The Death of Me – The Vanity EP

A Cameo by Patrick Boyle

I have never been fond of the generalized good advice that society casually tosses around. “Always make a good first impression” and “Never judge a book by its cover” never sank in with me, especially working around a constant barrage of new bands and new music. Most people walking into a record store will almost always judge an album by its cover, and if they adventure to wear the store’s provided headphones, a couple poor sounding tracks on an album can really shame the eye-catching cover art. So when Dom Lettera, the energetic frontman of The Death of Me, handed me an advance copy of The Vanity EP in a broken slim jewel case, I had to put societal advice aside and assume the cracks to be wars scars from an intense journey leading to my hands—making me all the more excited to listen. I was not then surprised that my initial enthusiasm to throw the EP on in my car (where I do all my important listening) turned into a week-long marathon.

Between engaging introductions and memorable choruses there are countless small pleasures to be found in each track. And while “Oh! The Mirror” is a solid first song, it only cuts across the surface of the whole EP. Digging deeper, any listener will be instantly hooked to the opening piano beat for “Famous Generals” and the sheer charm of the line “…this curse with be the death of me” in “Lock and Key.” As a whole, the EP plays like a live set with a distinct rise and fall tension that makes each listen an experience.

The band itself is composed of experienced and seasoned performers. Dom Lettera (vox), Matt Yeager (drums), Mike Carroll (guitar), and Will Lewis (bass) collectively draw their pasts from The Alternative Outfit, Those Mockingbirds, and notably The Escape Engine (Lettera and Carroll). With Lettera reprising his role as frontman, showing exponential growth from his days in The Escape Engine, he is definitely not holding back creatively with The Death of Me. The proof is in the pudding. There is no simple way to describe The Death of Me sonically. They list their own interests / influences as being At the Drive In, Built to Spill, Cursive, Fugazi, and Hot Water Music among many others. And I think that’s fair—the range of influences the band brings into their distinct sound makes them difficult to pin. Knowing that New Jersey bands are very internally influenced, and being that Lettera is nothing short of a veteran in the scene, I would personally place The Death of Me between Armor for Sleep’s alternative and Thursday’s post-hardcore styles; The rhythms and melodies are very tight and just barely edge on the dance-alt that Armor For Sleep sometimes embodies, with the grit and darker tones falling in parallel sentiment with Thursday’s War All the Time.

In all honestly, The Death of Me harkens back to a crunchy and elegant sound that the NJ scene popularized almost a decade ago (from which Thursday and Armor For Sleep were born), and if it was 2002, Epitaph Records may have just swooped in and carried The Death of Me off to fame, but I’ll let nostalgic digression end there. I personally feel that The Vanity EP will turn into a scene-cred worthy addition to any collection. Anyone who is passionate about a band has strong feelings about their first album (I can quickly recall Death Cab for Cutie’s Something About Airplanes and Motion City Soundtrack’s Back to the Beat) and once The Death of Me drops another album or two, I can see The Vanity EP falling in line with other awesome career-starting records. If I can offer some horrible generalized advice for listening to this album, I would say, “Leave no stone unturned.” The Vanity EP is truly a product of strong experience, and every track is worth at least a listen. As for me, I’ll soon dig into another week-long marathon.

Find, contact, and listen to the Death of Me at

    • Patrick Boyle
    • January 9th, 2011

    Hey! Cameo-ing was fun. Can’t wait to do it again. GO LISTEN TO THIS BAND!!!

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