January 25, 2003

Deathray "White Sleeves"

Deathray is one of those under-the-radar bands that makes great music in spite of never really being heard. They've released a few very obscure 7" singles, an underappreciated self-titled album on Capricorn, and now they've released a little five-track EP, and it certainly hints that Deathray could be a greater band.
Funny, though, that their past (Greg Brown was a founding member of Cake and wrote their hit "The Distance") really has nothing to do with their present. It's just as well, because while Cake is a great band, the worst thing that Deathray could do would be to imitate their roots. White Sleeves almost seems like a different band from the one that I remember; it certainly doesn't have those poppier elements that I remember. These songs do have a poppy element to them, but they have a bit of a melancholic edge to them. In other words, they kind of sound like the Eels.

That's not to say that White Sleeves isn't any good. It leaves more of an impression than their debut album, which seemed a bit soulless. Well, here's the soul! In fact, White Sleeves is a rather varied affair. There's a nice little crunchy new-wave rock number, "White Sleeves." There's a sad ballad, "Make and Do." There are two mopey-rock songs, "Not the Same" and "Making Sure It's Canada." The real jewel of the set woiuld have to be the closing "Let's Be Friends." It's got a definite 1970's rock feel to it; heck, the way it's mixed makes it SOUND like AM radio. It's a great song, and it really makes me think that "The Distance" wasn't the only hit that Brown has in his soul.

Don't know much about what's up with these guys; I certainly hope an album is forthcoming! This is much better than their debut album, which really didn't leave much of an impression on me. I wish I could find it, because I'd like to give it a second listen. As it stands, White Sleeves will suit me just fine until I do--or until their next album. If you're curious, simply seek out "Let's Be Friends" the next time you want to make a mix CD. It's certainly worth a looking-out for.

--Joseph Kyle

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