Album Review – Dead Larry: …As The Radio

Do you remember that great band from high school? Those guys who played in basements, who knew how to have fun and knew the girls who wanted to party? The Iowa City band, Dead Larry, may be the best such band ever. Their second full-length album, …As the Radio, demonstrates that Dead Larry hasn’t lost their boundless, youthful energy. Some of the innocence of youth remains in their infectious, positive groove, yet they’re worldly enough to sing songs about loss and fear with real honesty. Dead Larry’s music combines psychedelic rock, funk and pop to create a non-stop party.

The album is presented as a radio show–if your radio has been taken over by psychotic muppets. It begins with tuning noises and snippets of weirdness past–and weirdness to come. The tracks are tied together with interstitial announcements, some hilarious and some just background noise, that help the album move smoothly from track to track. Mark McGuinness has a great rock star voice: scratchy in the right places and smooth in others. The album opens with powerful jams like “Groove-O-Tron Radio”, which features a mellow, building groove, spacey guitars, but very tight rhythm. “The New Cheese” demonstrates their song crafting ability as it builds to a face-melting crescendo, but then chills out with a piano/bass breakdown. “Dance Party” is a pure, booty-shaking instrumental. “The Place With No Walls” is a perfect example of their positive attitude, describing an attitude of inclusion and acceptance seldom seen in the wider world. “PB & L” (Peanut Butter and Ladies) features Radiohead-esque guitar at times, but upbeat syncopation at others. They sing of being pirates (“We Were Pirates,” “Plunder in Harmony”), but in character they more closely resemble Peter Pan and his Lost Boys. Never growing up, they make mischief, mirth and music.