Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Review Of The Debut Album From Deathfix

I was lucky enough to have seen the second-ever Deathfix gig, back in December 2011 when the band opened up for D.C.'s awesome The Jet Age at Comet Ping Pong.

Here are 3 shots from that gig that I had to seriously tweak in Picasa to render visible; it was dark in that joint!

Now with the self-titled debut from Deathfix set to drop on Dischord next Tuesday, it's safe to say that Brendan Canty -- (Yes, that guy from Fugazi!) -- Rich Morel, Mark Cisneros, and Devin Ocampo have delivered one of the most listenable records of the year.

A Dischord band that sounds nothing like a Dischord band, Deathfix have merged elements of postpunk and glam-rock with a hint of AOR to create a compelling 7-song set.

Opener "Better Than Bad" channels Shudder to Think circa that Velvet Goldmine (1998) soundtrack and throws in a hint of an old George Harrison stomper (that slide guitar!) to kick things off. It's the type of track that immediately sounds like something you'e heard before -- like about 10 different bands at once -- and it's also the sort of song that instantly gets stuck in your head.

I'm not ashamed to say that I played this first cut a few times before making it through the rest of the record.

"Low Lying Dreams" growls along on top of a piano melody like a Nick Cave jam or something from another one of his brethren. The song recalls Morphine (a tiny bit) and a few other acts but it remains a haunting tune. Brendan Canty's spiraling guitar-line holds things in place as the melancholy tune ambles forward.

"Hospital" builds after a subtle start. It's an amazingly impressive cut -- equal parts Bowie in Berlin and a sort of subdued Afghan Whigs. Dare I name-drop old Bruce Springsteen here? There's something direct and affecting here that's hard to define. It's that feeling of having heard all of these pieces before but never in quite this way.

"Dali's House" channels LCD Soundsystem -- and namechecks the band's frontman -- and creates a sort of American take on the late period funk of Gang of Four for lack of a better description. I do remember hearing this cut back in December 2011 and even then it was a crowd-pleaser.

"Playboy" sounds like mellow John Cale and Lou Reed, simultaneously. The instrumentation here is just fantastic. All four players add little flourishes that make this an expertly crafted and arranged song.

"Mind Control" has that old Shudder to Think vibe but it's more spacious and less angular. The vocals by Morel or Canty -- hard to tell who's singing sometimes -- are certainly more subdued than Craig Wedren's in Shudder to Think but the song unfurls a sort of funky and nearly sinister vibe.

"Transmission" finishes off the record and seems to encapsulate it as well. That Low-sound is here but something more. The song is epic, recalling not so much that other "Transmission" by Joy Division but a sort of Peter Hook-lead New Order instead.

Deathfix, a product of the talents of these collected Dischord and D.C. rockers, is a remarkably concise and listenable record. There's nothing wasted here. From the playful funk of "Dali's House" to the Unrest-meets-Joy Division sleek hum of "Transmission", this is an album that deserves many spins.

Follow the band on their website:

Deathfix will be released this week on Dischord.