When it comes to blues, simplicity often reigns supreme. Since the days of Mississippi Delta pioneers such as Leadbelly and Charley Patton, the best accompaniment to a weary hobo poem has been a plucked guitar and a walking drumbeat. This is the blues’ first lesson, and it’s still obeyed. On its debut full-length, We Are Night Sky, Louisiana’s Deadboy & The Elephantmen is not about to break that rule, especially when the fire of white-boy blues is burning so boldly.
Louisiana isn’t typically known for its blues, but Louisiana knows Dax Riggs and his many musical voices. After a quick introduction to the world of recording and touring as frontman of the death-metal band Acid Bath and his second short-lived band, Agents of Oblivion, Riggs decided to take a different route. Extended searches led him to his musical accomplice, Tessie Brunet, a cute gal with the tools to rock despite only having a year’s worth of experience behind the drums. The two immediately hit it off. Within months they were showcasing Deadboy around New Orleans while perfecting their blend of blues rock.
We Are Night Sky is the duo’s debut, with the indie-blues-loving Fat Possum pulling the behind-the-scene strings. Despite being a guitar-and-drum duo, Riggs and Brunet recruit a few friends to fill out the songs and add a little bass here or some tuba there. The album has a nearly even share of rockers and ballads. The slower tracks do a fairly decent job holding their own next to the heavier ones, thanks to Riggs’s deep, husky voice and occasional dark lyrics painted over a sensitive musical curtain. “No rainbows, it’s raining skulls” is a delicate juxtaposition against the light acoustic guitar and vocal duet with Brunet on “No Rainbow.”
It’s difficult not to compare Deadboy & The Elephantmen to the White Stripes, especially when the setup is identical and certain tracks rely solely on fuzz guitar and simple drumming (see “Blood Music” and “What the Stars Have Eaten”). Riggs’s voice is in a category of its own, and he brings his refined metal style to this new outfit (“How Long the Night Was”), but some things are hard to overlook. The style is far less bluesy than the Fat Possum stamp and press release would lead you to believe, but what’s missing here is songs that have any real staying power. Deadboy follows the rules a little too closely here, and that prevents the band from creating an original voice in a world that has become all too cluttered with blues-rock duos.
Deadboy & The Elephantment Web site