Required Listen: The Deadly Syndrome


The Deadly Syndrome

We're very stingy when it comes to our "Required Listen" label.  We've only given out the title to four bands this year: Houndmouth, Port St. Willow, Murals, and Egyptr.  Now with the fifth, I'm starting to wonder if we have a thing for the worst band names ever.  A few days ago a vinyl submission landed on my doorstep and then sat on deck for a while because I just couldn't get excited to listen to a band called The Deadly Syndrome.  I figured them to be a bro-band that played what they thought was rebellious music... I mean, come on - The Deadly Syndrome?  
Fortunately, out of respect for the cost/effort involved, we have a rule in place to give every vinyl submission a spin, and thank goodness, because the new album from The Deadly Syndrome, All In Time, ended up being one of the more pleasant and surprising listens of 2012.  I've written a million times on this website not to judge a band by their name, album art, etc... it's just always tough to adhere to the rule.  Lesson learned once again.

The fascinating thing about The Deadly Syndrome is how easily they shift their sensibilities from the mainstream to something more sensitive.  The album opens with "Demons" and "Spirit Of The Stairs," two solid rock pop tunes that could easily find themselves on the radio alongside Spoon or Walkmen cuts.  Then, a gentle run of tracks in the middle of the album finds the band changing things up, stripping down to acoustic guitars and crafting non-explosive gems.  Loud or soft, The Deadly Syndrome seems fixated on making music that cuts to the heart.  My favorite track on All In Time, "Fine On Your Own," doesn't have any flash, just perfect simplicity and emotion.  In this song, the idea of good music, raw and untampered with, presents itself.  That's what The Deadly Syndrome is all about.  

It's incredibly easy for a music journalist/critic to write about a band that surrounds itself in context or backstory. If The Deadly Syndrome locked themselves in a cabin for months, sailed across the oceans, fell in love, yelled Swag at the top of their lungs, etc., I could easily fill two or three paragraphs talking about everything surrounding the band without even mentioning their music.  In return, this would give my readers something catchy to remember, and from that point on the controversy would bring the readers back.  What's difficult is writing about music that's just great without any flair or click-baiting buzz words.  Sometimes a band can just make great music and that's the end of the story.  

Hopefully, in the future, music will become the main focus once again.  Until then, for those of us who put music first, regardless of band name, buzz, the hip genre, or any other external factor, we have bands like The Deadly Syndrome delivering top notch tracks untainted by a blogosphere more resembling Fox News than music fans who want to share their love of music with readers. 


  1. I found most of the songs repetitive, droney and empty. The guitar did sound good on the second half of Fine on Your Own, but overall, I think this is an argument in favour of trusting first impressions. Mmm, Deadly.

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