Deadweight – Stroking the Moon

“Re-runs”, the opening track from Deadweight’s Stroking the Moon, kicks off the album with a riff that falls somewhere between the golden age of grunge and the current age of retro rock. It’s heavy, it’s catchy, and it’s got a bend that’ll make snarl your lip.

And, it’s done completely without guitars.

Deadweight’s three piece lineup consists of drums, a cello, and a violin. No guitar, no bass … but plenty of rock. With as much amplification and distortion as the guys have on their instruments, the casual listener would never know what they were listening to. This is no hillbilly ho-down here; the Deadweights have come to rawk.

The problem with most novelty bands is, well, the novelty. Once it wears out, there’s no substance to keep you coming back. Not so on Stroking the Moon. The riffs contained within stand on their own feet despite the band’s creative instrument choices. Songs roam all over the sonic map; “The Bottle Song” summons Led Zeppelin, “Capacity” resembles the work of Beck, “Anesthesia” harkens Primus and “Go to Hell” rivals most of the current progressive metal bands’ chops. Stroking the Moon is frantic, varied, and fantastic.

The ironically named “Deja Vu” (as this is something I’ve NEVER heard before) reminded me of Jane’s Addiction in several aspects, including the vocals. In both that song and “Feed the Ground”, the band occasionally drops the distortion and lets us hear the true voice of their string section.

Alternative Tentacles is famous for finding and promoting bands with a unique voice in the world, and San Francisco’s Deadweight is no exception. Stroking the Moon is interesting on many levels. While first and foremost is obviously the use of non-traditional instruments on a rock album, the songs themselves are quite catchy and may make you rethink your stance on what “rock” actually is.

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