Too Late to Stop Now

Day of the Dead


Too Late to Stop Now

Dropped amidst its subject's 50th anniversary, May's 5-CD Day of the Dead yields 59 contemporary takes on classic Grateful Dead. Curated and produced by the National's Aaron and Bryce Dessner, the set benefits the Red Hot organization for AIDS (revisit 1993 alt masterpiece No Alternative). Senegalese fusion outfit Orchestra Baobab, jazz banjoist Béla Fleck, and electronic noise wiz Tim Hecker stir the indie rock dominant roster, the War on Drugs opener "Touch of Grey" merging esteem with novelty while maintaining the single's skeleton and annexing the Philadelphians' own Knopfler-esque quirks. Mumford & Sons, meanwhile, interlope on "Friend of the Devil," stripping it of levity or risk. The National's "Morning Dew" hypnotizes, Matt Berninger's baritone romancing the Bonnie Dobson-penned tune's post-apocalyptic narrative and the Dessners' ethereal guitars replacing the original's folk strum. Stephen Malkmus' Jicks have forever channeled the San Franciscan mystics through jam leanings, and here the Portlanders take creative liberty while evoking the celebrants' spontaneous essence. Real Estate honor "Here Comes Sunshine," funneling the Wake of the Flood tune through their dream jangle filter. Flaming Lips uphold the Dead's psychedelic soul via 1968's "Dark Star," the originators' improvisational springboard. Deadheads don't require this or any other tribute, but connecting with at least a couple of the set's five hours comes easily. Its modern cast, too, may well bridge a generational gap to rouse new converts.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Grateful Dead
Speaking of the Dead
Speaking of the Dead
An oral history of the Grateful Dead in Austin

Kevin Curtin, July 3, 2015

Read My Lips
No Simple Highway: A Cultural History of the Grateful Dead
A long strange trip contextualized

Kevin Curtin, May 29, 2015

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

More by Neph Basedow
Top 10 National Albums of 2016
Top 10 National Albums of 2016
Our favorite picks from across the country

Dec. 30, 2016

Critics Poll
Critics Poll

Dec. 30, 2016


Grateful Dead

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle