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Dead Confederate - Sugar

Dead Confederate, Sugar

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DEAD Confederate look set to join the ranks of Green Day, Arcade Fire and Kings of Leon as great contemporary American bands of the moment with the release of sophomore album, Sugar.

Liberally sprinkled with some truly great moments, the Athens, Georgia-based outfit’s follow-up to Wrecking Ball is a resounding success that marries classic Smashing Pumpkins elements with those of classic melody and composition.

With an evolving approach and focused, streamlined sound, Sugar explores new styles beyond the aching, bleak psychedelia of the debut.

That progression was shaped by tours with legends Dinosaur Jr. and Meat Puppets, which increased Dead Confederate’s appreciation for the pioneering musicians of the ‘80s and ‘90s that laid the foundation for the band’s sound.

New songs that developed were also lighter and tighter, without abandoning the driving guitar-work and unbridled emotion that has set them apart, while further guidance came from star producer John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, The Hold Steady).

Hence, Sugar pounds with a weighty, dark alt-grunge fervour that recalls Smashing Pumpkins’ heyday, while at other times buzzing with a frantic distortion and howling anger reminiscent of The Walkmen.

Standout moments include Run From The Gun, which memorably blends harmony and Mellotron guitars into a drifting, airy commentary on war, and which really boasts one of the most jaw-droppingly good choruses on the LP.

Father Figure, meanwhile, has a brooding bassline groove and a Pumpkins’-esque vibe that’s perfectly suited to the thought-provoking, more intimate lyrics, and Quiet Kid opens with some awesomely menacing guitars that pack the sort of punch that both the Pumpkins and Dinosaur Jr were capable of in their prime.

Mob Scene is a raw, ragged rocker that brings about easy, but no less exciting comparisons with The White Stripes… the guitars, in particular, allowing to run riot and take in some exhilarating riffs.

While there’s another instant classic in the anthemic Giving It All Away, which almost adopts a melancholy sense of regret in its tender vocals. Again, though, the guitar work is exemplary and utterly addictive.

Title track Sugar cleverly conveys the cold, snowy winter that inspired it (a series of New Jersey blizzards besieged the recording of the record), while Shocked To Realize ends things on a sombre, brooding and hauntingly epic note that guarantees the record stays with you for some time afterwards.

It’s little wonder that advance word on Sugar is so hot right now… it’s a sophomore album that delivers a sweet, sweet listen.

Read our interview with Dead Confederate

Download picks: Run From The Gun, Father Figure, Quiet Kid, Mob Scene, Giving It All Away

Track listing:

  1. In The Dark
  2. Run From The Gun
  3. Father Figure
  4. Quiet Kid
  5. By Design
  6. Mob Scene
  7. Semi-Thought
  8. Giving It All Away
  9. Sugar
  10. Shocked To Realize