Live Last Night: ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead


Big-noise boys from the Lone Star state, the founders of ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead began their career by wrapping brisk little songs in sheets of clamor. The Austin band still does that, but Trail of Dead's latest album -- emphasized at its Thursday show at a packed Rock & Roll Hotel -- often sounds like a less angelic U2. Such new songs as "Bells of Creation'' (in which singer-guitarist Conrad Keely recalls that he "felt like Satan'') were characterized by glistening guitar arpeggios, epic dynamic shifts and yearning upward vocals.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

The group, which over 15 years has expanded from duo to sextet, didn't stick with one format. There was lots of instrument swapping, notably by drummer-guitarist Jason Reece. Some songs featured three guitars crashing in unison, while others rode the rhythms of twin drum kits. The band's rock-orchestral flourishes were even supplemented by a chorus: Members of Midnight Masses, the evening's opening act, helped swell a few of the sing-along refrains.

The fierce attack seemed appropriate for a band that takes its name from a slogan (perhaps apocryphal) of the bloodthirsty Mayans. But the band was over-amplified, and the players's individual parts often nearly identical, sometimes yielding more sludge than grandeur.

Still, the set included moments of bracing simplicity and deft counterpoint. During "Far Pavilions,'' a vocal chant ceded to a guitar rave-up, but keyboardist Clay Morris picked up the chant's melody and continued it amid the storm. More touches like that would have benefited a performance that displayed impressive power, but lacked the finesse of Trail of Dead's current studio sound.

--MARK JENKINS

By David Malitz |  February 27, 2009; 12:26 PM ET Live Last Night
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who authored this? Malitz or Jenkins?

Posted by: PotsyDC | March 1, 2009 9:42 PM

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