December 31, 2016 | Jason Lamoreaux
Deardarkhead is a shoegaze band made up of Kevin Harrington (guitar), Robert Weiss (drums), and Kevin McCauley (bass). They hail from Linwood, New Jersey and formed in 1988. Between their last album, Unlock the Valves of Feeling and Strange Weather, there is an 18-year silence. Thankfully, Deardarkhead has reemerged on Saint Marie Records joining a resurgence of shoegaze and dream-pop music. Strange Weather sees the band return as a trio, producing six pieces of ethereal, blissed out tunes. They deftly merge the best of post-punk and shoegaze to create addictive instrumental tracks.
“Falling Upward” sets the tone for Strange Weather and it begins with subdued, whirling drones and muffled guitars. Then the volume begins to rise and the drums and bass explode into the speakers. The guitar tones here are reminiscent of early post-punk music mixed with the best elements of shoegaze with glittering guitar tones and expressive melodies. “Sunshine Through the Rain” has a bright tone to it, with mid-tempo drums, driving bass, and jangly guitar. The hooks here are brilliant. They are the kind that get stuck in your head and having you humming along. Deardarkhead produce addictive music and it’s a wonderful mix of new musical elements and tones with dabs of post-punk nostalgia.
“Juxta Mare” is a fast tempo piece with racing high-hat that turns into a tom oriented beat. There are splashes of The Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen mixed with the wonders of early Lush here. Again, Deardarkhead’s output is deeply addictive and hypnotic. “March Hares” has a deep rumbling bass with this amazingly wonderful aggressive guitar hook playing over mid-tempo drums. This is a post-punk masterpiece right here, unapologetic and in your face. With only three elements to the band’s musical make-up, each one must be strong and Harrington, Weiss, and McCauley deliver on their various pieces. There is no weak link here.
“Ice Age” is another track filled with catchy riffs and perfectly phrased bass and drums. There is a sort of galloping beat with reverbed-out guitars that play off the animated bassline. If there is a stand-out piece on this album, for me it’s “Ice Age”, but that’s like picking among six solid tracks. “Thinking Back” begins with subtle guitar and a slower beat. The guitar work creates a hazy wall of sound with touches of fuzz. As “Thinking Back” builds, the guitars get bigger and louder with the percussion and bass becoming more and more syncopated and aggressive. A fantastic ending to the album.
Deardarkhead has made a striking comeback with Strange Weather. Blending post-punk and shoegaze elements, Strange Weather is a must have album for any discerning listener. Further, if you were a Deardarkhead fan before and were nervous about them lacking a lead singer, you shouldn’t be. The compositions are deep, full, and will certainly get you hooked.