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Album Review

Bands made up of D.C. scene alumni often have the built-in stigma of either the bands' the members used to be a part of or the overarching punk history of the city they come from. Deathfix, originally a collaboration between ex-Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty and Blowoff member Rich Morel, is anything but punk. Much like Ian Mackaye's decidedly gentler explorations with the Evens, or the electro musings of French Toast, Deathfix's debut album is an eclectic journey through different styles from D.C. players with backgrounds in the genus of hardcore, but moving farther and farther away from that sound. Canty and Morel met while backing up the dour once-and-future-punk Bob Mould, and quickly bonded over a love of music made in 1972. This is apparent from the Big Star/Raspberries harmonies on glam pop opener "Better Than Bad," or the Brian May-inspired guitar heroics throughout the album, especially on tracks like the shifting "Transmission." However, as brilliant as the 1972 influences are, there's a fair amount of 1992 and 2002 happening as well. The haunted grunge take on the Beatles on "Low Lying Dreams" owes much to the echoey production of Soundgarden à la "Black Hole Sun" or Screaming Trees at their commercial apex. The gritty groove of "Mind Control" follows this tormented pop style as well. The most head-spinning moment of the album comes with "Dali's House," an indie club track so indebted to the LCD Soundsystem model that it even contains the line "I wish I was James Murphy's house/'cause you can steal ideas and Daft Punk's always playing there." The acknowledgment of influence takes the edge off of the song's similarities to its inspiration and allows the listener to enjoy it for what it is: a well-crafted jam with weird guitar hooks and a decent groove. While somewhat brief with just seven songs, there's more than enough diversity on Deathfix to keep things interesting throughout. It's one of those albums that might be too diverse for some, but it will grow on most, due to its excellent production and fearless approach to lots of different ideas. Deathfix shows continuing expansion away from the player's punk salad days, but this kind of curious, questioning, and challenging take on music could only come from the minds of punks.


Formed: 2009 in Washington DC

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Washington D.C.'s Deathfix formed in 2009 when producer Rich Morel and ex-Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty met while touring in Bob Mould's backup band. The two multi-instrumentalist songwriters bonded over a deep love of pop and rock sounds from 1972 and began working on recordings in Canty's home studio. After a few years of piecemeal recording, the duo enlisted bassist Mark Cisneros and drummer Devin Ocampo to fill out the live version of the band. The newly expanded quartet ended up working collaboratively...
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