(4 out of 5)
For their second full-length album, Athens, GA’s Dead Confederate cast off the slight twang that made its way into their earlier work, and concentrate on delivering a guitar-driven alt-rock album that comes very close to capturing the miasmic energy of their engaging live shows. While DC was never remotely an Americana band, the Southern accent that touched their previous work — as well as the shadow of the giants that preceded them in their hometown – meant that, on record at least, one always heard some mossy trees, red-dirt roads, and quirky jangles that might not actually have been there at all. Live, however, Dead Confederate is an entirely different animal, attacking the audience with a muscular, sprawling sound that employs the dynamics and distortion of classic ‘90s alt-rock in a way that does justice to the band’s double-guitar sonics, its strong songwriting, and its sense of expansive psychedelia. That attack is displayed to great effect on SUGAR. Most of the cuts here are unrepentant rockers – “Mob Scene” is a bristling, two-minute blast of chunky riffs, and “In The Dark” is a midtempo burner that’s as anthemic as it is explosive – but even when the pace slows, as it does on the title track, the intensity doesn’t. While many bands use their second album to implement a wider range of ideas, Dead Confederate have gone the opposite way and streamlined their sound with a focus on their true strengths.
First appeared August 24, 2010 at Shockhound.com.