Thursday 10 December 2015

Strange Faces - Stonerism

Article by KevW

David Miller was once a member of lo-fi types Twin Peaks and started Strange Faces as a solo project in 2013. The Chicago band has now expanded to a quartet and recorded debut album 'Stonerism' which was produced by Cadien James (one of Miller's former band mates in Twin Peaks). Rather than being anything to do with smoking pot (something which Miller says he no longer does), the title is actually a play on words with Tame Impala's album 'Lonerism. The idea of making lo-fi indie/garage rock with '60s melodies and a healthy dose of surf isn't exactly breaking the mould for recent guitar music, although it has to be said that Strange Faces do it better than most.

Trippy elements can be found too, and the reverb-heavy, scuzzed-up opener uses distant, echoing vocals to repeat the line "I saw the sun rise and it was the colour of your eyes", and despite listening to this digitally, it actually manages to sound as though its being played on a nicely worn piece of vinyl. Short, sharp and to the point, it's an excllent messy opening statement. Heavier melody is brought in for 'Don't Feel Bad' which has something of The Raveonettes about it, although it's a touch more sand-blasted than their nocturnal tales of seedy parts of town. This is very much the blueprint for 'Stonerism': trebly guitars that twang and fuzz, ragged and exhilarating drumming that propels everything forward and affected vocals. Most of the bands to have come out in the past few years with either "beach", "surf" and variants thereof in their names are good comparisons, despite not all being this consistent.

'Been Waitin'' hits you with a continuous stream of tinny electronic noise that's quite delightful, and you can really hear the '60s influence on the pretty 'Serenade', but it also shares a lot in common with the New York punk scene a decade later that drew on many of the same influences. It's surprising how a song like 'Still Lit' can use melodies that sound directly borrowed from The Ramones but give the overall song a more sunkissed aura. Gritty and sparkling in equal measure, 'Such A Drag' is a shoegazey highlight that takes in a little '90s alt-rock and shows that these guys can really mix it up to prevent the album being one-dimensional. It's followed by another standout in the form of the rampant 'Skippin' Town', and if you can mix The Beach Boys with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club then you're on to a winner, and that's what happens on 'Nothin' To Prove'. Strange Faces end with slowie 'Long Time' which uses classic a classic doo-wop chord structure and brings the curtain down on a wonderful burst of sunlight that's perfectly timed for these dark winter days.

Strange Faces' website

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