The Deadmen’s self-titled EP can be summed up in the first few lines of its closing song “Sons & Dogs”: “Sitting on a porch / Thinkin’ bout you / And I can hear the cool, rusted click of history / and I’m thinking ‘bout Neil Young too.” The tracks on the group’s new EP are all like this, dripping with images and sounds of classic Americana. Throughout the record, they channel the Beach Boys, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and the Allman Brothers—though that is only part of their musical pedigree.
The DC-based roots rock band demonstrates several personalities across the five track EP from the feel good, romantically-tinged “Let Your Fingers Run” to the philosophical and biting “Money.” Like other Heartland performers, The Deadmen draw attention to the flaws in the American way of life while simultaneously celebrating certain aspects of it. In “Money,” singers Josh Read, Justin Jones, and Justin Hoben embody this mentality by declaring “I traveled the desert for weeks / Just to get to the land of the free / But that freedom don’t satisfy me / It’s just money.” While their singing unfortunately lacks the same level of conviction as their words, they still posit interesting philosophical nuggets for the average citizen to ponder. What are the values that America actually displays to the rest of the world?
In addition to their lyrical talents, The Deadmen display serious musical chops throughout their EP. On the CSN-influenced song “Robin,” Jones lays a tasteful, bluesy solo over the stunning Beach-Boys style harmonies that the three singers conjure ethereally behind him. On “Old Stone Bridge” the band shows its knack for riffs by bolstering its soulful lyrics with supremely catchy guitar riffs. The fiery, Jimmy Page-style blues solo on the track serves to turn up the heat even further.
Collaborating as The Deadmen, Read, Jones, and Hoben prove they make a potent musical force. The trio of songwriter/performers fuse their distinct voices and musical perspectives together to create a blend of classic, American, and Rock and Roll tracks. The Deadmen is an ironic title for a band that promises to have great longevity.
- Originally published on The Rotation - WGTB Georgetown Radio's Music Blog - on 2/19/14