Their cinematic scope is allowed to take flight in all its flawed glory.
Stephanie Burkett 2009-11-10
Beginning with a yawl and a howl and continuing as such for an hour, the first record from Dead Confederate sounds like it was hewn from a block of raw, hot pain. With twanging guitars distorted by what feels like the Deep South’s heat (DC hail from Georgia) and Hardy Morris’s keening vocals soaring restlessly over the expansive, rugged soundscapes, Wrecking Ball is unsettling, raw and thoroughly impressive.
While the first half is a fine demonstration of their talents – opener Heavy Petting and Goner are solid if unremarkable southern rock songs, while It Was a Rose dials up the emoting a little too high – it’s the closing trio that elevates and defines the album. The title track is a tenderly damaged lament, all breathed vocals and gently plucked accompaniment that eventually crashes into something much less subtle but far more affecting in its focused anger.
But it’s Flesh Colored Canvas that acts as the record’s core, a thrillingly unhinged trip into hazed paranoia. Slow but never sluggish, it gropes for a footing over 12 minutes, eventually burning out like the last light of a lost settlement, and it’s worth noting that …Canvas never feels bloated; rather, the cinematic scope of Dead Confederate is allowed to take flight in all its flawed glory.
The News Underneath pummels and slams where so much of the record suggests and nudges, and is all the stronger for it. Fingers audibly slide over strings to reach the next chord as if the band is playing in the same room as the listener, an expression of vulnerability and delicacy that feels almost defiant.
Like many debut albums, Wrecking Ball is indeed flawed, as Yer Circus and Start Me Laughing add little to an already overwrought mix, and Morris’s yelp can get slightly tiresome after a while. Nevertheless it’s a worthy introduction to a new band that has crept under the radar with neither fanfare nor hype, and for that Dead Confederate are to be applauded.