Dead Shed Jokers’ second album was dropped in front of my nose a number of years ago, and immediately I recognised them as an intriguing band that I had to find out more about. Several dozens, if not hundreds, of album reviews later in the intervening years and they’re back with their third album. All the Seasons has one objective in its mind and whilst it’s one so many bands fail at, Dead Shed Jokers manage with ease: let’s up our game from the last album.
Sure, there may have been a lengthy wait between albums but it’s been worth it. As Wales has thrown out so many great names of rock music in recent years, this is an album intent to get them added to the list. It’s not quite as traditional in its stylings as those other bands but it rocks just as hard in every moment. It’s still full of those scuzzy guitars but everything is far more refined and tighter. The bluesy riffs of “Phantom Pains” intertwine with the funky swagger of “Feel Some More” and both make a great aperitif for the sombre twangs of “Dreams of North Korea”. And if those first three songs haven’t drawn you in for the remainder of the album, then frankly, it’s your loss.
This is an album full of contrasts and it’s the rare occasion where this works and serves the album and the band so well. Where it was recorded live in such a short space of time, it feels like the band were capturing lightning in a bottle and rattling out whatever came to them. Yet similarly, everything feels methodically structured and the precise nature of the sounds has been calculated down to the millisecond. There are teeth-baring, snarling hard rock numbers mixing with more ethereal, sedate psychedelic moments and overall, it feels like God Damn’s first album if it went down a more classic rock route. Indeed, it’s the juxtaposition of the full-bodied rocker of “Feel Today” and the swirling “764” which shows the band at their best. On paper, it sounds jarring but when you hear it, it’s genius. Two sounds at polar ends of the rock spectrum and it shows the albums contrast in full effect – deliberate experimentalism.
Sonically, this is an album you can have on in the background as you go about menial tasks and simultaneously one you want to sit down and listen to whilst doing nothing and allow yourself to be absorbed in the music. But strangely, all of this works and “Enough is as Good as a Feast” closing out the album serves to highlight this. It’s the entire album condensed into one seven-minute track, much like The Virginmarys’ “Ends Don’t Mend” on King of Conflict. And just like that, it doesn’t feel like seven minutes, nor could anything be removed to trim some time off it.
Some bands you forget you’re a fan of but when they release their latest album, you’re reminded of them and when you hear it, you’re reminded of how great they are. I’m guilty of this with a number of bands and Dead Shed Jokers are part of that list. All the Seasons reminds me of why I enjoyed their last album so much and with every listen, another layer is peeled back and you hear something new buried within the music. However, they’ve pushed their boundaries further than I could have imagined when I delved into the album. This could be one of the best albums I’ve heard this year and I’m happy enough to go out on the limb that Dead Shed Jokers could be Wales’ best kept secret.
All the Seasons is out now