This morning I was made aware of the Deadly Gentlmen thanks to a post over on the Bluegrass Blog covering the Crooked Still folks. The Deadly Gentlemen’s album “Carry Me to Home” is available for FREE download, gotta like that.
The Deadly Gentlemen, if we are to believe their own bio info, are a young super group of wunderkinds including Dawg’s son Sam on Bass. A genetic winning lottery ticket like being the son of the greatest madolin player in history gives them a huge leg up on the competition, but lets put that fact aside because in the end thats pretty immaterial to the musical properties and merits of the band.
I really don’t want to be a hater, and most who know me would say I’m not. I want to like this stuff, because in general its exploring new territory on the instruments that I love. Its breaking new ground, and there is something to say for that alone, I totally respect that.
But in the end, the album comes off like the long-lost never-before-heard bluegrass tracks form a bizzaro version of Phish’s Junta album, and not in a good way. The lyrics are basically machine gun delivery with multi-part harmony leads. I’m sure it is impressive in a bar, and plays very well with lots of screaming adoring fans. I’m sure they are pretty good live, and have a quite a following, if for nothing else than the fact that they are nice looking young white kids playing Bluegrass instruments. But man, it gets old, real quick. There isn’t a singable catchy hook any where in sight. The entire album is a barren wasteland of unpleasant acoustic art rock. It’s a beyond the thunder dome, post apocalyptic, scatterbrained , short attention span, Ritalin chewing, mess.
Its the vocals stupid. Its just way too much over the top yelling and crazy ADHD cut-and-paste Hip-hop contributions by the supporting voices. That, and I guess they never got the memo that Trey doesn’t have a very good singing voice and that imitating him doesn’t turn out well.
Although, for the folks that wish Phish would have been an all acoustic bluegrass band with amazing chops, these are your peeps.
The instrumentation is pretty good for the most part, but the banjo stuff is odd and never really gives it to you like you want it. The fiddle playing is outstanding but again is held to a bizzare cut and paste riffyness that never gets its done. The mandolin playing is basically relegated to rhythm with only a few leads and is disappointing. Like imagine if Chris Thile never blew your mind with a solo and thats pretty much the gist of it, a lot of fancy chopping tricks and not much more. I mean even with all this singing and shouting and fancy licks going on, never, not once did I find my self thinking Ah this good stuff right here. Its like one giant intro, with no pay off. Its like a joke without a punch line.
And oddly enough, in a testament to how tastes change over time, this is a band that 10 years ago I would have thought was the coolest thing since sliced bread. I would have dragged my then-to-be wife to the show, where she would look at me after two songs and said these guys suck, lets go to Dick’s Den.
That being said its worth the cost of admission, free 🙂
Now if you want to hear some guys who can really let you have it and never let up, not even for a minute, check out the Drowsy Lads. It ain’t Bluegrass, but it sure is good!