East Bay Ray & The Killer Smiles CD Review (MVD Audio) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Friday, August 26, 2011

East Bay Ray & The Killer Smiles CD Review (MVD Audio)

East Bay Ray & The Killer Smiles CD Review (MVD Audio)Dead Kennedys guitarist East Bay Ray’s latest project, The Killer Smiles (out Sept. 13 on MVD Audio), may be the closest thing to a new DKs album since 1986’s Bedtime for Democracy. This new disc features Ray along with current DKs vocalist Skip McSkipster and Greg Reeves (who was the touring bassist for the DKs last year) along with drummer Steve Wilson.

In a recent interview, Ray said that this new disc was originally conceived as a DKs disc but McSkipster’s lyrics are “more 'personal politics' and more 'poetry,' rather than 'journalism' and 'regular politics.'" Regardless of the lyrical focus, the new disc fully captures the current sound of the Dead Kennedys. While the band hasn’t lost their fervor, this new disc is melodic and musical diverse and it is a logic extension of the band's post-hardcore sound during their final years with Jello. This would have made a solid Dead Kennedys disc and the DKs played two songs from this disc, “Area 51” and “You’re Such a Fake”, at their concert last year at Irving Plaza.

Musically, this twelve-track/forty minute disc is raw melodic punk that is a healthy mix of power-punk (comparisons to The Atom Age came immediately to mind), Social Distortion/X-style rockabilly and surf rock. Given that this is an East Bay Ray disc, Ray’s guitars are featured prominently on each of the songs and producer (& Butthole Surfer) Paul Leary balances this off against McSkipster’s vocals and exploding sing-along choruses. Long-time Ray accomplice Chuck Lindo (Jumbo Shrimp, etc.) adds backing vocals on about half the tracks and other notable guests are Paul Leary and Paul Roessler, who respectively add guitar and piano to the track “The Heart is Something”.

Standout tracks are the punkish opener “Raising the Stakes”, the roots-rock track “I’m a User” and “It’s Broken”, where this last track has an immediately recognizable guitar riff that sounds like a holdover from Fresh Fruit for Rotten Vegetables.

East Bay Ray Tour Dates:
Oct. 6 - Old Town Pub, Pasadena, CA
Oct. 7 - Juke Joint, Anaheim, CA
Oct. 8 - The Shakedown, San Diego, Ca

East Bay Ray