Richmond post-punk band Dead Fame released their debut EP “Frontiers” early this year which shows the band’s sound firmly rooted in the darkly melodic melancholia of bands like Joy Division and The Chameleons. Dead Fame started in 2009 when synthesizer player Christopher DeNitto reunited with former band mate, guitarist KC Byrnes and duo slowly found additional players to give the group a “live band” sound. The group is fleshed out by bassist Sadie Powers, drummer Eric Klemen and singer/lyricist Michael Means. Given that Dead Fame is Eric and Michael’s first band, the group’s debut EP is strikingly mature.
The five songs on “Frontiers” all run about 4 minutes in length and the disc’s clean mix brings the band’s edgy drive quickly to the surface. The disc was produced by Cam DiNunzio [of Heks Orkest, Denali and others] at Black Iris Studios and he did a wonderful job of balancing all of the instrumentation. There isn’t one instrument that stands out over another but I was especially taken Eric Klemen’s innovative drumming and Michael Means’ world-weary, almost British-sounding vocals.
Adding to the music, Michael Means’ lyrics are detailed and interesting: “As far as lyrics go, it is usually several "pictures" or contexts that feed into the lyrics. It seems to be that several ideas always go spinning around, interacting with each other, leading to the lyrical fabric for each song, with the music helping to spark or trigger many of those ideas and pictures. So for instance, "Glass Jacket" isn't about one thing - it’s more contextual, with various themes working off the other to create an overall effect. ” (from Magazine33's 2011 interview with Dead Fame).
The disc starts out strong with the dark and raw sounding “Frontiers” which starts with prominent keyboards and a pulsing bassline before heading into a big chorus. This track is followed by the edgy Chameleons sounding “We Can Run”. The band changes pace on the slow burning “Glass Jacket” but keep the high-energy and drive consistent across the disc. What makes Dead Fame exciting is that they have been able to put their own personal imprint on a well-traveled genre.
Dead Fame is playing two local shows at the end of the month. The first is at Lit Lounge on March 31st and the second is at Pianos on April 1st. At the Lit Lounge show, Dead Fame is playing with Praha Depart (from Japan), Keeps (NYC), and Good Morning Valentine; Cover is $6. At the show at Pianos, Dead Fame is playing with Autodrone, Star Fawn, and Labirinto and cover is $8.