tUMULt seems to have been unfairly pegged as a purely black metal label lately. Easy mistake to make really. For sure BM is a big part of the tUMULt universe. Weakling, Leviathan, Crebain, Draugar, Diamatregon... But at the risk of committing heresy in the eyes of the black hordes, there's more to musical life than black metal alone. And by that i mean specifically, POP MUSIC. Before there was black metal, heck before there was even metal for us, our musical world was defined by pop music. And that pop side never went away, a list of all time favorite bands would still be packed with groups like Sloan, Redd Kross, the Posies, the Swirlies and a little group from Canada called Eric's Trip.
Anyway, the black metal hordes are just gonna have to move to the back of the bus and let the pop kids sit up front, as we're in for a little flurry of genius pure pop, branded with the tUMULt logo, the debut full length (actually THREE full lengths crammed onto one cd!) from SF's very own Ovens, just released, and this, record number two from The Memories Attack, which just so happens to feature Chris Thompson of the mighty Eric's Trip along with is fellow partner in pop, indie rock luminary in his own right, Ron Bates.
The Memories Attack are a duo, augmented by an occasional drummer, who sound like they were transported to 2008 directly from the early nineties, bringing with them all the jangle pop, lo-fi bedroom folk, crunchy distorted guitar, gorgeous vocal harmonies, busted effects pedals, old synths, incredible hooks, and catchy songs they could stuff into an old beat up suitcase. Bates plays in a band called Orange Glass, Thompson performs solo as Moon Socket, but it would be silly to not look back to Eric's Trip, one of THE Halifax pop bands who ruled the nineties indie rock world along with Sloan, Jale, Hardship Post, Superfriends, Thrush Hermit, and a bunch more, as the sound of Eric's Trip as well as other bands of the era (especially Sebadoh) totally inform the music of The Memories Attack.
And the thing is, they just don't make bands like TMA that much anymore, a couple guys, with a four track, a guitar, a beat up old drum set, and a head full of hooks. With Pro-Tools and laptops, home recording is a totally different process, and now pretty much everybody has some sort of drone record, or an abstract black ambient band, or a solo project of buzzing synthscapes, and don't get me wrong i do love that stuff, but there's something to be said for songs, for POP songs, the kind that get stuck in your head, find their ways onto mix tapes, are forever stuck in the car stereo, the soundtrack to every roadtrip, whether it's across country or just to the 7-11. Take the song "Peaks & Valleys". It is THE jam of the summer, if it was in fact summer, and if it was actually 1995. Fuck it. This is the 2008/2009 winter jam of the year, fuck it, of EVERY and ANY year, so there. All fuzzed out guitars, chiming melodies, blown out drums, gorgeous drawled vocals, and a chorus that KILLS. I literally have listend to this song about 100 times since I first got my hands on these recordings!
Or take "The Raft", beginning with a laid back lope, all spidery minor key guitars, falsetto vocals, distant shimmery drones, underwater bass, until the chorus kicks in, a massive churning chunk of heavy as fuck crunch, a killer riff, all wreathed in crumbling distortion and wrapped around an angular almost looped sounding countermelody, and tempered with gorgeous high high vocals, the sort of jam that you never ever ever want to end. "Collapso" is a minute long blast of scrabbly high end guitars, dueling vocals, splattery drums, all treble, a swirling glorious high end blowout. "Beautiful Sound" begins with a chugging metallic groove, pounding drums, very hypnotic and heavy, before slipping into a soft glimmering droney drift, vocals hovering above cymbal shimmer, and little flurries of clean guitar, before the heaviness kicks back in again. Record closer, "Exploding House II" is all folky and fluttery, a gorgeous steel string guitar workout, twangy pick and strum supporting dreamy world weary vocals, long streaks of fuzzy chordal whir drifting in like thick clouds in a bright blue sky, so so lovely.
Every track here is some glorious strain of perfect pop, whether it's a chunk of old school college rock jangle, a burst of synth infused almost metal crunch, wild wooly lo-fi garage-y stomp, or hushed intimate bedroom pop, it's all so catchy and rocking and irresistible. And it's all held together by some sort of mysterious pop music magic that few have mastered and even fewer understand, but which never fails to totally and utterly entrance every time.
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