And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
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The eponymous debut of anarchic art-punkers ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead first surfaced on Texan label Trance Syndicate in early 1998--a furious flashstorm of detuned guitars recalling the ragged freeform dynamic of Sonic Youth, the guitar-mangling showman excess of The Who, and--on "Gargoyle Waiting"--a tendency to slip into flights of borderline-prog Dungeons & Dragons fantasy. It was, unsurprisingly, a huge hit with the few critics that actually got to hear it--but Trance Syndicate's eventual bankruptcy saw the record sink without trace this side of the pond.
Ever the showmen, though, ...Trail Of Dead's cult reputation quickly began to precede them; when the Austin quartet hit it big with their mighty second album Madonna, promoted by a series of well-publicised and splendidly anarchic British live shows, their British label Domino were quick to exhume and re-release this seminal debut. Fans of Madonna might be surprised; tucked around the righteous punk-rock rallying calls, there are a few experimental forays like "Novena Without Faith" that reveal a far more experimental side to Trail Of Dead's oeuvre--although unlike Sonic Youth, when they are out there, they seldom put a foot wrong. A baptism of fire? ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead ranks up there with the best of them. -- Louis Pattison
Top Customer Reviews
i should have gotten it before i got madonna, but i didn't.....
if you've heard of the art-punks trail of dead, then this is them at their finest, i think.
the album starts with 'richter scale madness', a song which was beased around a jam the guys did of a well-known hymn... and it's great
'novena without faith' is a brilliant semi-instrumental track, with soft whispered lyrics, and a climactic change in dynamics.
'fake fake eyes' is another rocker... im assuming youve heard some tod...well imagine what you know, and make it more ...rockier... 'half of what' is personally my favourite of the album.. beautiful melodies, which conrad's voice just seem to fit to... it makes me cry. 'gargoyle waiting' is another rock n roller.. again, building up to a crescendo ending. 'prince with a thousand enemies' is another blinder...starting off whispered, then comes the riff, then full-blown rock, tod style! and then a breakdown to more soft, subtle, and heartfelt lyrics, for your heart to be ripped out once more, and the loudness is then resumed to the end....
'ounce of prevention' is chaos, but beauty also.
'when we begin to steal' - slower paced, but just as amazing
if youve ever been into art rock / punk... any of those genres then get this album!!! conrad keely is god
When "...AYWKUbtTOD" was released, it was outrageous for it's time and largely ignored. It was only when the second album "Madonna" was released that started backtracking.
It's not quite an album of singles. The opening track "Richter Scale Madness" is still (in 2006) one of their finest achievements, being four minutes of utter, angry fury. I once emailed Conrad Keely asking what it was about, and he told me it was about killing all their old friends back at home when they moved to another city. It is awe inspiring. I could go on to write a full review for this one song, but I won't.
Other flickers of brilliance are "Fake Fake Eyes" and "Gargoyle Waiting". The record is difficult to listen to on first listen, and it's tracks like "Half of What" and "When We Begin to Steal" that are perhaps a bit weak, but overall an excellent album which was to hint reliably at great, great things to come.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
AYWKUBTTOD are just like those kids - the world of music is their playground, and once onstage they just CAN'T KEEP STILL. At the first live show I saw (before this lovely gem was released) they broke a snare drum on the first song, and were shocked when another local band lent them a drum (bands in their native Austin know better). I remember drummer/guitarist/singer #2, Jason, walking offstage in mid-set and twirling around on the floor on one arm, as if to stir up the crowd like a human blender. These guys have a lot of energy to release, and usually take it out on their arsenal of equipment that knows it lives on borrowed time.
Sonically, this band makes an undeniable nod to the great Sonic Youth era where beautiful noisescapes were barely contained within 'song' frameworks. The Trail of Dead boys have done their homework, and offer a storybook of consistently mesmerizing works of sheer power and pensive grace.
In the album's opener, they get their manifesto right out there, ("This is a riot, right??") as if to warn the timid to hang on dearly. Then "Novena Without Faith" proves just how many gears of the rock machine these guys have mastered with a mellow, yet driving, dreamy quality. Check out the sound byte enclosed here of "Fake Fake Eyes" to hear how much territory they can seamlessly cover in 30 seconds.
Their albums can be addicting for the sheer force of the moods they create, particularly in "Gargoyle Waiting" which sounds like one of them took up residence atop a cathedral in December. The album draws to a close with a sneaky bang on "Ounce of Prevention", creeping in on a one-note wail and building into a frenzied wall of teen angst.
High-quality rock fury and craft that has not been touched since Sonic Youth decided to be a cutesy art band.
I got home later that night and popped it in, again. And again, I was unimpressed. I spaced out for a while, and then all of a sudden I was hit by the sonic explosion of "Prince With A Thousand Enemies." My mouth was hanging open, I remember thinking something along the lines of "what in the hell just happened?" I listened to that song around twenty times in a row before I finally let it continue on to "Ounce of Prevention." And it happened again, pure sonic terror. The dissonant opening and the punk hued drums, the shouted vocals, the terror, the terror.
The whole deal about this album is definitely in how it builds. This isn't one that you buy for a few songs because everything is made so much more by the listening to of the whole.
I suggest this and any other ...Trail of Dead (save maybe "Worlds Apart") for anyone who heard Sonic Youth's "Sister" or "Daydream Nation" and was only left craving more. A truly jarring listen.
JIM JARMUSCH WOULD surely be intrigued. After all, it isn't every week that a band turns up from Austin, Texas via Olympia and Hawaii with a moniker ten words long which implies much shadowy miserablism going down in the spooky ol' Midwest. Either that, or we're about to uncover Cradle Of Filth's long lost cousins of symphonic carnage...
Fear not, kids of popness: And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead are actually four well-turned out chaps with uniform mod crops and biographical details along the lines of "a self-contained destruction unit". They made their live debut in 1995, this is their first ever album, and against several odds it rocks like a raccoon on a snowboard.
For Yankophile thrill-seekers the globe over, Sonic Youth and Afghan Whigs are the most obvious reference points lurking within the likes of 'Richter Scale Madness' and 'When We Begin To Steal' respectively. From Da Yoof they purloin searing guitars; from Les Whigs they adopt that mixture of menace and pathos, captured within the audacious sprawl of 'Novena Without Faith' which fizzles for eight-and-a-half minutes.
Of course, size isn't everything. Many of these eight tracks are content to whiplash in around the classic three-minute mark, although the majority are probably a tad too whacked-out for mass consumption. On 'Fake Fake Eyes' AYWKUBTTOD (cheers!) make like Urusei Yatsura's dads; during 'Prince With A Thousand Enemies' you could swear they were parodying Placebo's 'Bruise Pristine'; 'When We Begin To Steal' is quite, quite lovely, climaxing in a mosquito dub storm. And the rest scrambles past with varying degrees of foxiness, niftiness and a few other words that rhyme with 'bloody marvellous musical mess'.
Which is nice.
8/10 Simon Williams
That aside, this album is just awesome, it rocks, it's seminal Trail of Dead. If you love their newer albums, you'll love this album just as much. No matter what other idiots might think, this band is one of the most original sounding rock groups out there and with their great musical knowledge, talent and skills as artists I doubt that will change.
See them live and hear these songs played again as if they were brand new, you'll have a whole new opinion of the band.