You Can Finally Get Your Deathfix, And Man, They Take It All The Way

We had February 19th circled on our calendar ever since Spin glommed “Transmission,” a magnificent early cut from the first Deathfix album, and streamed it on their site.  But even though we hit refresh on our iTunes about a dozen times last Tuesday, it only was released today.  Fortunately, those nice people at NPR let us stream the whole album all week, so we haven’t exactly been waitin’ for our man.  We may have set new records for streaming a single album, but we sure got our Deathfix, and as of today we finally have a renewable supply, and can take it to the limit.

And that’s the worry, for now that we have our own copy of Deathfix coursing through our headphones, we find the whole album is such a crystalline mound of glittering goodness, we could listen to it over and over until we emerge from the room —  if we were to emerge — looking like an R. Crumb character. It’s that good.

Much has been made of the opener, “Better Than Bad” sounding like a Big Star track.  Right era, but maybe the wrong band.  It seems built less on proto-power pop than on George Harrison’s “What Is Life.”  But placing the context from which Deathfix emerges is important, given how much the band confounds expectations.  With musicians who have roots in Fugazi, Bob Mould’s solo career, and D.C. secrets like The Mary Timony Band, who would have imagined there is a late ’60s/early ’70s prog sophistication at work here, that in a song like “Transmission” we can imagine Joe Boyd producing a Traffic session.  The musicians are virtuosi, even when you realize that singer/guitarist Brendan Canty isn’t playing the drums, which he did so magnificently for Fugazi, but instead has embarked on the same path as Chris Mars and Grant Hart and, yeah, Dave Grohl before him, going from behind the drum kit to the front of the stage.

It all works, as an incredibly catchy set of updated 10cc songs, as a staggeringly sophisticated first album made by adults who know their way around the studio, but haven’t lost a scintilla of wonder about just what can be accomplished with guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards.  This may seem far afield, but the only contemporary band that to us seems to be fishing with the same tackle is White Denim, and by that we mean a band that completely understands how uncool it is to play music with such a knowing understanding of pre-punk rock sophistication, and then they just go ahead’n’blow everyone away with the power of their songs, their incredible musicianship.  Resistance is futile.

Despite the dance club vibe of “Dali’s House,” this is a cerebral album, clever and beautiful (at times) without being emotional.  It sounds like it was made by a band as well-synced as The Soundtrack of Our Lives, but of course, they’ve only been playing together for a matter of months.  Our humble belief is that Deathfix could be the biggest band ever to emerge from D.C. — we mean commercially viable and huge — and wouldn’t that be ironic, given Brendan’s roots in Fugazi?  Richly deserved though, right, to have a nice guy finish first?  Whether or not we’re right — we’re usually not, when it comes to predicting who’s going to be huge — Deathfix has produced a first album that we pray is just the kickoff to many more.  You can start your 2013 Top 10 list scorecard now.  Maybe you can even put down your pen.

2 Responses to “You Can Finally Get Your Deathfix, And Man, They Take It All The Way”

  1. […] the band for the first time after wearing out the hard drive from our iPad listening to their eponymous debut through headphones reveals just precisely who passes off the […]

  2. Since you are such a huge fan of Deathfix, you might want to check out this interview I had the privilege of conducting with Brendan. Best wishes, Mike

    http://notboundtofollowsuit.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/much-better-than-bad-an-interview-with-brendan-canty/

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