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Deathray | review | indie | alternative | rock | Lollipop


by Jamie Kiffel

The walls are closing in, sirens are wailing, and the lead singer is tied to the bedpost. No, this isn't an interpretive dance for Floyd's The Wall. It's Deathray's "My Lunatic Friends," a guitar-armed pop track filled with grinning lunacy noises that nod to the kitschy Dr. Demento favorite, "They're Coming to Take Me Away." While the disc as a whole is closer to Smashmouth than to novelty records (fitting, considering that their producer, Eric Valentine, is responsible for Smashmouth), Deathray has something that Smashmouth do not - restraint. Most alternative poop, er, pop on the airwaves today is charged with one great hook that surfaces once, then keeps us waiting... and waiting... and waiting for it to be played again. Between hooks, we listen to something that does as much musically for the song as the dim passageway between an airplane and the terminal does for our vacation - the panting stumble of an exhausted traveler dragging a lot of weight. See old Third Eye Blind for details (also, incidentally, an act committed by Mr. Valentine). But Deathray, incredibly, avoids this terrible fate by taking only the barest hooks and strongest riffs, and not hiding them or carefully building up to them as if they're afraid of giving them away (and being left with nothing). Instead, they actually play them, pumping out a whole song in under three minutes. I like a band that gets to the point. After all, unless you're catering to the rainbow mushroom crowd, for whom ten minutes staring into a corner can be revelatory, what's the point in dragging out a tune? Guitarist Greg Brown and bassist Victor Damiani of former Cake fame give Deathray a developed, punchy sound that many other "alternative" bands today lack. With bassy, insistent electric guitar grooves and songs that really move, this is good, strong pop that could give a needed speed rush to commercial radio.
(83 Walton St. Atlanta, GA 30303)  

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