Dead people live longer. Especially when it’s guitars that make a damned lively, but somehow a bit contemplative music. DEAD GUITARS, a band name that is the opposite of what you get to hear on “SHELTER”. Guitars – acoustic as well as electric – play a big role, as well as the excellent, very variable vocals or even trumpets and trombones, which never blow your ears, but tenderly blow through your ear canals.
With this band from Germany, including a gifted Dutch singer, common Brit-Pop bands have to dress damn warm, because the DEAD GUITARS sound more British and melodic and more true to feeling than much of what spills over to us from British climes nowadays. And if you like the new album of the TINDERSTICKS including the donkey cover, you should love the music behind the lighthouse cover as well, because with “SHELTER” it adds some lighter, more optimistic, not so melancholic moments to the TINDERSTICKS melancholy and would also do very well between BOWIE, FOOL’S GARDEN, the BEATLES, NITS and CROWDED HOUSE.
In general, there is quite an eventful history behind the DEAD GUITARS, whose musical hull consists of the former 12 DRUMMERS DRUMMING musicians Brough and Aussem. A band that was founded in 1983 and made really good music – somewhere between the SIMPLE MINDS and U2 – but never really achieved success. And while I’m writing this review, the 12DD “Loveless” is (finally again) running in my player and feels damn good there.
Why leaving this album unnoticed on shelf for so long?
The DEAD GUITARS also have a lot of the 12DD – but this time they also have a singer who breaks all boundaries and is one of the best singers I’ve come across lately.
For example, in the pop beginning “Heaven Seven”, a song that should make every radio station with an upscale taste in music and curious music editors happy, one believes to be dealing with a song by DAVID BOWIE from his pop phases, when the “China Girl”, the “Heaven” (without Seven) and a “Rock’N’Roll Suicide” were especially important to him. A truly great memory of the unfortunately recently deceased rock hero.
“Half Light / Hang Out In Heaven”, on the other hand, with its musical orientation of pop and psychedelic, reminds us even more of THE DIVINE COMEDY with its “Sgt. Pepper” era of the BEATLES and NEIL HANNON-like vocals.
Vocalist CARLO VAN PUTTEN has it all, which he proves most convincingly with “I Surrender” – a song full of tender, floating keyboard surfaces and sugary, but never corny melodies. Here he even sounds very similar to DAVID BOWIE! Sometimes this creates goose bumps when listening, especially for those who have not yet gotten over the loss of our brilliant music chameleon. With “SHELTER” the DEAD GUITARS come at just the right time to channel this grief a little bit, to turn it into hope by our musical consciousness whispering to us: “There is still a very lively voice that …”.
The DEAD GUITARS claim for themselves to live their own dream with their music, because they act completely independent, because nobody in the band has to earn his money with music. Maybe this is exactly the reason why “SHELTER” is so dreamlike! “Shelter for your dreams and they will come true”, the critic thinks, while the first sung line of “I Surrender” impressively confirms his thoughts: “Let me wander in your dreams”.
I, for my part, love to wander with my ears!
Actually, the devil should be on our side, if somebody doesn’t discover “SHELTER” as a very special piece of German music culture, which with its British charisma clearly rises above everything, which at the moment unlovingly cobbled together radio programs want to sell us as hip. The DEAD GUITARS also love the mainstream, but the one that flows instead of bobbing along!