Dead To Me – ‘I Wanna Die In Los Angeles’

By Paul Silver

Who isn’t a sucker for great, bouncy, melodic music that has an edge? And even more so when the lyrics to those happy sounding songs hide darkness and pain? That’s the magic of Dead To Me and it’s on display in this, the band’s first new release in five years. This is also the first Dead To Me record to include founding member Jack Dalrymple since 2008’s ‘Little Brother’ EP. The songs were written in the months following bassist/vocalist Tyson ‘Chicken’ Annicharico’s stint in rehab, after bottoming out during a period of non-stop drug and alcohol abuse that resulted in what he calls a psychotic break. He’s been sober for two years now and these songs offer a sort of catharsis, a way of opening up about a painful destructive period in his life, and a way of holding himself accountable for his actions.

Dalrymple’s return to the band has definitely had a strong effect on the music. There’s much more of a garage pop feel to the songs, closer in feel to another band he’s in, toyGuitar, than it is to earlier Dead To Me releases. The sunny melodies are a strong feature and Annicharico and Dalrymple’s trading of vocals back and forth offers effective contrasts in sonic texture. Annicharico’s got a gritty insistent voice while Dalrymple is more of a crooner. It’s similar to the contrast between Dalrymple’s bright jangly guitar and Ken Yamazaki’s grittier tone. Choices like these come from sound production decisions, and it’s no surprise that Chicken acts as producer on this EP. After spending time producing other bands’ records and kicking up their sound several notches, this is the first time he’s acted in that role for his own band.

The tracks are lined up on sort of a musical continuum. Opening the EP is the title track and it’s the most raucous of the trio of songs. The track opens with guitars growling and drums pounding. Annicharico soon joins in, growling even harder. Dalrymple takes over, his crooning bordering on a plaintive, pleading cry. This darkest song of the EP also has the brightest melody and the bounciest feel. ‘Tune It Out’ is just a bit calmer and quieter, with a gliding melody over Ian Anderson’s rat-tat-tat drums, and the guitar and bass holding a solid beat. The closer, ‘Comforting the Disturbed and Disturbing the Comfortable,’ is the saddest sounding of the record, with an arrangement that’s alternately thin and full. The contrasting textures are most prominently on display on this track, making it arguably the most interesting, sonically, of the EP.

When the band first announced Dalrymple’s return and the start of work on a new LP back in October 2014, the excitement quickly faded into disappointment when Annicharico was hospitalized and began the long, hard work toward a more stable and sober life. We finally now have the first fruits of the reinvigorated and renewed Dead To Me, and like the first course of a gourmet meal, it whets the appetite for more. If this is the band’s new direction, bring on that full-length as fast as you can!

PAUL SILVER

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