The Jersey Devil is Here
Ever Reviled Records, 2014
Once again, Darren Deicide is out with an album that really kicks ass. The Jersey Devil is Here is the latest. Just as with previous work, Deicide’s new stuff is raw, stripped down; his singing has a plaintive cry; a mix of blues with a streak of something ominous, some sort of vague, yet tantalizing danger with a no-holds-barred, sonic intensity.
What makes Deicide even more raw is the absence of drums. It’s just him, acoustic & electric guitars and his singing. This seems to be his signature style. It was evident on his debut, Rockin’ ‘Til the Apocalypse, which, for me, really jumped out and had this infectious groove to it which immediately grabbed my attention. His second album, The Temptation and the Taboo (Part 1), was a continuation of the gritty, hardcore blues approach.
Now that The Jersey Devil is Here is here, Darren’s longtime fanbase and those he’s picked up along the way, will certainly revel in the new material on here, which doesn’t deviate at all from what he’s been doing so far.
Deicide’s music seems to have absorbed that storied city’s musical roots: the distinct “Chicago Blues” school of blues, which is different from the sound of blues that came out of the Mississippi Delta area, down South. The Chicago style has a little more of a bite to it, the average layman may not notice the difference, but a serious blues lover would. The one exception to the whole Chicago thing, though, is the rough-riding, raw power of Robert Johnson. Listening to Deicide sans drums, just him, his guitar and a microphone, reminds me a bit of listening to some great old Robert Johnson stuff, although, Johnson was a bit more laidback in his singing, he, nonetheless, had a tough, rugged guitar style that seemed to be a part of whatever tale of woe, heartbreak or Mephistopheles encounters he happened to be crooning about. Deicide takes that style and cranks it up a couple notches, singing with an intensity, a piquancy that yearns and burns in fiery outbursts of from-the-gut emotional depth.
Other than Johnson, Deicide has a bit of an East Coast flair, as well (hence the album title), a kind of NYC flair, a Jersey boy toughness with that flame-throated voice that rings in your head, even after the music’s over.
A few choice cuts from The Jersey Devil is Here include an acoustic, wake-up-about-noon tune about what goes through a man’s head after a long night of heavy drinking; I’m talking drinking-a-bottle-of-bourbon-and-a-12-pack-of-beer, heavy drinking (with the usual few shots of Jagermeister or Ouzo that one has about one am, after you’re already good and shitfaced), a tune called “Hudson River Hangover”. Anyone who has ever woke up after drinking so much the night before that you still feel tipsy in the morning, but your stomach is curdling, your uvula, that little thing at the back of your mouth that just hangs there, is swollen from dehydration that comes from alcohol, so when you wake up you, at first, feel like there’s something stuck in your throat, but when you realize what the problem is you just start drinking as much ice water as you can, not only for that, but to quench your thirst. This is a good soundtrack to those particular mornings. One other tune, that isn’t on the album itself, but was released as a 7-inch, which you can order on vinyl or as an MP3 download, is “Bomb This Joint”, a song that can rip the roof off! It’s backed with “Hudson River Hangover”. You can purchase the vinyl or the download at his website, http://www.darrendeicide.com.
Two other songs from the The Jersey Devil is Here to mention are “Cocaine Blues” as well as “Napalm, Fire and Death”, two songs that are dynamite and really stinging.
Deicide really is in a class all by himself; I can’t think of any modern act to whom I could compare him. He sings with a cool, wry intensity and backs it up with a jumpy guitar that, even without drums, emits its own “beat” in a fashion.
One more thing I want to mention, concerning Independent Review: the end of the year is getting nearer (again!) and that means there’s going to be another “Best of the year” article. My “Best of” lists differ in that I don’t make any “top 10” lists, et cetera. I don’t rank them, I only pick out anywhere from 5-10 albums from 2014 that made the biggest impact on me, albums that have great sounding music with a certain quality that makes them stand out as well as having “staying power”, that is, they are good or great albums that aren’t going to go stale in a year’s time, but will still have strength 10 years from now. I mention that, because, after listening to Jersey Devil, I’ve found another album that deserves to be on the list.
For now, though, enjoy this album! -KM.