Dave's Gone Mad offers fresh mix

by Joe Hanlon | 5/23/02 5:00am

They're four guys who have been brought together by a love of music, a desire to be in a band and a large amount of chance. You may have heard them play in the Lone Pine Tavern, on the Gold Coast lawn or recently at the Ledyard opening party.

Dave's Gone Mad consists of Fred Yarger '04 (vocals and acoustic guitar), Jeff Hebert '04 (electric guitar), Evan McBeath '04 (vocals, drums, keyboard) and P. Travis D'Amato '03 (bass guitar). All four played during high school and came to Dartmouth hoping to find or form a band. Luck was with them. Yarger and Hebert were roommates freshman year, and their undergraduate advisor was D'Amato. They met Evan through his participation in the Cords a capella group.

This past fall, everything came together for the group. After a year of hard work in the studio learning the ins and outs of writing songs, composing the accompanying music and putting mixes together, the members of Dave's Gone Mad have completed and released their debut album, "Begin."

Overall, the album is a mix of alternative music and rock, with the influence of a harder, stronger and more prominent guitar role combined with a softer, more lyrical tune. It is an excellent combination, with a strong unifying theme that can be understood by anyone interested, even moderately, in mainstream music.

In the title track, "Begin," Yarger sings about leaving home and starting over and the fear that accompanies these things. The song is a fitting introduction to the album, especially with the range of musical ability of the members of Dave's Gone Mad. The track begins slow and soft, but builds to a crescendo with an impressive guitar solo and prominent drum section. The ease of the transition is notable and is a sign of things to come. "Something for the Effort" is similar in this regard, as is "Lost Time."

Basically, the album is divided along the lines set out in "Begin," tending either toward stronger rock parts or a more lyrical tune, but never straying too far toward either side. "Reflection" features some good guitar solos (which is one of the group's trademarks), "Spin" works the listener up for the chorus several times and "Find My Way" uses an undercurrent of chords to continue the rock feeling throughout the song.

On the other hand, my favorite tune, "Writers and Poets," is one of the more melodic, soft and lyrical tracks on the album. The lyrics are chased a beat or two behind by the instrumental parts, with, naturally, several great guitar and drum sections mixed in. It is also a shining example of the success that the members of Dave's Gone Mad, who had little or no experience with their studio equipment, managed to achieve in mixing and recording their songs.

While "Poets," is soft and keeps the tune quick, "Topple" and "Small Difference" slow things down and allow for a change of pace. The final track, a short, unnamed piece, is primarily a mix of piano and drums, perhaps a reminder of the group's origin in jam sessions last year.

"Begin" deserves much praise, simply because not many records can hold one's attention the entire way through without interruption, but this album has little trouble doing so. Take the best of a group that jams, a group that rocks and a group whose lyrics won't stay out of your head, add some refreshing originality, and you've got Dave's Gone Mad.

And in case you were wondering about the band's name, Dave is just Yarger's brother being weird.