by Karl Hodge
Leeds based four-piece Deadwall’s full length, DIY album shows every other post-demo age band how it should be done.
It’s so easy to be cynical about popular music, isn’t it? Even when you’re a fundamentally fluffy, positive individual with a heart made of pink fur. The stuff we’re actually supposed to like is so achingly, wilfully easy to pigeon-hole. Crying boys with tiny guitars. Authentically inauthentic piano soul sung by men who sound like women. Hip-hop for white people in big shoes and hats. Something something Americana.
And then there’s Deadwall. God of music (that would be Apollo, fans of Greek theology), thank you for Leeds based Deadwall and their recently released long player, Bukimi no Tami.
Look, it’s our job to pick a few bands or genres at this point in the review and these names should help you decide if you might like this band. Usually those band names go together and you’ll nod and think either “that’s the kind of thing I listen to” and carry on reading or decide it’s not your cup of tea and go to RedTube for a wank.
And there are flashes of familiarity in every track. From the Beach Boys to Radiohead. From Belle and Sebastian to Nick Cave. There’s a homeopathic drop of English folk and an echo of John Lennon. But don’t let any of that lull you into thinking you’ll know what to expect. One moment you’ll be eating a lovely lemon cheesecake – the next you’ll get stabbed in the leg with a fondue fork. This four piece have got some chops.
Case study: track two, Eyes Wide Shut. It’s the obvious single by several Pennine miles, howling with malfeasant feedback, balanced by sweet music box blips. Twin vocals evoke Stereolab backed by Sonic Youth; a breakneck confection that tastes of bliss and blood. At the end of three minutes twelve seconds, after scooping out your brain and serving it back to you with fries, it just stops. If we had this on vinyl, we’d lift the needle straight back to the start.
In a ten track set of anomalies, this is an anomaly. Take track nine, Brick; like an analogue outtake from King of Limbs that gives way to movie soundtrack feedback swells and strings. Track six, Daffolion; a bossanova indie jangle with biscuit tin snares, theremin and West Yorkshire inflections on sentences like “Yet here I am in a foreign library with my head in the sand”. Track seven, Nocebo Blues; a valve driven swamp of discordant Sabbath and Bad Seeds, complete with haunted carnival chorus…
And yet, all of it sounds like Deadwall; cerebral, organic music that’s played rather than programmed. Fragile vocals that seem to fit into any genre. A core of bass, guitar and drums augmented by keys, strings, trumpet and – hold the phone – flugelhorn.
There’s an entire full length album of this stuff to love. Ten succulent tunes committed to bits and bytes. In an age where any collection of hastily recorded demo tracks can be slapped into a package and called an “EP”- that’s as refreshing as a rocket lolly in late June.