And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - Madonna (Cover Artwork)

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

Madonna (1999)


When I think of a band with a gigantic sound, ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead immediately come to mind. These guys have been pretty consistent in putting out huge, sweeping epics that never fail to entertain. Nearly all of their releases are solid throughout, but they really came through in 1999 with their second album, Madonna.

I remember seeing their videos on MTV2 five or six years ago and wondering what I was hearing at the time. From Source Tags & Codes, "Relative Ways" and "Another Morning Stoner" were constantly being played on "Control Freak" and early in the morning. Hearing these songs, I decided to check out one of their earlier albums. Madonna is different, but in an interesting way.

Released on Mac McCaughan of Superchunk's record label Merge Records, it's a pretty impressive followup to a debut. Songs like "Mistakes and Regrets," "Totally Natural, and "Clair de Lune" sound larger than ever here, with resounding guitars and crashing symbols on nearly every beat. Frontman Conrad Keely and guitarist Jason Reece did an amazing job on vocals and I thought it was nice to get two different sounding voices on some of the songs, even though I personally prefer Keely to Reece.

This band is insane. At the end of some of their songs, you start hearing weird noises and music made with accordions and feedback from their guitars -- awesome. Crazy things like that separate this band from some of the usual garbage being played today but they're pretty unique even without it. I highly recommend picking this album up -- it's gotta be their best, even though Source Tags & Codes is considered better by reviewers if you want to get technical.

From the booming "Blight Takes All" to the quiet closer "Sigh Your Children," you get a nice variety of songs here that don't disappoint. So, if you're looking for a great indie band with an enormous sound, two vocalists and thrashing guitars, check out Trail of Dead starting with Madonna. This is what led them to the spotlight they still hold today.