Friday, August 26, 2011

FDF Volume 3 Issue 237 - Dig - Self Titled.

By: March

Album – Dig (Self Titled)
Artist - Dig
Key Players – Anthony Smedile – drums. Phil Friedmann -bass. Johnny Cornwell – guitar. Jon Morris – guitar and backing vocals. Scott Hackwith – lead vocals, guitar.
Produced By – Dave Jerden and Dig

Release Date - 1993

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I recall a song or two, but stumbled upon this in a buy 2 get one free bin...and the rack was all $1.00 cds to start with..sooooooooooooo.

Overview – Los Angeles, California based band Dig formed in 1991 at the dawn of the grunge movement. They'd blend grunge with alternative rock and a dash of shoegaze. They'd garner their lone “hit” from this record (“Believe”) which would be played on MTV and chart on the Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock charts. They have issued two follow up records.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - “Let Me Know” opens with a big wall of guitars, after a few looping riffs one guitar breaks out some before the bass and drums join in. It has that early 90's alternative rock feel. Hackwith has his vocals compressed and the band resorts to the big guitars after each verse, filling with big riffs. The drums and bass are low in the mix, freeing it up for the three guitar players to strum along. It is not overly interesting musically and the compressed vocals get a little grating. At the same time the band seems to be working on setting their own sound. We get a quick guitar solo before returning to the main hook of guitars and the song concludes. We get a more “grunge” feel at the start of “I'll Stay High” with the guitars having more a deep tone. The bass is a little more a focal point repeating the same few notes. The band repeats the intro riffs before getting a little more aggressive and Hackwith begins to sing. Uncompressed, Hackwith has a decent set of pipes for a rock band. The band likes to lock in to a riff and there are no break out drum, bass or guitar fills/solos. They keep the track in a straight line for the verse/chorus and second verse. They get a little hushed before the chorus but come up back and heavy and it then ends abruptly. A single, out of tune guitar opens up “Unlucky Friend” with Hackwith singing along, sometimes not really on key. This goes on for about one minute, then the full band comes in. Semdile hits the drums a little harder and they band seems to “right the ship” after the intro. It still feels pretty vanilla for a rock tune. We get the first real guitar solo with just one guitar taking the lead and the others giving chords. It comes back around but mellows out where it could have taken off. Hackwith takes the song back through another verse and feels almost “too long”.
“Anymore” is a little atmospeheric. I can see/hear why the band had a shoegaze tag, but up to this point barring the intro they are not a band I'd call shoegaze. Hackwith is hushed on his vocal delivery while Smedile is hesitant to take off on the drums. Friedmann seems to be a little more open on his bass and you can hear some nice fills on the back sides of the verses. This is the most laid back track up to this point (only 4 tracks in). The track has a false ending after the guitar solo, just another short guitar interlude, but makes for an odd ending. “Conversation” starts off as such, a series of people talking and bottles opening et all. The guitar and drums begin to set the tone, but Hackwith is singing very slowly as the conversations continue underneath. After the second verse the band comes in a little harder and heavier and Hackwith pushes himself. The band is quick to change their mind, where a heavier section could continue they fall back to a more somber/blues riff. When that should go on, the vocals take over. It is an curious song, can't sing along to it too well, but has some big riffs at times. The track that was the single comes in “Believe”. Here I can see a little of the “shoegaze” tag. Friedmann and Smedile start things off and while one guitar buzzes a second does more of the big swooping notes one would associate with “shoegaze”. Hackwith pushes himself just right on the vocals and the backing vocals from Morris are very nice. The track blend a great bit of rock with the more “jangle” of the guitar. We haven't heard the good harmonies until now and the band latches on and this works to their benefit. They seem to do the chorus that one extra time which is a nice touch since it works so well. Smedile rumbles the drums again and the guitars ring out over it as the song wraps up. “Feet Don't Touch the Ground” has a swirling intro as well, with Friedmann high in the mix and the guitars working off the drum line. As the verse starts everyone settles back and lets the song begin to take a more focused shape. Morris again is on backing vocals for the chorus and guitars seem to come at you from everywhere before the bass rings out. This track is really a stand out from a production standpoint as each player seems to be on the same level. The bass work is the most exciting with some bigger/swooping fills. A decent track. “Ride the Wave” gets back to the more driving rock feel with some big runs on the bass and drums. “Green Room” has a laid back feel on the instruments and vocals as the band sings about getting high, but they break out after the first verse where everything seems to get louder and faster before it settles down again. They repeat this formula a few times. “Tight Brain” is a tight rocking opener, the band sounds best at times like this, just a big whallop to the ears. They are in and out in just over 2 minutes. “Fuck You” has some chugging guitars and bass and, as one would expect its a pretty straight forward song with regard to subject matter. The album concludes with the track “Decide” a little more slow and mellow dramatic track. Lots of emotion pouring out but it feels a little out of place at the same time. Sort of a drag to end the record with. Oh but wait, there is a rowdy rocker at the end, its a different track, but not broken off the final track. It sounds a little “rough” and the band is just making some rock noise as Hackwith sings some unrecognizable lyrics. It ends abruptly, thankfully.

Where are they now? - The band is still listed as being active, their last release was in 1999. The band is largely intact as well. Cornwell and Smedile have been replaced.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – I never saw the band live.

FDF Overall Take – The first few songs are average at best. It feels very generic and almost boring at times. It was just “that time” in music when labels were after anything “grunge”. It hasn't aged the best, sounds a bit cliché and is largely unremarkable. “Believe” is the stand out to these ears and is worth seeking out.

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