If you want to go back to the day when girls rocked and I mean actually rocked with voices that sound like they could make the earth shatter, then you need to hear Dead Sara. This group of guys and girls bring listeners classic, raw, and powerful rock and roll. There are no fancy tricks here, no autotune, no protools. Just drums, guitars, and a lot of bold attitude. Their debut album is perfect for showing all sides of the band from the moments where you’re afraid they’ll kick your ass to songs where it sounds like they’ll burst out in tears. But no matter what the tone, they always do it with passion.
The opening tracks “Whispers & Ashes” and “We Are What You Say” are great for summing up the sound and feel of the band. They’re both energetic with stunning vocals from singer Emily Armstrong and amazing, heavy, aggressive music that makes you lose control. Both songs also introduce the listener to their interesting blend of hard and alternative rock, with a dash of late 60’s psychedelic rock. Most of the time, the songs sound the offspring of Janis Joplin and Nirvana. This especially comes through on the track “Timed Blues,” where they put aside their hard rock edge for a Southern Rock and Blues inspired sound. These two songs get you warmed up for the rest of the album.
This is one of those albums where each and every song is awesome. So far their biggest hit is “Weatherman.” It has this dirty, grunge like sound from the guitars while the speeding drums coming fading in during the beginning. The way the guitar drones on with the wailing vocals really gives the track a psychedelic sound. The way everything comes together makes it sound like contained chaos: it seems like they’re on the point of bursting, but they never quite reach it. Also, I love the line “If I could be anywhere, I wouldn’t be here.” It just has so much attitude and snottiness in it. The way Armstrong screams and lets loose with her vocals makes it shocking to hear how soft and sweet she gets on the next track.
“Dear Love” is a slow number, but there’s still a lot of energy that keeps your attention. This song is even better at showing off Armstrong’s vocal ability because she manages to sound sweet and longing . It shows that she can do more than just scream, she can actually sing as well. This is a bittersweet song that seems to be a send off to a lover. It’s like she’s saying I don’t want you to go, but if you have to, I hope you find what you’re looking for. Another slow, sorrowful song with similar vocals is “Face to Face.” This one begins with a heavy, somber bass line that sets the mood. But again the music sounds like it’s been dragged through the mud, so it has this weight to it that somehow keeps the song moving. It just shows that with this band, even they’re slow songs are great.
But of course the raw, aggressive, energetic songs are where its at. One of my favorites is “Monumental Holiday.” This track is an unstoppable force of harsh music and unchained vocals that get you pumped and thrashing around. What’s interesting about this song is the guitar riff. I love how it plays and drones in between the lyrics during the verse, but at times it really reminds me of the riff from Nirvana’s “Breed.” Another great energetic song to get your blood pumping is “Lemon Scent.” What I love about this song is how Armstrong and the guitar do their best to match up with each other. During the chorus the guitar matches up with the melody to create this perfect unified sound. It gets even better during the bridge when the other members chime in for background vocal duty. This song is definitely one of the highlights of the album.
I love female singers with passion and soul; the type that sound like they will kick your ass if you look at them wrong. And that is the feeling I get with Emily Armstrong. She has this amazing voice that’s powerful, yet raspy as if she needs a glass of water. It really does remind me of Janis Joplin. Her vocal ability is really impressive as well. She can either scream her head off to where it sounds like she’s about to lose it or she can sound soft, sweet, and almost vulnerable. She definitely has one of those unique voices that will become instantly recognizable. What’s even better is that her voice fits the hard edge, rock and roll sound of the band.
Overall, the album gets 9/10. It’s an amazing debut album from this fairly new band. If you like pure, raw hard edge rock and roll that makes you want to thrash around and destroy shit, you need to hear this band. All the songs are awesome and ones that will stick with you long after the album is finished. Also, Emily Armstrong has got to be one of the best female singers in rock music. Her voice is full of passion and rawness that most singers seem to be lacking today. Go check them out today, you won’t regret it.