Dead to Me - African Elephants (Cover Artwork)

Dead to Me

Dead to Me: African ElephantsAfrican Elephants (2009)
Fat Wreck Chords

Reviewer Rating: 2.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: JeloneJelone
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Sequencing is crucial in a record. You need an ebb and flow. A kick-ass opening song. Should the outro be a rabble-rousing kiss-off or a contemplative fade-out? Inquiring minds want to know! Personally, I'd like to have sat in on the record meetings for African Elephants, the somewhat drab new re.
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Sequencing is crucial in a record. You need an ebb and flow. A kick-ass opening song. Should the outro be a rabble-rousing kiss-off or a contemplative fade-out? Inquiring minds want to know!

Personally, I'd like to have sat in on the record meetings for African Elephants, the somewhat drab new release from Dead to Me. What made them choose "X," the lone reggae song of the collection, as the opener? I'm not complaining; it worked for GNV FLA, after all. What sparked the decision to include the fairly random, kind of not that great, Nirvana-esque song "Blue" as the closer after a solid half-hour of Dillinger Four-style punk? Can science explain this?

Now completely devoid of One Man Army members and stripped down to a three-piece, Dead to Me cycles through quite a few ideas on African Elephants. This makes the record come off as a little schizophrenic at times. Following proper lab etiquette, I wafted some fumes from "A Day Without a War" and detected trace amounts of O Pioneers!!!'s stomp. That works in well with more D4-ish tracks like "Modern Muse" and "Fell Right In," which I swear share 98 percent of the same guitar intro. It's an unfortunate case of self-plagiarization, given that the chorus to "Fell Right In" is a killer.

It's this bit of repetition on a record of seemingly diverse ideas that keeps African Elephants from sounding great. It's not a bad album, but I've got a list of other records I'd rather listen to that do the same job only better: Versus God; Apathy and Exhaustion; Neon Creeps. Still, it fulfills those punk obligations suitably enough. There are a few catchy numbers -- "Bad Friends" covers bad friendships and awesome hooks; "Liebe Liese" has a nice strut to it (not to be confused with "Three Chord Strut"); "X" is a cool dub tribute. But there's some malaise during the album's second half.

Maybe that's the logic behind African Elephant's sequencing --"X," being a good song, gets backed up by solid stompers like "Modern Muse" and "Nuthin Runnin Through My Brain" while "Blue" gets...not a whole lot.


People who liked this also liked:
Dead to Me - Cuban BallerinaDead to Me - Little BrotherThe Menzingers - Chamberlain WaitsThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Flatliners - CavalcadeDear Landlord - Dream HomesDead To Me - Moscow Penny AnteNOFX - The DeclineThe Lawrence Arms - Buttsweat and Tears [7 inch]Dillinger Four - C I V I L W A R

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
skankaholikk (November 25, 2014)

Album still holds up.

ak3punk (November 5, 2012)

Incredible album! These guys are incredibly underrated.

Oiyellitproud (July 25, 2012)

Absolutely love this record.

kylewagoner (September 12, 2010)

One of my favorite albums. I don't know why everyone is so against it...you just can't compare it to their first album because it's really nothing in the same. It's equally as awesome, I believe, but in different ways.

argybargy (July 22, 2010)

African Elephants confused the shit out of me when I first heard it, so I ignored it for 6 months, just spinning Cuban Ballerina.
Then I saw Dead to Me play twice a few weeks ago- the new songs now make perfect sense. The second time I saw them, I couldn't wait to hear songs like "X", "Cruel Word", and "Bad Friends" while "Modern Muse" and "Nothing runnin' through my Brain" have always been my favorites.
And sorry, but like 99% of everyone else on this site, I also think "Blue" is pretty unlistenable. It's cool though, I've met all three of the dudes in DTM- they are all really cool guys and great performers and this album is a breath of fresh air.

Ryansapunk (May 29, 2010)

I think this album is still pretty good

Ramone (April 23, 2010)

I am not sure why everyone is latching on to this whole Jack thing because honestly it should have nothing to do with your rating of this album. I didn't listen to this album to hear some dude from a band I had never listened to. I have seen these guys live and honestly that is where they shine. The new guitar player's voice is actually really awesome when you see him live.

However I do agree that this album has some schizo tendencies and does tend to clash a lot with its own style but that doesn't keep me from enjoying it. I do have to skip the first song because I just plain don't like it but the rest of the songs are good and fun to listen to. Hopefully their next album they will be a bit more organized and Chicken will cut off that retarded curly rat tail.

hein (January 13, 2010)

Not sure why "X" is on this, because I have to skip it each time I put this CD in. The rest of the CD is mostly very good, especially love the songs "Modern Muse" and "Three Chord Strut".

stevenj (December 18, 2009)

Cuban Ballerina was worlds better and made me hope for an even better album in African Elephants. Their EP came out and this set me up for disappointment for their next full length African Elephants. This cd had its ups but for the most part its downs. To begin with, the order of all the songs could have made more sense. The closer song was definitely out of place. I liked the little ska opening because it led so well into Modern Muse. The album was pretty good up until Bad Friends. Maybe I just plain didn't like this song's intro but it definitely felt out of place.

eatyour_face (December 17, 2009)

wanted to be stoked and love this, but I could not.

TSOL (December 11, 2009)

Damn, Dead to Me completely lost their sound without Jack... African Elephants has a really bad flow to it, and they seem to have lost whatever distinct style they had before. The album is all over the place from track to track, which makes it sound more like an album of covers, or a badly done compilation album. Shoulda just broken up instead of releasing this imo.

There's really no point buying or downloading this release. If you liked Dead To Me, you'd be better off with the One Man Army/DTM back-catalogue, and also you could keep an eye out for Swingin' Utters in the future. Just pass this one up, unless you want to be disappointed.

SouthernLovin (December 9, 2009)

About three catchy songs in an otherwise disappointing album isn't going to boost the score high. Two stars is probably generous.

morgoth (December 6, 2009)

this BLOWS, major disappointment

superskabro (December 4, 2009)

I'm obsessed with this record. I can't stop fixating on its flaws and triumphs. For the most part, it does NOT sound like a Dead To Me record. The Chicken songs are pretty solid (especially "A Day Without A War") but the new dude's songs sound very out of place. I still listen to it a lot, but Jack was too big a part of this band for them to continue without him. I hope he rejoins...

makeshifty (December 1, 2009)

I lol at all the Jack comments. This album is better than anything OMA ever put out. Although I missed them at the FEST because I didnt know any better, I wonder how Bad Friends (the band) sound in relation to this album and why they just didnt drop the Dead to Me name, seems like it would have made some of these idiots happy.

forfuksake (November 28, 2009)

Ive tried and tried..But this sucks without Jack...Tome Petty was OK back i n the day but not when DTM do it....Janes Addiction I never liked, so that song sucks..I even hear U2 in there..Fuck this...IM tired of skipping songs to only find more annoying ones.....Cuban Balerina and Little Brother were great..Oh well..Movin on...Hope Jack does too

caseysixer (November 28, 2009)

Personally, the only reason I ever listened to Dead to Me, was because i love Jack's voice. The first two Dead to Me records records were good but i always liked Jack's lyrics better than Chicken's. Without Jack in this band, they kinda fall flat. I mean, i guess the songs are ok. But it sounds just like everything else out there. and is is just me or is the recording not as crisp?

fuckhead81 (November 24, 2009)

This album is an absolute fucking joke. Chicken should have mentioned "bands whose singers have greasy rat tails and wear sleazy deep cut v neck shirts and women's jeans."

Fuck this band. I now realize Jack was the driving force behind all the songs I liked from them previously, and will have to work hard to not let Cuban Ballerina be ruined for me knowing these guys turned into turds later on.

ugay (November 22, 2009)

you guys are out of your mind. this shit is awesome

fav tracks, modern muse, day without a war, bad friends, Tierrn del Fuego

Indecay (November 20, 2009)

I can't really get into this. There are some hits but also some terrible misses. There are even a couple of songs I have to skip which is rare with bands that I like. The first and last song in particular. This could've been a really good 4-5 song EP which is probably what they should've done, but as a full length it just doesn't cut it for me.

punknewds (November 20, 2009)

i saw jack at a swingin utters show recently and he said he is never gonna play with dead to me again. that they were full of shit and he's personaly going to kick the drummers ass. my prediction..dead to me's next 2 records will suck.

makeshifty (November 18, 2009)

This reviewer couldnt be more wrong. Jesus.

ashtraymonument (November 17, 2009)

i don't know, nothing really grabs me.

brokenrecord (November 17, 2009)

This record is really good, the 2 1/2 star rating is very wrong.

VictimOfADriveBy (November 15, 2009)

Decent Record. Chicken's songs sound the same but the new singer's songs go in 80 different directions. Some hit some miss.

Stoked over scoring this on colored vinyl!

atomicgarden89 (November 13, 2009)

To people who dismiss this record based on the simple fact that Jack has nothing to do with it.... Shame on you. This record is amazing. Score is for the album, not the review.

slymer (November 13, 2009)

Oh yeah, I don't hear D4 at all. This is more Clash/Op Ivy sounding and like someone mentioned before, I can hear some descendents as well.

slymer (November 13, 2009)

I really don't get all the hate for this album. I think these are by far the best songs these guys have ever made. A ton of standout tracks.

blanktapesemptybottles (November 12, 2009)

great record, you guys need to get your ears checked

usversusthem (November 12, 2009)

X is fucking awesome, but I hate it for getting me excited for a good album that was not to come. I've been listening to Modern Muse since they put it up on their Myspace and it's one of my favourite DTM songs for sure. Bad Friends is pretty catchy in places. The rest of the album all runs together for me, except for the horrifically bad Blue, which deserves to die. Pretty disappointing‚??not bad, but Little Brother was so much better than this, and so was Cuban Ballerina, for that matter.

killtaker (November 12, 2009)

I don't hear D4 at all in this. This is pretty good. I think the production is kind of weird though.

theproblemwithfire (November 12, 2009)

score is for this comment from chicken:

"In the meantime the three of us are gonna forge ahead and keep touring, writing songs and generally stirring shit in what has become a pretty stagnant and uninspiring little music world you guys have created for yourselves by somehow being okay with seriously generic "punk" bands imitating Springsteen"

negicore (November 11, 2009)

Great record! Different, but that is a good thing.

branden (November 11, 2009)

i hated cuban ballerina.

cherrycolarain (November 11, 2009)

I still fail to see the D4 comparisons.

SouthernLovin (November 11, 2009)

Oh, what a great disappointment. Only a few songs on this record are worth a shit... specifically "Fell Right In," "Modern Muse," and "Nuthin Running Through My Brain."

And I mean... Dead to Me just doesn't sound like Dead to Me without Jack as well. And even Chicken's songs sound a bit different on this record.

skarocks (November 11, 2009)

The problem with this album is that it doesn't sound like Dead to Me, it sounds like any other run of the mill punk band. There are still some songs that stand out and sound similiar to their past records, but I think there's a creative weakness in sounding like other bands. Don't get me wrong, it is not a bad album but just not what I expect from a Dead to Me album.

Although you can hear the similiar sounds between Dead to Me and One Man Army on their first two releases, the transition of that sound works really well and in my view is a step forward from OMA to DTM. I hope for the next album that Jack returns to the writing and recording process if not the band as a whole and that the good things from the new album which are a few are put together with the sound of the first two releases.

I don't think it's a good thing that this band is now sounding like DIllinger Four or similliar D4 types. They used to have their own sound which just sounded like them. Here's hoping for a return to form for future releases.

R3vengeTherapy (November 11, 2009)

That quote from Chicken was great.

I'm glad that they went their own way with this record, because playing the same style without Jack would have been a mistake. This takes the band in a different direction and I think it works. They just need to grow into it. If they continue with this style, their next record will probably be heads and shoulders above this one. This record isn't in my top 10 or even 20 of the year, but I appreciate what they decided to do.

Dante3000 (November 11, 2009)

Kudos to WoodProp for saying the band is stagnant and then, in the very next sentence, saying they changed.

danielsan (November 11, 2009)

The 'This is Satire' of 09

skeptic667 (November 11, 2009)

I couldn't get through the CD. It was boring.

mxguy33 (November 11, 2009)

this is a GOOD record. there's only traces of "old" dtm but this is good shit. i love the breakdowns

anarchynate (November 11, 2009)

Rad fuckin' record!! my top 1 or 2 of the year!!! in the top 5 of the decade. i think it's awesome!!!

woodprop (November 11, 2009)

Quoting Chicken: "In the meantime the three of us are gonna forge ahead and keep touring, writing songs and generally stirring shit in what has become a pretty stagnant and uninspiring little music world you guys have created for yourselves by somehow being okay with seriously generic "punk" bands imitating Springsteen"

This "punk" album is stagnant and boring. I guess I wanted Cuban Ballerina part II. Oh well, bands change.

naymtaken (November 10, 2009)

That was right on with the descendents comparison on nothin' runnin' through my brain. Such a good album a day without a war is probably my favorite, and its got a cool album cover, def.worth buying.

naymtaken (November 10, 2009)

I agree with the review for the most part. Blue is not a very good song and defenitley shouldn't have been the last track. I listened to this on vinyl and the first side is really good but side two is mediocre. That said it's still a really good album overall. Awesome live they have a nice bit of pop that if pushed enough by Fat they could get pretty big.

arejaypunx (November 10, 2009)

great, eclectic album. I knew everyone was going to hate this then love it after no time at all.

bbpp (November 10, 2009)

pretty good album, took a bit to grow on me.

except that the song BLUE sounds just like the song THE GALLOW IS GOD by the distillers.

Thepopeofchili-town (November 10, 2009)

In my top 5 of the year. Go see them play these songs live and then come back to the record.

kylewagoner (November 10, 2009)

Disagree with the score. I've listened to it like 5 times now and it's fuckin' awesome all the way through. Took me a while to get over how strange of a closer "Blue" is. And I thought it was weird how it sounded just like Nirvana and they have tha song "Blew" and just the whole thing, but I dig it. It's awesome. Dead to Me don't let me down. The hardest thing to get over was Jack not being on it, but I do love Ian's voice and songs. Fuck it. I give it a perfect score. Awesome year for Fat Wreck and new albums in general.

toxic_toast (November 10, 2009)

Giant Panda - X
Dead to Me - Modern Muse
Descendents - Nothin Runnin Thru My Brain
Common Rider - A Day Without a War
American Steel - Bad Friends
The Ergs - Liebe Liese
Tom Petty - Cruel World
Social Distortion - Three Chord Strut
Bedouin Soundclash - California Sun
Cobra Skulls - Fell Right In
Jawbreaker - I Dare You
Third Eye Blind - Tierra Del Fuego
Nirvana - Blue

But I don't give a shit. This is Dead to Me. and it's fuckin awesome

Neill_Cawley (November 10, 2009)

HEY JUSTIN (reviewer of CB, not any other Justins out there)-

I'm curious, how do you feel about this? You were really high on their older stuff, in a similar way that I was, I'm wondering if you're let down like me.

jamespastepunk (November 10, 2009)

Hopefully this one's a grower...

cherrycolarain (November 10, 2009)

I don't know how I feel about it. It's just so mellow! I miss how fast Cuban Ballerina was. It feels really, really scarce... Cuban Ballerina was so full and chunky sounding, their sound here sounds really basic and garage like, maybe I just don't like garage rock.

10-4Eleanor (November 10, 2009)

The absence of Jack on this record shows Nathan's strength as a songwriter and musician. This album blows Cuban Ballerina out of the water.

paris_in_flames (November 10, 2009)

I agree with the 5. It's just not that good plus it's boring

Tudor (November 10, 2009)

I know people said this album is a grower and I gave it a decent chance, but some songs on this album are down right irratating. Albiet a few songs, this album isn't very good.

victim (November 10, 2009)

IMO they knew this album was a grower so it made alot of sense to put the catchiest song (at least at first blush) and the song that is straight off their earlier material -- Modern Muse -- first. Is X actually a song? I thought it was just a really long intro personally.

Modern Muse is good enough to make you keep coming back until you realize that the other stuff is pretty good too. And why all the hate for Blue? Sure if the whole album was like that, it be one thing but I think its a pretty neat idea to finish with. Worst case you could just think of it as a goody hidden track at the end

I know I like this record, just not sure how much. Which is actually pretty cool because it really makes you think it through

Rastid (November 10, 2009)

haven't heard the album, but i like the review. orgcore records do not deserve an automatic seven stars.

Lifebystereo (November 10, 2009)

Fantastic record. They're really moving up in the world.

hobbzoid (November 10, 2009)

best record of the year. Somehow I think my thirtysomething status makes it make more sense. No other comment... but man this is such a great record. Genre shakeup.

R3vengeTherapy (November 10, 2009)

I've listened to this thing like 15 times now and it took that long for it to grow on me. It's a good record, but yeah it doesn't really stand up to the other two releases, especially when it follows Little Brother, one of the best EP's I've ever heard.

Cruel World, Fell Right In and Tierra Del Fuego are all 5-star songs, but while the rest has grown on me, there are still some not-so-good moments.

Blue is the worst song this band has ever written and it should never have been recorded. And a closer? What the fuck? I guess I should thank them, since I can just end the record after the fantastic Tierra Del Fuego, which I think would have been a perfect ending to the record.

jumptheshark (November 10, 2009)

When I first heard "Nuthin Running Through My Brain" my first thought was "Wait, did the original Descendents lineup reform and put out a new track?" Great tune.

westofwaco (November 10, 2009)

Shoulda called it a day after the TLA 7-inch review, Jelone... this album deserves much more from a review, score aside. I don't get how the main takeaways from this are the sequencing and how Modern Muse sounds like D4...? It's such an unexpected album from a fan favorite band...

Nuthin Runnin Through My Brain is badass.

half_head (November 10, 2009)

this record is great. i'm glad it sounds different and i think the variety is what makes the record so great. i don't see why the reviewer hated on X so much and where it was placed on the record. still love this band and i am stoked to see them on tour!

chadreligion (November 10, 2009)

A great record, despite the absence of Jack....
X is probably one of the coolest intro any band on this label could have for a record, and sets the mood as well.
Modern Muse, California Sun and others are really catchy as well as Nathan doing a great job on vocals.
Haters should catch the band live and shut up.

Score is for the record on a whole

Neill_Cawley (November 10, 2009)

"But listen to "Modern Muse" and "Tierra Del Fuego" again... those 2 songs are fucking gold! Better than "Little Brother". Better than "By The Throat"."

First part of that is right, second part, not so much. Those are the two best tracks on the record, but only because they are the two tracks that SOUND like Dead To Me, and not Nirvana or some reggae band or any other band you chose to compare. But if you don't like By The Throat or Little Brother than it would make sense that you would like this cd, most of these songs sound nothing like that.

I feel like this record will be completely forgotten in a year or if/when they release a new CD with Jack.

And, yeah, I don't really get the D4 comparison. Or any of those comparisons other than Nirvana. Your review was fine, but it didn't really match the score, I wouldn't give a record a 5 and mainly talk about how the tracks are set up. Toxic Toast should have reviewed this.

renton (November 10, 2009)

Great record!
But I miss catchy punk-rock songs like "don't wanna", "don't lie" etc...

crackpotdemagogue (November 10, 2009)

lazy review. i don't get the d4 references at all. mine was better. shame on you shultz!

BluthCo (November 10, 2009)

Not as good as Cuban Ballerina, but Dead to Me is still one of the best punk bands to debut in the last five years or so.

ddb43 (November 10, 2009)

Needs more Jack...a lot more Jack.

pricey123 (November 10, 2009)

changed my mind. heard a couple of tracks and im liking it. a definite clash influence in places.

cyanotic (November 10, 2009)

I'm loving your recent reviews Jelone.

I also love this album, it's uneven as hell, kind of spastic, yet in my opinion it all works out somehow.

Banger (November 10, 2009)

I had low expectations for this album and I was surprised by just how good it is. It's not as good as Cuban Ballerina, but it's still a great album.

Slacker (November 10, 2009)

Really disliked this at first listen, but it grew on my. Solid album
Still don't like Blue though

jumptheshark (November 10, 2009)

You are basically right about the intros to "Modern Muse" and "Fell Right In" though...although I think you can make an argument for repetition of elements with some variation binding an album together thematically

jumptheshark (November 10, 2009)

Totally disagree. I think "X" works really well as a slower, intro-type track to ease into the album before "Modern Muse" really kicks things off. Then there's some really great tracks in between - I love "A Day Without A War" "Cruel World" and "Fell Right In"

And I think your review really understates how much is going on as far as the different styles they try out here. Shit, "California Sun" sounds like a Vampire Weekend song at first (and I actually really like it). It's not perfect - I'd agree that it could've been sequenced better at some points and a few songs feel like they could've been fleshed out a bit more, but I think it's really a great album overall

pricey123 (November 10, 2009)

has the new strung out been reviewed yet?

ill still get this but im not really looking forward to it

oldpunkerforever (November 10, 2009)

perfect score and review, kinda boring cd-oldpunker-

sloanedaley (November 10, 2009)


Dante3000 (November 10, 2009)

Yeah...I really couldn't disagree more. I would be really hard pressed to call the entire middle section of the album a D4 rip off.

damnitsderek (November 10, 2009)

Disagree. Jack is gone, and I still really dig this.

nocigar (November 10, 2009)

i enjoy it.

mattramone (November 10, 2009)

I miss Jack, but this isn't a bad record.

MrStylson (November 10, 2009)

My least favorite of their releases, but that still puts it atop most anything else. Missing Jack's vocals, but this is all still good. Definitely a grower though.

Also, some of Chicken's songs here almost sound Strummer-esque.

telegraphrocks (November 10, 2009)

To the people that, as a whole, don't like this album...
That's fine. I get it. I understand it.

But listen to "Modern Muse" and "Tierra Del Fuego" again... those 2 songs are fucking gold! Better than "Little Brother". Better than "By The Throat".

For as much as I hated this when I first heard it, I would take African Elephants to an island if I was only allowed one Dead To Me album... and I love 'em all.

wallofyouth (November 10, 2009)

heard this once so far, loved it. will go listen again right now. liked the new songs at the fest

Neill_Cawley (November 10, 2009)

Biggest disappointment of 09. Wtf is this shit?

Score is for Cuban Ballerina.

TeaEssAre (November 10, 2009)

this record shouldn't have been made.

Blackjaw_ (November 10, 2009)

Oops, score.

Blackjaw_ (November 10, 2009)

I like this better than everything else they did. It kinda removes them from the "group of org bands I don't get", many of which released albums this year that I still don't get. cobraskullsbannerpilotluceroetc

telegraphrocks (November 10, 2009)

Initially hated it, now I love it.... except "California Sun". That song could lick my butthole.

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