...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
Source Tags & Codes


2.5
average

Review

by Alex Silveri EMERITUS
December 4th, 2006 | 163 replies | 21,553 views


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist


God it seems, missed one of the deadly sins.

Infatuation.

Even the pseudo-philosophy of the Matrix got it right: ‘love… is a disease’ scowls Agent Smith. Even then, perhaps it wasn’t love that afflicted the legions of the converted to fell at the feet of the Trail of Dead as they cut their way to success with there 2002 release of Source Tags and Codes – certainly though, some audiophile virus that blinded them to the sheer mediocrity of an album that was hailed by a few as the future of rock and roll. Then perhaps, it wasn’t their fault, but rather, that of the forgotten sin – infatuation. The band itself certainly want all out to dazzle and daze, from there ridiculous band name to their philosophical musings on the net. But this was no marketing stunt; a lie told enough will be believed by all – even the liar. From beginning to end, the Trail of Dead submerge the listener into a fantastical world of smoke and mirrors, lush instrumentation and layered cacophony – anything… absolutely anything to distract from the barren soundscape that Source Tags and Codes really is.

There is little doubt that Source Tags had the potential to truly be the future of music - The Trail of Dead had everything going right: Minds with a feel for epic arrangements, music with a stunning variety of instruments, fused together with a modern hard rock edge, a hint of almost ethereal-punk composition. Those, together with a major label full length debut and their wild live shows were sure to attract the attention of thousands of music listeners looking for something new, something fresh. But despite all that, the Dead was a well packaged machine with a cog jammed where it mattered most – at the core of the music.

The first track of Source Tags, Invocation, is a minute and a half display of the Dead’s distractive brilliance – a soft, hauntingly beautiful piano track played over a myriad of ambient noises, setting the tone for the album’s first real track, It Was There That I Saw You, lurching into a frenzy of running snare drumming and opening with Keely’s indistinctive American punk vocal stylings, singing some truly great lyrical imagery that features throughout: As evening sighs/ Rises up against the sky-line/Let me come and have my leis. As the heavy gives way to the smooth, the guitars, slow and simmering, lapse into the opening piano melody of Invocation, accompanied by the sounds of violins and ‘big’ sounding drums, before reaching a crescendo and delving back into the opening chords. Already, the signs of weakness are there: a saturation of noise captured by a torrent of cymbal abuse in order to cover up for the distinct lack of the songs’ core strength, as well as a drawn out, droning, distorted ending – both features so prominent on many songs on the album, including Homage, Heart in the Hand of the matter, and the title track itself. The reasons are simple: the Dead have to use both in order to stop exposing the staleness of the melodies which they create.

Our third serving, hailed as perhaps the best song on the album, Another Morning Stoner, fails to satisfy as well. For all the supposed brilliance of it, everyone has seemed to overlook the fact that the entire song is carried through by only two key elements: a single repetitive guitar line and Keely’s single repetitive vocal melody. There’s a pretty ambient bit in the middle, but it seems to be there for its own sake, to give it a completeness that is simply lacking, and fails, with or without it. Again, the Dead drench the listener with a tropical serving of instrumentation to cover up an otherwise boring song. There is, for one, an accordion to be heard playing at the end of Another Morning Stoner’s very own drawn out ending – pretentious or no? You decide. The two follow ups, Baudelaire and Homage, sound like tracks from Franz Ferdinand and some average malcore act, respectively. Oh, they’re entertaining, but only for a couple of listens, before their appeal simply wares off. This comparison however, should serve to show some of the variety and counter-balancing in which the Dead engage upon with their music, with good success. Still, it’s like trying to paint a masterpiece with an infinite variety of grays.

From here, the tracks follow a relatively straightforward progression, with the band making the best possible use of the palette of colour given to them, interrupted only with a couple of Tool-esque filler tracks, Life is Elsewhere, a ditty into some flute and an attempt at an esoteric feeling, with the sounds of sharpening knives in the background and a man speaking in Japanese, as well as After The Laughter, a quiet little track which serves as a lead up to the album’s last and title track – one that the Gallagher brothers would be proud of. The left over songs here fall into one of two categories – head shakingly good, or painfully average. Among the former are How Near How Far, another lyrical masterpiece (see, lyrics on an album which aims to overwhelm are far easier to write than music), whose relative simplicity elevates it above the much too finely crated dynamics of other songs on the album. Heart in the Hand of the Matter and Monsoon are exemplars of this problem. In trying to create their crystal masterwork of an album, the dynamics begin to feel contrived, straying, but attached to a leach that doesn’t let the music explore its full potential. As it turns out, both songs end with some droning tripe at the end again – by this point in the album, it begins to get very very annoying.

Days of Being Wild and Relative Ways offer hope in their near anthemic sing-along kind of songs, but again, amount to boring, average songs offering nothing but a continuation of an album which is very much a whole. And with Source Tags, it is impossible to deny it – the songs here add up to create a well defined and rounded album, rather than a collection of songs thrown together. This can no doubt be attributed to the tight oversight needed to pack the punch it had on its listeners. For the truth of the matter is, that Source Tags and Codes reeks of epic monstrosity, but not because of it’s inherent scope – rather, it plays like a stunted giant saturated with the perfume of the truly great hoping to be noticed by it’s accessories, rather than by what it truly is. Sure, one can appreciate that in itself, but there’s no saving the eternally damned, even if they try – luckily for us, our infatuation wasn’t a sin.

2.5/5



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user ratings (335)
Chart.
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other reviews of this album
ZEROthirtythree (5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
StreetlightRock
Emeritus
December 4th 2006



3752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've been meaning to do this for a while, but my computer crashed a while back so I had to do this review the old fashioned way - CD player. Hopefully I wont get tooo many negs, I tried to be sincere on this review, rather than playfully annoying like my last one. Hope it isn't too bland and boring either.

Also, the track listing I reviewed is different from the one listed. Invocation and Life Is Elsewhere isn't on the Sputnik tracklisting.This Message Edited On 12.04.06

Digging: Labyrinth Ear - The Orchid Room

Neoteric
December 4th 2006



3243 Comments


Daydream Nation and now this, you definitely are a brave man.

Muisee
December 4th 2006



679 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

As far as the band as fallen, this is still a great album, decent review, but the rating is hard to justify for me.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
December 4th 2006



2595 Comments


I really liked this review. Nice job, man!

pulseczar
December 4th 2006



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Very overrated album, but perhaps less so now because Trail of Dead's follow-ups have only hurt their delicate legacy.

YDload
December 4th 2006



1207 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Invocation isn't on the album in the US release.

I think you've raised some interesting points here, but I think they apply to Trail of Dead's subsequent albums rather than this one. I don't think they had reached overblown status at this point.

In this album, adding extra layers of studio sound is the only thing that keeps one from realizing that the verse of "Another Morning Stoner" is just one chord, for example. But it doesn't matter what it sounds like WITHOUT the techniques, because that's not what the band mastered and mixed to show the world. They added those layers because they knew it would make the album sound as big as they wanted, and this trick worked well for them on STAC. Just not on the next two albums.

Concubine
December 4th 2006



333 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

there's no way this album is 2.5

it's epic.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
December 4th 2006



3752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

But it doesn't matter what it sounds like WITHOUT the techniques, because that's not what the band mastered and mixed to show the world.


True, but i'm arguing that the trinkets fail to save the songs from their rather boring nature =/

Daydream Nation and now this, you definitely are a brave man.


One word: Pixies =D

But thanks for the comments guys. This Message Edited On 12.04.06

Jacaranda
December 4th 2006



684 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

meh good job on reviewing although I disagree and thought some of your points were weak.

Zebra
Moderator
December 4th 2006



2647 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I completely agree with just about everything that you had to say throughout the review. This album is so boring and dull, there are no stand out tracks and a lot of these songs sound very similar. It's not exactly a terrible album but it's not a good one either.

YDload
December 4th 2006



1207 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

True, but i'm arguing that the trinkets fail to save the songs from their rather boring nature =/


well some of them just can't be saved i guess. on previous albums, i know "A Perfect Teenhood" could have been about three minutes shorter, but luckily they haven't done THAT again. now it's all studio fluff instead of "end-of-song feedback and guitar-smashing" but either way they just gotta have that padding!

and Zebra, I still think that some of the songs sound the same (like the "punk rawk" loud songs Homage and Days of Being Wild). but i ended up loving this album and i've listened to it so much that FINALLY i can differentiate. so i understand where you're coming from. but as soon as i heard "Another Morning Stoner" and the title track, and how all the tracks flowed together, i ended up forcing myself to sit through every song in between the obvious highlights. and then i ended up loving the record as a whole.

not easy, but that's the story of (currently) my favorite album

Two-Headed Boy
July 2nd 2007



4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Definitely a great review, but I like this album. Such is the standards that you seem to apply to most of your reviews.

plane
Staff Reviewer
July 2nd 2007



6073 Comments


Yeah, this is a pretty good album. Not the epic indie album a lot of people are toting it as, but still pretty ace.

Fort23
July 2nd 2007



2469 Comments


I like the review, but the stuff I've heard (admittingly not much), wasen't that good. Ill have to look into this some more.

Jawaharal
July 2nd 2007



1832 Comments


fyi God didn't have anything to do with the selection of the seven deadly sins.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
July 2nd 2007



3752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

*sigh* thats what i get for being all aetheisty.

cbmartinez
July 3rd 2007



2525 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review, but this one is a 5 for me. Incredible album.

AggravatedYeti
December 30th 2007



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Very very well written, but total bs, this is a great album.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
October 8th 2008



16072 Comments


This review is idiotic.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
October 9th 2008



3752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm gonna assume the only reason you like stirring shit is because you like the smell of it, but whatever gets you off man.



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