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Looking back at 2010: "Step lightly over groundswells"


March 4, 2010: we discover The Dead Science.

Q: What does the disputed region between indie rock and heavy metal sound like? Have your answer? Good. Now riddle us this: Exactly what should it sound like?

A: It should sound exactly like this.

Frenzied tempos. Straightjacket love ballads. Comic book menace. Guitars, big and small. String sections, big and bigger. Restraining order lyrics and operatic vocals. (In March we wrote, “Exhibit A: Sam Mickens, and the vocal stylings thereof.

His haunted falsetto and epileptic vibrato all but create a new musical genre on the spot.”)

Welcome to the Seattle-based experimental rock project The Dead Science.

A tour with Xiu Xiu. A 19th century serial killer profile. A mid-section art-haus track titled “Monster Island Czars” that injects soundbites like “make yourself into a flame-retardant ghost,” and pays homage to Yngwie J. Malmsteem. If it all sounds like a bit too much, let's step back for a moment of perspective: this year their 2008 release Villainaire earned nothing short of 27 hours of rotation on this reviewer's hi-fi. (iPod, actually.) Compare this to our 2010 band crushes Her Name is Calla and The Meligrove Band, weighing in at 22 and 25 hours, respectively.

So, in spite of their tireless experimentation, way over-the-top composing and “pianos, fiddles, the whole orchestra, and geek vengeance,” this stuff is user-friendly to a fault (line). To say it supports repeat listens is a ridiculous understatement. Indeed, had The Dead Science decided to put the Villainaire release off until 2010, it would have been album of the year this year. Easily. Please give it a whirl.