Top 15 Trail of Dead Songs
You might know them, and you should know them, and apparently you will know them. …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead have been in Austin for 20 years now and are soon to put out their 9th album in just another month (of which we’ll be previewing soon). They’ve gone from indie, to major label, back to indie. From the super heights of having their record universally acclaimed as one of the best of the year to unfortunate lows of critical assault. Band members that have come and gone. The band has survived though and continued to put out excellent music.
If you haven’t heard them yet, this is the best place to start.
#15 The Rest Will Follow
Prog meets alt-rock on this departure from Trail of Dead’s sound, “The Rest Will Follow,” from 2005’s World’s Apart. The video might be cheesy at times, but the song is solid and showcases two drummers better than just about any band ever has.
#14 Sunken Dreams
Trail of Dead are known for being epic and the closer to 2006’s So Divided is one of their most yet. The song starts off seemingly simple, but shifts and turns into another song almost like The Beatles “A Day in the Life,” turning into a gargantuan Led Zeppelin like stomp of choirs, noise, feedback, yells, and more.
#13 A Gargoyle Waiting
From Trail of Dead’s first record, “A Gargoyle Waiting” shows more of their early influence, but is an amazing song combining punk rock, electronic ambiance, and classic rock. All the influences that would mark Trail of Dead’s career. It makes something heavy dark and beautiful.
Trail of Dead’s last record Lost Songs moves the band back to the primary punk rock roots moving away from the prog of the previous records. In fact, it’s probably the most punk rock record to date. One of the highlights of the album is the almost what one called radio friendly Fugazi of Catatonic.
A dramatic shift from the hardcore punk rock of “Catatonic” is the track “Insatiable,” from the record The Century of Self. Written originally for the soundtrack to a vampire film that was not used it has an ominous tone throughout showing Trail of Dead’s more classical leanings.
#10 Relative Ways
“Relative Ways” is one of the singles from the critically acclaimed Source Tags & Codes. It’s unique melody and catchy refrain build and intensify more throughout the end of the song before coming to an end. Although great on it’s own it’s even more of a perfect fit on the record.
#9 The Spiral Jetty/Weight of the Sun
Trail of Dead channel Pink Floyd in this beautiful song melded with eerie ambiance about space and time. The song them fades away into the next, a hard rock stomp with powerful chords and rhthym anyone can sing along to, have a beer, or start a fight in the Irish tinged melody.
#8 Crowning of a Heart
From their EP The Secret of Elena’s Tomb, “Crowning of a Heart” is a beautiful song inspired by Mogwai that shows Trail of Dead’s more romantic side. There’s very little distortion or speed here just a little romance and cello. The title of the EP is inspired by the story of Carl Tanzler.
#7 Mark David Chapman
Former bassist Neil Busch penned the song who’s title is taken from the man who shot John Lennon in an attempt to get fame. A solemn tale about the indifference of the world it shows the older more Sonic Youth style of the band but they definitely do it in their style.
#6 A Perfect Teenhood
One of Trail of Dead’s heaviest songs, “A Perfect Teenhood,” slowly builds from a melodic structure to a fast driving punk rock cacophony. The song goes back to it’s intro once more before a final attack and assault under a yells of, “Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!”
#5 Days of Being Wild
The blistering three chord punk rock of “Days of Being Wild” and the maniacal scream of band co-founder Jason Reece highlight the song titled after the Wong Kar-Wai film. It’s a song of resurrection and resilience with an amazing spoken word section that’s a call to action and rebellion.
#4 Mistakes & Regrets
The lead track from the Trail of Dead record, Madonna, was recently re-issued and is what many consider to be classic Trail of Dead. The song shows a bit more of the Sonic Youth influence of the band. It’s catchy, punk, and melodic. A wonderful start to what some might argue is their best record.
#3 Ode to Isis/Will You Smile Again?
A follow up to Source Tags & Codes after the critical hype it received was going to be tough no matter what. The album sold well, but not as much as other bands breaking at the time such as At the Drive-In or label mates Queens of the Stone Age.
Trail of Dead up the ante and veer towards classic and prog rock with a touch of more accessibility that led to mixed reviews, but the album’s open is earth shattering. It starts quietly with a few simple notes that repeat building with epic percussion, strings, choirs chanting the names of Egyptian gods Isis!/Horus!/Ra!/Seth!, and finally a blood curdling yell that silences to a woman pronouncing the band name, “…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead.”
Immediately breaking into the 5/4 hook of the ode to Brian Wilson, “Will You Smile Again?”, a reference to Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys unreleased masterpiece the song touches upon writer’s block with band co-founder Conrad Keely asking, Remember all the bad dreams/Are not far from reality/Would you write again for me?. Clocking in at just under 7 minutes it is epic in length and in structure shifting to a 4/4 stomp before building back up again into the outro.
#2 Another Morning Stoner
“Another Morning Stoner” was the first single from their critical masterpiece Source Tags & Codes, both the album and the song represent a shift forward in songwriting and maturation from the band. A theme of forgiveness permeates the record coming to a conclusion with the last song from which the album derives it’s title.
Strings, drums, and alternate guitar tunings collide to an extraordinary musical landscape that is trippy, poppy and beautiful. It’s The Beatles meets Sonic Youth done right.
A classic riff anyone would be proud to have written.
#1 Richter Scale Madness
Richter Scale Madness is the first song on …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead’s self-titled debut album. Riots, bleeding, sex, yelling, rock and roll, and chaos fill the lyrics and music from a simple catching riff that builds and climaxes but Trail of Dead do it so much better than any other punk band. These aren’t just brutish idiots, punks, or metal heads looking for chaos: it’s a celebration of being alive.
Here is a classic video from the year 2000 in the original lineup as they destroy on a dance club show. Watch them completely destroy their equipment on the show to a stunned audience. Don’t you miss these unholy pairings we used to have on TV?