All Conrad Keely wants to do is scare you — make you turn the lights on and pull up the covers.
“One of my greatest criticisms of rock music is that it has become a little safe,” said the Williamsburg-based frontman of the prog-rock band, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. “I love being frightened by a piece of music, the type of album where listening to it late at night, you have to put the TV on.”
For Keely, that may mean Vivaldi (“the violin concertos can be just eerie”), more obvious things like the soundtrack to the movie “The Omen,” and, if he’s succeeded, his own work.
The band’s seventh album, “Tao of the Dead,” out this Feb. 8 with a release party that day at Littlefield, pays homage to the classics Keely grew up with — Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” and Rush’s “Hemispheres” — concept albums that are meant to be listened to as continuous piece. Though one clear standout is the driving, urgent single “Summer of All Dead Falls,” which was colored during its recording in El Paso this summer by drug wars just over the border in Mexico, said Keely.
“We couldn’t escape the fact that people were dying a couple miles away from you on a daily basis,” said the artist. “On one side, things are really peaceful, like paradise. On there other, there was war. It was a strange dichotomy to be creating in.”
If Keely’s music fails to send shivers up your spine, maybe his art will. When we spoke last week, the avid painter was in the middle of adding blood to a piece depicting the decapitation of Medusa.
“I looked at all different depictions of this particular instance throughout art, but none of them showed the moment of the actual cutting off of the head,” said Keely, who looks to debut the piece at the Littlefield show. “I’m very curious to get people’s reactions. It’s going to be kind of polarizing.”
…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead at Littlefield [622 Degraw St. between Third and Fourth avenues in Gowanus, (718) 855-3388], Feb. 8 at 8:30 pm. Tickets $12. For info, visit www.trailofdead.com.