“We wanted to expand our sound, to take more risks,” says drummer Daniel Crider of Dead 27s’ first full-length album, Ghosts Are Calling Out, which will be released September 30 (two years after EP Chase Your Devils Down). “That’s how we ended up working with Ben.” That’s Ben Ellman, a respected music producer and saxophonist for New Orleans band Galactic.
Crider, Wallace Mullinax (guitar), Will Evans (guitar and synth), Oliver Goldstein (bass guitar), and Trey Francis (vocals) traveled to the Big Easy and spent 10 days recording 11 songs in the historic church that houses The Living Room studio. The resulting album mixes rock and soul with a seemingly effortless grace.
Tracks like “Queen” and “Grey Skies” sound as if they were torn from the Motown or Stax playbook thanks to Francis’s smooth vocals and the dual guitar attack of Mullinax and Evans. As for “Fantastic,” says Mullinax, “I think the words we were looking for when recording were ‘Brian Wilson.’” Incorporating instruments like the vibraphone and Omnichord, “it has a fun, quirky vibe that’s found on Beach Boys recordings during Pet Sounds and Smile sessions.”
Though a somewhat jarring change from the livelier numbers, the hymn-like “Emanuel”—written by Mullinax on the same night he visited Emanuel AME Church in the wake of the June 2015 shooting—serves as a beautiful and respectful meditation on the tragedy.
Signed to Red Parlor Records, the band is touring this fall, with a hometown album release show slated for November 5 at the Pour House. (Visit www.dead27s.com for details.)