|photo credit: Robin Laananen
“Sounds like The Strokes if they’d reinvented themselves as a folk punk band.” – Entertainment Weekly
“Righteous pure rock” – MTV
“CITYCIDE is equal parts heartbreak and hope.” – LA Weekly
“Their tuneful charisma separates them from the legions of garage-rock imitators” – LA Times
“The lovechild between Alabama Shakes and the Black Keys” – CMJ
Watch: “First Mistakes” official video via PopMatters or YouTube
Stream: CITYCIDE via Consequence of Sound
The Dead Ships debut full-length LP CITYCIDE is out now on Nevado Music. The album is available to order digitally via iTunes and on CD & LP in the Nevado Music Online Store. Today PopMatters shared the band’s new video for “First Mistakes.” The Dead Ships had an opportunity to sit in with multi-platinum producer/guitarist Chris Thorn of Blind Melon and Awolnation to make an alternate version of “First Mistakes” heard in the video. About the video, The Dead Ships’ Devlin McClusky says, “Because most of the songs were written to help process grief so many have an undercurrent of sadness. First mistakes feels more hopeful but still comes from and always reminds me of such a sad period.” He adds, “When [director] Kelly Reed came to us with the concept of taped up smiles, it brought to the fore some of the darker parts of the emotional spectrum that may be overlooked by the first listen to such a sentimental feeling like “it was good to be alive”. I love those studies that come out every now again that show the physical formation of a smile on your face actually stimulates parts of your brain and causes a chain reaction that puts you in a better mood. No one wants to force a smile, but you can always assert some level of control over yourself and change how you feel.”
Consequence of Sound is streaming the album in full and raved, “The Dead Ships take a cue from Modest Mouse circa 2004 and ‘Float On,’ undeterred by challenges, loneliness, and even the death of a close friend of singer/guitarist Devlin McCluskey. With the help of past collaborator Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene, who sat behind the boards and lent some gnarly guitar throughout, the three-piece look darkness in its face, processing that pain through 11 garage rockers that scratch, brood, and rattle before eventually finding the light and a reason to celebrate life.”
CITYCIDE follows up The Dead Ships’ critically acclaimed EP 1 and includes singles “Company Line” as well as “Big Quiet” which spent five weeks at number one on KROQ’s Local’s Only. The Dead Ships just wrapped up a west coast tour opening for The Cult and performed at Milwaukee’s Summerfest. The band has a hometown record release show taking place tonight at The Hi-Hat and will be playing in Long Beach, CA at Music Tastes Good Festival in September.
A lot has happened for The Dead Ships in the short time that they’ve been together. Within a couple of months after singer/guitarist Devin McCluskey and drummer Chris Spindelilus started jamming in the latter’s apartment, the soulful garage rock duo were playing sold out shows at The Echo in their native Los Angeles (opening for King Khan) and at San Francisco’s Bottom Of The Hill. They have quickly become one of the most talked about live shows in Los Angeles. Just recently, they were hand-picked Paul Tollett of Goldenvoice to perform at Coachella 2016, where they won over the crowd with their punchy hooks and wiry on-stage energy. BuzzBands LA exclaimed, “It is so nice to see you on a stage big enough for your sound.” Grimy Goods named The Dead Ships a “Must See” band at Coachella and said, “This could be the year The Dead Ships look back on and see as a major turning point in their careers. That makes their performance on the Coachella stage all the more important. Past performances have us believing they’ll more than live up to the pressure.”
Now, it’s time for the world to really get to know The Dead Ships. Produced by Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning (he also adds some sweet, sweet guitar playing throughout CITYCIDE), the now-trio with Alex Moore on bass put together a fiery collection of songs that showcase McCluskey’s engaging yowl and an unrelenting drive that refuses to let up on the gas pedal until the last notes of album closer “Tomorrow’s Crashes” fade away.
For all its dynamism and momentum, once you start digging into CITYCIDE, you’ll start to taste the bittersweet tang of McCluskey’s vision for this album. For example, the title of this LP began as a reference to the sad fact that when people choose the Golden Gate Bridge as the location to take their own lives, they do so facing the city that they’re leaving behind. “It seemed like a sort of statement,” McCluskey says. “One last rebellion.”
As McCluskey started writing a song inspired by that, it evolved into a full suite of songs about the alienation that folks living in big cities like Los Angeles or McCluskey’s former hometown of Chicago can feel, even as they’re surrounded by thousands of other people. On CITYCIDE that takes many forms like his frustration with people that give up on their dreams to make a buck (“Company Line”) or the feeling that the walls of your home are more oppressive than welcoming (“Floorboards”). Many of the songs poured out of McCluskey in the wake of his best friend’s suicide. Using his art to process his grief and confusion at losing the closest person in his life helped pour some added depth of feeling into the songs. You can get by just rocking out to them, but once you let them sink in deeper, they’ll quickly become a part of you too.
And if the music – a raw power mix of finely tuned dynamics with the unadorned grind of vintage Nuggets-style psych rock – isn’t enough to let you know that this isn’t a sorrowful album but rather a celebration of McCluskey’s friend’s life and the simple act of carrying on even in our toughest times, just spend some time with “First Mistakes.” Through the thick cloud of jangly power-pop chords, the message of the chorus bursts out brightly: “It was good to be alive!”
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