Desert City Soundtrack - Funeral Car (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Desert City Soundtrack

Funeral Car (2003)

Deep Elm

Wow. I certainly didn't see this record coming from this label, let alone this band. Desert City Soundtrack has taken all the potential they displayed on the Contents Of Distraction EP and expounded upon them tenfold.

Desert City Soundtrack's sound on this album would best be summed up as a sort of Black Heart Procession/Three Mile Pilot-mixed-with-your-favorite-screamy-post-hardcore band hybrid. The band's centerpiece is the use of a piano, but on their last EP the instrument tended to get drowned in the wall of sound that the quartet put forward. You could tell something special was going on, but there were so many layers to dig through it almost didn't make the effort worth it. Here on Funeral Car, the band comes out with both guns blazing, mixing their moody piano rock and thrashy DC-influenced post-hardcore nearly perfectly.

"Drawn and Quartered" is like Fugazi with a more insane drummer [who is a girl, by the way - major bonus points] and Ben Folds sitting in on piano. Hastily banged chords drive the song to the edge, only to reel the intensity back in for a jazzy interlude as singer/guitarist Matt Carillo warbles "I've starved to death / with the connections I have made," only cueing the band to explode once again in a frenzy of energy.

The band once again puts time on their side, allowing songs to be as long as they need to be to flush out their urpose. Both "These Games We Play" and album closer "Westpoint" push the 6-minute boundary, and use every second to it's fullest advantage. Meanwhile, the band goes the opposite direction on "My Hell," "Second Sickness," and "Traction and Temperature," using these short songs almost as interludes to the next grandiose passage the band has on tap.

Pianist Cory Gray also makes use of a trumpet in a handful of songs, using the instrument as an opening countermelody in "Dying Dawn." It's a perfect addition to a already near-perfect sound. Gray also contributes the majority of the screams on the album, but don't think this stuff is cookie-cutter - in each wail, I honestly feel for him. These screams aren't fake, their emotion is evident to anyone with a working set of ears.

I can only hope with this album, Desert City Soundtrack can escape the Deep Elm stigma that has cursed so many bands before them. Out of the dozens of the Deep Elm albums in my collection, this is one of the few that doesn't feel like one - the artwork and layout aren't predictable [like most Deep Elm releases are], and the production isn't thick and obvious like the past million Brandtson albums or whatnot. If people actually take the time to listen, I see Desert City Soundtrack setting the world on it's ear - all people need to do is actually listen.

Drowning Horses [full]
My Hell [clip]
Drowning Horses [clip]
Drawn And Quartered [clip]
Take You Under [clip]
These Games We Play [clip]