Dead Rider

The Raw Dents

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There's a breathless melodrama to Dead Rider's second album The Raw Dents, from the start; literally, in the case of Todd Rittmann's half-whispered/half-crooned vocals, showing that David Bowie's impact on him will never quite die. And everything from the brisk, punchy drums to the nervous, bass-synth blasts suggests a rock band aiming to create a threatening hip-hop album. It's a nice change from from what you'd expect, but it's a little too playful in its ominousness to be neo-goth, and just by taking notice of what's happening around them sonically, they're in a better spot than most. Meanwhile, having the drumming of Theo Katsaounis and Matt Espy forward in them mix at most points -- taking over breaks, heralding the start of songs, pretty much leading the way for the rest of the band to follow -- is just a fun thing to hear in an all too easily guitar-centric field. You hear guitar skronk used only as shading, as in the memorable break on "Why I Only Take Baths" that sounds like a power station tearing itself apart, while rhythm and vocal melody drive the song; it's such pleasure that when a bit of riffing emerges in "Feb 5" it's almost a shock. The slow creep-up-your-neck trickle of keyboard on "Just a Little Something" shifting into a slicker, horn-driven section is another key, if sudden, highlight. Other strong moments include when Rittmann sings an isolated lead over a distorted bass crunch and rumble to start off "The Pointed Stick" and the slow, murmuring punch, frenetic guitar, and cackling laughter of "2 Nonfictional Lawyers." It's perhaps appropriate that this album came out in a year when Gang Gang Dance and tUnE-yArDs received so much attention when it came to disrupting expectations of what "rock" can be; chalk it up to something in the water or the air.

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