Thursday, 2 January 2014

Seventeen Years - Teased Hair

Album review by

It was probably about a decade ago that shoegaze finally began to shake-off its bad image, an image created purely by the press and the dull post-Britpop lad-rock bands. That first wave of guitar groups experimenting with distortion and effects pedals in the late '80s and early '90s are no longer sneered at. Indeed, forerunners and inventors of the genre such as Spacemen 3, The Jesus & Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine are celebrated as heroes, and rightly so. Since then, the genre and its associated branches have steadily snowballed to the point where we now have numerous specialist websites, labels and so on, who are dedicated to all things gaze, psych, kraut and dreamy. The last couple of years have seen some vintage records and some grand innovations. We've been banging on for ages about a possible sales breakthrough, and whether or not it happens, 2014 is unlikely to see a downturn in the popularity of such sounds.

Which brings us conveniently to one of the year's very first albums: 'Teased Hair' by Seventeen Years. The solo project of Kansas resident Tony Freijat, this record marks the prolific musician's first full-length venture under this guise. Freijat has previously been a member of several groups, including post-hardcore types Daytime Party, but there's little of that style on evidence here. 'KT's Last Song' doesn't take long to set out its stall. The lengthy, building intro uses layered guitar and softened drums to capture that classic atmosphere. The vocals also come multi-layered and entwined within the wall of music. The melodies are pushed deep inside the outer limits of the song, allowing the vibe to build. While this template is much the same as that used for the scuzzy 'Silence Laughs At The Sinner' and more, there are other influences here.

For example, the recent obsession with soft, lo-fi dreampop rears its head on 'Sanity', a track that also borrows a few jangly guitars from '80s indie bands; The Smiths are cited as an influence and you can detect that in the guitar intro to 'Polar Junkie', although this soon becomes swamped by the thick fog of noise. Also taking a snip of sound from that variety of bands is 'Kisser In Fours' which, despite this, is one of the most modern-sounding songs here and breaks free from that shoegaze sound just a little, however it still comes coated in fuzz. Recent single 'Ocean Slut' is again in line with the recent lo-fi craze, even down to its coastal-themed name (something which we find on another potential single, 'Crasher Of Waves: Intimacy'), but it is a highlight. Seventeen Years even finishes things of with the classic epic last track: 'Kaneda! Tetsuo!' is that same sound that was laid out for us right at the beginning of the album, only this time it results in the finest song on 'Teased Hair'. Gazers everywhere can get ready for another vintage year.

Seventeen Years' website

'Teased Hair' is due out this month on Half-Gifts

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