Dead Leaf Echo
Custom Made Audio
Within the last decade or so, Brooklyn has become the music capital of New York City, as many of the critically acclaimed acts that you’ve read about in alternative weeklies, blogs, and music magazines have claimed Brooklyn as their home – the majority coming out of Williamsburg, East Williamsburg/Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Gowanus and so on. I could go on for quite some time name checking bands that many of you fellow audiophiles gush about. And when Dead Leaf Echo’s latest album, Truth came through in my inbox, I was pleasantly surprised. Like several other bands I’ve reviewed lately, the blogosphere has been buzzing about them so it should be no surprise to you, fellow audiophiles that they’ve done some CMJ-related shows in anticipation of their new release.
From the album’s first track, “Half-Truth” to the album’s sixth track, the songs are densely layered shoe gaze rock full of guitars that gently chime like bells. But through repeated listens there’s something hidden and new – most of the guitar playing is played with a bit of reverb and delay pedal, creating the sense that the chords are somehow simultaneously floating and crashing into each other. It’s quite enchanting frankly. But as hauntingly beautiful as this album is, sadly it’s not anything novel. The songs will remind erudite listeners of great British New Wave and Brit pop acts like the Verve (think of their amazing debut, A Storm in Heaven), the Smiths, the Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen (think of Ocean Rain without the string orchestration) and others. Even the remix of “Truth,” called “Act of Truth” sounds a lot like a drum and bass heavy Depeche Mode or New Order. Indeed, for those of us who grew up and started to love music in the 80s and 90s, a lot of Brit pop formed the soundtrack of our lives – and there’s a warm and fuzzy nostalgia for times that seemed simpler, for music that seemed more meaningful, for fading youth and lost loves. In some way, it makes some inherent sense because life can break your heart.
Now I have to admit that I love this album as it reminds me so much of the great music and great acts I’ve loved since I was a teenager, and the music that spoke to me as though it understood my life. But there’s a difference between influence and imitation, and it can be a subtle line. In the case of Dead Leaf Echo, that line is a bit hazy. Hopefully they can expand their sound and lift some of the weight of their influences off them. Until then, they’re a welcome trip down memory lane for those who truly remember New Wave and Brit pop and for a welcome introduction towards some great music for those who will hopefully discover it.
Release Date: October 12, 2010
2. Dance In the Light
3. Act of Truth
4. Grey Town
7. Act of Truth (Ext. Truth Mix)