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Eusa Kills

The Dead C

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Album Review

First emerging in 1989 and then re-released some three years later, Eusa Kills is a perfect balance between relative accessibility and thoroughly, truly gone experimental guitar work. As an encapsulation of what could be called the two chief trends of New Zealand rock-punk-inspired chime via Flying Nun and the vaunted "crumbling guitar" of the Xpressway underground — it works very well, saying what has to be said in a mere 35 minutes. Opening cut "Scarey Nest" starts things out on just the right note — if the Chills had done it, say, nobody would have blinked an eye at the overall song structure, but the performance is just low-key, lo-fi, and mysterious enough. Then there's the distinctly more fractured sense of songs like "Now I Fall" and especially the lengthy "Maggot," where the hooks are more buried and the feel far more shadowy. Fragmentary cuts here and there, such as "Call Back Your Dogs" and the slowed-vocals and general fuzz and noise of "I Was Here" vary the mix of things, as does the thorough combination of production styles. "Phantom Power," which has upfront lead vocals and strong percussion, also works with muffled, semi-shouted backing and, even below the main guitar fuzz, further odd noises and sounds deeper in the mix. The intermingling of styles gets more pronounced as it goes without disrupting the almost Krautrock-like flow of the music, ending on a low spoken lyric. The occasional dabs into Asian-inspired melodies and performance are striking, while Yeats' drumming is in many ways the standout of the band, whether the martial beats on "Alien to Be" or more varied, almost swinging performances elsewhere. One of the most inspired songs on here is "Children" — actually the T. Rex glam classic "Children of the Revolution," with the half-sneered half-yawned vocals capturing the steady groove of the original while the music becomes a freaked-out trudge.


Formed: 1986 in New Zealand

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Forerunners of post-rock and the modern-day revival of space rock, the Dead C are an improvisational, hugely prolific noise rock trio indebted to Sonic Youth (whose Thurston Moore is an avowed fan), as well as Krautrock and psychedelia. Challenging and mostly instrumental, they have been a definite anomaly on the New Zealand scene, which was still known primarily for the jangly collegiate pop associated with the Flying Nun label when the band first emerged in the late ‘80s. Perhaps in part for that...
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Eusa Kills, The Dead C
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