on 14 September 2002
Heard 'Source Tags & Codes'? Want to hear more? Well buy this, ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead's second album. It rocks more than 'Source Tags...' where it means too, and is more subtle and heartfelt than their first, eponimous album where necessary.
The Rawk? Look for 'Mistakes and Regrets', 'Totally Natural' and 'Perfect Teenhood'. Melodious and subtle?: 'Claire de Lune', ' The Day the Air Turned Blue' and 'Aged Dolls'. Everything else falls exactly half way between the two. It's been on my stereo since it was released, and every record I've listened to inbetween (Rival Schools, Flaming Lips, Frank Black, PJ Harvey, Royksopp, The Ghost etc etc) has confirmed my beleif that 'Madonna' is a masterpiece -- not only of 'emo' but modern rock in all its forms.
Buy this album and believe.
on 3 June 2001
One (1) copy of 'In the Flat Field' by Bauhaus, six (6) huge racks of effects pedals, a smattering of Romantic poetry, a pinch of salt, half a pound of insane punk rock attitude, and five (5) men who know what they like, aren't afraid to rock out, know (oh yes) how to use a drumkit, and could eat almost any other band on the planet except maybe At The Drive-In or QOTSA. In the oven, gas mark 1000000 for a sharp, acrid burst of insanely good fun and post-goth skulduggery. Yes!
on 22 July 2006
It was to be expected. The debut record harboured little flashes of brilliance that if used in the right way could turn something very good into something exceptional. The Texan quartet had but to pull the right strings and balance out some irregularities in their style. They have gone further than that, almost completely reinventing themselves in less than two years to become one of the finest modern bands on the planet. "Madonna" is a work of art, in so many ways.
Where do I start? I'll start at the beginning. The art work (done by Conrad Keely) in the cd sleeve is very very nice. People who say artwork is dead: it clearly isn't. Not that it affects how the album sounds, it just makes it stand out even more. The affection and love in everything here is overwhelming.
First track, the intro, is called "And You Will Know Them..." is just a mixed up spoken word "And You Will Know Them By The Trail Of DEAD, DEAD, DEAD, DEAD, Dead, dead..." which then launches blissfully into..
"Mistakes and Regrets" is a very important song, and it was also the first single. It starts off with soft, lush guitars and the percussion builds up into a spoken intro, before bouncing along almost poppily into an emotional song almost instantly better than anything on the debut album.
"Totally Natural" is even better. It's raw, angry and very very loud. There's the touch of overdistortion and the less-than-perfect guitar work, which if it were anyone else would seem unprofessional, but it only endears them to me more.
"Aged Dolls" is in some ways the centrepiece to the album, being the longest and most complex. Deeply layered and tense, it's probably the most unique tracks on the album. In between every song from about mid-way in the record we are treated to minute long breathers, which are the instrumentals (there are four on the album) "Children Of The Hydra's Teeth", "Up From Redemption" and "The Day The Air Turned Blue", which all sound great and are effortlessly preparing us for the most epic track you have ever heard...
... And then "A Perfect Teenhood" kicks forth in a spasm of angst and power, emotionally awe inspiring and utterly engrossing, anthemic and legendary. I cannot describe how this hit me when I first heard it. It is Trail of Dead's greatest ever achievement. You can download the substantially different live version off the website, if you want to hear it from a different angle. The band will probably never ever top this ever again; so you have to sit back and relish it as it rampages out of your speakers and makes everything else at hand seem trivial. Utter brilliance.
The record finishes nicely with the reserved "Sigh Your Children", and then there is a wall of feedback noise signalling the end of one of the most important albums of the twentieth century.
on 15 January 2001
Recently, the term 'punk' has been commandeered by US acts such as Green Day, The Offspring etc, who's main attribute seems to be stupidity in plentiful amounts. ...Trail of Dead are here to blow them out of the water with their powerful, intelligent, nihilistic music. They condense the spirit of Mid period Sonic Youth (EVOL, Sister, DN) and The Who, and play with phenomenal passion, to create a record which will engage your heart and head. I hope to see them live when they come to the UK, as I imagine it will be brilliant in a live format.
on 22 July 2000
There's a moment in 'Sigh Your Children', the last official track where the singer repeats the line 'Out the Door' several times to a barrage of crashing drums. You know what is going 'out the door' is something lamented and important but at one point it seems as if he will be locked in this timewarp forever; this then is the world of ... trail of dead. Their album 'Madonna' is a study in exhuming your most twisted and intense emotions in the fasted and most powerful manner, the results are conclusive. Self-pity and wallowing in pain? No time for that when you've got guitars to abuse and a drummer who is the missing link to Keith Moon. Sonic Youth is the most obvious reference but imagine tender Pavement-esque harmonies put through 1 million volts of distortion and a blender ... i think they actually use one! 'Claire de Lune' is one example, with its fire and brimstone splutter over broken promises. Maybe they should promise their instruments more respect!
on 28 November 2000
This is rock n'roll in its most primal sense. These bastard children of The MC5 power through incendiary tracks with relentless energy as if their last bottle of whiskey depended on it. The Trail of Dead are from Texas and like the infamous outlaws that made this state, they live by their own rules and they want you to adhere. This is seminal stuff, from the accusations (Mark David Chapman) to the bitter ballads of deceit (Clair de Lune), Trail of Dead belong to a land full of failures and anguish. With infectious guitar hooks and vocals that owe as much to The Beatles as to the Cramps, you are tempted to cross the river just for a peek. Trust me, once you're there, you never want to go back......Welcome to their kingdom, the kingdom of the dead, where the myth of devious raunchy rock n' roll lives on....
on 27 November 2000
Every so often (rarely I must add) but very clearly, this thing that we all believe in, rock 'n' roll creates a lash of excitement and energy that us mortal beings cannot extract from any other source of entertainment. It happened a lot when 'rock' bared it's roots to artists like Presley, Little Richard, The Beatles, The Stones, The Who and even more fisted acts like Black Sabbath. But in this present day plagued by the rock-rap, new metal contingent (Limp Bizkit, Korn, Slipknot) and southern punkists (Blink 182, The Offspring) it makes us feel as though rock is no more than a hypocritical corporate scheme, preying on the musically gullible teen caught up in the folly of anarchy and teen differentiation. But there is a light... Bringing us into the millennium are a number of acts arising from the American underground born to fight such corruptive bands. Along with At the Drive In, Queens of the Stone Age, Les Savvy Fav, The Go, the brilliantly named....And you will know us by the trail of dead are the leaders of this revolution. Madonna is their second mind blowing album, again incorporating the crushendo of ferocious guitar extremes and screamed poetic lyrics, but shows a progression with artistic offerings like 'Children of Hydra's teeth'. The single 'Mistakes and Regrets' draws heavily on the 'Sister' to 'Day dream nation' Sonic youth era but where the Youth are wallowing in their own avant-garde graves , The Dead are just exploding , as proven with songs such as 'Totally Natural' and 'Perfect Teenhood' which show the influence of Art-Hardcore acts like Fugazi. 'Mark David Chapman' although in controversial fashion shows anger can be beautiful with the racing and anthemic riffs and rhythm. Trail of dead are here to stay, leaving their path of destruction as they wonder the cities looking for their purpose. The thing is we know what that purpose is but I don't think the four well-twined Texans mod's give a damn.
on 3 August 2012
And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead are quite simply an essential part of any self respecting music fans collection. They are a band that only the few of us enlightened know of, and as for the others, well they just don't get them do they?
Madonna is arguably their most creative and innovative effort and whilst their later work is still brilliant and inspired this second offering is where it all came together to produce something so unique. From the incredibly powerful drumming that pummels its way throughout this record to the subtle keyboard touches and jagged angular riffs that provide the bedrock for Conrad Keely's unique voice.
Naming songs is useless because it has to be heard in its entirety in one sitting but you can see where Bombay Bicycle Club lifted their Dust On The Ground riff from and thats the powerful Mistakes and Regrets, so influential are they. In fact they have been called a musicians' band for good reason and its criminal they haven't sold millions unlike their lesser contemporaries and that goes to show just how much integrity they have and how much they believe in what they do.
Imagine throwing Bauhaus, Joy Division, Smashing Pumpkins, Siouxsie, At The Drive In, Guided By Voices, Zeppelin, Discharge and My Bloody Valentine into a blender and poring it out onto ice. Well thats what they sounds like. Its everything that real music should be, and whats more, it sounds better the older it gets.
on 23 May 2000
When i saw the name "..and you will know us by the trail of dead" i was expecting something different to what is actually on the album but it doesn't make it any worse. It is still a fantastic album. The first track "and you will know them" is fanatastic may it be only about 1 minute long then a follow up to that is another great song which gives you an idea of is to come on the rest of the album. Dont forget to look out for the secret track!
on 15 January 2004
Press play, and before you can say "And. You. Will. Know. Them. By. The. Trail. Of. Dead..." we're into the opening track proper, 'Mistakes And Regrets'. Any conceptions you may have had about the spirit of punk rock being dead, simply because you saw the last 3-chord idiots on MTV2, should be ejected from the nearest window.
This band are not your new Sonic Youth, they are not your new Fugazi, they are something simply 'new', a convulsing, frenzied mixture of anger, beauty and sound. While Trail Of Dead can throw themselves headfirst into the ground like a hyperactive child on 'Totally Natural' and, of course, the breathtaking 'A Perfect Teenhood', they're born to write songs which force you to look in awe.
The likes of 'Mark David Chapman', and the gasping, seven-minute 'Aged Dolls' display guitar sonics that can leave a listener drooling on their stereo at 50 paces. By the time post-'A Perfect Teenhood' comedown 'Sigh Your Children' is seeping out of your speakers, you feel beaten, bruised and happy. Exactly what a great record should make you feel.