Deathfix – Deathfix (Dischord)
Brendan Carty and Rich Morel’s Deathfix revisit sometime in the early 70s where Prog and occasionally glam (!) ruled supreme. Louder Than War’s Adrian Bloxham has been listening,
When two members of Bob Mould’s touring band decide to form a group you think they are going to be pretty good. But then you read more and one of the names leaps up and screams at you. Brendan Canty has a new band. I don’t need to go into why this guy is important to alternative rock and, as part of the brilliant Fugazi, has played on some of the best albums ever to be released under this banner. What I didn’t know is that along with Rich Morel, his Bob Mould bandmate, he found a joint affinity for Glam and Prog rock, specifically from 1972. The two of them started to make music to go along with their passion and then as the songs got bigger they recruited Devin Ocampo and Mark Cisneros. The songs grew even more to match the warehouse space in which they were playing and between them they crafted this album.
This record isn’t just a look backwards to big open highways and hairy guitarists; it’s not a throwback to big old US Rawk. It also isn’t a return to the sound of Fugazi, the urgent angular wonder of what they created. This is something else, something caught somewhere between the two. Something big, open and very cool.
‘Better than Bad’ starts proceedings with a warm fuzzy seventies guitar noise and a funky stretched out backbeat. Brendan and Rich’s vocals are rich and rough edged, harmonising and flowing around each other. It’s a song to stretch out and smile to, a song for sunshine. ‘Low Lying Dreams’ has a low, deep singing voice and gives you a slow shuffle that feels sad and dark. ‘Hospital’ has much more of a post-punk angular feel; it’s brooding and dark with lyrics echoing this. It’s very subtle feeling song with a feeling of paranoia and panic.
This shifts completely with the eight and a bit minute long ‘Dalis’ House’ which is a tongue in cheek cool list, with an explanation as to why they want to be each individual house. It’s a cool sexy jam with a low almost drawled voice; the bass leading the groove making it ooze along slowly. It’s quite marvellous. ‘Playboy’ is smooth and low, a lightweight seventies pop rock jam. You can feel the sunshine and wind in your hair from the long desert highway.
The last two tracks ‘Mind Control’ and ‘Transmission’ are firmly planted in Prog Rock territory, the tunes are complex and spacey, the former has a relaxed feel, it’s mellow and swallows you up as you listen. The latter has a more urgent groove and the jams extend out into the stratosphere, the sound slows and almost disappears until the guitars crash back in and the song takes off again.
It’s an album that grows on you, the first time you listen you won’t get it all, the fifteenth time you get more but still want t hear it again. It is a displaced sound and one that people have pretty much written off. I think that this will be listened to because of who is in the band and then it will be enjoyed for the music on its own.
All words by Adrian Bloxham. More work by Adrian on Louder Than War can be found here.