By: Eric G.
And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead is bursting with youthful exuberance, reckless angst, punk ethos, and heartfelt sincerity on its second album. These four guys from Austin, Texas play wildly passionate punk rock, but not the type of punk that you’re thinking of- more like a darker version of early Who or even Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth. The dual guitars intersperse delicate dynamics with explosive bursts of energy, and the vocals are equally impassioned, ranging from throaty yells to over the top screaming. The drumming calls attention to itself with incessant, almost tribal beats that at times seem to overpower the guitars.
The band reveals major growth in its songwriting as well as production skills on Madonna. The lyrics tend to shy away from much of the self-referential, teen angst of the first record in favor of a more detached, philosophical approach. “Mistakes And Regrets” recalls the excitement of Sonic Youth’s “Teenage Riot” musically but is more insular lyrically: “If I could make a list/of my mistakes and regrets/I’d put your name on top/and every line after it.” “Mark David Chapman” practically flicks sparks out of your speakers with its sputtering drums, harmonic guitars, and Guy Picciatto-style vocals: “Let all the desperate hours of boredom/lead you to some meaning of truth/bumps and bruises and notebooks for heaven’s jury as proof/that the emotions were shrink-wrapped, sold as scraps.”
Weird instrumentals and interludes are spliced between the substantive songs creating hazy segueways. Bandwagoning punk fans will be utterly confused because this band is hard to pin down, but that’s just fine because these guys emit enough sheer manic terror and subtle grace to overcome any stereotypes that may be attached to them. This band is even more of an anomaly live. Everything is on the verge of falling apart when these guys take the stage. It’s never boring. I’ve seen them twice and both shows were unforgettable. And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead just exudes a level of intensity on stage that most bands would kill for. I’m going to be hard-pressed to take this record off my stereo anytime soon.