”Whatzup*. This band is, as far as I know, unique to the world of rockdom, being formed of a drummer (Paulo Baldi), a violinist (Ben Barnes) and a cellist (the curiously named Sam Bass), the last two running their instruments through distortion and other effects. Whereas many bands with traditionally classical instruments attempt to bridge the world between classical and non-classical music Deadweight ditched all that and went straight for the rock jugular. Except that rock music played on fretless instruments sounds a bit rubbery and off, which suits Deadweight just fine because it allowed their sense of humor and fondness for quirky and funky rhythms to expose themselves.
Any power trio has the challenge of filling the sonic space and the songs off their second** album, Half-Wit Anthems, shows that Deadweight takes the challenge personally. There doesn’t appear to be much in the way of multi-tracking so what you get is pretty much how they would sound in concert, which is a massive fuzzy wall of hard alterna-rock sound. Most of the songs, including the exciting opening track, “The Grind”, showcase a crazy-high level of spastic energy. I mean, you almost work up a sweat just listening! Also most of the songs, including the second song, “Sweet Depression”, work in some serious groove into the rhythms so you’re swaying while you sweat. On “Ba Ba Wa Wa” they plug the distorted violin into a wah pedal and things get way out of hand, but wonderfully so. A particular favorite of mine is the frenzied instrumental “Barstool” which douses your ears in gasoline and sets everything aflame while dancing cheerily on the aforementioned barstool. Every now and then, like in the verses of “Josh Song” and “Black and Grey”, they go really nuts and turn off the distortion devices, which only adds to the contrast in the chorus when the effects are kicked back on.
All in all Deadweight write crazily-inventive and yet melodic stuff! The overall feel is untamed and a bit dangerous, like a wild party. One big hindrance for me, though, was that the songs are packed with drug use references. Even if used in a humorous fashion (“I need a toke ‘cause I can’t cope”) it’s not really my thing and it gets tired after a bit.
* Plus make a few bucks.
** It pays to check a Wiki page. I thought this band only had two albums but I didn’t know*** about their first, Opus One, which has now been ordered.
*** I have this tickle in the back of my brain that I DID know about this album but never got around to ordering it.****
**** I got around to ordering it. In fact it’s on the desk right next to me but I haven’t gotten around to listening to it.