One of the cool things about being associated with seveneightfive magazine is sometimes people walk up to me and hand me free stuff. I love free stuff, specially free CDs. Doug Griffin, manager of the Dead Sevens dropped this little nugget into my greedy hands awhile back when I unwittingly visited them during a recording session at the illustrious Rundown Studios.
Alienated, the new disc from the St. Mary’s/Topeka band is a rock and roll tour de force, that’s been giving the Sony’s in my Ford P.O.S a Tae Bo workout since day one of obtaining it over a week ago.
The disc kicks off with a pseudo Jimmy Eats World riff as We Won’t Look Back grabs you by the throat, slams you back in your seat, and forces you to sing along with the chorus.
And if your laying there feeling all alone,
wondering where it all went wrong
Just take my hand and don’t look back
We won’t look back, back, back
Track three is the gorgeous South to Summer. This would not sound out of place on modern rock radio and the video that accompanies it, shot by OriginalPro Films is absolutely stunning.
I’ve got a song that’s not worth hearing,
But I’ll sing it anyway.
I’ve got a life but I’m not living,
My heart beats just the same.
Lady Luck is flying south now to summer.
My wonder girl is drying out here, so we’re headed for the coast
The dogs are crying to the moon now, ’cause they’ve all seen my lonely ghost
A wonderful melancholy song both musically and lyrically, South to Summer is one of producer Paul Schneider’s favorite cuts.
Crystal Ball has a Foo Fighters vibe to it while The Prize rocks out in a Godsmack kind of vein and was recently used by 86′d Studios in a promo video. A Stratified I-V-VI-IV progression leads the way through Going Nowhere Slow in which the band gives a little behind the scenes look at the Dead Sevens songwriting process.
People always ask how we’re writing these songs
We hear voices in our heads and they’re singing along
To the soundtrack of our life as we’re passing the days
And maybe we’ll go platinum if we write the things they say.
The song closes with a catchy acapella chorus which will bounce around your brain for days.
With its Radar Love like intro, 45 miles decries the over-commercialization of Rock and Roll and the cookie-cutter singles the industry churns out each year.
Well they package it up and they call it Rock and Roll
A corporate rhythm made with greedy souls
With dollar signs on every note they play
Commercialize on every word they say
The last two tracks Pleasure and Pain and Mr. Fatalistic are so original, creative and will rock your socks off so completely, you’ll be checking the cover to see if this really is a band from the Midwest.
Pleasure and Pain, with its “twisted circus music” intro is a song concerning addictions and how they control us, and almost rocks out of control at times.
Sex and drugs and rock n’ roll,
all your vises take control.
Some choose powder, some choose pills.
How you gonna get your thrills?
Some really groovy vocal interplay highlight this song.
This is where your story ends.
Laid to rest before it begins.
. . Proclaims the opening lyrics to Mr. Fatalistic. With a smoldering intro that picks up steam this tune has wormed its way to the top of my list of favorite songs on the disc.
Masochistic feelings are bringing me down
And Mr. Fatalistic is what they call me now
So bottle all your feelings, and abandon all hope.
Your life is nearly over, you’ve tied your own rope.
With Jesse Ells on bass and Dave Morse on drums backing them, Doug Griffin and Chuck Mioni on guitars lay down riffs so hot you’ll want to grab those Air Guitars and play along.
Everyone has a hand in writing lyrics at one time or another. With some very nice harmony vocals, intelligent lyrics and unusual chord changes, Dead Sevens’ Alienated is a very unique and pleasurable listening experience that will keep you coming back for more.
My only complaint is that some of the songs seem too cut off quickly. Or maybe it’s the intro that could have been allowed to simmer a little longer. But, anyway, that is my only complaint.
Paul Schneider, producer extraordinaire and the party animal behind the extremely popular and slightly twisted Black Solo Cup video extravaganza has once again shown how he earns his keep. Mr. Schneider has nothing but good things to say about the band.
“The Dead Sevens have been great to work with. They are different than anything out there right now and they work hard for their music. That gives them a great shot at hitting it big.
“!dednamirper ylereves eb ll’uoy ;hguoht drawkcab ti yalp t’nod tsuJ”
There are several great songs on the disc that I didn’t get around to reviewing, not necessarily for lack of interest, but more for a lack of time and adjectives. Get a copy of Alienated and support original music in Northeast Kansas. And while you’re at it check out new releases by Invictus, Chris Aytes and the Good Ambition and Monk’s Wine.
[February 2012 | Robin Cremer]