Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Dad is Dead - Chopping Down the Family Tree

1991; 12 tracks

My Dad is Dead is the recording project of American musician Mark Edwards (of the Cleveland-based band Riot Architecture), and since 1985 has released 11 full-length albums.

Chopping Down the Family Tree is Edwards' 7th album, and fully awe-inspiring. Its opening track, "Cool Rain," which is steeped in a heavier indie/punk sound, sets a very gritty and dark tone for the album. After the first half of the album, however, the tracks become increasingly cheerful (and increasingly enjoyable). The instrumentation of Chopping Down the Family Tree is astounding - bright guitars, exciting vocal harmonies and a great sense of variation and movement throughout. When you listen you will be surprised at the variety of music styles Edwards employs to convey his thoughts. Amazing tracks that transcend perfection: "Without a Doubt," "Cool Rain," and "Chopping Down the Family Tree."

"My Dad Is Dead, most of whose songs were indeed inspired by the loss of Edwards' father, makes music whose appeal lies largely in its matter-of-fact handling of trauma. Growing steadily in fluency and confidence, Edwards, who writes, plays and sings with instrumental and vocal help from a floating gene pool of Cleveland musicians (Prisonshake's Chris Burgess has also produced the bulk of his recordings), makes records that are as comforting as they are harrowing.

Chopping Down the Family Tree boasts its fair share of Edwards' familiar lyrics and dense, metallic instrumentation, but the fog hovering over his head has lifted a little further."

The strength of the family can be an illusion when built on control and based on collusion.

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