Brisbane guitar and drums duo DZ Deathrays garnered plenty of attention in their native Australia with their bratty 2012 debut, Bloodstreams. They became a vital member of a growing scene of likeminded acts fostered in no small part by taste-making label I Oh You. There was something tangible about the band's relentless work ethic and desire to reach larger audiences (they opened for Foo Fighters for a string of Australian dates in late 2011) that set them apart from other musicians more intent on raising hell at a house party.
That's not to say that the band have lost any of their energy on their sophomore full-length Black Rat — they're just not sprinting to the finish line now. Instead, singer/guitarist Shane Parsons slows things down and fleshes out his prog-rock inclinations on tracks such as the bombastic "Keep Myself On Edge" and "Ocean Explorer" which, while curiously jagged, still features Parsons' trademark howl. Then there's "Fixations," which features an overt attempt to convey an electronic vibe. Subtlety was never the band's strong suit.
DZ Deathrays made their name on being able to set up shop anywhere (rarely taking a night off on tour as a result) but the depth they've added to their approach, evident on the rising, cinematic "Nightwalking," sees the band turning a corner. Two years of touring has allowed DZ Deathrays to realize their capabilities as songwriters and with Black Rat, it's clear they've got their sights set on bigger and stranger things. (Dine Alone)