GAME THEORY – Dead Center

Album: Dead Center

Artist: Game Theory

Label: Omnivore Recordings

Release Date: November 25, 2014

Game Theory

omnivorerecordings.com

BY MICHAEL TOLAND

In order to consolidate the success of its debut record Blaze of Glory, California’s Game Theory issued a pair of EPs: Pointed Accounts of People You Know and Distortion, the latter cementing a long-time association with the Three O’Clock’s Michael Quercio. French label Lolita later compiled most of the disks, minus the tracks penned by bassist Fred Juhos, as Dead Center, reissued here with a gaggle of demos and concert cuts attached. Juhos’ songs remain M.I.A., alas. (The two EPs were reissued separately as limited edition 10″ers, available only at this year’s Record Store Day Black Friday event.)

While no striking developmental steps get taken here, leader Scott Miller sharpens his songsmithery, even as his lyrics get more abstract, and the band likewise tightens its grip on its power popping psychedelic new wave. Like a college rock top 40 machine, GT effortlessly sets ‘em up and knocks ‘em down: “Too Late For Tears,” “Shark Pretty” (with Earl Slick, of all people, on guest guitar), “Nine Lives to Rigel Five,” “Metal and Glass Exact,” “Penny, Things Won’t,” “Dead Center,” the synth-happy “Life in July.” A cover of the Box Tops’ immortal “The Letter” seems unnecessary, but it nods to Miller’s Alex Chilton fandom without going for the obvious Big Star references.

This edition adds another LP’s worth of tracks, both demos and live versions of album cuts and a passel of covers that pay tribute to Miller’s dedicated fandom. Thus we get not only runs through Badfinger’s “No Matter What” (performed by Miller solo) and Them’s “Gloria,” but also improvised takes on Roxy Music’s “Mother of Pearl” and R.E.M.’s “Radio Free Europe” and gorgeous Miller solos on Cat Stevens’ “Trouble” and Murray Head’s “Say It Ain’t So, Joe.”  Nicely enhanced, Omnivore.

DOWNLOAD: “Shark Pretty,” “Nine Lives to Rigel Five,” “Metal and Glass Exact”

 

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