O’Death are a five piece Americana inspired folk band, hailing from New York city. It’s rare to read anything about them without having it pointed out that New York is an unusual place for a band who plays their kind of music to come from. Some have even berated the band on the basis of inauthenticity, due to their location. However, people seem to overlook that folk music is, in essence, an inclusive genre. You don’t have to be from a rural area to write an authentic folk song. Hell, if Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie could write out of New York, I don’t really think it’s anyone’s place to say that O’Death can’t.
Outside is the band’s third full length release, and it marks a slight departure from their previously urgent and somewhat chaotic sound. The songs on this record seem more thought out and well crafted, which may be a result of, at least in part, of their drummer, David Rogers-Berry’s recent fight with (and subsequent recovery from) a type of bone cancer known as osteosarcoma. The band have admitted to taking a somewhat different approach to writing their new album, taking two months to record it (an age, by their standards) and making sure they didn’t play any of the album tracks live before finishing recording, so their song writing wouldn’t be influenced by their frenetic on stage shows.
Bugs is the album’s opener, and also the first single from Outside. It’s a finely crafted and intricately layered ode to living life, faced with the knowledge of death, a prevalent theme for this band. One of the album’s stand out tracks is Alamar, an unashamedly Nick Cave inspired murder ballad, with moaning backing vocals are self-aware and mocking, yet creepy nonetheless. The album is flanked on the far end with another dark and unsettling track, The Lake Departed, featuring long, drawn out and dissonant notes, punctuated by slow and perfectly subtle drumming.
This may be the album that bridges the gap between the band as bluesy, Americana madmen and indie-folk superstars, so check them out now before they disappear into the vestiges of fame and glory. Or something. Outside is out now on City Slang.