• Review

ALBUM REVIEW: Even Still, We Were Together by Dead, Dead Swans

High beams were blinding me from the car or truck, or alien that was behind me while I was on the who-knows-how-many number of listens to Dead, Dead Swans’ new record Even Still, We Were Together, and with this feeling of ease and not really giving a shit about said high beams no matter how annoying or blinding I moved along. If you are unfamiliar with Dead, Dead Swans then this is a great record to jump into and shake your hands with, give a hi-five, fist bump, or a hug and say “hello.” DDS (Dead, Dead Swans) has been rolling the highways of the Midwest for quite some time and has this latest album and 2022’s “Lenses” which is equally as good. He also has an array of singles and eps you can dip your musical toes into. This record, the one we are here for today, “Even Still, We Were Together,” has seeped into my skin and has cuddled up with my marrow in the most delightful of ways.

Ten songs, and I won’t go track by track, just a few of my favorites, but ten songs that carried tones for me of a longingness, but not despair. They are songs that move me. Make feel something. He’s lived some life, and those experiences have seemed to influence the record. That’s easy though, right? The second track is “Curse the Factories.” I don’t want to give too much away, but this song really got in my skin. Maybe it’s the bullshit job that I currently have, or maybe it’s the understanding of knowing exactly where the “I” in the song is coming from. Any way I slice this pie those two maybes are both why these songs stuck for me, and the record goes on like that from there. I didn’t intentionally disregard the opening track, I just want the magic for this record to be intact for your first, second, and thirtieth listen.

Throughout the ten songs the minimalism captured my ears. The record simply feels like DDS grabbed his guitar and banjo, his voice, sat down, and unleashed these songs one take with no thrills or frills. Called up a couple of friends to lend certain things here and there, and that’s it. Obviously, like anything it’s not that simple. The lyrics and DDS’ voice around those lyrics are at the forefront for each song’s unleashing. There is also plenty going on within each song, but none of it is overpowering or detracts from the listening a song like “Look it Up,” is a good example of this. Where the song is only two verses, but there’s banjo, bass, and harmonica all happening. Except for the harmonica, maybe, they are just there. These choices throughout the record whether it be instrumentation, a person whistling, or vocal all land and bring the feels for this would be listener.

This record for me leaned quite a lot of emotions. It happened once the first note dropped on “Just Like Stealin’” which is the first track on the record. Once I heard it I settled in for what I wasn’t sure about, but as the record progressed on that first listen it was like “ahhh.” Whether it was simply taking a breath, or the record being the breath of fresh air, I don’t really know, however either way it goes that breath was something special. This record made me feel seen somehow. I have felt that way with individual songs before, but I’m not sure about ten tracks or a complete record.

Dead, Dead Swans with these ten songs has painted quite the painting, and one I want to continue to keep looking at. This comes from DDS about the record it was “written in various states around the Midwest and recorded in a bedroom in Milwaukee, Wisconsin throughout 2022 and ‘23.” I’d like to think that the “various states” of that sentence has a double meaning. Sure, actual states, but maybe states of being as well. The record was mixed and mastered by Josh Kristopeit at Ruthless and Toothless Studios in Racine, Wisconsin. This record, these songs, they’ve stuck. Latched themselves into bones, or like persistent halo’s after being blinded by some pick-up truck’s, or Alien’s, high beams. Kick back and take a listen. Be well to each other, and enjoy the music.

 Catch Dead, Dead Swans at Oddfellows on Friday, April 12th!