Stranger editor Eric Grandy in this week's paper:
...AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD, FUNERAL PARTY, MIDNIGHT MASSES
(Berbati's Pan, 10 SW 3rd) Holy shit, I just found out that dude from ...Trail of Dead used to be in Mukilteo Fairies! Awesome (and weird). Or did everyone already know that? Oh well, I didn't. In any case, ...Trail of Dead, what have you done for us lately? Well, there were a few years of floptacular albums and embarrassing on- and offstage personal squabbles in the wake of the critically acclaimed Source Tags and Codes, an album which is actually legally impossible to mention without using the word epic. There was that opening slot on a tour with literal cartoon-metal band Dethlok. More recently, there's the band's new album, The Century of Self, which blessedly pares down the orchestral bloat of the band's recent output to make for a fairly rousing record, if not a legally binding epic, with just the right amount of would-be fantasy prog dabbling. Also, when they're in good form live, they really do tear shit apart. EG
He nails it. It's tragic things went from this:
Sad, sad teenage poetry. Grow up. It's a rough and tumble world out there and those with teeth survive, which your music once reflected. It's as if, emotionally, the band aged in reverse. Musically, however, the Trail of Dead have evolved something like the American auto industry or economy as a whole. In the early 2000's, riding high on the dot-com boom (when they released the fantastic Source Tags) the Austin band thought they could keep growing, not just in popularity but in sound and scope. Epic energy turned into bloated arrangements and meandering, overwrought ballads with silly baroque imagery few could relate to. All that double drumming and string sections weighed down the once nimble punk band. Trail of Dead were caught building big fat Oldsmobiles in a Prius world.
But let me clarify (and again agree with Grandy): Trail of Dead can be awful compelling live (I remember a thrilling show at Dante's years ago where the drummer almost managed to ram his cymbol stands through the parts of the red glowing plastic stage the used to have and another decent one at that ballroom across from Doug Fir).
So I am going to this show, holing out hopes for a few old hits and that, away from the overblown studio production and self doubt, a few of the new tunes might soar as well.