Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Artist Spotlight: Dead Next Door

Recently, I have been in communication with a London-based quartet called Dead Next Door, and have been listening to their debut EP consistently over the past couple of weeks trying to get a feel for the songs. The band released the six-song disc, titled Time to Fight, in mid-January on their own DIY label, Prison Records, and has been working hard to make a name for itself.
Having played energetic live shows throughout London and Wales over the past two years, getting two tracks featured in the independent thriller, Splinter, and having just finished a music video for the song 'Twenty Seven', making a name for itself is precisely what DND has been up to.

From the last couple weeks that I have been spinning the cd during my commute, I have come to the conclusion that I really enjoy the album. Though I don't like to marginalize a band by summarizing its sound into defined boundaries of comparisons, I find that such associations are often a manageable way of sorting my thoughts on what I listen to - hence, several names are going to be dropped here. From my very first listen to DND's album, two primary names have stuck in my head: Nirvana and The Church.

While both alternative rock in nature, these two groups were from very separate places in the genre, which is what makes such a combination unexpected. Nirvana was fueled by a certain self loathing and societal angst, and possessed a raw punk attitude which favored guitar distortion and strung-out vocals. The Church, on the other hand, was a culmination of that softer side of emotion and reflection that could distinctly be described as "college rock in the late 80's." To combine these two different bands successfully, there would be a need for both feedback-driven chords and a clean, reverb-drenched lead guitar. The rhythm section would straddle between the need to headbang and the need to dance like a fool. To top things off, the vocals would be in a particularly difficult place - with lyrics that require a sense of both insecurity and pain, but still try to maintain a careful introspection of feelings to remain uplifting.
Regardless of the band's personal intent, I feel like Dead Next Door encompasses these traits pretty accurately. Obviously, I wouldn't want to narrow a band's entire sound so entirely, but as a knee-jerk reaction, Nirvana and The Church seem to have recurring places throughout the album.

Sharing the name of the EP, the opening track 'Time to Fight' begins with steady drums and builds in with softly echoing guitars, and eventually into the calm verse, heavy chorus structure that made groups like Nirvana popular.
On a personal favorite track, 'Twenty Seven', elements of inspiration hint towards The Cure, and frontman Andreas' nasal, and somewhat muttered vocals take the lighthearted tempo of the track and seems to reduce it into feelings of elegy. In the lyrics he laments, "Can't start again when you're 27, can't leave your home at 37, can't start a life at 47, can't leave...your home is here with me", there is an understanding that life is short and you can't go home again. The fourth track, 'Metro', begins with the same sort of pristine lead guitar as aforementioned; however, it then morphs into an acoustic-led piece that would have sounded at home on Nirvana's Mtv Unplugged in NY.

While the vocals on Dead Next Door's debut don't always possess a wide range, Andreas doesn't try to sing as anything he's not, and in turn, works comfortably with the rest of the music. Dead Next Door may not emerge as the most original rock band in history, but a unique look at alternative genres and a working-class sound gives the band a strong performance for any debut - especially one that was self produced. I would definitely recommend giving DND a listen. For a further taste, you can visit the group's Official Website and Myspace pages. Time to Fight is available now through the band's merchandise section.

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