Release Date: Oct 28, 2008
Record label: Richter Scale
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Mixed bag points to potentially exciting future Repeat after me: I will not, under any circumstances, play prog rock. If ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead has any hopes of returning to its glory days, Conrad Keely and Co. should repeat this phrase like a mantra, perhaps even write it a couple hundred times on a chalk board a la Bart Simpson.
After ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead combined their early noise-punk assault with sturdy rock songwriting to create the amazing Source Tags and Codes, they spent their next two albums grasping for a way to follow it up, with limited success. Worlds Apart (aside from the brilliant “Will You Smile Again?”) featured the unwise decision to put frontman Conrad Keely’s voice front and center, and his powerful shout-singing style turned into off-key crooning. So Divided found the band attempting more pop-oriented songs and added a lot more piano.
Trail of Dead's last album, 2006's So Divided, proved an existential equipoise of blind ambition and pure frustration, documenting the locally based art-rock outfit splitting at its seams. Having since parted ways with Interscope and formed its own label, Richter Scale, a subsidiary of Houston's Justice Records, TOD rings chimes of freedom throughout Festival Thyme, a digitally released preface to the band's sixth LP, due in January. Opener "Bells of Creation (Machete Mix)" slowly builds from a single piano note to a cathartic wall of sound, a newfound streak of optimism underscoring Conrad Keely's lyricism.