Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: Peyote Smile by Dead Shed Jokers

Mere moments after The Album Wall was wrenched from my brain-womb, I received a message from one Jamie Richards. He wanted me to listen to Peyote Smile by the Dead Shed Jokers, and I couldn't help but oblige. What can I say? I was flattered by his faith in my nascent album blog; I had published precisely one post by this point, and yet Mr. Richards seemed to think that a thumbs-up from this slimy, wriggling newborn of a music website would count for something.

Thanks for the early vote of confidence, Jamie. Here's that review of that album by that band you manage.

This is an impressive record. The drums are impressive, the guitars are impressive, the vocals are's the aural equivalent of the show-off that everyone knew in junior school who had all the best Pokémon cards.

But is it any good? Well, yes, for the most part. The best bits - or at least, my favourite bits - are the short, fast, and reasonably direct tracks like Peculiar Pastimes and Tabloid Hangover. Dead Shed Jokers have carved out a niche for themselves by taking the music that was all over MTV2 back in the mid-noughties (especially Queens of the Stone Age) and superimposing some big, Bruce Dickinson-style vocals on top. Sounds impressive, right?

And it often is. There's a song called Interesting Point, But... which I'm quite heavily into (especially the bit where they kick it into high gear and it turns into a rollicking, No One Knows-style number), and if you like The Rat by The Walkmen then you'll love Jericho, the fourth track on this album. There's even a bit of Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster in there somewhere, which is a huge plus in my book.

Two criticisms, though:
  1. There are these calmer, smoky-sounding bits that keep happening - the first half of Magic Teatime is a prime example - and while it's nice to have a slightly varied sound, these parts aren't nearly as interesting as the riffing, rocking stuff that appears elsewhere.
  2. It sometimes feels a bit unfocused, a bit piecemeal. This is especially true of the last couple of tracks; Monkey Song is full of cool moments, but it would have been better if they'd just chosen one idea and stuck with it. Those frantic highlights (Tabloid Hangover, Jericho, etc.) don't tend to change gears too often, and their relative straightforwardness is arguably their greatest strength. By contrast, the last bit of the album feels slightly all over the place, as if they still had a tonne of good ideas in the bank but only five minutes left on the record.
Still, Peyote Smile has plenty of awesome moments, so it's definitely worth a listen. DSJ aren't quite sure if they want to be a sneering stoner rock band or a cheesy, bombastic classic rock outfit, and the album-length tug of war between these two extremes is quite entertaining to listen to.

Peyote Smile is available here.

1 comment:

  1. My confidence was in the quality of the album sir ;) Many thanks for you honest review, I'm glad you liked it...every person who hears it likes or loves's just difficult to get people to listen to new music...unless you have a cash heavy promotional budget. Thanks again, and tell everyone about Dead Shed album coming late 2013