Friday, December 9, 2011

Dead Sands Blow Over Brooklyn Rock

Danny Wood never likes to stand in one place for too long. Originally a bass player for a five-piece Austin-based metal band that liked to break things (The Rise), Wood jumped over to …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead (Trail of Dead), taking the place of Neil Busch in 2004.

He stayed with Trail of Dead until 2007, while playing simultaneously with the lesser known indie rockers AM Syndicate. Through it all, there was still one thing missing for Wood. None of these band were really his. They were established acts and he was along for the ride.

All that changed in 2008 when he stepped out from behind the bass and fronted Borrowed Eyes. And for the past several years, he has become more comfortable in the role (even while playing with the band Midnight Masses).

Still, as good as they are for a soulful indie folk-fused Southern rock band that fulfills Wood's desire to produce timeless music, it's his newer project has the definite edge and caught our attention.

Dead Sands dances on the edge of all that is psychedelic rock.

Joining Wood is Borrowed Eyes bandmate Justin James, Jessie Nelson from Head Automatica (among other things), and Miyuki Furtado, who is another Midnight Masses vet with an equally full plate. Originally one-third of the Brooklyn-based The Rogers Sisters (and others), Furtado is taking up drums for Dead Sands while trying to get Divining Rod, his own solo project, off the ground.

Collectively, that means Dead Sands members have cross-genre experience that measures somewhere around a mile deep. And all of it is part of the Dead Sands sound, especially metal heaviness, folk fuzz, electro finesse, and indie angst. Wood really hasn't let himself play this loose since his time with Conrad Keely and Jason Reece.

Rain Prayer is just one of three lengthly tracks on their first EP released on Don't Cry Records. If you haven't heard of Don't Cry, the East Village record company headed by Nick Hook Tiombe Lockhart, there's a reason. It only releases music that they love.

For Dead Sands, it must have been love at first sight. The band only first debuted live in April, with their first gig played as part of a free concert at The Union. They had just launched their  Facebook, MySapce, and Twitter accounts a few days before. And they've been too busy since to bother with the little things, like a band bio.

They just piled in for the ride. It's turning out to be a wild one.

While they might not have settled on defining their sound beside "full on" (which is accurate), Wood, James, Nelson, and Furtado have decided that they love playing heavy long-play jams and fuzzy vocals. They love it so much, all of them signed on to produce not one but four EPs as part of what will eventually lead to an LP for Centuries.

For now, the EPs will be named Centuries I, II, etc. They've already finished recording the second. Mixing for Centuries II was wrapped in July. That's not bad for a band that was passing out cassette tapes a few months ago (and still do).

When you consider the groundwork already laid and that their first live session was unforgettable (albeit rough around the edges), Dead Sands is off to a beautifully gritty and growling start. This fan clip captures the potential, even if the Centuries track had yet to be perfected (it gets better as it progresses).

It seems obvious that Centuries, despite being the title for the four-EP set, still needs to be smoothed out. But there isn't any question that the song was the perfect closer for this concert and convincing enough for Don't Cry to release the band's self-produced EP. It feels right, especially with the embellishments as it closes out.

Centuries I By Dead Sands Storms An 8.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.  

Centuries I might be a three-track EP, but those three songs serve up 15 minutes of meandering psych rock that drifts in and out between aggressive and mind numbing. Rain Prayer is my favorite, but plenty of people like The Hand, which grabs up a Simon & Garfunkel lyric line at its open. Futile Fall has some obvious Pink Floyd undertones, and that's the guts of this work — a little bit of everything over the centuries, psychedelic style.

Centuries I by Dead Sands is available on iTunes. Centuries I is also available on Amazon. You can also pick up cassettes anywhere you see them live in the New York area. Visit their Facebook page for upcoming shows. Dead Sands has the mettle to be a psychedelic powerhouse.
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