Dead Rider is apparently an offshoot of the late, lamented U.S. Maple. My memory of that band's stuff is pretty weak but I am pretty sure that the music on the new one from Dead Rider, Crew Licks, out Friday on Drag City, sounds nothing like anything from U.S. Maple. I can report that what's here is disturbing and invigorating at the same time, even if Dead Rider are not exactly breaking any new ground on this long-player.
The sinister "Grand Mal Blues" kicks off Crew Licks with the sort of noise that one could have found on an early Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds record, while the more successful and original "Ramble On Rose" works on a groove that veers, however slightly, into territory once occupied by the Stones in the early Seventies. If "The Listing" catches spark for a bit, the spry "The Ideal" nudges itself into the direction of the sort of riffs once thrown down by Jon Spencer and his crew. Similarly, "Too Cruise" manages to work up some serious sweat, while the epic closer "When I Was The Frankenstein's" successfully blends the influences that are so clearly seeped through this stuff with something else entirely in order to produce a result that feels unique.
Crew Licks isn't exactly re-inventing the wheel here but it is furthering the sort of scuzzy rock that was once more commonplace. Given that, a listener has to at least applaud the fact that a band like Dead Rider is willing to pursue this sort of thing. Unfashionable, the bad intent rock here is good stuff.
More details on Dead Rider and Crew Licks via Drag City.
[Photo: Bread Casey]