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Drum's Not Dead (CD + DVD)
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The new album, "Drum's Not Dead," is another sharp left turn into uncharted territory. The move to Germany seems to have been on purpose; the spirit of Krautrock bands like Can and Faust is all over this album. On the first listen it seems experimental and willfully "difficult," but repeated listens will focus things a bit. Overall it's a lot quieter than previous efforts--there are moments that recall Sigur Ros and post-"Kid A" Radiohead. Not leaving New York totally behind, other possible reference points could be Black Dice, Animal Collective and of course Sonic Youth, so when I say "quieter," I don't necessarily mean "soft." Many songs feature Japanese Taiko-style drumming and atmospheric washes of guitar. Sometimes things get noisy, but nothing that'll get you evicted. Oh, yeah, and did I mention that it's another concept album? The "story," and I use the term very loosely, revolves around a pair of characters called Mt. Heart Attack and Drum, who represent the yin/yang duality of a person. The former is stress and self-doubt and the latter is creative energy and productivity, or something like that.Read more ›
But immediately following the great success of this album they fired their rhythm section (who have since become the group No Things, who sound much more like that first album than either of these second two Liars albums). It was an incredible bold move, and one that made the unfaithful very wary and hateful of their second album, They Were Wrong So We Drowned.
However, with Drum's Not Dead, the Liars sound seems to be congealing (hopefully not too much, i'm quite enjoying their erratic career so far) into something that can stand on its own without the context of their previous two records. Drum's is probably more similar in aesthetic to Drowned than Monument, but it definately stands on its own, and seems to be a step forward in a relatively similar direction.
There is definitely a tribal element to their rhythms on this album, and I can see some similarities to Animal Collective in their use of tons of congos and some Black Dice like drum effects. While many of the tracks have a driving rhythm, overall its too dark to be dancable like their first, but will get your head bobbing nonetheless.
The album flows as one cohesive musical piece, each track bleeding into the next, but not to a point where it all seems like one song. Lastly, the DVD full of 3 entire low budget video versions of the whole album is an amazing bonus. The video's are very fitting to the music, and the live footage in the studio is very fun to watch with the songs. One of my absolute favorite recent albums, pick it up for sure.
The band uses the diverse capabilities of the studio, with different rooms equipped in different ways, to produce all manner of reverb effects and samples. Each track explores its own sonic space. Rhythm and texture predominate over melody or understandable lyrics.
The theme of the album is apparently (based on various other reviews) the internal conflict between creativity (Drum) and fear (Mt. Heart Attack). I'm not sure whether the band ever articulated this, or whether it has just circulated via reviews and become the standard interpretation. I prefer to think of the personae as Eros (love, the Life Drive) and Thanatos (the Death Drive). It's open, and certainly not clearly spelled out.
I also prefer to think that Liars have a Left standpoint, however difficult this can be to detect through the conceptual layers they bring to their music from their art school training. It emerges most clearly on their 2010 masterpiece Sisterworld, though it was strongly intimated in the title of their 2001/2002 debut album as well (They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This stellar album was reissued on vinyl under the radar. I've been looking for it for years, so that's the only way I can explain missing it upon release. Read morePublished on June 18, 2013 by Trinity
It's been over 7 years since "Drum's Not Dead" was released, and I still consistently go back to it. Maybe it's nostalgia, but maybe the record is just excellent. Read morePublished on May 9, 2013 by Erik L. Peterson
This is one of my favorite albums of the last 10 years.
If I could give it more stars I would.
The music is heavy into percussion and synthesizer with very cool... Read more
Aside from few fleeting moments of engaging experimentation, the group's sketchy framework exposes a decayed underbelly of creative drought.
While a lot of the percussion is interesting, this just isn't an album that I ever want to sit and listen through all the way. Read morePublished on December 3, 2008 by S. Milani
Actually, I liked it. Dual drummers that really carry this band. The song-writing is only semi-pro, and the vocals (!) and guitar really aren't even that good. Read morePublished on August 11, 2008 by J. Knight
Everyone who gave this record a bad review will eat their words, eventually. This record is genre shattering.
Rushing to meet the future. Why are people so afraid of change? Read more
this is a sad attempt for the Liars at taking their sound in a new direction. It comes off as a hearted rip off of "Animal Collective's" "Feels" album, which was amazing. Read morePublished on January 11, 2007 by Troy Greer