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.
©2015-2016 Indie Music People All Rights Reserved