Deadboy and the Elephantmen: raining skulls, saving lives
J. Gordon
3/12/2006 10:44:27 PM

We all have those bitching weeks when we just hurt. When everything goes wrong, your spirit is crushed, but actually killing yourself would simply require too much effort. It’s in those darkest moments when we must turn to music to save us. And while we want the reassuring arm around our shoulders of a shared darkness, we also need a friendly kick in the ass to keep things going. We need Deadboy and the Elephantmen.

Oh sure, there are gonna be the White Stripes comparisons, with the girl-boy duo of frontman Dax Riggs on the guitar and lead vocals and drummer Tessie Brunet heading up percussion and backing vocals. But the similarities really stop there. Dax has a rock-a-billy sensibility that keeps the energy high, but it’s infused with a Delta blues sadness and a hefty dose of old-school punk for good measure. Tessie’s backing vocals are lilting, sweet and sometimes strange, lending an alternative vibe to the mix. Oh, and Tessie kicks some ass, both vocally and on the skins.

Songs like “Stop, I’m Already Dead,” “Kissed By Lightening” and “What the Stars Have Eaten” are as rocking good as anything you’ve heard by Queens of the Stone Age. After the quiet dark weirdness of “No Rainbow,” (followed by the words, “it’s raining skulls”), this song bursts into what feels like a traditional American folk song. “Blood Music” is a cross between old rock and Iggy Pop, with some un-ignorable, catchy backing vocals you’ll be singing all day. “Walking Stick” begins like something on the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack (Tessie really shines vocally in this one), before taking you into the muddled druggy frenzy of “Kissed By Lightening” and “Misadventures of Dope.” Cool stuff.

If you were lucky enough to catch them opening for the Fiery Furnaces this winter, you know already that they clearly stole the show. Their debut CD, We are the Night Sky [Fat Possum Records] is just as good as their live set, and may just save the life of modern music—if not my own.


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