By: Wesley Hodges
Dead Confederate spent a good deal of time on the road before finally recording and putting out this full-length debut and it was worth the wait. Already receiving critical acclaim at last year's CMJ Festival and being personally invited by R.E.M. to open for them at this year's SXSW Festival, this is a band on the verge of something big. A band known for intense, powerful and LOUD live shows, Dead Confederate managed to capture the proverbial lightning in a bottle with Wrecking Ball (Razor & Tie) as their onstage intensity resonates throughout the album in a raw yet sonically refined manner. Produced by Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Trail of Dead) and released on The Artists Organization imprint, Wrecking Ball is unique because it is the band's first full-length but the core of the band have been together for several years.
Kicking off with the angst-ridden "Heavy Petting," a track that would've fit nicely on an early Nirvana album, the album hits the ground running. Wrecking Ball's second track, "The Rat," is the magnum opus of the record and maybe this year, opening with an ominous B-3 intro and lead singer Hardy Morris growling out the lyrics in such a way that you can almost see the veins popping out of his neck. The song is musically tight, dark and surprisingly catchy (although singing "Stupid human, shit for brains" at the bus stop might get you some strange looks). The raw power of this song is almost impossible to convey with words and any fans of Secret Machines, Nirvana, Pink Floyd and/or My Morning Jacket ought to give this one a good, head-banging listen. Fans of David Gilmour's sprawling slide guitar trips through psychedelic soundscapes will particularly enjoy "Goner" and "The News Underneath." "Start Me Laughing" reins in the early '90s grunged-out intensity that opened the album, delivering a squall of sound with a metallic edge and some kick-ass drum work. "The News Underneath" and "Flesh Colored Canvas" are both life-affirming rock epics that burn slow and then rock you right down to the core. Although not for the listener with a short attention span, these two anthems reward one for their patience in a way that recalls My Morning Jacket's "Dondante" or Pink Floyd's "Echoes," leaving you breathless and with a wicked case of the chills. The title track would be my recommendation for anyone wholly unfamiliar with the band as it seems to encapsulate all things Dead Confederate and aptly serves as the album closer.
If you dig their sound, be sure to check these guys out at a small club near you this fall and winter, because next time they come to town it might not be in such an intimate setting. But, with such a large and sprawling sound, Dead Confederate will be able to make an arena feel like your friend's basement.
Peep this nicely raw live version of "The Rat" from Late Night With Conan O'Brien.
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