13 February 2021 (released)
08 April 2021
The concept of theatricality in rock music is nothing new. The merging of a Broadway-like sense of drama and storytelling goes back to the '60s and hit a peak in the proggy '70s. Now, in this new age of endless niches and sub-genres, a group can feel free to experiment with any type of soundtrack style for an album or even as the entire ethos of the band. Portland's Federale has made a successful discography by embracing the ethos of Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western soundtracks to create a spellbinding concoction of Old West-inspired psych-rock. In the age of endless spin-offs, the possibilities are endless.
Fellow Portlanders Dead Coyote have carved out their own bizarro slice of the musical pie. The band has taken their love of the campy horror musical and brought it to life on the new album Apparitionata. The four-track EP channels the songs from musicals like the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Little Shop of Horrors as well as Danny Elfman's scores and hits them with a shot of glam rock and '80s avant-garde. With their dark, macabre themes and vaudevillian delivery, the band has branded itself as Goth Dance or Spooky Disco. Get up and shake your bones to tunes that will make for a hell of a concert event once we are able to pack into performance halls once more.
Extravagant piano and strings bolster the over-the-top vocals of the Master of Ceremonies and his operatic backers for the intro 'Prelude'. Zach Retzl dramatically outlines his past and his plans to the increasingly dissonant keys. The track shoots right into the barnburner 'Leave Me in the Ground'. The strings and piano gain evermore ferocity as Retzl hits the fevered pitch of Roger Waters at his most Wall-era sensational. The closing choral of the reluctant funeral lament sweeps into a singular piano note like the suspenseful seconds before the plunge of the killer's knife. We are thrust into 'Lazy Ghost' where the band plays a saloon ragtime homage to Metallica's 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' before making their way into a quirky '80s vibe with Retzl doing his best David Byrne impression. Yelping, obstinate, and wildly eccentric. Another seamless transition takes into the finale 'My Hiding Place'. Somewhere between Nightmare Before Christmas and Rocky Horror, the goth dance plays off into the full moon-crazed night.
Apparitionata is a record that begs for a live interpretation. The grandeur and drama are well conveyed through sound but you can see how an ornate stage show would add a whole other dimension. When you round up everyone from across the internet, there is a huge fanbase for the horror musical genre. Dead Coyote will find a lot of love in their well-dug niche.