the deadly snakes: I ATE THE DOCTOR'S LETTERS
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


The Deadly Snakes - "I Can't Sleep At Night". I first heard the Snakes at a "rearing, frenzied, soulful" show as part of last year's bluesfest. And here they are on record with that same bat-wild energy - the stomping rhythm&blues riffs, the thudding drums, the rooting sax. Max ("Age Of") Danger is one of the band's two vocalists, here presenting a fantastically cracked croon, a persuasive-but-crazed shout. As one of their labels puts it, "Maybe they're the mongrel sons of 1960s Stax soul, Them era Van Morrison, The Wild Magnolia Mardi Gras Indian Band, and The Band backing Bob Dylan. But that?s just what I think. Ask the boys, and they probably think they?re the Stones." This song is red-eyed and raw, fuelled by an insomniac's madness. There's an exhilerating delirium in the chorus, as the band yells back and forth to each other: "Hey!"/"Hey!"/"Hey!!". Everyone spins and tumbles into an unconscious heap.

The Deadly Snakes - "Oh My Bride". Also from Ode to Joy, "Oh My Bride" is punched through with handclaps and even more group hollering. This time it's Andre Ethier on lead vox, crying out a moonshine-soaked blues. He's kicking himself in the pants, rolling his eyes, feverishly grabbing at pills. There's a gospel fervour, shaking arms, and an electric guitar's vigorous, commanding yell (BOOM BOOM BOOM go the drums). If the White Stripes recruited a gang of ne'er do wells, turned in guitar hooks for gnashing, ebullient raving.

Andre Ethier - "She Will Never Be Your Girl". A short clip from Ethier's solo album, released this year on Sonic Unyon. The record (which is burdened with a stupidly lengthy title), wanders away from the Deadly Snakes' garage soul and towards Dylan, Waits, and other drunk-but-clomping singers. "She Will Never Be Your Girl" is a bittersweeter number, Ethier's plain voice above a flimsy ukelele strum, piano notes like drops from a tap in an empty kitchen. The lyrics are fast coming, with fine rhymes and an accelerating, resigned sadness. "And even Jesus Christ himself / would be loosening his belt / and even Stalin in his tomb / would rise inside her womb. / But she's never been a girl." It's enough to break a drunkard's heart. (I mean it.)

Did I mention that they're from the deep South Toronto?

Posted by Sean at May 7, 2004 1:46 AM

What's going on with the "strikethrough" everywhere? End tag needed?

Posted by turbulent priest at May 7, 2004 7:41 AM

The Deadly Snakes are indeed great, but Ode to Joy is their 3rd record, not the debut. Love Undone was first, followed up by one I can't remember because I don't have it. I do know it has Greg Cartwright (Oblivians, Compulsive Gamblers, Reigning Sound, etc.) on it as a member instead of just producing like he did with Love Undone.

Posted by chachi at May 7, 2004 8:13 AM

strike-through is creepy. have you been hacked?

Posted by scandal face at May 7, 2004 9:01 AM

it displays properly in mozilla firefox, but looks like IE didn't turn off your strikethrough tag. yay microsoft!

Posted by justin why at May 7, 2004 9:55 AM

Not only IE, but Opera 7.5 as well :(

Posted by Ronan at May 7, 2004 10:08 AM


is this like some new Ottawa thing??


Posted by bw at May 7, 2004 10:32 AM

the Snakes kill me, and the Ethier solo's even better. The Band comparison is really really apt on the Ethier solo record, and Chris Sandes' playing is just fantastic on it. Absolutely uncanny Dylan impression.

Posted by tim at May 7, 2004 10:52 AM

Yikes! That strikethrough should be fixed now. Forgot to properly close a tag, but it got closed all the same on Camino (which I use). Sorry for the confusion.

And thanks for that clarification, Chachi. I had no idea they had other records (I guess I shoulda). I'll have to hunt them out!

And yeah, Benjamen, strikethrough is like the national capital of HTML. :)

Posted by Sean at May 7, 2004 11:12 AM

That Andre Ethier track's fantastic.. It's like the finale of Devendra Banhart's Michigan State but fed through a lifetime's world-weary depression. What's the rest of the album like?

Posted by kieran at May 7, 2004 3:01 PM

Thank you for those riotous Deadly Snakes tracks. They're perfect background music to watch Donald Rumsfeld get raked over the coals to. He's being bombarded by questions right now live on CNN & it looks like Bush is going to be shopping for a new Defence Secretary pretty damn soon. All is well in the world. (Well, not in Iraq or all those despotic countries, but at least we're removing some Deadly Snakes from the U.S. Gov't.

Posted by Jeremy Brendan at May 7, 2004 4:16 PM

The Snakes second record is entitled "I'm Not Your Soldier Anymore" and well worth one's time and dollars. Each record is more fully realized than the last.
Saw them @ Siberia in NYC last nite......they tore it up, and Age of Danger is an absolute madman.....a writhing, contorted madman. Check 'em out when they hit your won't regret it.

Posted by quint at May 9, 2004 11:14 AM

Kieran, I wouldn't say I hear much Devendra in the album proper - he's really trying to follow the tradition of Dylan at his booziest, or Tom Waits at his kind of greyest. It's good, but not as incredible as I had hoped (to be honest).

Posted by Sean at May 10, 2004 1:13 AM

Just for a contrasting view, I agree with Sean about the sound (I say Basement Tapes, Chris Sandes agrees) but I think it's more incredible than I hoped and one of my favourites of the year.

Posted by tim at May 10, 2004 8:27 PM

There is another few Andre Ethier tracks available for free download off the Sonic Unyon press downloads site that I noticed last night. Click on the Andre Ethier logo at

Posted by Raven at May 11, 2004 9:34 AM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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