Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Brian Thorn at The Magic Shop in NYC during CMJ weekend 2011
Sometimes we ask bands to do a lot. We ask of them things that defy what their bodies are telling them are possibilities for the day. We ask them to make no concessions for what might lie ahead of them on the interstate, that they might be heading straight into the teeth of a blizzard or other such weather events that could send them into peril without a second thought. It's downright shocking the amount of perseverance and fortitude that many of these artists have when they're out there in their vans, struggling to get from one place to the next, put their best selves out there for the people to see and hear and then type in the next dot to find into the GPS. They mostly stay healthy, if they watch themselves carefully and they do what they can not to get at each other's throats when stuffed into those tight quarters for endless and mindless drives through the days and nights. Sometimes we ask very little of bands too. For instance, the same day that we taped a session with Los Angeles band Races, at The Magic Shop in NYC, during this past fall's CMJ marathon, we simply asked Danny Brown to bring himself and an iPod with his backing tracks. He forgot the iPod, but did remember his curiously sleepy self. We don't think it was his fault, but you see what we're saying here. We did ask a lot of Races though, who had to be up EARLY for this 9 am session, if for no other reason than to gets the frogs coughed out of their throats and to snag a coffee and a yogurt from a corner deli before they had to sing nicely.
It's no small feat, what the six-piece was able to pull off at an hour that is in no way conducive to singing nicely. The first take of the first song featured missed or misplaced lyrics and a general feeling of raggedness, as voiced by Breanna Wood, at the end of the recording that you won't hear. A few minutes later, almost miraculously, everything was in bloom and no one would ever know that this was happening when the griddles and the fry cooks were still heavily involved with sausages, omelets and the breakfast crowd.
Lead singer Wade Ryff, Garth Herberg, Devon Lee, Breanna Wood, Oliver Hild and Lucas Ventura make sounds that create the illusion of the Santa Ana winds, coming in from their fits of solitude, stirring back up to raise hell after a long time away, like clockwork. They've made a name for themselves, for the havoc they can render and yet, they provide for some the most welcome reprieve from the heat of the summer. For others, they spark destruction. Ryff sings of both the relief and the destruction, when it comes to love and its inconsiderate plots. He suggests that he sometimes tires of love and most often, it doesn't care what he's tired of. It's not going anywhere. It will remain what he focuses on, like it or leave it. With Lee and Wood acting as his incredible, soaring female foils on record and live, it makes for a dynamic landscape. It's a fight against the natural leanings of love's dementia. It brings out the best in most, when it doesn't leave them crumbled in a pile, on the floor.