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Albums Of The Week: The Dead South | Easy Listening For Jerks Pt. 1 & 2

The Regina roots-rockers cover both sides of the stylistic street with a pair of EPs.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:The Dead South have released not one but two new covers EPs. Easy Listening For Jerks, Parts I & II may best be described as Carter Family meets Addams Family.

The source material for the EP two-pack sees The Dead South trace very different musical lineages: One a beloved folk songbook and the other a set of volatile modern outsider anthems. Always playing against type, The Dead South flip traditional bluegrass and hard rock conventions upside down, drawing out an ominous, lurking unease in the bright innocence of Bristol Sessions-era sound, and pulling moments of absurdity from the hardcore bluster.

Part I includes the Sun belt-meets-black belt take on You Are My Sunshine, in which The Dead South dig below the surface layer lullaby to levels of deep desperation. In a minor key, Keep On The Sunny Side, changes from sweet to sinister. Matterhorn, a gallant adventure tale that sees four friends set off to climb a mountain, also works on the level of The Dead South’s origin story. “It’s closer here to heaven than it is back to the ground,” goes the song, now also a fitting encapsulation of the Regina band’s feelings of anxiety and exhilaration about returning to life on the road.

Part II is inspired by the band’s own pre-show playlist, and includes songs by System Of A Down, The Doors, Cold War Kids and The Misfits. Easy Listening for Jerks are the first releases that see all four members taking lead vocal turns.

Rich with quality finger picking and replete with harmonies, Easy Listening For Jerks offers many new moods of songs we think we know so well. Under a title that recalls the songwriting humour of Roger Miller and Steve Martin’s comedy stylings alike, the EPs offer a surprising and compelling mix of gravity and levity. From Earl Scruggs to Serj Tankian, the two parts of Easy Listening For Jerks find surprising common ground between traditional bluegrass and hard rock in the selection of songs of alienation, misanthropy and adversity. Think Foggy Mountain Boys, but with a hit of Beetlejuice.”