What if I were to tell that the debut The Ocean Went Mad and We Were To Blame by The Dead South has banjo on every song? You might say I'm not sure if I can handle that much banjo. Well think again because you will not only handle it but most likely you will enjoy it. Although it is a well-known fact that I have a fond affection for the instrument that isn't the only draw for this recently formed band. Over the course of the five songs the band reminded of an alternative band from the 90’s like Pearl Jam attempting to play bluegrass and pulling it off way above people’s expectations. While some of the songs such as “The Dirty Juice” are straight up knee slapping hoedown that are a bluegrass fan’s wet dream they also have songs such as “Fruit and Salad” which feel more like a folk song tinged with a bit of alternative rock from the 90’s. If you omitted the banjo in a couple of the songs and the chords were strummed slightly you might be able to get away with calling this Indie rock but why bother.
The album starts with “Banjo Odyssey,” which is an upbeat song that revolves around a steady kick drum, twirling banjo and acoustic guitars but is inspired by the vocal performance. The singer has this old country raspy voice that sounds appropriate for the music. I was a fan of the well- timed and placed vocal dubs and harmonies. The song breaks down around the two-minute mark where we are introduced to the swooning cello as the singer starts talking and slowly transforms into multiple vocal harmonies that cross and weave as they build. The Dead South is able to make a nice transition back into the main riff before the song ends. I don’t want too talk too much more about the banjo but it has to be mentioned when talking about “Wishing Well.” It really drives the song on this one as the banjoist plays it like one might play a flamenco style song and then changes things up to a more traditional picking style. The album closes with “Honey You” that is a driving force of energy and one of the highlights. As the song progresses it changes quite frequently. Before most songs even get going they are already having a breakdown at the 45-second mark.
This is an impressive debut from The Dead South. Some songs are solid; others are good and they have a lot of time ahead of them to start refining their sound.
9/13/2013 06:13:23 am
I have not only had the pleasure of hearing this music in person but personally know the talented young men that make up this newest band. First thing in the morning on my way to work just a few notes is all it takes to set the mood for a wonderfully happy day!!
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