Dredg/Torche

No one will ever accuse dredg of under-thinking their shit. Formed in 1993, the darlings of California's modern prog-rock movement have nurtured a reputation for trippy concept albums, feverish thematic forays, and bold multi-media exploration. Their 1998 self-released debut album, Lietmotif, was based on a short story about a world traveler looking to cure his "spiritual disease." In 2002, they signed with Interscope and dashed label expectations by releasing El Cielo, a 16-song monster inspired by a Salvador Dalí painting. Their third disc, Catch Without Arms (2005), was a meditation on duality that included pieces of artwork embedded with clues to a Bay Area treasure hunt. Most recently, they returned to the indie-label fold and recorded The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion, a "rock 'n' roll record . . . filled with eccentric jousts" that bassist Drew Roulette says was inspired by the Salman Rushdie poem A Letter to the Six Billionth Citizen. For a generation reared on mouse clicks and Twitter memes, this might all seem annoyingly thorough, but for those of us who fondly recall the heyday of Alan Parsons and Yes, it's downright progressive.

 
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