One purpose of my taking time out of my otherwise perfectly wonderful life to write about CDs is to encourage my young and old neighbors to shut off oldies Zeppelin radio for just two freaking seconds and try bands like this on for size. New Hampshirites aren’t any different from folks in Florida or Wisconsin or Oregon when it comes to embracing scary new art — as it is in war, when inflicting loudness on your ears it’s better to go with the enemy you know than the one you don’t, so unless you’ve got a hundred subway stories to tell, you’re probably not all that metro, and chances are good that those old loud-ass Jimmy Page guitar solos are comforting to you, like warm socks, generating no great desire for real adventure. But adventure’s good for the soul, you guys, and quit pretending those awful Wolfmother albums are an acceptable compromise. On the other hand, in this case it’d be a disservice for me to infer Trail of Dead’s new concept LP is the greatest invention since fishnet stockings. The sounds spring from ideas Blue Oyster Cult, Offspring, Foo Fighters and Minus the Bear could have had, meaning you stubborn old-schoolers would have to allow for Hello Kitty-fied half-punk whimsy between the walls of noise, which are, I assure you, psycho-heavy at times (“Weight of the Sun”). And there you have it, within a strictly clinical analysis — this is way too good to be compared with the boring crypto-corporate bar-rock of, say, Kaiser Chiefs, but it ain’t ELP either — imagine Foo Fighters trying to write a sequel to Tommy while being very mindful of their limits in both technical aptitude and imagination, but a little more interesting than that. And, um, ahem, no guitar solos. Again. Cough, cough.
B+ —Eric W. Saeger