Dead Neighbors
Dead Neighbors [CS; Fall Break ]

The prism of Athens, Georgia is skewed by a few of the bigger bands and movements we’ve come to accept as the college town’s canon without really understanding the heritage of said city. But when my mind wonders to Athens, it does not directly connect to R.E.M. or the Elephant 6 collective; rather, I think of Mitch Easter. It’s not that Easter is really tied to Athens, but rather the southern college regional sound as a whole through much of the 80’s and into the early 90’s. So when I hear Athens’ Dead Neighbors, I find myself transported back to those eager, brisk times when music spoke to a lifestyle most of America ignored. Despite recent political “leadership” and social inventions that perpetuate “culture”, I still feel the separation and isolationism of Reaganomics. I still find the country largely broken down by regional alliances. A host of southern fried revisionists have grown in the 30-odd years since Athens announced its national presence on Americana, but Dead Neighbors feels more closely aligned with those “ancient” times than the current spate of frantic rock that has come from the region (Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama) for which it stands. The band’s self-titled seems like a fine compliment to early I.R.S. records and Let’s Active pop eclecticism. There’s a real edge that goes beyond the lo(wer)-fi production, that has an airy early 80’s quality. It even feels right at home on cassette, because it’s one hell of a way to burn through a long car ride on the old college touring circuit. Yet Dead Neighbors do not shy away from pushing the boundaries of their inspirations. The cassette contains single-lettered interludes that crunch, quake and moan that don’t so much break up the tape into three sections, but rather work to keep the band grounded in the now before it becomes too nostalgic for a certain few. While my mind may incorrectly wander to the Athens that was culturally built on gossip of the time rather than real historical content, Dead Neighbors is a real reminder of the album’s place and time. The “more things change” tangents that prove to be more true than false. Post-punk is alive and well, Athens is no longer a solitary Petri dish, and misconceptions can work in a band’s favor. Which is why I would not be surprised to see Dead Neighbors on Merge with an Easter-produced record before too long. Or blazing their own trail because the paths that once existed — stuck in time — are no longer the only method of leaving a lasting impression. Take for instance this tape. None of this exposition is really necessary. There’s a sample below to prove it.

Links: Fall Break


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