Sunday, April 1, 2012
Swarming guitar fuzz, bass waves, Jana Hunter’s voice, and insistent drum throbs are the core components of Baltimore’s Lower Dens. Hunter, sometimes known for intimate, ghost-heavy weird-fi, is now writing and playing with a group that might get filed as new wave, or drone pop, or post-punk. With due deference to her solo work, we’re very glad.
The swarming wave-throb, coupled with Hunter’s lyrics and redolent, charred voice, wrecks. The band’s upcoming record, Twin-Hand Movement, is eleven perfect songs long. From opener “Blue & Silver” (anxiety mounts at a quick clip until the final climactic release) to “Plastic & Powder” (a churning, narcotic slow-burner) to “Hospice Gates” (penultimate album cut, proud weirdo anthem, possible creative zenith), not one is a space-taker. They’re rife with the survivalist paranoia you’d expect from residents of a post-urban port hole (and this particular songwriter), crafted methodically and beautifully, and carry you enthusiastically out into the rolling breaks of industrial filth-water.
Lower Dens formed in 2009, when Hunter set about finding a full-time band. They spent the rest of the year sweating in attics and basements, and only stepped out of the shadows to do a quick tour and record. Twin-Hand Movement was recorded by Chris Freeland (ex-Oxes drummer; proprietor of Beat Babies, Baltimore), mixed by Chris Coady (at his DNA, NYC), and mastered by Sarah Register (of the Lodge, NYC and the band Talk Normal.)
Afraid of socialism
Run towards fascism
Beat by corporate Führers
Praise their moneyed god: HEIL!
Their pointless, endless raving
Try to save our souls
Beats his inflated chest for
an audience of fools
Making us all so tired
Heard those lies before
It's a compilation of various outtakes, b-sides, and also BBC radio sessions. The album opens in fantastic style, with the super-rockin' "Dive", followed by (in my opinion) the best ever Nirvana song, "Sliver" (which is totally unlike anything else they did). From then on, the album is split into two distinct halves. The first half is very happy, cheerful stuff, with a whole lot of covers (some from The Vaselines, and a brilliant Devo cover). This is Nirvana at their most happy. The second half is mostly Bleach-outtakes, and so is a lot heavier and not so friendly to the listener. It also sees Kurt messing around a lot with his voice, trying out different stuff. It takes a while to get into the second half of the album, but it's well worth it. There is some great music going down here. "Beeswax", "Mexican Seafood" and "Hairspray Queen" all have killer tunes. Check out the bassline on "Hairspray Queen" - I love that damn bassline! "Downer" is a great song, which is also the last track on the Bleach CD. "Beeswax" has some potentially-very-crazy-and-cool lyrics. All in all, this is a really great grab-bag of stuff. Lots of cool songs - Buy it!
The album was released on December 14, 1992 in Europe, and December 15, 1992 in the United States and eventually reached number thirty-nine on the Billboard 200."