Monday, November 22, 2010
[pitchfork.com] Over the past few years, the words "lo-fi" and "noise" have been frequently and inaccurately associated with each other. Although there were dollops of feedback to be found in 2008's "Lo-Fi Boom" (Vivian Girls, Times New Viking, Eat Skull), these days the term more often defines the recent (and, seemingly, never-ending) crop of Brooklyn and New Jersey-based bands whose fey, slackened guitar rock sounds distanced from where the listener is at that very moment. This has a good deal to do with the bands' basement recording techniques, as well as the liberal use of reverb and echo whenever possible. The music's prepared to sound dusty and sepia-toned, even if it's fresh off the mastering boards, and it's an approach that's losing its charm fast.
Weekend, then, are arriving at just the right time. Although no one's going to mistake the San Francisco noise-pop trio's Slumberland debut, Sports, for an album produced at Abbey Road, the record is everything that a lot of modern indie rock is frequently failing to be in 2010: loud, immediate, and engaging, with a strong melodic sense of songwriting to tie it all together. That last facet could just as easily be applied to a number of bands in San Francisco, a location that's quickly threatening to eclipse Brooklyn in the ranks of regional talent. There are a few bands that certainly share similar sonic elements (the Fresh & Onlys, Ty Segall, Girls, and a good deal of the Castle Face garage-rock scene), but many of these bands otherwise possess their own distinctive brand of sound and songcraft.
Weekend's cited influences are relatively straightforward and unsurprising once you're familiar with their sound: Loveless, Unknown Pleasures, Disintegration, Psychocandy. Sometimes, those influences quite literally rear their head on Sports-- the Joy Division-recalling misery of "Landscape", the JAMC dirty-needle noise bursts of "Youth Haunts"-- but mostly, the band's innate compositional skills and excellent melodic ears are a testament to their love for the accessible "canon" albums like the ones mentioned within the genre the band's devoted to.
This is a Slumberland release, so there's a good deal of fuzz-pop here, too; however, moments that recall that still in-vogue sound aren't presented as-is-- rather, they're recontextualized to fit Weekend's dense, screeching sonic swirl. In case you haven't gotten it yet, Sports is loud as all hell, as even the sweetest melodies (the doe-eyed blare of "End Times", especially) are surrounded with a maelstrom of negative sonic waves, which can be attributed to the band's focus on the lower end of things.
Despite its dark, static-charged sound, Sports carries a sense of longing and sad-eyed struggle as well. This is expressed through Shaun Durkan's droning flail of a voice, which remains unintelligible for a good deal of the record but revs up with clarity at key phrases: "I'll run away," "I woke from a coma summer," "Something deep inside of me turned off." Underneath it all, the melodies sound wistful, and at times, nostalgic. The latter word's earned a negative connotation over the past 18 months or so, as much of indie's fixations have turned to unearned remembrances of past times, like old photographs picked up at a garage sale. Think of Sports, then, as a freshly taken Polaroid with a lit cigarette stuck straight in the middle of it-- a burning hole bridging the distance between then and right now.
— Larry Fitzmaurice, November 11, 2010
DOWNLOAD: "Coma Summer" FOR FREE HERE!
Posted by Dan Goldin at 1:23 AM