Dada / Dada

El Subliminoso

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Dada's inaugural Puzzle (1992) was a highly promising release from a young, creative band -- pop without pandering, musicianship without pretense or formula. The group's 1994 follow-up American Highway Flower played to several favorable reviews, but I can only think these came from scribes who had completely missed out on Puzzle. Other than more incisive production, the group had a disconcerting tendency to sound like the Police on this one, with comparatively few engaging songs. While there's little particularly subliminal or dada-esque about dada's muscular yet adventurous El Subliminoso, the group plays with far more horsepower and complexity than it's three-man lineup would suggest. Joie Calio and Michael Gurley make an accomplished bass/guitar tag-team, their interaction, along with precision stickman Phil Leavitt, almost always ringing much larger and intricate than power-trio life. Clean-up track "Bob the Drummer" almost makes this disc worth seeking out all on its lonesome. Also most notable are "A Trip with My Dad," an un-maudlin parental bonding gig driven by pulsing bass and backbeat, and the rolling thunder riff of "Rise." On a lighter note, "Star You Are" reminds me of an early Raspberries ballad, craftsmanship and emotion overcoming the saccharine sub-samba wrapper.

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