If you’re old enough to remember the old GI Joe comic books from the 1980s and recall when Cobra took the DNA of a wide array of world leaders from history and created an offspring human that possessed all of those peoples’ traits, then the following analogy will make sense. If we somehow combined the vocal talent and delivery of Robert Plant, Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, Chris Robinson, and Kurt Cobain we get something close to Dead Sara’s front-woman Emily Armstrong. Dead Sara’s lyrics are earnest, impassioned, and violently heightened to a level that everyone listening can feel the emotion of each song deep in their own gut like suddenly being afflicted with tears of joy.
Hailing from Los Angeles, CA, Dead Sara is a 4-piece rock band consisting of Emily Armstrong (lead vocal and guitar), Sean Friday (drums and backing vocals), Siouxsie Medley (lead guitar and backing vocals), and Chris Null (bass and backing vocals). Listening to their work, 2008’s The Airport Sessions, 2012’s Dead Sara, and 2015’s Pleasure To Meet You, one can hear a little blues, a little punk, a little 90s alternative, and a little Sunset Strip. Every song has a different mood, a different feel, and sets itself apart from the previous track. Unlike a lot of rock and alternative music today, which is produced to sound like it is echoing through a trash can or drainage tunnel, Dead Sara’s sound is loud, melodic, harmony-filled, and in your face. Each listener may hear something completely different, but to me Pleasure To Meet You made me feel they way I felt the first time I heard Shake Your Money Maker by The Black Crowes.
Dead Sara began to gain mainstream traction in 2012 with the release of the single “Weatherman” from their self-titled full length debut LP. Extensive touring eventually led to a solid fan base consisting of a wide demographic. Dead Sara is a place where fans of middle of the road female-fronted rock band Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and alt-metal female-fronted Halestorm can meet somewhere in the middle. And that’s a good thing. It’s not too much or too little. It’s just right. This must have been what Goldilocks felt like.
Their recent release, Pleasure To Meet You, has been led by the compelling, efficacious, and downright fun single entitled “Something Good.” It contains one of those riffs that as a guitarist makes a light bulb appear overhead and leads to the feeling ‘I can’t wait to take this to our next rehearsal.’ The scratchy lead vocal backed by loose harmonies from the entire band give this song (and band) a distinct identity. One can hear influences in the song, but their delivery gives the band’s sound its own birth. Years from now, someone will be writing how they hear the influence of Dead Sara in another band’s music. Great art is passed down from generation to generation like the watch in Pulp Fiction.
The lead single from Pleasure To Meet You was “Mona Lisa.” It’s got the heavy fuzz and distortion that one would expect to hear from someone such as Soundgarden. What makes it stand out is that is just simply sounds like L.A. When you hear a song like “Sweet Jane,” you feel New York City. When you hear a song like “Pride and Joy,” you feel Austin. “Mona Lisa” makes you feel Los Angeles.
Dead Sara’s creativity, stage presence, and passion are all things that will lead to their continued and expanded success as not only a breakout artist of 2015 but for years to come if they can stick with the appetite and energy that has gotten them this far. It takes a lot of confidence and fearlessness to not only release two outstanding records in a row, but it also says a lot to plug in and flawlessly cover classics such as Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box” and Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” with no reservation whatsoever. This band has a bright future. Anyone that’s a fan of rock music should be watching them closely.
Dead Sara’s catalog is available digitally as well as in physical formats at your local record store.