Dead Doves & Rotting Olive Branches is the debut album from Western Bloc. The man behind all the music is Barry James McCarthy. This is an album that seems to have most of its roots in post punk - in particular from the late ’70s and early ’80s. Suffice it to say the music should feel right at home if you have a playlist of bands like Joy Division, Happy Mondays and Wire.
The album really has that down to the aesthetics and production. Take for instance the way the bass was treated which has the punchy but robotic tone that defined a lot of songs from Joy Division. That being said there are also elements in the songs that reminded me of music that came after the initial explosion on post punk such as The Stone Roses and other English bands that arrived about a decade later.
The album starts with “Metro Gnome” and I was really digging the melodies, structure and lyrics. In addition to the post punk vibe I was picking up on early shoegaze in the spirit of The Jesus and Mary Chain. The expressive and somewhat jarring vocals on “Korea Opportunities” sounded like the ghost of Ian Curtis on the verse while the chorus bursts wide open with an almost anthem like quality.
There are different strains of sound. “All The Psychics Were An Hour Late” contains some psychedelic qualities that create one of the highlights on the album. “What Are You Looking For?’ is a song that absolutely rocks and drives. The organ breakdown was also great.
“Scared of Tomorrow” contains some killer wailing guitar. I loved how it felt like the distortion was constantly going to spill over. He has more success with “Anarcho-Syndicalist Milkman” and “Will I Ever Finish Ulysses?” The closer “Comforts Failure” is a near perfect landing with some more great guitar and vocal work.
McCarthy wears his influence on his sleeve with this release but also delivers the songs in his own way. The songs were consistently good from beginning to end. I must also say I loved the names of these songs. If you are well versed in some of the aforementioned genres and bands this should be an easy win. If not this isn’t a bad place to start. Recommended.
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