This Friday night, those of us in the US are probably election fatigued. Let’s spend some time with a duo from the other side of the world. Egoism hail from Sydney, Australia and stand firmly in a global line of brilliant dream pop. They just dropped the On Our Minds EP today, which they affectionately refer to as their shoegaze release. Most of the tracks have more of an indie pop sound, though, with subtle hints of gauzy textures. However, my favorite track, ‘Never Leave,’ has a little of Depreciation Guild in the last minute, sounding a bit like shoegaze flirting with chiptune.
In the video for the first track off the EP, ‘Here’s The Thing,’ you get a good sense for the sound and aesthetic of Egoism. As I go through middle age, I’m sure at some point, I’ll get tired of people just out of their teenage years crooning about love and relationships. Sometimes I secretly hope that never happens, though.
One of the casualties of the COVID-19 crisis this year was a Tennis show in May that was to be held at the Haw River Ballroom. Tennis, like many other bands, had to cancel their tour across the US. I’m assured by the ticket vendor that the show will still happen, in 2021, albeit at the spartan Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill, instead of the lush ballroom in Saxapahaw. We will have to see if that comes to fruition.
🎵 Softer Still – Turtle Bay: This song and video aren’t new. I first heard the track while on a beach trip in 2018, when it showed up on my Apple New Music playlist. Maybe it was the sand between my toes, but it seemed just the right time to be listening to a song about escaping to an island paradise. However, the vinyl record was just released for the accompanying album, Nuances, so this seemed like a perfect video with which to close out this summer.
🎵Bat for Lashes – Daniel: With the current popularity of the Cobra Kai series, it seems like an appropriate time to revisit Natasha Khan’s 2009 emotional tribute to the Karate Kid himself, Daniel LaRusso. I’m posting the live version from The Late Show here because I find the official video to be kind of creepy. Also, although Khan has reworked the arrangements for this song a few times, most of the live versions, including this one, feature the Seventeen Seconds guitar sounds much more prominently in the mix.
🎵 Soccer Mommy – Who’s Going to Drive You Home?: Until now, I’ve been largely immune to the hype surrounding Soccer Mommy. Then I heard this cover of the Cars off of the new *Soccer Mommy and Friends* singles series.
When Wilco’s incredibly critically acclaimed album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came out, I remember reading a review of it on Amazon. To paraphrase the review, it said this is an amazing album, but you have to get it on compact disc. It assured the aspiring listener that on the CD, you could hear things that you wouldn’t hear on the MP3’s. Not long after that, I went to my friend’s record store, CD Alley, in Chapel Hill. “Your really have to get Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on vinyl,” he told me, “you can hear things on the record that you can’t hear on the CD.” I laughed, thinking about the online review.
I guess that explains the hierarchy of sound quality (or at least, what many believe the sound quality hierarchy to be). MP3 < CD < Vinyl.
I don’t consider myself a vinyl snob. I buy about half a dozen records a year from artists that I really like. Most of the time, I enjoy listening to music streaming from my iPhone to my Beats Pill or coming from my Amazon Echo as much as playing something on my trusty U-Turn turntable. Sometimes, though, you run across a record that actually does allow you to hear things you couldn’t on the digital version. One album, that has grown on me quite a bit over the years, Washed Out’s Paracosm, is such a record. For the recording, Ernest Green stepped outside his usual process and added a lot of live instruments and organic sounds.
Paracosm possesses more texture, which can be partially attributed to the presence of a live rhythm section. “Entrance” begins with chirping birds, and elsewhere there’s snippets of laughter, harps, house parties, bongos, and slight swings of human imperfection in the rhythm section. “It All Feels Right” bumps with light reggae upticks before momentarily collapsing into a sunstroke, while “Great Escape” leans off the beat just enough to generate a little bit of Southern soul.
All of this really shines on the vinyl record. The aforementioned birds especially, in the beginning track, the appropriately titled “Entrance,” sound like they could be right outside your window. This is a warm weather record, and all the subtleties of summer embed themselves deeply in its grooves. Over top of that foundation, both the ebullience and contrasting mellow that together form the paradox of this time of year,1 establish themselves firmly in the sequencing of the tracks. Everything feels unhurried. Layers and textures envelop the listener in their sound. Even the flowers on the cover of the record are textured in a way that rewards the tactile.
I realize I’m writing about an old album from an artist that just released a new record. Honestly, though, I find reviews of classic record to sometimes be more helpful than reviews of albums that have just dropped. I want to know how the record holds up. What ages well and grows on you? What sounds dated as musical trends shift? How has the recording rewarded you over time?
At least during a normal year, which 2020 is most certainly not. ↩︎
🎵 The passing of Richard Swift was a tragedy and the musical legacy he left behind, not just through his own compositions, but through the production of the music of others, is an important one. I once wrote that Damian Jurado’s bright and beautiful “A.M. AM” (you might recognize the song if you watched *Wild Wild Country* on Netflix) had more of Swift in it than it did Jurado.
One band that recorded with Swift was Pure Bathing Culture. As a remembrance of his work, they have just released a new EP, *Carrido*, that was created in Swift’s studio, National Freedom. In addition to recording the EP there, they also covered my favorite Swift song, “Would You?” from his *Ground Trouble Jaw* EP. It’s an exquisite version, with all of the shimmering softness we’ve come to expect from Pure Bathing Culture. Take a listen below.