Dead Confederate: Sugar

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Artist: Dead Confederate

Title: Sugar
Release: August 24
Label: Razor & Tie

Recently, I wrote about a really good band with a terrible name. Today, I've got a band with a pretty cool name and really so-so music. Dead Confederate evokes a sound that is quite a bit different from what actually emits from my speakers.

A hard-edged Southern rock aesthetic is what I was hoping for -- maybe something like Drive-By Truckers or something. But what I got was Smashing Pumpkins meets Sonic Youth meets Nirvana -- an early-1990s cocktail if ever there were one. Perhaps to younger ears, it may sound fresh. I was in my early 22 when those bands were peaking and, oddly enough, that doesn't seem that long ago to me, so Dead Confederate winds up sounding really derivative.

To me, it almost makes a lot more sense for the current wave '80s-ness in indie rock, because, you know, that really was a long time ago.

The album's biggest sin: It's just a bit on the boring side -- even though it's supposed to be a Rock Record. Of course, I always thought Smashing Pumpkins were a bit on the boring side, too, even though they were supposedly a high-energy rock band. The fact that Dead Confederate's singer sounds more than a little bit like Billy Corgan, the single most annoying figure of 1990s alt-rock, does not help matters at all.

Sugar's not as dark as it wants to be, not brooding as it wants to be, not as distressed as it wants to be, and not as noisy as it wants to be. Seems Dead Confederate might actually have it in them to pull off the dark/brooding/distressed/noisy thing, but they played it way too safe on this record. Perhaps they wanted didn't want to scare anyone way, choosing to make an smooth-around-the-edges, accessible record instead of making a kick-ass rock record. Too bad. Opportunity missed.

01 In The Dark

Best song: If I have to choose one, lead-off track "In the Dark" is okay.
Rotation: Low
Deja vu: 15 minutes after "alternative" ceased being an alternative to the mainstream and actually became the mainstream. It happened sometime in 1992, I think.
I'd rather listen to: Even though it's not outstanding, give me Drive-By Trucker's new one over Dead Confederate.
Grade: D+

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 41-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment 


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