Music » Critics' Picks

...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead with Secret Machines

Saturday, June 8; Galaxy

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Not since Malcolm McLaren foisted the Sex Pistols on an unsuspecting world has a band so thoroughly engaged in an active campaign of rock and roll swindle as . . . And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. Since forming in 1994, the Austin-based post-punk quartet has told so many conflicting stories about its origins, philosophies and motivations that extracting fact from fiction would require a degree in chemistry and a centrifuge. Perhaps the only irrefutable truths of Trail are the choke-hold ferocity of its live shows and the full-throttle passion of its records.

For its third album and major-label debut, Source Tags & Codes, Trail has thickened and broadened its potent sonic attack while retaining its furiously visceral foundation, as well as adding some occasional calm to the chaos. The opener, "It Was There That I Saw You," is indicative of the rest of the album, as Trail hangs back with an almost pop-like innocence, then races to the front of the mix with a PiL/Afghan Whigsish vengeance. For all the noise and obfuscation, though, Trail is totally honest in the translation of its studio work to its overpowering live presentation, assisted by the fact that so little translation is necessary.

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