When I was, oh, maybe 14 years old, I went to a movie with my family at the Carmike movie theater in Des Moines. It was the same movie theater we had always gone to, so no big deal, right? Right – except for one thing. You know that fun little intro thingy they play before the previews? Yeah, you know – that one with all the people watching movies and buying coke and popcorn and junk like that. It was always the same little video before every movie, accompanied by the same, familiar song.
Well, on this movie-going excursion, I immediately noticed something when that little video started to play… it had changed. Alright, so the actual video content wasn’t much different; there were still a bunch of people watching a movie, and buying popcorn, and looking generally happy about being paid to look happy. What had changed was the music. It was fantastic. The music was this huge-sounding electronic-rock fusion with an asscrapload of delay effects, and it sounded super duper cool. In fact, it was the coolest damn thing I’ve ever heard.
Unfortunately, you can only hear it on that video, which only plays in the theater. There’s no artist readily associated with the song – heck, I even tried contacting Carmike and asking them who made it (no luck). My guess is that the song was made in house, and isn’t available outside of that video. That’s OK though – Dead Letter Circus is the next best thing.
I discovered Dead Letter Circus last year when I was randomly stumbling around my favorite music website, SputnikMusic. (Protip: you are too mainstream for SputnikMusic) I saw that they were from Australia, and since I knew of a lot of other great Australian bands (Closure in Moscow, City Escape, Karnivool), I decided to check them out. Within about 8.64 seconds, they had easily become one of my favorite bands.
Describing Dead Letter Circus is kind of difficult. Even the band itself has trouble with it, as evidenced from this line from their official bio:
“Watching someone on their first listen to Brisbane alternative breakthroughs Dead Letter Circus searching to come up with a neat description is fascinating viewing… “It’s kind of like… no wait, it’s more of a… Wow, I have no idea what it is, but it’s different…”
I’d say this is a pretty accurate description. Dead Letter Circus are quite the unique band, although you might be able to compare them to Karnivool in some aspects. They certainly play rock, but it’s…. different. The music is so heavily laden with delay and other effects that it decidedly veers out of conventional rock territory, becoming something much more epic and well, big-sounding. However, they still retain a catchiness with each track that will keep you coming back for more.
This is the Warning is their full-length debut, following a couple of excellent EPs (full discography here). The album starts out with Here We Divide, which gets right into a driving, atmospheric melody that is greatly improved by all the delay effects. About 20 seconds in, you realize something else; vocalist Kim Benzie has some great pipes. In fact, each member of the band plays their instrument like a complete boss – even the bassist is audible and interesting.
My favorite song on the album is definitely The Space on the Wall, which is in my opinion the biggest, most epic-sounding track Dead Letter Circus has ever made. The track’s steady, delay-driven beat serves as a great backbone to Benzie’s amazing vocals, and it all just comes together to create an amazing piece of music. You simply need to hear it.
The rest of the songs on the album are all equally amazing, and not every track is the same; for example, Reaction is a much heavier, more conventional sound track, while The Drum is super-experimental and non-conventional. In the end, Dead Letter Circus is a band you need to check out if you like rock at all. They’ve dominated my Last.fm profile for the last gillion months, and now that I’m reviewing them I’ll probably be listening to them all the time once again. Grab the album on Amazon, and show these guys some support on Facebook!