Fricke's Picks: Rebel Yellers

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I caught only the last quarter-hour of Dead Confederate's set opening for R.E.M. at SXSW this year. But even that short shot of the Athens, Georgia, quintet's buckskin-metal racket was enough to confirm (a) Dead Confederate are even better than their name and (b) could give My Morning Jacket a very hard time in Dixie-guitar-hurricane combat. The Smiths-with-a-sledgehammer jangle of "The Rat" and the slow-blues-Nirvana crusher "Goner," on Wrecking Ball (TAO), Dead Confederate's first full-length album (following a recent EP and an early independent CD under another name), prove this is also a band with a post-punk-underground heart. Live, Dead Confederate are known to cover Sonic Youth's long feedback ride "The Diamond Sea," which certainly explains the exciting, oceanic distemper here in "The News Underneath" and at the end of "Wrecking Ball." There isn't a lot of good news in these songs — "Start Me Laughing" sounds more like a dare — but when they hit full howl, Dead Confederate are the living end.

[From Issue 1063 — October 16, 2008]