Friday, May 04, 2012

FDF Volume 3 - Issue 265 - Paw : Dragline

Album - Dragline

Artist - Paw
Key Players – Charles Bryan – bass. Peter Fitch – drums. Grant Fitch – guitars. Mark Hennessy – vocals.
Produced By - Mr. Colson and Paw

Release Date - 1993

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I was actually in a local record shop and saw this cd just sitting at the end of a section. I was pretty sure I had it, so I made a mental note..and sure enough.

Overview – Formed in 1990 in Lawrence Kansas and blended “grunge” and southern rock at just the right time. A+M Records singed them to a three record deal after they were billed as the “next Nirvana”. The hype would be decent on the first record (this one here) and even though the second record was considered “better” by critics it fizzled and the band was dropped before their third album of the contract. They'd disband is 2000 but have since done a few shows in 2008.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – Since two members share the same name I'll use their first (Grant on guitar and Peter on drums). “Gasoline” is a slow build track but then it takes off. Hennessy has a rough howl to his voice and Bryan and Grant seem to feed off each other. Peter wants to get everyone moving and they tend to join in and push it forward. They have a bridge after the second verse before the chorus which is a good change from the straight rock fee. The vocals fit the music style and the grunge/heavy metal of the time. At one point there is another breakdown and Hennessy speaks the lyrics before the band comes back in and Grant gets a solo. “Sleeping Bag” has another big intro. Hennessy is quick on this vocals. The bass work from Bryan is a bit more up in the mix. The track moves along nicely and then there is a longer acoustic guitar interlude where everyone takes a step back, but the band comes roaring back in at the bark of Hennessy. The single that most would know comes in the track “Jessie” a guitar buzz fest that chugs along like a train. Hennessy barks the vocals, but cuts back some when the chorus comes around. The track has a unique twist when there is a slide guitar section that is brought to the forefront. Even when Hennessy is singing at his most aggressive you can still hear it clearly. The tracks continue to be on the short side. Quick and to the point with “The Bridge” being no exception. Grant and Peter work together as Bryan is quick to be included and the vocals begin. Hennessy doesn’t have a remarkable range, but per the norm the style of this vocal is fine for the music that is played. There is a phased out guitar section that is played a little quicker after the final verse is sung, before the chorus comes back. Grant holds the sustain over the chorus and it is layerd with a second guitar for an even bigger conclusion. Things seem to be the same on tracks like
“Couldn't Know” and “Pansy”. Couldn't Know has a longer guitar solo on the back and Pansy has a rumbling drum intro from Peter. Grant doesn't want to be out done so he comes in and Bryan wants to play too so the track takes off. You are in full rock mode. Bryan stands alone at the start of “Lolita” with a bass line that has a nice punch to it. Grant and Peter join in and Hennessy seems to be a little more laid back when he is singing. The verse is sung and even before a chorus arrives the band comes in full, but it takes the chorus for them to take off. The band has found a good mix of quiet and loud on the track and it has a good full feel and pointed sound, “Dragline” has a far more erratic chopping intro before the band gets rolling. It is not long to get rolling and Hennessy seems to be full of angst on the track and there is a good wall of guitar used, but the mix of the acoustic guitar later in the track is a solid touch. The guitar is a bit more subtle at the start of “Veronica” that is until the chorus arrives when Bryan, Grant and Peter all meet in the middle and hit it down hard. Once again the band seems to be willing to mix it up with the quiet to loud approach but still having it feel and sound good. “One More Bottle” is more with the feel of other tracks, a straight forward rocking number while guitars once again reign supreme as “Sugarcane” rumbles from the headphones. Peter gives his drum kit a good work out and he seems to find a solid pocket with Grant. The album concludes with the track “Hard Pig”. Bryan takes the lead on the bass before Grant gives short bursts on the guitar. This sounds and feels like a grunge tune with the big guitars and the strong vocals from Hennessy. The band does a little bit of the spoken lyrics again, but the band is a bit too urgent and noisy for that to last too long. A decent closer with a longer drawn out wall of sound.

Where are they now? - Grant Fitch and Peter Fitch still write and perform music under various monikers.. Grant in a band called “The New Franklin Panthers” who have a release out. Peter works out of Las Vegas. Hennessy still performs music and has released a book of poetry. In the wildest “who would have thunk it” moment Bryan became the “the fastest human in suborbital freefall” hitting a speed of 327mph in 1997.
(Read about the dive)

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – I actually saw the band live. The Paradise on May 4, 1994. I recall “Jessie” being a real strong stand out and the hype machine was rolling. The band appeared to be pretty buzzed on stage, but I don't recall them floundering much, if at all. Also I realize that this was review was posted 18 years to the day of the show. Hot diggity!

FDF Overall Take – After listening for the first time in a long time I found I hadn't missed it all that much. Sure there are some moments but it feels very much the same for the duration. Perhaps that is the case with the genre but barring a few bursts here and there the album as a whole didn't take me back in time, or have me longing for their other records. Not a terrible record, but it hasn't aged the best.

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