From the late 60s, to its resurgence in the 90’s and its steadfast hold in the rock ‘n’ roll underground these days, heavy rock ‘n’ roll has always had a fascination with the dark side. Moodiness and macabre song subjects are just as present as the impossibly heavy guitars and colossal drums. There aren’t a whole lotta major scales happening in these tunes and that’s just fine by all of us. But what’s odd, is the underutilization of the female voice. Now, before you roll your eyes, know that I’m not gonna turn this review into a sexist argument either way, as art is just that and the creator is the lone person responsible. HOWEVER, I do find it fascinating when the girls step up and unleash, because it’s usually outstanding and makes for a much more interesting listen than some fat dude grunting about weed.
Case in point, Dead Feathers. Moody, psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll leaning towards atmospheres as much as riffs, with knock out “femvox”, I just made that up, right now. Retro rock has a lot of embarrassing Sabbath rip offs (here’s lookin’ at you, Electric Citizen,) but Dead Feathers are a much different bag. Hailing from Chicago, they are a throwback to 60’s psych bands with all of its incense burning, nature worshipping, and fringy-ass jackets. Taking heavy cues from Fleetwood Mac and Jefferson Airplane as opposed to Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer, Dead Feathers have a retro sound that seems to be deliberately crafted. It’s easy to slam riffs together, but it takes more to create moody soundscapes; to understand a single, slithering groove can create entire worlds.
The record opens with a tune called, With Me, reverbed-out guitars and tribal drums while shakers slide in with haunting vocals. Hypnotic grooves and the repetitive pulse of the riff combine with a slithering vocal line and chirps make for a pretty fun acid trip.
Night Child drips with more psychedelic attitude. The song is more or less a platform for the vocals to soar and they do just that. This music is the soundtrack to being alone in the woods at night, allowing the full moon to be your guide, and getting lost in yourself. I’ve never done that, as I lack the capacity to get “lost in myself”, but this SEEMS like a good a tune as any for that sort of thing. As stupid as it sounds, I listen to the track and imagine it being a killer scene performed at an awards show with the stage covered in foliage and smoke resembling a meadow, and just knocking everyone out.
Color Exhaustion is a smidge more lively with some groovy drums and guitars. Again, the band is not overpowering in any way; but it’s just right. Dead Feathers’ music could be played in a dank-ass metal club or a coffee shop and it would be welcome. That’s hard to pull off.
Horse And Sands finally finds the band blasting off. It’s the first time on this release where the band seems to step up and meet the fire of their vocalist. A nasty riff, with flying cymbals and a fine vocal melody, this is my favourite track. Wah-wah’ed lead guitars are a nice addition as the tune cruises through its natural progressions, with the outro of the track allowing the band to flex a little muscle for the first time.
Overall, the Dead Feathers’ debut is a fine example of 60’s rock ‘n’ roll done with passion and reverence. The simple production sounds great as it’s not too slick, but also not a garage record. The reverbs and choruses sound vintage and the vocals, which are the primary driver, sit on top of the mix without dominating it. A fun release from a quality band with a solid concept.
“Thumbs up from me.” “Me too.” “To sum it up, I’m Chainsaw,” “I’m Dave,” “and we’ll see you…at the movies!” I mean, record store.
Scribed by: Drew Fulton