Deadhand draws new cards

An insanely forceful underground Vegas band is poised to break through in a big way. But first they had to kill themselves off in order to be born anew.

Last month, Lydia Vance officially wiped clean its five-year slate and changed its name to the darker Deadhand. The explanation is simple: Lydia Vance was for years a quartet, but after the exit of a rhythm guitarist and the writing and recording of a new album as a trio, singer/lead guitarist Brendan Scholz, bassist Jarred Cooper and drummer Aaron Weislogel felt a fresh moniker was warranted.

Personally, I don’t think it matters what you call them as long as you file Deadhand in the appropriate category—kickass punk ’n’ roll. Like the bastard child of Elvis Costello (circa Armed Forces) and Randy Rhoades (Ozzy’s late guitarist, RIP), Scholz writes hook-laden, heavier-than-Thor’s-hammer songs that scream out for radio play (if radio still counted) and for a fan base of millions of ovulating young women. From the swinging, blues-punk bravado of “Prehistoric,” to the scorching, no-quarter-given “Only So Many Sheep,” Scholz—supported by Cooper and Weislogel’s go-for-the-throat assault—will leave marks on your eardrums. In a good way.

Deadhand is self-releasing its self-titled full-length on June 11 at Divebar (3035 E. Tropicana Ave. Suite E, 435-7526) with the aim of bringing the band’s 9-track album to the attention of major (and larger “indie”) labels. Recorded in two weeks at Hurley Studios (where Weezer recorded 2010’s Hurley) in Costa Mesa, Calif., the record possesses mass-acceptance polish and critics’-fave grit.

Despite desire for acceptance, Scholz is attracted to edgier subjects. His lyrics aren’t boy-meets-girl; they address conformity, sorrow, rage and grief with maturity beyond his 25 years. You can spot him wearing a Replacements (the ultimate underdog alt-rock band) T-shirt at Cowtown Guitars, where he hawks vintage instruments and amplifiers for a living—until his band’s booking agent arranges a tour. But does Scholz see Deadhand as a little band that could triumph?

“It’s really easy for me to write what people want to hear—pop music,” he admits. “Sometimes I deny my gift. Now I’m trying to see what comes out.”

Some doubters may suggest Deadhand isn’t punk enough for the punk crowd and not rock enough for the rock people. But there’s definitely an audience for these guys. Like the best bands, Deadhand’s appeal cuts across generations—boomers with taste in music and income to buy CDs, and kids craving authenticity.

“We didn’t want anything on the CD that we couldn’t pull off onstage,” Scholz insists. “We’re a live band, so that’s what we tried to capture. I used my own gear; there were no studio tricks.”

If you can’t make the June 11 release party (10 p.m., no cover so buy a CD; Pigasus and Nothing With Numbers open), look for Deadhand’s “Prehistoric” on the upcoming U.S. Open of Surfing compilation.

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