Remember when Nick Lowe acknowledged David Bowie’s courteous but misspelled tribute – the LP Low – by putting out an EP named Bowi” The years have not made this a kinder or fairer world, so I doubt that the Damned will reunite and name their next platter The Dead C.
Not that this trio of New Zealanders would care. Despite receiving scant honor throughout their 17-year existence (the last couple Dead C albums were self-released in editions of 500), they’ve carried on making their patented entropic racket. But it’s a nuanced cacophony, neither monolithic nor monotonous. Brute power chords, processed machine sounds, field recordings of passing traffic, all are grist for the Dead C’s mill.
There are even a couple rock songs, including one of the best opening lines in living memory. “Truth’s” first line – “There’s going to be a silence now” – is a fabulous lie. The song staggers on, all howling guitars, stomping drums, and vocals that sound like they’re being projected through a tin can spinning at the end of a wind sock.
When the penultimate track “Casino” finally collapses into swirling eddies of looped feedback, shepherded by heel-nipping cymbals, I feel comforted. The Dead C are like a pack of cranky old hounds; content to roll in something really smelly, but still capable of treeing coons like nobody’s business. You know you can’t replace a dog like that.
By Bill Meyer