dada – How to Be Found

dada - How to Be FoundAfter dada’s terrific self-titled fourth album, the band was dropped by their label MCA; they went on hiatus soon after. Michael Gurley and Phil Leavitt formed Butterfly Jones, while Joie Calio started working on a solo project. The hiatus wasn’t quite permanent, however, and in 2003 the guys got the band back together for an extensive tour. In the new year, they’ve finally managed to pry a group of previously-unreleased songs away from MCA and released How To Be Found. Far from a collection of rejects and outtakes, the album is an addition to the discography on par with the band’s previous efforts.

Most of these songs sound like they’re in the same mold as the tracks from dada, but on How To Be Found the production and mix are a little more spare, a little more raw – very reflective of the band’s live sound. The album is fairly evenly divided between high-tempo rockers, such as “Crumble” and “Nothing Like You”, and more meandering almost-psychedelic tunes, including “I Wish You Were Here Now” and “Love Is a Weird Thing”. Leavitt’s drums feature heavily on a number of songs, totally carrying the high-energy “It’s All Mine “along and blending beautifully with Gurley’s guitar and Calio’s bass on “Any Day the Wind Blows”. “What’s Happening to Steven” blends those elements with some great organ work to give the song a bit of a classic-rock feel that’s not out of place on the album. As always, the lead vocals are handled by Calio and Gurley, and while I love the music these two have done on heir side and solo projects, put them together and their voices support and play off each other to great effect.

I usually prefer dada’s rockers to the slower stuff, and this album is no exception. I can enjoy tracks like “Guitar Girl” and “I Wish You Were Here Now”, but they don’t give me the almost transcendent glee that I 4 out of 4feel listening to “It’s All Mine” or “Any Day”. Two exceptions would be the album opener, “The Next Train Out of My Mind”, which does a great job of “warming up” the listener for the rest of the album, and the wistful “Reason”, which has some great vocals from Calio. This is a solid and very welcome return for one of my favorite bands.

Order this CD

  1. The Next Train Out of My Mind (5:40)
  2. It’s All Mine (4:27)
  3. How to Be Found (3:27)
  4. Crumble (3:07)
  5. Nothing Like You (2:57)
  6. Guitar Girl (4:45)
  7. Any Day the Wind Blows (4:46)
  8. Blue Girl (4:08)
  9. My Life Could Be Different (3:35)
  10. What’s Happening to Steven (4:03)
  11. I Wish You Were Here Now (6:06)
  12. Reason (3:51)
  13. Love Is a Weird Thing (4:32)

Released by: Blue Cave
Release date: 2004
Total running time: 55:31

dada

dadaThis album – the band’s fourth and probably last – features just about everything that’s good about dada. The energy and harmonies most prominently featured on Puzzle are back, and so are the catchy melodies, this time with a little bit more electric guitar and production complexity. “Where You’re Going” uses echoing guitar as an anchor in the background, while the percussion, bass and more guitar drive the song. “The Ballad of Earl Grey and Chamomile” features more great guitar work and is a close second as my favorite song on the album. It’s yet another look back at happier times, which might become a clichè if dada didn’t do it so damned well. The background vocals on the chorus do a tremendous job of making you feel the excitement of those better days. “Information Undertow” has some of dada’s most inventive lyrics, and they only seem more apropos four years later, although my appreciation of lines like “I’m everywhere I want to be, nowhere especially” may say more than I want to about my own online habits. Goodbye is rating: 4 out of 4a beautiful ballad about the end of a relationship. “Beautiful Turnback Time Machine” is a cool track about what we’d do if we could do it all over again. “This Thing Together”, a song whose optimism may or may not be tempered by the “You know I’ll miss you when you’re gone” chorus, is carried by the vocals but has a great rhythm to it.

Order this CD

  1. Information Undertow (3:33)
  2. Playboy in Outerspace (4:53)
  3. Where You’re Going (3:39)
  4. California Gold (5:30)
  5. Thins Thing Together (3:48)
  6. Sweet Dark Angel (4:10)
  7. Goodbye (3:55)
  8. Beautiful Turnback Time Machine (4:21)
  9. Baby Really Loves Me (4:13)
  10. Spinning My Wheels (4:45)
  11. Outside (3:08)
  12. The Ballad of Earl Grey and Chamomile (3:46)
  13. Agent’s Got No Secret (4:22)

Released by: MCA
Release date: 1998
Total running time: 54:11

dada – Puzzle

dada - PuzzleTo the extent that dada has any hits, this is where you’ll find them. The sometimes-cynical sense of humor of “Dizz Knee Land”, with its once-again-pertinent line “I just flipped off President George / I’m going to Dizz Knee Land!”, permeates a few of the other tracks, like “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” and “Posters”. But there is also a solid emotional core to the songwriting. “Timothy” is the story of a boy whose life is so depressing he resorts to fantasy; the accompanying strings might come off as overbearing if they weren’t so well balanced by the understated bass, acoustic guitar and vocals, all of which build in intensity throughout the song. “Surround” is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. At its core, it’s just percussion work and acoustic guitar playing a melody that’s simple yet elevating (with similar lyrics), but it layers other instruments in so well that the resulting harmonies intensify the feeling. Dim captures the sense of desperation of a person who looks back on his life at the end of a rating: 4 out of 4relationship and isn’t sure how he got where he is; as he asks, “Can’t this car go any faster / ’cause I can still see where I am,” the drums and electric guitar drive the song forward. I don’t have a DNP list like Earl’s, but if I did, it would be right up there. Suffice to say it’s one of my favorites.

Order this CD

  1. Dorina (6:06)
  2. Mary Sunshine Rain (4:39)
  3. Dog (4:13)
  4. Dizz Knee Land (4:06)
  5. Surround (3:38)
  6. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow (4:42)
  7. Posters (4:05)
  8. Timothy (4:00)
  9. Dim (4:21)
  10. Who You Are (3:25)
  11. Puzzle (6:20)
  12. Moon (5:18)

Released by: I.R.S.
Release date: 1992
Total running time: 54:58