Music Review (Halloween Edition): Dead Man’s Bones – Dead Man’s Bones

deadmansbonesIn a recent post I had mentioned that we just don’t seem to get many alternative rock Halloween albums. However, 2009 is giving me something I didn’t see coming: an indie-rock Halloween album. Why I didn’t see this coming, I don’t know; considering everyone and their mother seems to have an indie/folk project going now. Now Dead Man’s Bones isn’t actually a Halloween album, but my god it’s the closest we’re gonna get, so I have dubbed it “A Halloween Album”. Topics referenced on the album range from monsters under the bed (not v-shaped mind’s hit song), to zombies, werewolves, and drowning in water. This album being released in October can’t be an accident; and if so, it’s a brilliant one.

If someone asked me to describe the sounds of Dead Man’s Bones, I’m not sure exactly what I’d compare them to. Most of the songs are driven by an acoustic guitar, but things like pianos, organs, and synthesizers do appear throughout the songs to spice things up a bit. They’re not dissimilar from many other indie-rock bands out there right now, they just happen to have the whole “horror” gimmick thing going for them.

The album winds up opening incredibly slow with an ambient spoken word intro leading into the slow, eerie “Dead Hearts”. I found the start of this album to be extremely off-putting. I understand the need to set a tone, but for a mood this dull it makes a weak opening. The album then takes an upswing when it kicks into “In the room where you sleep”. This song is an example of exactly what I wanted from this album. It manages to be catchy and creepy at the same time while portraying imagery of something living under the bed.

The next track is the first one on the album to feature a choir of children singing backup vocals; which becomes a repeating trend on later tracks. This is the real glue of the album. The innocent singing of children about topics like being buried under water gives every track they’re in the perfect amount of eerie.

deadmansbones_band_7809_g

Look under your feet and down six feet deep there's dead man's bones! Dig 'em up!

Personally, I think this album works best when things are in an upswing. Tracks like “My Body’s A Zombie For You”, “Lose your soul”, and “Dead Man’s Bones” are perfect blends of catchy indie-rock meets creepy Halloween music. One of my favorite tracks on the album “Pa-pa-power” almost feels out of place with every other track, because it’s almost too poppy. I mean, they put the stuttering in the track name for crying out loud. Another standout track would be “Paper Ships”, which is nothing but finger picked acoustic and vocals. There are doo-wop like backup vocals that really sell the song for me. I know I already mentioned it, but I feel I should emphasize that “My Body’s A Zombie” for you is a killer song (no pun intended).

Unfortunately, there are a few misfires on this album. After weeks of listens, the opening track “Dead hearts” has still yet to catch on in any way. It has no real rhythm, it’s just a longer than necessary ambient opening. Maybe if this track happened later in the album, I’d be able to ignore it more; but I feel it’s a piss poor way to start things off. Another track that loses me is the song “Young and tragic”. This song is sung all by the children’s choir. It’s got a nice slow moving vibe to it, but lines like “I wish that we were magic/ so we wouldn’t be so young and tragic” fail to impress.

All in all, I am very pleased with this album and I’ll definately find myself squeezing it into my Halloweens for years to come. Not every song is perfect, but it does set up some great potential for what’s to come in the future. Unfortunately, outside of the ghoulish season, I don’t see myself finding any need to visit this album.

Rating: 7/10

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~ by axknel on October 28, 2009.

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