Saturday, January 07, 2006

Body count

...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
Source Tags & Codes (Interscope, 2002)
Key tracks: Another Morning Stoner, *How Near How Far, Relative Ways, Source Tags & Codes

Other Music (A)
If 2002 is the year of "the return of rock" with critically- acclaimed bands like the Strokes and White Stripes getting MTV play and major label record deals. Then the world better watch out for And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead and their new record "Source Tags and Codes". This is their third full length and their first for a major. Trail of Dead have been well known for their explosive live performances almost always resulting in thousands of dollars of destroyed equipment, but never seem to put this urgency down on record; Until now! "Source Tags and Codes" is much more cohesive than previous efforts and the big budget production offered by a major label definitely pays off. The album kicks off with walls of distorted guitars, pounding drums, emotionally wrought vocals, then breaks down to a beautiful Sonic Youth type interlude slowly building until it all culminates into a demolition of melodies and walls of pure noise. It is all absolutely beautiful -- highly melodic songs with sing-along choruses and all-out distorted rock and roll with screaming vocals. This is one record that recalls the days of yore for indie rock. Think of the perfect follow-up to Sonic Youth's "Daydream Nation" and you have the closest comparison. A definite contender for "rock record of the year", and a surefire hit to be on many a year's end top 10 list! [JS]

AMG (4.5/5)
Intricate and reflective as well as gripping and raw, Source Codes & Tags marks And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead's leap from the venerable indie imprint Merge to Interscope's major-label territory. It's a seamless transition, mixing the sweeping, fearlessly anthemic qualities of their previous work with a newfound sheen that actually makes the music's earnest roughness stand out more. Sculpted, gorgeous-yet-gritty melodies drive quintessentially AYWKUBTTOD epics like "Another Morning Stoner," "How Near, How Far," "Relative Ways," and the title track. But Source Codes & Tags isn't so much a more accessible version of the band's sound as it is a more streamlined one; the surging guitars on songs like "It Was There That I Saw You" are even more powerful for their economy. Yet the album's more refined sound doesn't prevent the group from expanding and experimenting -- driven by a stomping rhythm and a raunchy riff, the dangerously sexy "Baudelaire" is the most straightforwardly "rawk" thing And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead has done to date, while "Days of Being Wild" and "Homage" mix old-school hardcore with sullen, dreamlike passages. The band hasn't forsaken its artiness, either, linking nearly every song with interludes of found sounds and adding strings, accordions, and other unique flourishes to the arrangements. A driving, incredibly solid album, Source Tags & Codes proves just how much more the members of AYWKUBTTOD have to say -- they're just as combustible as they were on their debut, but now express themselves with a clarity that makes their intensity all the more breathtaking. -Heather Phares

Note: Score ratings in bold are Select Reviews, and "( )" the authors cited.