Stream Dead Flowers' Gritty New Album In Full.
In September 2009, Under the Radar magazine ran a piece in which of Montreal frontman Kevin Barnes interviewed Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates fame. It was an interesting read to be sure: The two unequivocal pop geniuses debated the merits of using advancements in recording technology to create byzantine masterworks so complex that executing them in a live setting is all but impossible.
Barnes argues in that piece that one's recorded output typically survives longer than the artists themselves — but at what cost? Creating an album that can never really be translated into a live setting ultimately ends up shafting the most loyal of an artist's fanbase — the ones who pay money to come to the shows.
This concept is something Dead Flowers frontman Corey Howe has thought about a lot over the last few years as he began putting together a backing band and writing songs that would eventually become his band's first full-length LP. How do you balance the live and the recorded?
Actually, Howe is pretty sure about how to handle that, he says. If you don't see an instrument onstage during one of the Dead Flowers' live performances, you're not going to hear it on their record either.
“I hate going to a show and seeing a band after listening to the record — or vice versa,” Howe says. “When you see them, they don't sound like the record. What we really wanted to do was capture — as close as we can — a live performance. We don't have any keys onstage at this point, so there's no keys on the record. There wasn't a lot of dubs. Some people go into the studio and actually use the studio and use different instruments and things like that, but we just wanted to capture what we already have onstage. We're playing all the parts we play live — nothing extra.”
Meaning? When Dead Flowers release their debut record, For You, the tracks captured in-studio by Jeffrey Charles Saenz at his Modern Electric Sound Recorders should be extremely familiar to anyone who has ever witnessed the live onslaught of the band's overdriven brand of Texas rock. Along with fellow local bands like Quaker City Night Hawks, Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, The Roomsounds, The Hanna Barbarians, Somebody's Darling and Saenz's own outfit, J. Charles and the Trainrobbers, Dead Flowers finds itself a part of a growing movement in North Texas to produce harder-edged, guitar-based rock tracks with heavy country undertones and a healthy nod to Texas blues.
For a band like Dead Flowers, Howe explains, this multidimensional sound is one that just kind of comes naturally due to its members' diverse musical backgrounds and tastes.
“Vinny [Tulley] is a blues guitar player, Ed [Chaney] is kind of a metal drummer, Evan [Johnson] is a hip-hop bass player, and I'm a singer-songwriter,” Howe says. “It makes for our own sound having all those different elements. We don't all own the same records or like the same bands.”
Add to that mix the soulful-yet-menacing whine of Howe's lead vocals on the dirty Southern-fried blues of “I Won't Go,” the disc's opener and lead single. Or the folky “California Song” that bisects the album, starting as a pleasantly wistful, finger-picked jaunt before devolving into a twangy, drinking song complete with profanity-laced group vocals. Or album standout, “I'm a Man,” with its classic rock dustings, country twang, almost Jack White-like approach to the blues and Howe's own vigorous vocal attack that, maybe, best sums up the band's aesthetic.
If nothing else, Howe is certain of the fact that his sound is one that has started to find an audience.
On the album's title track, Howe lyrically touches on this: “We all want to be good for the ones we love,” he sings. “And we all want to be strong for the ones we love. Yeah, I'm gonna do it for you.”
It's a sort of tip-o'-the-hat to the Kickstarter backers who helped fund For You. The ultimate goal for this record, Howe says, is to have it be something that both the band and its fans can be proud of — for a long time to come, too.
“We did Kickstarter, which is awesome because this record was paid for by people who care about us and believe that we can do something better,” Howe explains. “I really want to honor that by not sticking around Dallas and just being a local band. Our next step is to get a van and get on the road. Essentially, these people invested in us and we want to make sure that we do good by them. We have ties in Chicago already. We're ready. We just need a van.”
First, though, Dead Flowers will host a release show for For You on April 20 at the soon-to-open Deep Ellum spot, Three Links.
Before that release show, though, the band has been kind enough to pass along an exclusive stream of the entire record for us to share with Central Track readers.
Give it a listen below.