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Album Review

...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead have always been an ambitious, and difficult to place, band. They're too earnest and fond of grand gestures to fit in with most of the indie rock world, but too arty and obscure to jell with most emo's heart-on-sleeve directness. On Worlds Apart, they remain hard to classify, except on their own terms. Though the Trail of Dead sound as angry, regretful, and hopeful as they did when they started, this is a much more polished album than their breakthrough, Source Tags & Codes, and their fiery sound is tempered by nods to '70s prog and album rock. The band deserves some credit for attempting to work on such a grand scale — it's all too easy for this kind of big, passionate statement to fall on its face — but while Worlds Apart doesn't work entirely, enough of it is compelling. Granted, it doesn't have the most promising beginning: "Ode to Isis," with its Wagnerian choral vocals, pianos, violins, screaming, and crying, is equally worrying and intriguing, and "Will You Smile Again?" doesn't really take off until the six-and-a-half-minute mark. However, the next four tracks rank among the Trail of Dead's best work: despite railing against vacuous celebrities, soccer moms, indie rock, and, of course, post-9/11 fallout and the war on terrorism, the emotions behind "Worlds Apart" are timeless; along with the frustrated idealism of "The Rest Will Follow," it's one of the band's finest anthems. "The Summer of '91"'s thundering timpani rolls and slow-building majesty use Worlds Apart's massive-sounding productions and arrangements artfully; it's been a long time — possibly since Smashing Pumpkins' heyday — since a band has attempted this kind of epic-scale, orchestrated rock. Speaking of the Pumpkins, "Caterwaul"'s beautifully droning guitar grind is more than a little reminiscent of that band's best rockers. Worlds Apart's second half dives deeper into prog: "A Classic Arts Showcase" and "All White" both feature soulful choirs that sound like they were transplanted directly from The Wall, but while they feel tacked onto the former song, they fit — in a retro kind of way — the latter song's excesses. "To Russia My Homeland," a theatrical, string-based waltz, isn't bad at all, although it seems more suited to a soundtrack than this album. It's tempting to want to hear some of these songs, particularly "The Best" and "Lost City of Refuge," delivered in a less grandiose manner, but the band's attack on complacency extends to its own music, and Worlds Apart scores points for not having merely revisited previous successes.

Customer Reviews

A Wonderful Musical Journey

Trail of Dead is one of the best bands around these days. All of the songs on this album are carefully crafted to provide one of the best straight-through albums I've ever heard. If you're looking for a thoroughly satisfying musical experience, then this is the album for you. Don't stop with just "Will You Smile Again For Me," get the whole album; you will not regret it.

Worlds Apart

To start off, I will say that Source Tags & Codes is an almost unmatchable album in just about every sense of the word. It's one of the greatest releases of recent years, if you ask me, and considerably better than its follow-up, Worlds Apart. That said, Worlds Apart has a curious charm to it that allows it to stand on its own. That charm is somewhat diminished when you hear the dialoge stuck randomly (pointlessly) between songs, such as the band's name at the end of "Ode to Isis," something about "doin' it wild" at the end of "The Summer of '91," a Russian child speaking at the end of "Let It Dive" (one of the snatches of dialogue I can see reason for putting into the album... once you take away just how unbearably annoying it is) and a woman moaning and weeping along to the title track's chorus at the end of "The Best." The album is already artistic enough, and throwing in the snatches of dialogue doesn't do anything to help. That complaint aside, the album is indeed quite pleasant. It has a rocky start with "Ode to Isis," an almost unnecessary track, but hits the ground running with the next eleven tracks. I find that tracks two through six are some of the strongest songs the band has ever created that can exist independently (as opposed to Source Tags & Codes, in which each song fit almost like a puzzle piece and was both independent and dependent on those that come before and after it). "Will You Smile Again for Me?" is an excellent hard rocker. "Worlds Apart," despite the gratuitous vulgarities that get the album marked as explicit, does indeed say some things that need to be said, all the while remaining catchy. "The Summer of '91" is a strange song - nice, but not something I'd ever really expected the band to come up with. "The Rest Will Follow" is both epic and sweeping, starting off majestically and following its intro with catchy verses and a memorable chorus. "Caterwaul," as I believe the iTunes review states, is reminiscent of The Smashing Pumpkins. The second half of the album is by all means just as good, but the tracks are not able to stand on their own as well as the tracks on the first half of the album, deciding to throw in artistic filler that neither helps nor really hurts the album. The final track is pleasant enough, but for an album that began as strongly as it did, there should be a stronger track to even things out. That said, the album is still worth listening to, if a let-down after their previous release. I recommend buying any tracks off of the first half. That, or buy the whole album. It is by no means a waste and contains some excellent material from an excellent band.

A Good Buy

I randomly bought this cd...some friends h ad mentioned this band and the name stuck, so when I saw that Worlds Apart was being released, I bought it. I listened to it and liked it but I hadn't been into this (I was listening to classic rock at the time)...but recently I picked it up and really gave it a listen and recognized the talent that was put into this cd. It's a solid cd all the way through...Highly recommended!

Biography

Formed: 1994 in Austin, TX

Genre: Alternative

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

An unlikely but powerful combination of punk fury and prog rock ambition, ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead were formed in late 1994 by singers/guitarists/drummers Jason Reece and Conrad Keely. The longtime friends originally met in Hawaii before settling in the indie hotbed of Olympia, Washington, where Reece drummed for the notorious Mukilteo Fairies. After relocating together to Austin, Texas, the duo began playing shows as "You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead," eventually adding...
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