The best music tends to hit a listener from seemingly out of nowhere, fully formed and ready to infiltrate the psyche. Of course even the newest discovery has paid their dues somewhere, which means there are often real treasures right under our very noses. So it is with Dead Rock West.

With a name like Dead Rock West, you would be correct in assuming there are occasional country and folk influences, but really, that’s just skimming the surface of the bands capabilities which span Country Music, Americana, and Roots Rock sounds to give you that music that keeps you dancing and singing along. Dashes of garage, power pop jangle, and rock n roll populate the set list, played with passion to match the tight song craft and perfectly blended vocal harmonies provided by the band’s founders, Cindy Wasserman and Frank Drennen. Their voices are a seamless mix that adds melody to already impressive hooks, like icing on an already pretty tasty cake.

Dead Rock West the group is really a culmination of years of work in Southern California nightspots. Drennen spent time playing the acoustic clubs in San Diego, teaming up in with former Alarm guitarist Dave Sharp and forming pop group Loam shortly thereafter. They would go on to release two albums in the U.S. and Spain, and win a San Diego Music Award in the process for their song “Telephone” - later recast by Dead Rock West as an amphetamine fueled Byrds flavored rock number.

For her part, Wasserman is no stranger to either stage or studio. Most recently she has toured and recorded with Grant Lee Phillips, John Doe, and Mark Olson. In fact, all the members have extensive touring backgrounds. Bassist David J.Carpenter has toured and recorded with Toni Childs as well as John Doe and Phillips. Drummer Bryan Head does double duty with his band Abandoned Pools, and has toured with Shelby Lynne. Most impressively, pianist Phil Parlapiano was previously in Geffen Records act The Brothers Figaro and has performed with Grant Lee Buffalo, Tracy Chapman, Lucinda Williams, Rod Stewart and Social Distortion, amongst many others.

All that experience is used to great effect on Dead Rock West’s debut album on the Populuxe label, Honey & Salt. Recorded at Grandmas Warehouse in Echo Park, the disc was recorded in tribute to older recording methods using a 2" tape, 24 tracks, and no click tracks or pitch correction machines. In addition to the members of Dead Rock West, the genesis of the album involves a few other key players. The Section Quartet (Sam Phillips, etc.) provide strings and pedal steel player Greg Leisz also contributes, with the album mixed by Grammy winner Richard Dodd (Tom Petty, George Harrison, Steve Earle, Traveling Wilburys etc.).

“Basically I contacted Richard Dodd via his web site,” Drennen recalls. “I told him about ourselves, that we were recording to tape and I asked if he ever mixed any one who was not rich or famous. To my surprise Dodd responded saying he was interested in hearing our works in progress. Nervously, I sent him the songs. We weren’t even finished overdubbing at this point. After a couple of long phone conversations, I was convinced that this man was in love with music and wanted to be a part of projects he can be proud to put his name on. Needless to say we ended up in Nashville and spent six wonderful days hearing our songs come alive and listening to his stories.”

The end result are the Honey & Salt tracks, as catchy and varied a collection of songs as you’re likely to come across. Whether it’s Wasserman or Drennen taking the lead, Dead Rock West’s way with a melody cannot be denied.

Pretty Disaster - Dead Rock West




Folk/Acoustic Rock/Americana
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Highway One - Dead Rock West




Folk/Acoustic Rock/Americana
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Dead Rock West is hitting the road this Fall and here are the dates!

September 1, 2009 Annies Social Club San Francisco, CA

September 2, 2009 The Palms w/ Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women Winters, CA

September 4, 2009 Slim's Last Chance Seattle, WA

September 5, 2009 Aladdin Theater w/ Dave Alvin & the Guilty Women Portland, OR

September 6, 2009 Kenton Club Portland, OR

September 7, 2009 Tractor Tavern w/ Mari Maries Seattle, WA

September 19, 2009 TBA Austin, TX

September 20, 2009 McCabes w/ Pieta Brown Santa Monica, CA

September 26, 2009 TBA New York City, NY

October 24, 2009 TBA Tempe, AZ

Attention Dead Rock West fans, Yeah we mean YOU! We have received many of your photos sent to us from shows and we want to tell you that we LOVE 'EM! Keep them coming and make sure to include name, location and date taken, along with the photo so we can feature you in our next newsletter! Send photos to drw.losangels@gmail.com

Make sure to catch us on the road and don't forget to send us your best snapshots!

-Team Dead Rock West




Dead Rock West distills hooks and harmony in Pittsburgh
May 20, 2009, at Thunderbird Cafe

By Melanie Cox McCluskey
Published: May 23rd, 2009 | 11:55am

L.A.’s Dead Rock West distilled its timeless hook-and-harmony spirit into a quick 35-minute set at Thunderbird Cafe in Pittsburgh this week. With its airbrushed honky-tonk street scene as a stage backdrop, the intimate multi-level club provided the perfect setting for the band’s saloon-blues ballyhoo. The quintet’s dusty, roots-inspired rock sounds polished and fresh on stage, transformed by an ebullient, jovial presence and good-time sensibility. Though its X-meets-Wilco influences are aged to a fine vintage, Dead Rock West keeps its spin relevant with punk-spirited pop.

The group opened the show with the punchy anthem “Rocket From The Crypt” from its 2007 debut Honey and Salt (Populuxe). The vocal harmonies of guitarist Frank Drennen and Cindy Wasserman take a page straight from X, and it’s no surprise that Wasserman has lent her honeyed soprano on recent solo releases from both John Doe and Exene Cervenka. Dead Rock West whipped through the archived Americana from Honey and Salt with premium-blend standouts like “Desert Rose,” a mash of Californian country-rock folklore, and “Telephone,” a rollicking, jangly foot-stomper.

As she switching off between tambourine and starbourine, Wasserman took the boy-girl harmony to a different level with guitarist Phil Parlapiano, who shared vocals on “I Hope You Miss Me.” But she was back to breaking the bottle with Drennen on “Ain’t No Grave,” a new song from their as-yet-untitled album in the works. With rhythm like a roaring train through a tunnel, this boozy bruiser slammed right into a wailing blues bridge before accelerating into a collision of uncompromising rock hooks.
And then, like last call arriving far too soon, the five-piece ended its set with a cover of Velvet Underground’s “What Goes On.” Dead Rock West’s signature harder, faster punk edge and Wasserman’s searing vocals gave the classic track a postmodern lilt that promises more rip-roaring performances to come.

For more photos from this show visit Venus Zine’s Flickr page
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