Dead Tooth’s “Pig Pile” pays homage to the burdened beast within

Dead Tooth’s EP Pig Pile (Trash Casual / Academy Fight Songs) lives up to its title and then some featuring not only “pig piles” but also the aforementioned swine piled onto piles of sheep (an image from the EP’s title song and cover art!) not to mention the packs of white wild wolves eyeing your coop and soft white doves conspiring with savage baboons to make a man out of you and then of course there’s the hawks and fury’d doves flying off white horses bucking hard and spitting blood knee high in crude oil and that’s just to paraphrase a few of the animal-related lyrics on the record. 

So clearly we’re talking less “docile petting zoo” and more “insurrectionary animal farm” because the beasts on Pig Pile are mad as hell and they’re not gonna take it anymore which is more than justified and I wouldn’t be surprised if they invited Orca, Cujo, and Willard’s rodent friends over for later.

In the interim since Dead Tooth put out their debut EP Still Beats the DT’s spent their Plague Years pretty productively by putting out a clutch of compelling stand-alone singles including a summer beach party jam (see below) plus two collaborations with Darius VanSluytman from electro-soul rockers No Surrender and a cover version of a well-known disco anthem transformed into a yearning dirge about trying to survive, and thus they could have easily put out a full LP’s worth of material if they’d just thrown all these other songs onto the "Pig Pile" but there’s a reason "EP" rhymes with "integrity" I suppose.

Pig Pile sees Dead Tooth up the ante on their already nervy and dirty post-punk with six gnarly, gnarled songs full of intertwining guitar and no shortage of shredding (shredded guitar is rich in fiber!) ably anchored by the roustabout rhythms of drummer Dylan DePice and bassist Jason Smith who provide ballast for the vocal musings of head songwriter Zach Ellis aka Zach James aka The Adventures of the Silver Spaceman as he pivots between ranting-and-raving-street-preacher-who-may-actually-be-a-derelict-prophet mode (“Hell Shack,” “Pig Pile,” "Hollow Skin") and slapback-echo-laden-Lux-Interior-in-baritone-tones mode (“Nightmare America") and full-on-crooning-slow-burn-building-to-a-head-and-heart-clutching-climax mode (“Blind,” “Riverboat”).

To the ears of this listener all this rampant Pig Piling resonates strongly with the contemporary moment in all its weird-mixed-up dread and euphoria glory whilst spinning around on a planet playing chicken with its own fate at least until all those chickens come home to roost. And “Blind” is a prime example building up gradually like a suspense movie soundtrack equal parts ominous and intoxicating (that chorus tho!) and the same goes for the eerily beautiful feral-fever-dream postindustrial walkabout music video featuring the animal graces of dancer/choreographer Nola Sporn Smith and maybe all this is tied to Zach’s skateboarding past too and the Platonic ideal of living forever in-the-moment whilst teetering on the edge but who knows.

If you wanna "read more about it" re: the history of Dead Tooth and about their creative process and all that sorta stuff then you could start by watching the interview above and then by clicking on some of the hyperlinks found in this piece but the quick version is that the band was borne out of a chance encounter between our man Zach and one Andrew Bailey while both employed at a vegan diner near Brooklyn’s fabled Sweatshop Rehearsal Studios (RIP) and at the time the former didn’t even know the latter played (and still plays) guitar in a scrappy little band called DIIV who likewise know a thing or two about joining together tension, bliss, and catharsis.

And finally just to make sure you’re all up to date (that’s our job!) the Dead Toothers spent the past week down in Tejas playing SXSW culminating with the Austin EastCiders X BdBK X Our Wicked Lady showcase, and not too long before that they were victorious in the OWL Winter Madness Battle of the Bands (who needs "March Madness" sports yuck!) which led to an officially designated sponsorship by CHEETOS® brand Crunchy FLAMIN’ HOT® Cheese Flavored Snacks so here’s hoping some of that hot processed cheese-puffery fairy dust rubs off on the rest of us because we’re animals like that. (Jason Lee)