The Hated Opinionated One

Dead Leaf Echo’s Fire Is Anything But Pale

Posted by C. Cue on February 19, 2009


It’s been a while. I seem to get bombarded by real life and not enough time to actually do what I want. What I want to do is write. So, I’m taking this time out to jot down some words that forms a review for a band I’ve been asked to take a gander at. Dead Leaf Echo is the name of the band, and the album I was offered to review was their EP Pale Fire. I can’t express how much of a joy it is to be able to review such delightful record from an obviously talent trio. So, right off top, I’d like to send thanks to LG(lead singer, guitarist) for giving the opportunity, and apologize for the lengthy delay that passed from the sending to the actual posted review. In all honesty, it was due to procrastination and, then, lengthy listening from surprised enjoyment.

With only six(6) tracks on this EP, it’s not exactly epic in length. But, what it lacks in length, it more than makes up for in content. All the songs on this mini-album are sensational combinations of Post-Rock, Indie Rock & Shoegazing. Needless to say, I’m a well-rounded fan of the three(3) mentioned genres(or subgenres if you’re that much of a stickler). Almost every song here is atmospheric and sweeping. But, none moreso than the title track “Pale Fire.” Mixed by the unsung legend Ulrich Schnauss, the brooklyn band delivers something so true to the staple of shoegazing that you’re tempted to see if they are American relatives of the Shoegazing posterband My Bloody Valentine. It’s not only the best track, but also the lengthiest. Which, due to it’s captivating sound, works in its favor. LG croons on the track like he was Kevin Shield’s star pupil. But, there is no imitation or duplication involved in this performance. It’s such an inspiring display that if someone told you it was a tribute to the band, you’d be hard to contest it. What’s brilliant is that Liza(Keyboardist) sings background right along with LG. It adds to the sensation of the track. That, coupled with the air-like echoed effect on LG’s vocals, is just enough to do you in and take you under. The only one that could have done an equally impressive mixing job that Schnauss performed would be the remarkable Alan Moulder.

“Warm Body” is a great way to introduce the EP. It plays only for under two(2) minutes. But, it leads perfectly into “Thought Talk.” Now, this song stands out strongly. It’s not so much as shoegazing as it is stuck somewhere between New Wave & Dream Pop with just a soft hint of Psychedelia. But, wherever that actual location is, you’re right there with it like its sidekick while you listen. The drum work done on this is sex. The cadence that it keeps is damn near orgasmic. Easily, this should be a crowd favorite at live performances. The wicked part is for about fifty(50) seconds, the tempo kicks up and you can hear the band members lose themselves in their performance. When played in homes, it should come with a warning to not ignite your lighters for an encore . . . just press repeat/rewind.

Another strong nod to 80’s rock is “Reflex Motion.” It isn’t necessarily pop, and it isn’t completely gothic/gloomy. But, it’s equal parts of both. Back in a time when Robert Smith lead the goth army, this track would have caught the attention of every single soldier in said army. Outside of the not-so subtle The Cure comparison, there’s also a similar taste of Bauhaus resting inside the song. There isn’t tons of complexity in this track, but there is a large degree of effects pedal knobbing going on while the guitars are being strummed. Mike’s bass work for this track is flat-out awesome. It’s a simple and slow hypnotic groove that keeps you enveloped from the first second to the last. Being the final track on the record, I’m left to utter out “this is how you close a record! take heed people!” And, I meant every syllable said while in that room by my lonesome.

“Tears” and “Cry The Sea” seem to work hand in hand. Played back to back from one another, they go together like siblings. On “Cry The Sea,” LG sings like master of ceremony of your dying day. Interestingly enough, when the verse aren’t in play, the track is very much uptempo enough to have the audience swinging their raven-black hair. On “Tears,” they unleash another Loveless moment, but with easier to decipher lyrics. This time, Mic Controller LG sounds like a strange blend of Thom Yorke singing Shoegazing. Yeah, it works. Odd, I know, but it does. No, his voice isn’t something a dead ringer for Mr. Yorke, but his rhythm & harmony is similar to some work that you’ve heard from Radiohead.

This Brooklyn band is one for the books. They don’t disturb or diminish those whom have influenced their style. They live it. They breathe it. And, all they’re asking for is for you to take a few moments out of your life and take a ride with them. Me, personally, I greatly enjoyed the journey, and I can’t wait for their next release to hop back in that car. This three piece group(four if you include their live guitarist Ann B.) balance each other out better than most. Only two other three piece bands created after the new millenium offer such great chemistry: Yeah Yeah Yeahs & Autolux. And, like those other two, it wouldn’t be hard to find out that Dead Leaf Echo obtains a strong cult fan following in a few years. Hell, this record I’m reviewing is currently out of print for the second time, outside of a few copies left on two specific sites. So, that says something in terms of people enjoying their work(it is, however, easily available digitally). After spending a great deal of time listening to their work, I’m proud to say that they’ve obtain a new member of that cult. So, LG, if you’re reading this, I’d be more than pleased to get my fingers around a physical pressing of your releases. My collection looks incomplete without it. Fans of the aforementioned bands(or just fans of the Goth & Shoegazing movement of the 80’s), mark my words, you have some new Leuteniants to lead you through these troubled times.

P.S. They have a new album titled Truth set to be released April 4th.


Purchase [US]

Purchase [UK]

Purchase [iTunes]

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