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CD REVIEW: Death to Anders - Fictitious Business
By
J.D. Stefan

 

 

 

**********

Artist: Death To Anders
Album: Fictitious Business
Label: Independent Artist
Website:
www.myspace.com/deathtoanders
Genre:  Indie Rock
Technical Grade: 8/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8/10
Commercial Value: 5/10
Overall Talent Level: 8/10
Songwriting Skills: 6/10
Performance Skill: 8/10
Best Songs: Fictitious Business, Ghost Rock, Man of 1000 Regrets
Weakness: Fractured indie-rock that doesn’t really leave the listener with memorable lines or melodies.

CD REVIEW:

Death to Anders is modern quartet from the Los Angeles area of California.  The band consists of Rob Danson (vocals and guitars), Nicholas Ceglio (vocals, guitars, synthesizer, piano and glockenspiel), Pete DiBiasio (bass guitar) and John Broeckel (drums and percussion).  Fictitious Business also features Tod McLaughlin (banjo on “Great Plains States”), Charlene Huang (violin on “Doll” and “Man of 1000 Regrets”) and Sarah Negahardi (vocals on “Camera Lens”).  The 10 tracks on Fictitious Business were produced, recorded and mixed by David Newton at Rollercoaster Studios and mastered by John Golden.  The band’s MySpace bio calls their style “engagingly fractured indie rock that's witty, intelligent, and challenging all at once.”  From the opening title track it’s readily apparent that this is a band with a dynamic sound that’s all their own.  Death to Anders’ MySpace page has had a lot of views but it appears that they lost their website www.deathtoanders.com which was a generic domain parking space when I checked.  An interesting connection to the band is the fact that bassist Peter DiBiasio and drummer John Broeckel played together in a band called Crooner in the late 90s.  The other members of Crooner eventually went on to form the very successful group Silversun Pickups. 

The album’s title track immediately shows that these guys know what they’re doing and the results they’re after.  The song has lots of dynamics going from an intro that sounds like indie-pop with a nice vintage synth sound laid over the jangly guitars to a full out noise-pop fest 2/3 of the way through.  The glockenspiel (how often does one hear a glockenspiel in modern music these days anyway?) makes its appearance in the track as well with a nicely done doubling of the melody.  The opening track sets the tone for what is an album that’s part indie-pop/rock and part noise-pop.  The “fractured indie rock” reference seems to be a perfect description.  The aggressive drum beat that kicks off “Ghost Rock” keeps things rolling along and the song makes good use of discord weaving in and out of the guitar parts before giving way to more structured rock.  It’s nice to see a couple of very moody tracks on the CD as well – “Dark Bathrooms” stands out as an ambitious 7-minute track that ends up as a full-out indie rocker in the last half of the song.  The playing on the album is really good and that’s no surprise given that Danson and Ceglio both attended the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, CA.  This is a well-recorded, well-produced album that’ll stand up in quality to any commercial release.  The instrumentation is nicely varied with the glockenspiel, synth, banjo and violin providing excellent contrast to the excellent guitar work.  The lyrics are witty and interesting and the album itself claims to be a cynical look at life in the new millennium.  The CD art and packaging is very well-done and again, matches up for a commercial release.  Death to Anders is not only musically accomplished; they seem to have a solid grasp on the presentation and marketing side of things as well. 

Perhaps the only downfall for Death to Anders is their “fractured” nature.  Many songs, while well-constructed, tend to be disjointed at times without strong melody lines.  The album has a decent flow and great energy but I hoped to find more songs that I could latch on to and take away and that didn’t really happen for me.  Vocal styles are certainly subjective but I found the vocals to be just adequate.  Danson’s delivery however certainly fits the unorthodox song arrangements and the occasional harmonies are definitely intriguing and not commonplace.  Fans of indie rock like Pavement (which is a common comparison for Death to Anders and an influence) will find Fictitious Business delivers something different around every turn. I was impressed by the production of the album and the playing but the songs had a tough time staying with me after listening.

Death to Anders is an impressive band and they clearly know their sound and direction.  It’s not music for the mainstream and certainly wasn’t intended for it but they should find a solid fan base among indie-rock types.  Perhaps if Death to Anders “fractured” their brand of music just a little bit less they’d hit upon an even larger market.  Fictitious Business is a solid effort.

J. D. Stefan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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