DEAD MAN sounds like the name of a Punk or a Hardcore band, or perhaps a Death Metal outfit that has run out of ideas for a band name. But a Psychadelic Rock outfit that worships the entire 70s Prog Rock scene? Whodathunkit?
This band openly worships JEFFERSON AIRPLANE, GENESIS, THE GRATEFUL DEAD, LED ZEPPELIN, PINK FLOYD and JETHRO TULL. These guys wear their influences on their sleeves proudly, and as each song goes on, you can play the “match the main influence” game. The irony of this album is how fresh it is, considering this sounds like it was some forgotten classic from the 70s.
The opening track evokes feeling of psychedelia, with the low key vocals, warm guitar sound, the dreamy bass lines and the subtle synthesizers. It also sounds like the musicians are coming up with some of their ideas on the spot, like they are working with a set framework and building ideas on it, so it has the feeling like the band is jamming together on the song.
The rest of the album has this looseness to the music, which works wonderfully. Some other influences pop up on the record, like the inclusion of a Folk-y fiddle on “Footsteps”, the BLACK SABBATH influenced interlude on “I Must Be Blind” (well, REALLY stoned SABBATH) and “A Pinch of Salt” is essentially a Country song, full of chicken picking and a lap steel.
It’s not without its faults, though. Whenever DEAD MAN takes the foray into Country it just comes off a tad clichéd, like they discovered “Writing Country 101”, and there is a vocal effect on “I Must Be Blind” and “Euphoria” which sounds like…….well, it sounds like the tape on which the vocals were recorded on was put into a tape deck that chewed it up, tried to spit it back out and wound up choking on itself in the process. It puts the focus and the attention on the vocal part, but not in that good way.
Back to the good bits about the record. The biggest indicator of how this is a “jam band” is how the songs build in intensity and volume as they go on. Most of the songs start off subdued, yet they pick up near the end, just to give you that sense of a journey into the mind of a THC-laced hippie which, for a tiny moment, starts panicking.
The two best songs on the album are the longest two, being “The Wheel” and “Rest In Peace”. Both are very Progressive in their song structure, featuring many changes, parts, moods, and melodies, yet the way it is put together makes the length hardly noticeable.
Those vocals effects bug me, but the album is great enough that I can ignore them. This is an album to be played on a hot summer day on a beach, drinking my seventh bottle of beer while passing out in the sun.
P.S. There isn’t a shred of anything Metal to be found here, unless you count the brief interludes that sound like BLACK SABBATH.
(Online June 17, 2008)