Published Nov 19, 2013On "Tongue on Fire," the first track on Elison Jackson's new record, Sam Perduta sings: "With your crooked smile and your parted lips / And your tongue on fire and your acid trips / I have slept in gutters and coughed in sand / I have seen your lover in the frying pan." Perduta's unpolished lyrics and intentionally off-pitch croon, accompanied by a wheezy, seesaw guitar, foreshadow a narrative album with a vintage sound.
But the first song is a red herring, and Do Not Fear to Kill a Dead Man, the New Haven, Connecticut band's full-length debut, quickly evolves into an ambitious psychedelic garage-folk project. The nine tracks on this record hurdle and leap between surf rock ("No Tomorrow"), Wilco-esque alt-country ("Dreams of Home" and "2009"), don't panic it's not disco ("Disco Teen"), '80s synth pop (title track), jangly pop ("Sounds from the Hall Redux"), gritty borderline-rock pop ("Biddeford 10") and experimental blues/honky tonk ("Sad Cellar Door").
In other words, the band covers a lot of ground in a short period of time. The alt-country stuff is perhaps the most self-assured. And while each track has its own rewards, the album as a whole feels disjointed, still searching for the right sound if not the right genre. Still, it's good fun and will no doubt be a late-night crowd pleaser. (Telegraph Recording Company)