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...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
So Divided
Interscope Records

The amount of music available on regular media and via the web these days is a double edged thingy. On the one hand, you can check out everybody you've ever wanted to hear for a minimal outlay; on the other, if you're even halfway to being a music geek there won't be enough time in your life to actually hear everything. I'm seriously thinking about sleeping with headphones and hoping that something good will wake me up, or at least give me some exciting dreams that I'll remember in the morning ....

AYWKUBTTOD (whoah, this band's acronym is longer than most entire band names) fall into the category of people I'd been meaning to try out for ages, but never quite got around to. So it comes to pass that I get my first listen when they're already on their fifth album - and to boot, they very nearly split up before making it.

The Sonic Youth comparisons were what intrigued me before I'd heard anything, but ...Trail of Dead have evidently developed a compelling sound of their own. There's definitely some of SY's ear for melody and multiple guitars, but ... Dead (getting tired of typing long names) have tightened up the tunes and replaced the meandering, detuned guitars with some elegaic, orchestral sequences that hark back a lot further to the likes of Led Zeppelin, or more recently maybe to some of Spiritualized's more melodic moments.

You know you're in for a true album when the opening track segues from gradually increasing crowd noise and an insistent guitar riff to the pounding rocker "Stand In Silence". With interest well and truly piqued, the rest of the record doesn't disappoint. Some standouts are "Naked Sun" - a glam-blues stomper reminiscent of "Spirit In The Sky", with skronky sax merging into a moody prog-rock coda with synthesized brass; "Eight Day Hell" - a bouncy, 60s-esque track that recalls The Kinks or Beach Boys; and the epic closer "Sunken Dreams", an orchestral tour de force with what sounds like a full choir and screaming vocals over the top.

Overall this is a fine record that will make you glad the guys decided not to call it a day; I for one will definitely be investigating their earlier stuff. Pounding rockers and the occasional moody ballad all make use of finely detailed production, with lots of interesting instrumental effects - piano, strings, and brass, whether synthesized or not, provide more than enough embellishment to keep your interest. There's even a string - and backing vocal-laden Guided By Voices cover ("Gold Heart Mountain Top Queen Directory") - quite a contrast from the four track original.

-Gareth Bowles

Track listing:
1. Intro: A Song of Fire and Wine
2. Stand in Silence
3. Wasted State of Mind
4. Naked Sun
5. Gold Heart Mountain Top Queen Directory
6. So Divided
7. Life
8. Eight Days of Hell
9. Witch's Web
10. Segue: Sunken Dreams
11. Sunken Dreams

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