...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead – The Secret of Elena's Tomb EP
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2010
I've never really understood what the big fucking deal about this band was, other than that their band name is fucking amazing. I mean, some bands take the “let's have a really overlong band name” thing too far (to the point where it ends up with some stupid abbreviation or sounds more like an album title than a band name) but I've always liked And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, although mostly because I can just call them Trail of Dead and it's still cool. But otherwise, they just sound like every other band that was trying to get popular but NOT be the Strokes or the Whatevers in the early 00s. There's a certain artfulness to it, this EP followed their breakthrough LP Source Tags & Codes and it's got a reverence for Slint and all those wonderful mid-90s post-rock/math rock bands. But at the same time, it's hard to find anything really TOO original about it. Sure, the band is tight, they're on their game but their game has never clicked with me. I said that already. Maybe I just tried too hard to like them and this was the consequence. I mean, I REALLY like a couple of tracks on this record, but I know I only like them because they're capturing the tone of Spiderland and not because they're real testaments to originality. Like opener “Mach Schau,” which just sounds like Slint blended together with like, Iggy Pop or something. But Source Tags is one of those albums that is SO highly acclaimed, that I'm surely missing something and it's only a matter of time before I like it. I mean, I'm not saying I'm gonna LOVE it or anything like that, but my judgment feels a little bit premature at the moment. However, in terms of judging The Secret of Elena's Tomb, I can say that while it doesn't sound dated yet, it probably will in five years or so. To end on a positive note, I will say that I've always appreciated the musicianship. It's the same way I appreciate what Broken Social Scene do, despite not really liking their music.
"All Saints Day" is a jam, though, in a sort of hazy mid-90s alternative rock radio way.