2009 was a big year for Mississippi based band, Dead Gaze. They formed up and released their first big album. Four years later, and now Dead Gaze is releasing their next big LP, Brain Holiday. Times have changed though, and whether or not their surf rock style is still valid or not is up for debate.
Dead Gaze starts their album strong. “Yuppies Are Flowers” not only has a catchy name but some catchy and danceable melodies. It’s a great way to start the album off, one song in and you can’t wait for more. Unfortunately, Brain Holiday begins to slide a little downhill from there. It’s not an issue of quality so much as creativity.
Brain Holiday is painfully neo-surf rock. You could take this album, relabel it as being by Wavves, and few people would know the difference. “Check out my distorted guitars, upbeat melodies, and hyper critical yet self defeating lyrics” –this act isn’t getting old anytime soon. I have to admit this isn’t really my first reaction by any means, but it seems like bands are just beating a dead horse at this point. Dead Gaze would be fine if they did anything remotely original in this album. Simply put, the entire thing is completely forgettable. This doesn’t mean it’s bad though.
For what it’s worth, Brain Holiday is pretty alright. There is a constant yearning for something more, something fresh, but Dead Gaze seems to comfortably improve upon what they know. Energetic guitar melodies mixed with intense drumming and a distortion pedal. It may seem pretty simple, but Dead Gaze really finds a way to refine it; most noticeably when they actually decide to turn things down a little.
As it turns out, every surf rock band has a calmer side. Dead Gaze is pretty good at expressing theirs, and Brain Holiday showcases several examples. For instance, “Stay, Don’t Stay,” is perfectly subdued and even a bit emotional. Each contradictory line of lyric rings a familiarity in your heart. It’s moments like these that really make Brain Holiday something special.
Trim the surf, save us the excessive distortion, and Brain Holiday would be perfect. While some people may have their complaints, others will absolutely love Dead Gaze’s newest album. While there is much to be improved on, Brain Holiday is still pretty good, and likely to become the next big surf rock hit.