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O'Death - Head Home

O'Death, Head Home

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

O’DEATH are five guys – Jamie on guitar and vocals, Gabe Darling on banjo, David Rogers-Berry on drums, Jesse Newman on bass and Bob Pycior on fiddle – who like to make music to howl and stomp along to.

Originally formed in 2003, they self-released their debut album a year later and quickly developed a reputation for stirring things up musically with their rousing live shows and twisted take on Americana filtered through a wealth of musical influences as diverse as Bill Monroe, Dock Broggs, Neil Young and The Misfits.

Head Home is their sophomore effort and is described as part southern gothic spiritual and part moonshine fuelled hoedown. It’s most definitely rooted in the sound of weird old Americana and is therefore something of an acquired taste.

The music is mostly fast and furious, often shambolic, and places a heavy reliance on the banjo and fiddle. Jamie’s world-weary vocals have a ramshackle quality that sometimes impresses, sometimes grates. And the music flits between good and bad.

Early efforts such as Down To Rest and Adelita come at you loud and fast, and don’t really impress. But just occasionally the album throws in something to take notice of, such as O Lee O, a mid-tempo offering that benefits from some restraint. True, it does explode to life in places but O’Death keep a tighter reign on things and by doing so, deliver an album highlight.

Ironically, it’s by adopting the less is more approach that the album works best. Another slower song Travelin Man benefits from stripping things back and keeping things basic. But even then there’s the nagging suspicion that Jamie’s vocals just can’t cut it. They’re a little too raw.

It means that for every good moment like Only Daughter, there’s plenty more that just didn’t do anything for me at all. Needless to say, it was a very long slog to get through all 15 tracks.

Download picks: Only Duaghter, O Lee O, Travelin Man

Track listing:

  1. Down To Rest
  2. Adelita
  3. Allie Mae Reynolds
  4. The Crab Apple Switch
  5. O Lee O
  6. Busted Old Church
  7. Travelin’ Man
  8. Face Mask
  9. Only Daughter
  10. Ground Stump
  11. Rickety Fence Teeth
  12. All The World
  13. Jesus Look Down
  14. Nathaniel
  15. Gas Can Row