Dead Rider are up and rolling again, and Crew Licks is the latest job. After the thousand days and nights since Chills on Glass, Dead Rider had to overcome the creeping suggestion that they multitask themselves to sleep – or to premature brain death – whichever came first. Now they’re ready to get into their Rolling Stones suit and thank you for letting them be themselves again; to extrude rude grooves, shattered r’n’b and/or hip hop and mother’s blues in a priapic triad, tripped-out and overlaid, shedding the old fresh in search of new flesh; a gateway they’ve been dreaming of building in their minds. If you’re lacking for rhythm and imagination in your everyday nine-to-five, Dead Rider got the time for you.
With Crew Licks, Dead Rider offer an anti-hero for today. He’s the everyman, the workingman (the man that they in fact are), in a tailor-made creature – a monster, if you will – made up of many, to funk and bump through the bepuzzled night. To render the thing, they’ve grasped onto tools pulled from the rubble of rock and roll. Yeah. Rock and roll is basically a used-up coloring book. Some nice colors and shapes in there, and for anyone who worked one of them at a primary level, it’s a useful blueprint to recall. But when you’re trying to carve out the beams of something for NOW, you’re better off with new combinations.
Call Dead Rider. The beat is lode-bearing, brick-house solid (courtesy of batterie-man Matt Espy), but flexible, breathing. In through the cracks come stuttered words and whispers, the pealing of a steel drum, a squalling sax or two, barks from the outside. Crew foreman Todd Rittmann twines them with a cabling of acid-base guitar licks, cutting down into the roots for fingerings to invert and extend. The basslines roll and crush, bounce and squish as required (thank you, White Christmas!), bringing synth and synthesis into and away from the framework. Wafting through the room is the float and gloss of eternal rhythm and blues, whether it’s the swelling of soulful choirs, organ chords or the deft tailing of guitar lines designed to relax us in the shades of a dusty, aphrodisiac evening. All done up with wack that Thundercat would get on the one, that would drive D’Angelo or Kendrick back to the notebooks for all the right words.
Crew Licks is audio-verite pop music; not created but lived, with parts of life on the run reused to facilitate other parts. A chimera, reflecting man in pieces; not whole or fully animate. But beautiful…and useful too. Just remember, kids – whether you take five or take a powder, artistic achievement and fun aren’t mutually exclusive. And even if you didn’t invent the wheel – good for you for putting on the spinner rims.