Full disclosure: This Act, and it’s mastermind, Dax Riggs, has been a pretty consistent figure in local Louisiana music for as long as I can remember. Also, I’ve had the honor of spending minimal time with him, and once even visited his home in Houma, where my friends and I were given a sneak peek at upcoming music. As I digress though, today we’ll be talking about this vastly overlooked album in our next installment of the “Albums of My Life” series, with the Deadboy and the Elephantmen album “We are Night Sky.”
I’ve always thought Deadboy’s sound could be readily described as swamp music, with murky undertones that fit quite well in the dreaded waters of our many swamps in Louisiana. From the simmering opening of “Stop I’m Already Dead,” to the slow wind of the melancholic “No Rainbow,” the record is more varied than you might think. Riggs’ unique, otherworldly, alien voice brims with attitude and raw intensity while drummer and fellow local musician Tess Brunet pummels away one second and adds a low key jingle on background vocals the next. She went on to join another great local band, “The Generationals,” but that's neither here nor there. You might think simply this is another White Stripes ripoff, but it’s very far from the type of art the Detroit group cultivated.
Even more upbeat songs don’t necessarily start that way. Track three, “How long the night Was,” starts with a lovely acoustic guitar, but within a very smart amount of time the twosome throws down classic garage rock state of minds and sends the song into a different territory completely. This happens multiple times on the record, but it never feels dated or rushed. Songs begin at a lower level of energy, but by the time the track is completed, you’ve been thoroughly rocked.
The drumming on the record, especially on the tracks that are more immediate, are a revelation. Brunet manages to rock out with both ease and precision, and the accompanying beats only help to provide the overall themes of the music with more power and urgency. “Blood Music” is a great example of this. The song is quintessential garage rock, but with Riggs varied voice it becomes much more than a simple track you can ignore. As the album progress and makes its way to the conclusion though, the quality of the tracks get better, as does the urgency. “Kissed by Lightning” has this great reverb happening, and the vocals, which are muddled and murmured, create a dizzying effect on the listener. Dax’s guitar on the track is also magnetic and forceful, and it’s in these moments where the band and album soar.
The record, and the band, which are still both great, managed to make plenty of best albums lists the year it was released, but sadly has largely been forgotten by important music types, but that in itself is a tragic statement. Sometimes you see a band that so clearly has it, but many other people don’t get a chance to see it. Sadly this is one of those situations. I still love the album, and it will remain a critical part of my music loving brain, but they never reached anywhere near the heights I thought they deserved.
And if I can speak frankly, that's the fucked up part. The last three songs are all amazing, and to me solidify how great the group was. “Break It Off,” perfectly fits the mold of the record, with it's low key drumming and minimal guitar playing, while “Evil Friend” is the perfect calling card for this band. It’s slow, tightly wound and gloriously dark. My former partner and I always thought this should of been the opening song for the credits of “True Blood,”but obviously that never happened. Listen to the lyrics though, it’s simply perfect. As Riggs bellows “On a shore of tears yet to be cried,” and with Tess behind him, you feel the band and want in their voices, and it’s a wonderful send off for the second to last song.
Landon Murray is a New Orleans native, who thrives on painting the world he interprets through the useful forms of all types of art he feels connected to. He's seen over 1000 bands, and had loved mostly every minute of it. He has an amazing 10 year old dog, and is loving life.
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