Tonight, a double-shot review of two similar-yet-quite-different examples of shoegazer rock. Before I begin, Iâ€™d like to share the following formulae:
Star =Sonic Youth+Sinead Oâ€™Connor-Bono.
Silversun Pickups= Belly + Smashing Pumpkins+Public Image, Ltd.
Iâ€™m going to start with Star, because itâ€™s the cleaner of the two.
The band takes what-youâ€™d-expect-from-shoegazer-vocals and lays them over â€˜90s style alternative rock, heavy on the guitar. Sometimes they really hit the mark, such as the fuzz-laden, â€œLiars in Love,â€ where Shannon Roberts’ Mazzy vocals rise above a whirling vortex of guitar noise, and on â€œBad Attention,â€ which utilizes a similar sound. Their style doesnâ€™t seem to work as well for me on the slower numbers, like, â€œRebels Get Lonely,â€ but there arenâ€™t too many slow points on the record. Overall, Star can get a little redundant on repeat listens, although midtempo tunes like, â€œExploding Orderâ€ (which adds a backwards synth loop to the mix) are clear (and welcome) attempts to add variety to the album, and show the bandâ€™s potential for growth.
Which brings us to The Silversun Pickups, who do what Iâ€™d call shoegazer punk. And if that sounds like an oxymoron, it is. Lazy Eye is (deservedly) getting a lot of hype these days, and SP apparently put on quite a show at SXSW, but the band is about more than grungy shoegaze. For example, â€œMelatonin,â€ the first track on â€œCanvas,â€ is a straightforward, unsurprising (albeit catchy) introduction to the record. But after bringing you in with a genre standard, the band proceeds to run the format right off the edge of a
cliff. Iâ€™m going to post, â€œWaste It On,â€ far-and-away my favorite track on the album, as an example of why you should be listening to this band. The vocals have Sinead Oâ€™Connorâ€™s style (minus the powerful belts that only she can give), but they consciously hit well off the beat. This is a big risk, because it could easily descend into off-key clatter, but the sound is so precise, so organized, and so purposeful that instead it emphasizes the singerâ€™s disdain for social conformity. By the end of the song, the musicians have joined in her contempt. Thereâ€™s a clear break, where the guitar does a countdown into the madness-spiral that ends the tune. Donâ€™t get me wrong: I like Lazy Eye. But I love this song.
And last, but not least:
AFGHAN WHIGS RARITIES!
band of gold
be for real
can’t get enough of your love babe
come see about me
dark end of the street
dixie peach promenade
i want to go to sleep
if i only had a heart
lost in the supermarket
my curse (peel session)
my world is empty without you
papa was a rascal
rebirth of the cool
somethin hot (remix)
true love travels on a gravel road
what jail is like (morning version)
will you still love me tomorrow