The Dead Flowers from Dallas Texas are simply one of the best rock and roll bands in the country right now. Their new album Let Me Be reaffirms their lyrical wit and interlocked guitar attack. It’s music from the American wasteland, broke and broken-hearted wondering where the dream went but still searching for something that resembles redemption. It taps into the collective damage so many people experienced growing up in the new millennium yet retaining their sense of fierce defiance against a world of debt, part-time gigs, and fentanyl deaths.
Sonically this band navigated one of the biggest problems for modern groups, what do you do after Kurt Cobain’s suicide. He was the last voice of a generation from a rock and roll background and since his death many bands allow themselves to happily exist as water downed, grunged-out imitators. It can be cool, but it’s never anything new. The Dead Flowers bypass this ironically by diving into the past.
Personally, I believe the shadow of Westerberg is hung over this band too often. Though there’s certainly some influence from the Replacements the biggest effect is their ability to cross-breed genre. The Dead Flowers are not afraid of country or blues or having a moment that sounds too indebted to workforce radio. Their music may sound familiar but these guys are doing something totally new.
Let Me Be is their most ferocious outing yet. The album kicks off with its title track before dropping into the anthemic Dying In the Streets. This serious highlight captures the band as they churn and dive showing off something a bit tougher. Happie and the song’s reprise kicks in after with it’s driving melancholic progression and poetic sense of loss. One of the greatest strengths is the sharp lyricism displayed on this track that never gives way to pretension.
For me, the true centerpiece of this album that holds it together is the tune Garland. With an interlocking guitar and vocal melody, it moves the band into unfamiliar psychedelic territory before dropping back into a hard rock attack. Garland may not be my #1 favorite tune on the album but it’s the most rewarding because it shows new avenues the Dead Flowers could pursue.
Closing off the album is the descent of the shambolic country and blues of I Feel Like Shit. The song is akin to a tune like the Replacements’ Treatment Bound, closing the album with a little slop and change of mood. Ironically considering the title, it’s a moment where a little more light gets through. Its the sound of a band alone in a garage doing what they want.
Let Me Be is a killer listen and an album you should own. I do wish there were a few more moments acoustics would pop up like Dead Flowers demonstrated on their album “His Blues” with the song Here I Am but I’m not sure it would have served the tone and direction. The only weakness from my perspective is either in the guitar mix or the actual tones used in the studio. The interlocking rhythm and lead work is a major strength of the Dead Flowers, however, the two parts tend to blend just enough that the intricacies of their composition are not as apparent on first listen.
The Dead Flowers are an important band. If the next wave of rock and roll ever happens, it will be because of groups like them. Maybe they will be the leaders or maybe these are the pub rock years before 1977. But based on the driving rhythm section of James Brock and Evan Johnson, Vince Tully’s incredible lead work, and Corey Howe’s raging vocals, this is a band that will stand its ground and will still be around no matter what happens.
Let Me Be is available on Spotify and iTunes.