Hard Chargin’
Red Fez Records

When bands manage to stay together for a long time, they tend to mellow out a bit, realizing that working within their comfort zone can be just as artistically valid as continuing to challenging themselves. It’s a narrative that Dreadnaught, formed in 1996, wholeheartedly rejects. On this Maine/New Hampshire psych/prog trio’s fifth album, the last thing they want to feel is comfortable. Spaced-out country songs about polar bears shift abruptly into thorny math-rock instrumentals. Time signatures constantly shapeshift. Choruses devolve into babytalk. There are three songs with the title “That’s the Way That You Do It,” and they could not be more disconnected. The first sounds like Marilyn Manson fronting Steely Dan, the second like a drunk Hank Williams impersonator, the third like a sugar-rush TV theme from the 1992 TGIF block. Hard Chargin’ is true to its mission, as defined by bandleader Bob Lord: “Make music that confounds every single expectation one could possibly have.” But it would be great to hear what these talented players and arrangers could do if they focused for a minute, instead of mashing ideas together like Tonkas. Confounding an audience is a noble goal, but there’s also something to be said for convincing us.

— Joe Sweeney

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