Album review – FLAGS

Rheinische Post 21.03.2009

Soundwelten und Flaggen im Wind
Von Andreas Buchbauer

Es dauert keine drei Sekunden, da merkt man schon, wohin die Reise geht: Wuchtig werden die Gitarren angeschlagen, eine Soundlandschaft aufgebaut, und Carlo van Putten legt los. Schwelgerisch, sehnsüchtig haucht der Sänger der Dead Guitars ins Mikro “Once again, this life is mine” und dann, im Refrain, immer wieder dieses eine Wort: Pristine. Van Putten singt fordernd, klagend, elegisch. Pristine ist der Opener zum neuen Dead Guitars Album Flags, das gestern auch in Deutschland erschienen ist. In Großbritannien ist das Album der Gladbacher Band bereits seit Januar erhältlich. Auf Flags gehen die Musiker konsequent den Weg weiter, den sie auf ihrem Debütalbum Airplanes eingeschlagen haben. Die Dead Guitars geben ihren Songs Zeit, Atmosphäre zu entwickeln, sich zu steigern, es werden ganze Soundwelten aufgebaut. Man könnte die Songs der Dead Guitars als “weite Musik” bezeichnen. Musik, die den Hörer mitnimmt. Die ihm Freiraum lässt. Und die ihn immer wieder umhüllt, einfängt, ihn nicht loslässt, wie ein impressionistisches Gemälde. Die Stücke der Dead Guitars funktionieren wie ein Soundtrack, der Assoziationen hervorruft. Da ist das Stück Watercolours mit seinem hypnotischen Gesang. Es erinnert an Richard Ashcroft in seinen besten Momenten, jenen Mann, den Oasis einst in ihrem wunderbaren Cast No Shadow besangen. Man rauscht hinein in diesen Song, in die Wasserfarben, die erst blass sind, und dann, mit zunehmendem Hören des Songs, stärker werden. Am Ende steht ein Ohrwurm da.

Nachts im Pick−Up unterwegs
Ein Ohrwurm, den man eher selten im Radio hört, und wenn, dann vermutlich im Nachtprogramm. Was die Dead Guitars auf Flags vorlegen, ist beachtlich. Es ist reifer als die Kaiser Chiefs, interessanter als die Kooks, packender als die jüngsten Stücke von Mando Diao. Zudem ist es äußerst abwechslungsreich. Da werden ruhige, balladeske Töne (Blue) angeschlagen, dann wieder scheppern die Gitarren. Goodbye Wildlife zum Beispiel wäre der perfekte Song, um im Pick−Up nachts über einen US−Highway zu steuern, umgeben von den schier unendlichen Weiten der Landschaft. Am Ende, nach zwölf Songs, versinkt ein Lazy Moon am Horizont. Aber die Flaggen der Dead Guitars wehen im Wind. Man betätigt den Wiedergabe−Knopf erneut: ein empfehlenswertes Album.

Rheinische Post CD-Tipp 07.05.2009

Von Konny Schnabel

Bei solch alten Hasen von “Entdeckung” zu sprechen ist eigentlich ein Frevel. Dennoch steht der Bekanntheitsgrad der Dead Guitars im umgekehrt reziproken Wert zu deren Einfluss und Güte. Immerhin: Wayne Hussey (The Mission) ist ein großer Fan der altinternationalen Emo-Rocker, begleitet sie auf Tourneen oder als Gastvokalist auf der neuen CD “Flags”. Der bestimmte, mal repetive, mal seelenvolle Gesang des Holländers Carlo van Putten verleiht dem melancholischen Wall-Of-Sound eine erhabene 80er-Jahre-Grandezza. Auf der nächsten anspruchsvollen Ü-40 Party sollte unbedingt die Dead Guitars Flagge gehisst werden.

Sic Magazine by Brett Spaceman

In a room in a house in a dream, somebody is playing Dead Guitars Flags to me. Or maybe I put it on? I have no memory of it. What is it they say, that old cliché? “Pinch me”. Ah yes, somebody pinch me please. Let`s test the validity of this dream. Except, me being me, I have to challenge the conventional wisdom that “pinching” is the sure-fire way of regulating the dream/reality distinction. If I`m THIS good at dreaming, then surely my subconscious can conjure something as simple as the sensation of having flesh caught between finger and thumb?
Dead Guitars are too modest. Last time around they slid their debut Airplanes out with as little fuss as possible. The record was a gorgeous, studied exercise in hazy, shimmering introspection. A treat for all fans of the members previous bands. (Inc The Convent, Sun, Twelve Drummers Drumming and White Rose Transmission).
Ah…White Rose Transmission, from where they took their name:

“Take a life in all its glory, all its sweetness, rare and dear
Now I know all that noise was just a cover
You came and went so that we might hear
…dead guitars”

Flags is a colossal step forward. Picking up from where Airplanes left off but beefing up into something expansive and ambitious. Gentle restraint and reflection distinguished the last record. Flags still does this, i n places, but there is more hope and joy here. Mad to say so but parts of Flags remind me of Doves. Certain tracks, yes (Miss America, Wildlife) but not only that. The progress from Airplanes to Flags is comparable to the development the Mancunians revealed when Lost Souls gave way to The Last Broadcast. Remember? Back when Doves were still vital? Flags widens its scope yet still manages to retain a cohesive “whole”. Take Slowdown as an example in point. How many times have Primal Scream tried to pastiche the Rolling Stones only to make themselves look the fools? Dead Guitars nail it on an innocuous album track. A traffic jam in memory lane…with added brass.
Totally unpredictable.
Carlo van Putten is a comforting shaman. Rather than dispensing wisdom like your typical sage guru, van Putten instead simply pulls us imploringly into his own particular daydream. And we enter willingly. As if his own light, poetic touch wasn’t enough, the guitars possess an eloquence of their own. You will not hear a more persuasive argument for Dead Guitars than a morsel of the glistening, skyward guitars on Pristine or almost anywhere across this record. Much as I love that WRT song, Blazing, Incandescent Guitars would have been more appropriate.
DG`s are fast approaching the point where they could do almost anything, achieve almost anything. The quality I could have predicted. It`s the diversity that has got me pinching myself. Flags is a White Album for the alt-rock set or whatever we`re calling this – dream pop, post-punk, wave, goth even? (NB The Mission guest all over this record to great effect.) DG`s are spreading amorphously outside of genre limitations. In fact DG`s turn the tables on their listeners. It is not they who can be pinned down. It`s us. “We know who you are, we know what you are” they say, wordlessly.
“We know what you love”

For there are people who like music, who dance to music, and enjoy it immensely. That`s not really us. Let`s face it, that`s not what we are, you and I. We may be strangers meeting over the words on this page or screen, possibly for the very first time and yet we already know one aspect about each other almost intimately. Music is our lives. A minor chord can break our hearts. A little lift can send shivers down our spines. WE`RE the genre. Dead Guitars are our band. If you haven`t done so already then you really need to hear Flags.
You may say I`m a dreamer.
But I`m not the only one.

[sic] Magazine @ MySpace

Mick Mercer – 09.07.09

There`s something quite classic about the songwriting Dead Guitars create and maintain which means I need to mention individuals, because these may well mean something to you, although I confess I wasn`t aware of many of them. The band is large enough, but invite others to be part of the grand occasion. Having previously a link with Adrian Borland, and in many ways reminding me of The Waterboys in their output Dead Guitars are as follows: Carlo Van Putten – vocals, Pete Brough – acoustic, Ralf Aussem – guitars and bits, Patrick Schmitz – drums and Sven-Olaf Dirks – bass.

“Pristine” finds Mark Gemini Thwaite joining in on guitar as a doomy underswell nuzzles into sweet vocals and sleek drumming, with a creamily uplifting chorus and no way to cut through the ambivalent lyrics. “Watercolours” swelled by a chorus and Markus Türk on trumpet is pretty drifty indie. I can`t quite relate to the Quasi-Oasis feel (i.e. Beatles Lite) as that sluggish 60`s retread never breaches my resolute mental barrier. “Isolation” is a maudlin delicacy, with Wayne Hussey on vocals, and sleepily catchy and the intriguing, shadowy “Blue” has Rich Vernon on bass and soft curves around the central, ticking bomb of despondency. “Goodbye Wildlife” is an organic mid-paced jangler, “Raise Your Flags” starts audaciously quiet with slumbering vocals and gradually fades out, as befits a brave curio. “Slowdown” is their Stonesy stomper, all brown and sugary.

“Sacre Coeur” is a diminutive, dripping instrumental, then the bleached western bones of
“Miss America” wail discordantly, then smoothes out its wrinkles and builds towards some emotional wailing like Bono in a nightmare, eventually dwindling away as it came in. “On A Trip To Elsewhere” includes Georg Sehrbrock on all manner of keyboards and Michael Von Hehl on what I assume are guitar contributions, and it`s another deceptively leisurely piece which is actually packed full of tiny details which keep you hooked in, lulled by its genuine hypnotic beauty. “Silver Cross River” manages to exhale some blissful vocal drama, about something I can`t quite fathom, then some old fashioned guitar bleeds into the mix, but the return to normality is heartfelt and strangely touching.

They finish with echoes of something Pink Floydish in a semi-ambient “Lazy Moon” which is a fitting close to a record so modest in tone but deeply rewarding, and just a little mysterious.