Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Album Review: Deadaires by Deadaires (by Robyn Pierce)

The Deadaires self-titled album is a new offering from the Florida punk scene. The band includes former Against Me! bassist Andrew Seward, together with Ryan Murphy and Jeremy Rogers of True North. The album was released at the end of last year on Anxious and Angry, produced by J. Robbins and mastered by Brad Boatright (who worked on the awesome soundtrack for the Netflix series ‘Stranger Things’). With this sort of musical pedigree, I expected good things from Deadaires.

The album begins and ends with a fuzzy, throbbing groove that sets the pace and the mood of the record, which is slower and more mature than I was expecting. At the beginning this bleeds into the second track, ‘Constance Demario’, which has a tender, stripped-down feel that could be sung by just one man and his guitar. In fact, it reminds me a little of Johnny Cash and the songwriting-as-storytelling mode of many country songs. It begins solemnly with the opening lines “Well, Constance learned to catch a rat / and cunningly she caught her breath”, but it then builds to a delicate layering of sounds that offers a nostalgic lament to youthful indiscretion. The whole album displays this balance of warm, soulful guitar with thick, husky vocals. The third track ‘New York Was A Bad Idea’ is a singalong organised around a sultry guitar riff that grooves through the verses and then bangs out the chorus. Once again, the song reflects back upon past experiences, but with the insight that comes with middle age rather than simply regret. Following this, ‘Poor You, Poor Me’ is the shortest and most aggressive track on the album, but showcases the same clear and vibrant guitar tone that the others do. ‘Hideout’ is a song of contrasts and harmonies, throwing bright guitar riffs on top of rich bass tones and overlaying vocals. The effect is quite haunting, particularly with the song’s refrain “It’s a perfect place for him to hide / It’s a perfect place for me to hide”.

In an interview with Folio Weekly, Andrew mentions that the Deadaires album is a ‘happy accident’ that began as just a few friends getting together to play music. You can hear that the guys behind Deadaires get along well and enjoy making music together. They’ve taken time to craft each song and produce the album as a whole, creating a well-rounded sound in which no member or instrument tries to outshine the others. Everything sits together comfortably. As you move into the second half of the album, ‘Exit Polls’ is a midtempo track with some punchy drum rolls that also makes use of the slower gang vocals that I’m calling singalongs. I think the choice to include so many singalongs is part of why this album feels so collaborative. After ‘Exit Polls’, the latter third of the album slows down. ‘Time Ain’t’ opens with some experimental reverb before filling out into a gravelly ballad. ‘Boom Boom’ is a similarly relaxed track, but is more dynamic than the slow rumblings of ‘Time Ain’t’ and I found it a lot more satisfying. I think ‘Boom Boom’ could make a great karaoke song to sing on a night out with the guys. ‘Rosemary’ is my least favourite track; it fits in on the album but it just doesn’t have the fullness or warmth of the other songs.

Overall, the album is quite experimental – offering some new sounds from some familiar figures, and it could be classed as post-punk or post-hardcore. It wasn’t what I was expecting, based upon the band members’ previous projects, but I was pleasantly surprised. The production quality is high, but not too slick, and I really liked the blending and layering of sounds. I’m sure a lot of work went into getting the mix just right, and it really pays off. I would have liked to have a few more up-tempo songs, but then I also think that could ruin the overall feel of the album, which is fiery but also slow burning and brooding. This feels like an album to play on a sunny Florida afternoon while sipping something cold and thinking about all the places you’ve been and all the bands you’ve seen.

Stream and download Deadaires here: https://deadaires.bandcamp.com/releases

Like Deadaires here: https://www.facebook.com/Deadaires/