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The Northerner

Prog rock band scores with eclectic release

Chad Snowden

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“Random lost souls have asked me, ‘What’s the future of rock n’ roll?’ I say, ‘I don’t know. Does it matter?'” Those words echo from the And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead’s title track off its new album “Worlds Apart,” and clearly the members play like it matters.

The12 tracks represent Trail of Dead’s orchestral nature, but this time around it’s a bit cleaner and refined. Aside from losing band-mate Neil Busch, the band gained more musically and is ready to destroy clubs and eardrums alike.

The album opener, “Overture,” is a bright classical interlude to the album’s most ambitious track, “Will You Smile Again For Me.” A band that usually enjoys noisy changes from verse to chorus, “Will You Smile Again For Me,” is a bit of a departure for Trail of Dead. Progressive rock overtones are heard throughout the composition, while not stealing from any past or present purveyors of the long-winded art. To the contrary, Trail of Dead comes off more like a band who is creating to save the members from boredom, than to be compared to any of its reputable contemporaries.

And why not? The Texas natives dish out their sonic assault and legendary show-enders where no piece of musical equipment gets out alive. This is, after all, what got Trail of Dead noticed further than its old label, Merge records. While its early efforts were different than most anything that was going on at the time musically, on MTV2 the band was likened to an indie-rock Nirvana with the same affinity for breaking its equipment. At the time, the band had released its second album, Madonna-the last that would be released with Merge records.

It would be three years until Trail of Dead would release its debut with Interscope, Source Tags ‘ Codes. Two videos from that album, “Another Morning Stoner” and “Relative Ways,” got considerable airplay on MTV2. Source Tags ‘ Codes represented Trail of Dead when it can take its time with a recording. Critically acclaimed, Source Tags ‘ Codes generated a sizable buzz around the band’s music, not to mention the buzz around its previous destructive claim to fame.

After some time off and an exhausting touring schedule supporting the release of Source Tags ‘ Codes, the Trail of Dead, with less one member, was ready to change what its fans thought about the band. The band released an EP in 2004 containing the title track from Worlds Apart, which gave Trail of Dead fans a taste of what it has to offer next. The reception of the EP was bi-polar, with some disappointed fans longing for Trail of Dead to go back to its noisy roots, and satisfied fans who have chose to grow with Trail of Dead through the years praised and left their appetites wetted for what was to come.

Worlds Apart places Trail of Dead beyond that of any lingering expectations. This release truly would be a surprise for anyone who isn’t directly involved with the band. An album that sounds more like a comeback than a continuation, Trail of Dead has succeeded in creating an introspective atmosphere for its music to thrive. “The Best,” is one of the strangest song structures Trail of Dead has ever used. Piano also fills the track much like the majority of the album. Exploding to three-part harmonies, “The Best,” best exemplifies the comfort that Trail of Dead will offer, before fading into tortured screams and pleadings, coupled with creepy sounds unsettling enough to pry at your emotions then pulled off in such a way, the listener won’t be able to image the album without it. That is really the most familiar ground that Trail of Dead walks upon this time around, ending, beginning, its songs with odd sound clips. The band still likes to play with the listener’s ears before they are conquered.

Unlike anything that is being played right now, Trail of Dead came just short of curing cancer, or the equivalent of cancer, musically. Few bands in action in the mid-to-late ’90s are still slugging it out almost 10 years later, garnering as much attention as Trail of Dead has received. The attention is apt, and with this latest release. Trail of Dead continues on its path of destruction, conquest, and enlightenment.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Prog rock band scores with eclectic release