A friend keeps insisting that Oakland's Dead and Gone have a Murder City Devils thing happening, which they do, in that they're dark, dirgy and bombastic. But where Murder City's Spencer Moody had a voice that was thick, gravelly and broken, Dead and Gone's Shane Baker is sharp, lean and growly—a voice that could eviscerate you.
On the leaden, melancholic chug-a-lug of "Leave the Dead to Bury the Dead" from the foursome's recent GSL album, The Beautician, Baker asks what happens "When you get to the bottom in a hotel room . . . And you could be anyone at all/But you're just you . . . And you're allergic to your own skin." You may as well just put a bullet through your head right now because the CD isn't getting any happier.
To wit: "And it's all vanity/And dust is dust/And Christ just keeps on dying." Right on! Later, Baker bleats hopelessly about finding messages in his mouth and head and Gods pecking at his eyes. Have you ever had Gods peck at your eyes? Of course you haven't, but if you did, you'd probably sound just as depressed and edgy and psychotic as Baker, so think about that next time you take a keg stand, frat boy!
Dead and Gone, who've been together for 10 years despite their youth, are experts at kicking out paralyzing fireballs of hopelessly depressing shit (set to a creepy backbone of frenetic, organ-infused rock). If existential dread turns you on, Dead and Gone will provide you with a series of salacious woe-is-me-gasms.
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The hardcore veterans do their black hearts justice on the chaotic "Ultimate Remote Control Toy," the song base of which sounds like a hatcheted pinball machine split open, all frantic beeps, buzzes, blips and whirs. Over this anxiety come the following warm thoughts: "I've got no blood on my hands/But I'm in jail for the damned . . . And every morning is death."
It's a fitting epithet for a rocker, but somehow I suspect afternoons and evenings are also death for Baker. It's unclear whether the album was written in the shadow of Sept. 11 or the band was just eerily prescient with the leadoff track "Towers on Fire," but they should just claim the former, as it provides a context to understand their immobilizing gravity. Of course, one doesn't really need a context. For sentient beings, just being alive, unfortunately, is probably enough. Unlike real depression, though, which is tarry and oblique, suffocating and all-consuming, Dead and Gone are oddly uplifting—in the blackest, darkest night kind of way.
Dead and Gone perform with Bluebird, Rocking Horse Winner and Summerville at Chain Reaction, 1652 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, (714) 635-6067. Sun., 7:30 p.m. $8. All ages.
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