Part of what’s attractive about Dead is the band’s aggressive willingness to do exactly whatever the hell it wants, even if it means toiling in a bit of musical obscurity. Whereas lots of heavy bands go to great lengths to craft an image that’s all doomy, dark and tattooed (so you’re extra sure it’s heavy), Dead has a sense of humor and seems to take some interest in the natural world.
Dead’s obscurity is not for lack of getting out of town. The Australian two-piece has done two full U.S. tours and traveled through Japan and Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Australia and recently crossed Europe with a great Norwegian band called MoE. Dead plays something halfway between noise rock and doom. It’s like the Melvins and Cows, but spartan with just a bass guitar, drums and vocal. Last year the band released four LPs under the cheeky title “the trilogy,” including a record with (ex-Melvins) Mark Deutrom.
The first song on Unpopularity Contest — a split LP with fellow Australians Wicked City — is “Frog Dreaming” and reminds me a bit of nighttime sounds from a pond, though I think it’s the band messing with feedback, cymbals and synthesizers. The second, “The Shortest Leash,” starts with seven minutes of spacey, atmospheric synth made by Vern Avola (of Prizehog and EMS), before the band drops in to bash out a mid-tempo churner. Wicked City’s half of Unpopularity Contest is a little more straightforward rock and roll, albeit excellently executed and romping.