“Some things are cast off and some things are kept…” The Deadly Snakes keep an in depth knowledge of music from the past, heavily influenced by 1960’s R‘n’B, and Rock ‘n’ Roll and yet cast off any notions of straight reproduction.
Formed in 1996, The Deadly Snakes comprised of band members Age of Danger, Andre Ethier, Andrew Gunn, Chad Ross, Matthew Carlson, Jeremi Madsen released their first record Love Undone in 1999, followed two years later in 2001 by I’m Not Your Soldier Anymore, two years after that in 2003 they released their third critically acclaimed record Ode to Joy… thank heavens once again two years passed and The Deadly Snakes offered up Porcella.
Toy pianos, mellotrons, string sections, organs, trumpets, tambourines, saxophones and an ample selection of percussion join together, guided by the competent hands of The Deadly Snakes – at times soft, thoughtful and heart wrenchingly passionate and at other times hard, fast, furious and unquestionably fearless. Despite the revamped sound they still remain true to their punk and soul roots. Their confidence and genuine talent gluttonously oozes, cascading in the form of good new fashioned rock n roll.
The band has toured with The Hives, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Sloan amongst others. Their sound echoes elements of The Zombies, Love, Captain Beefheart, Leonard Cohen, southern gospel music and even Nico’s record Chelsea Girl. Yes, the band has the composure reminiscent of a young energetic Rolling Stones, rhythmically and with a strutting raunchy sound laced with sleazy drawl – but these influences are cut down to their rawest form.
Recorded in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere and finished in a studio in downtown Toronto, Porcella is produced by band member Age of Danger. All the band members contributed to writing songs, trading and sharing instruments throughout recording and it results in a kind of song writers collective. Age of Danger explains:
“It takes a cue from the last album; everything that was implied with Ode to Joy has taken the next logical step. And in terms of tempo, you could say that Porcella isn’t much of a garage record at all. Yeah, there’s a couple of ‘rockers’ on there, but mostly, it’s mellow and strange.”
Respecting the roots of the music they create and holding an understanding of all the best elements of those influences results in a palimpsest effect. The Deadly Snakes smooth over what lay before and start something brand new in the same place. Porcella is one of those rare albums that has depth without a bottom, there are no limits and certainly no place for conformity.
There are threads throughout the album, intertwined and woven into one another, the theme of a finite existence, one rich with precious moments illustrated and then bitten into and feasted upon.
There are great pop songs that can also be strange and dark at the same time. Songs like “Gore Veil” show a new direction for the band without sounding affected. Don’t mistake the band’s ability to combine pretty sing-a-long melodies with lyrical darkness and pessimism for insincerity. The end result may not be what you expected, but the surprise will never be unpleasant – just challenging and unnervingly comfortable in its own skin. Even though there are many melancholy songs on Porcella, there are still some blistering studio performances- “The Banquet”, “Sissy Blues”, “Oh Lord, My Heart!” will without question live up to the band’s reputation for having an invigorating stage presence.
This album appears to live, breath and evolve and perhaps that’s why its full impact is best appreciated at a live show, it inhales all that surrounds it or came before it and exhales producing a lavish, indulgent and rich sound served on a humble, raw and hand made platter.
The unity of Porcella, ripe, rapacious and yet refined – will convert you and then pervert you.