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Drab Majesty – Modern Mirror

Ambitious and modern, featuring hints of some classic ’80s pop

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Greek mythology and a heck load of reverb; welcome to Modern Mirror by Drab Majesty. This album is ambitious and modern while featuring hints of some classic ’80s pop. I enjoyed this album for its ability to allow you to connect to the music, but at the same time, give you the freedom to completely ignore the meaning of the songs and just dance along.

With the repetition of echoing, whispery lyrics “A Dialogue” creates a build up without it reaching a peak, but when it hits the 3-minute mark the bass drum kicks in and you know the rest of the album will impress. Drab Majesty have perfectly adapted classic electro-pop together with contemporary technology. Through their tracks like “The Other Side”, “Ellipsis”, and “Dolls In The Dark”, I could daggy dance my way through the day.

The first single “Ellipsis” romantically plays up the distorted concept of courting through modern technology in a world that has yet to adapt; a theme the band set out to do; “each song on the record tells a piece of the story in which the listener’s own self-identity has become warped and dissociated through rapidly expanding technology, losing touch with the origins of their own personalities.” The theories and thoughts behind the music are so impressive. Lyrics like “two modern minds won’t say what they want to” is one of the reasons why you can connect and associate yourself to this album. It compels you to think about your position in the modern world.

“Noise Of The Void” plays are eerie, mysterious role to the album. There’s a dark voice behind this song, accompanied with deeper riffs and heavier composition, as opposed to “Oxytocin” which is a higher pitched song with a catchy chorus and a breezy feel throughout. “Out Of Sequence” is the final song of the album and it is eight minutes of marvelous. With a deceptive intro, it transforms into a theatrical reflection of the album’s sound.  

The music in Modern Mirror flows effortlessly from verse to chorus and back. You can tell that this has been a well thought out piece of art and has been planned and worked on immensely (having traveled to Greece to acquire the basis of the album). Lyrics, music, and voice accompany each other to create modern-day theories through song. You can’t decide if the music or the voice is the main attraction, but both hold equal importance and equal effectiveness.

(Dais Records)

Reviews

Tennis System – Lovesick

This is furious noise

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Tennis System Lovesick

It is impossible to read music that taps into the shoegaze lineage without finding mention of My Bloody Valentine or The Jesus and Mary Chain. While the aforementioned bands are certainly the epicentre of the genre, bands like Los Angeles’ Tennis System aren’t all too interested in being just another page in the Kevin Shields songbook. Unlike the genre’s progenitors, Tennis System only graze the often plodding, overly moribund nature of shoegaze, and instead find more inspiration from uptempo punk urgency. Lovesick, their third album, is a culmination of what the band call their “putting it all on the line” mentality, wrapped in fuzzed-out, loud guitars, breezy percussion work and that ‘let’s go’ punk attitude.

Songs like “Alone” and “Esoteric” come cut from the same mold that crafted early emo band Cap N’ Jazz; manic, loud, frenzied, while opener “Shelf Life” digs deep into the fuzzy, distorted heaven of Jawbox meets Burning Airlines. The song itself feverish sudden changes, one that mimics what vocalist/guitarist Matty Taylor told Flood Magazine about the song’s “journey of realization, denial, and finally acting upon things”. It’s true then that songs on Lovesick owe more to J. Robbins than Kevin Shields, but it is not to say the album is not without its more shoegaze moments. It’s the moodier soundscapes of “Cologne” and almost whispering “Fall” that paint from that brush.

The album’s strongest outing is the terrific “Turn”. It is a song that is a well constructed effort combining early emo and elements of shoegaze with the furious noise of guitar powered alternative/punk, packing together all the best qualities of the band in alluring freneticism.

As the title track closes proceedings, the listener is left with a sense of aural delight that came with albums like Loveless, or Trail of Dead’s brilliant Source Tags & Codes. It doesn’t mean to say Lovesick is a trailblazing record, but what it does mean is that the album’s tightly wound energy and furiousness explodes in euphoric delight- even if it is temporary. In the song “Lovesick”, Taylor sings, “please don’t let me burn out”… and perhaps, with this much aural euphoria, it is inevitable. But as the saying goes, “it’s better to burn out…”

(Graveface Records)

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Pom Pom Squad – Ow EP

The latest EP by this Brooklyn four-piece is beautiful vulnerability

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Pom Pom Squad

Brooklyn “quiet grrl” band Pom Pom Squad may have a cute moniker and description of their sound, but like their riot grrl brethren that it comes from, it’s anything but tame. Pom Pom Squad is a four-piece led by vocalist and songwriter Mia Berrin, who on their second EP, have taken the twinkly sounds of Rilo Kiley and Mitski and injected it with the grungy, manic energy of Hole and Bif Naked and the distorted, punk urgency of Bratmobile.

Ow stands out from the opening “Ow (Intro)”, a song of delicate heartbreak that is both pensive and biting. It’s mostly just Berrin and her guitar, sparkling in a glow of Midwestern emo-esque strings and her voice. The song is beautifully wistful when it sings “he says he wants what’s best for me” and biting when it comes back and says “they all say they want what’s best for me / but they never try to be the best for me”. It’s from this you hear the strength of the EP; that when it gets a little brooding, melancholy, pained, it’s also gorgeous, vulnerable and definitely unafraid to show the listener honesty and character.

In songs like “Heavy Heavy” and “Honeysuckle”, Pom Pom Squad get a little dirtier, a little grungier, amping up the distortion and sludgier percussion work. The hazy bellowing of “Heavy Heavy” adds to the angry introspection of the song; its lines of “It’s getting heavy heavy / Telling everybody that I’m fine / I’m feeling heavy heavy does it mean / I wanna fucking die?” painted by lusciously loud guitar work that would make Steve Albini smile. “Honeysuckle” takes on a similar pained look inside the mind but with a more fuzzed-out, alternative-rock veneer. Berrin’s lyrics come across as vividly as she sings “If I’m nothing without you am I anything at all?” It’s songs like these, with words like these, that hint of comparisons between Pom Pom Squad’s captivating allure with that of Courtney Love and Babes in Toyland during their heydey.

“Cherry Blossom” taps into that beautiful sorrow again, plugging into the aura that is painted when it is just Berrin and her guitar again. It’s almost hypnotic at times, and just as quickly as the tension and the magnetism builds, it ends. The anger of the album works because unlike angst, it’s calculated and targeted, leaving Ow as much of a substantial outing as it is growth from their 2018 EP Hate It Here. The only real downside to Ow are some moments like on the closing notes of “Cut My Hair”- a song that builds up to its crescendo with more dazzling vulnerability but ends a little quicker than it ought to. In truth, that’s the only real con of the EP, that when the orchestral fade-out of “Owtro” howls away, you’re left searching for more, with only repeated listens as your respite. But in the end, what could be better for an artist you’ve recently discovered than to get under your skin and leave you wanting more?

(self-released)

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