, but doesn't stray from its feel at the outset. Leavitt counts off "Posters" and gives the drum kit a little bit of a workout. It is not fast or flashy but hard sounding. The hits are bassy and you feel the kick drum. Gurley tosses some guitar parts over the drums and there are over dubs of acoustic and electric guitars. The track settles into a bluesy bar band feel. It is sort of silly lyrically as they say "lets go to my room baby and look at my posters" Not sure that will win over the ladies..but hey. Strings open "Timothy" and we shift to acoustic guitar and the vocal harmonies. The drums and bass are gone as it utilizes guitar, orchestration and vocals. Opening with a great guitar riff "Dim" wastes no time getting rolling. A great single that did a get a little air play and it is easy to tell why. The band eases up some musically on the verses, but the bass keeps a steady thump for the duration. Gurley tosses in pretty guitar fills and the chorus gets a great call and response run down. The harmonies on this track are real standouts. On quieter tunes it almost seems "easy" to harmonize, but when you are in full rock mode it seems all that more impressive. Terrific track.
"Who You Are" opens with a fun little guitar before the bass and drums come in. Vocals are hushed again, but track keeps a solid groove. The guitar locks into a wah wah groove on the chorus adding a rockin feel. The longest track on the record, and the title track "Puzzle" begins with bass and a chorused guitar. The drums sort of take a back seat to the bass line. The vocals are strong, but a little laid back at the same time. The band kicks it in at about the 2 minute mark with more of a strong kick to the drums. The guitars get more of a work out too feeding off the bass work. After about a minute the band settles back into the same groove they had at the outset of the track. At times the track has a very "Toad the Wet Sprocket" (FDF looks at Circus) feel and that is not a bad thing, just that vibe. Gurley has a flashy guitar solo and the band locks into a tight groove letting him spread his wings. The record wraps up with "Moon" a vocally hushed based track. Bigger guitar runs try to take things over from time to time but it keeps the focus on the vocal portion of the tune. Later in the track the harmonies arrive and the bass comes in for a few bars before the drums also are incorporated. Still the vocals are the showcase on the album closer.

Where are they now? - The band is still together. Gurley, who has struggled with carpal tunnel syndrome still is able to play many shows but uses lighter gauged strings to help with his issues. Since there inception the band has released five full lengths, an ep and a live record. Based off message board activity on the bands official site, they are still playing passionate (and long) live shows. Finally, Calio has a band "X Levitation Cult" and they have released one cd.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience)
- I only ever saw the band one time and it was sort of on a fluke (sadly I don't have a stub for the date of the show). The show was at Club Babyhead in Providence. My buddy and I went down to see some middle of the road local band, and when we got there we were told that dada had been 'around' and wanted to play as well. I guess the local band rolled back to an opening slot for them. I just recall "Dim" and "Diz Knee Land" being (of course) stand out, crowd pleasing tunes. The bands site does have a live show archive, but that show is not listed, leaving me further confused...

FDF Overall Take Although my musical tastes may have grown some from this band when I listen once more I appreciate the skill it took (and takes) to make records this strong. The band is made up of some great singers and guys that are skill musicians. The record was fun to listen to again and perhaps you bought this cd for that one song too, but listen to the whole thing and realize we are missing a lot in music today.

The band has an official site as well as a myspace page.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

the mp3's have been removed...

Dizz Knee Land

Tracks taken from "Puzzle" which you can buy here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 12:59 PM, Anonymous george said...

wow, you keep pulling out the most random jams with this blog and i am once again gobsmacked. i had this CD, but it has been lost somewhere along the way. i always loved the bridge in "dizz knee land", and there was another great song on there, but i can't recall which one. hopefully it's one of the songs you posted.

At 9:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sweetarts, I had forgotten all about that thinly disguised snark peeking out behind that gangly guitar in Dizz Knee Land. Perhaps it's tragic--I really don't know or, frankly, care--but "...struggled with carpal tunnel syndrome..." is perhaps one of the funniest things I've seen in terms of a band fading. Pete Townsend is deaf and still rocks. Anyway, I have to log off the interwebs, my wrist hurts.

Another pleasant surprise and, indeed, forgotten disc.

At 2:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11:52 AM, Blogger March to the Sea said...

george - yeah its been a while since this was played.

brian - i am not sure what your comments mean. As far as carpal tunnel it was just "reporting it" i know there are other bands that have health issues and it wasn't meant to come across as them being weak or strong. Dunno what to make of your comments, but thanks for reading.

Conrad - your comment was deleted since it was spam. honestly..


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