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CD Review: The Deadly Syndrome - "The Ortolan"

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Artist: The Deadly Syndrome
Album: The Ortolan
Label: Dim Mak
Release Date: September 2007

Listen to "Eucalyptus":

OK, so yeah I know Silver Lake's own The Deadly Syndrome came out with The Ortolan a couple months ago but I didn't know that it was hiding in a pile of CDs that was sent to me and I'd somehow missed it but I should get some credit for being a good boy and cleaning up after myself and already working on an upcoming resolution to be better about that stuff.

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Hollywood's Dim Mak scored big time by signing these guys and getting this record out. In reading up on The Deadly Syndrome I was pleased to learn that founding members Will Etling and Jesse Hoy met at UCSB and whose first musical collaboration debuted at the Reel Loud film festival, of which, yours truly, was an inaugural participant sixteen years ago. Playing live music to accompany a silent film is a surreal experience and I think that this kernel of surrealism sprouts and flowers in The Ortolan.

We've got songs about chopping down entire forests of eucalyptus (listen above), becoming a ghost to haunt your grandkids (hear it on LAist's December Music Medley), not wanting to walk into the garden because wolves are prowling through the flowers, and houses being trapped within themselves. These dream-songs are beautifully sung by Christopher Richard over rollicky melodies of xylophone, organs, jangly guitars, and pleasantly thrashed drumkits. The songs seesaw between wistful contemplation ("Winter In You") to heartily howled frenzies, complete with old-school guitar solos ("I Hope I Become A Ghost"), and there's even some sea-shanty type tunes in there for good measure ("Animals Wearing Clothes" and several others).

I'm so happy to have dug down to this album, to be able to recommend it hands-down, and to put it on my Best of 2007 list (coming out tomorrow). If you like other members of the punk-folk scene (No Age, Shout Out Louds, Arcade Fire) or if you want to support a truly local music scene you should get this record. As always, if you like the music, support the artist by buying it.