Deadboy and the Elephantmen - We Are NIght Sky (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Deadboy and the Elephantmen

We Are NIght Sky (2006)

Fat Possum

Deadboy & the Elephantmen would have you seem they are staunch advocates of the band by committee approach. Besides the main songwriting duo of Dax Riggs and Tessie Brunet, seven other different musicians in the liner notes are said to contribute at some point on the record. Be that through guitar, piano, bass, tuba, or euphonium, the backing musicians are there.

The real problem is that with that abundance of people, not only does the record suffer in the way of cohesion, but it really lacks the heart needed for an effort like this. It's nothing that hasn't been heard a hundred times over in the past few years, a bit of old style rock'n'roll grounded by some real strong blues roots, but this record doesn't have those intangibles that make you gravitate to either the vocals or the instrumentation.

Singer Dax Riggs sounds mostly uninspired, a musician that fails to be captivated by the very music he's helping to make. The slow moving, acoustic driven "Walking Stick" illustrates this all too unfortunate point. A duet of sorts between Riggs and drummer Tessie Brunet fails to lure in charm, both singers as devoid of charisma as could possibly be; even the simple strum pattern is a grating, rather than pleasurable listen.

The more upbeat, aggressive tracks do offer hope, but even some of those offer more forgettable moments than not. "Kissed by Lightning" contrasts some stuttering dissonance with Riggs' hollow sounding vocals, until the chorus comes thundering in, and both the singing and rhythm pick up a considerable amount, leaving a jarring echo behind as the cymbals crash over and over again. The deep tones of the vocals are able to stay afloat above the quick and heavy riffing, and the rhythm is an extremely tight one, but any momentum is quickly lost by the mundane followup, "Misadventures of Dope." The entire record is marred by that inconsistency, and it simply isn't able to recover.

For all of the guest musicians that supposedly appear on the record, they're barely heard a peep from. The brass instruments are used just as sparsely as the piano and organ, and the lack of diversity becomes more than noticeable. A lackluster display of what could have been.