Buddy Junior is the San Francisco based music project of Jared Levine and LN BL. As a big fan of shoegaze since the early 90’s I would say their music on Marietta fits into this category. Their music is more lo-fi than I’m used to for the genre but has a lot of the key criteria that reminds why I love this music in the first place. The vocals lay low in the mix, there is a ton of reverb and a lot of the hallmarks of the genre that band's like My Bloody Valentine, Ride and Slowdive established decades ago.
“MARIETTA” is the opener. There is a bit of an early M83 vibe here at first but quickly goes into a lush, shoegaze inspired sound with swirling soundscapes. The song has very little separation especially at first and perhaps that was aesthetically a choice but the vocals, drums, and guitars sounded like one glossy white ball of energy. It opens up and kind of blooms like a flower as the song progresses and starts to gel into a meditative hum.
“DIRT” starts with guitar and glistening keys. The duo trades vocal phrases like it’s a mantra and possess a hypnotic quality by the one minute mark. The guitar takes over but soon enough the duo return to the same vocal melodies. As the song progresses it builds slightly but then dissipates into a single distorted guitar which lasts about a minute.
The recording quality sounded it’s best on “GOTH”. It’s still undeniably lo-fi but the drums have more kick, the low end is more defined and clearer separation. The vocals are also have more clarity. Besides the recording quality, the song is also well written, delivered with precision and a clear highlight with memorable melodies. I liked the mesh of sounds here. The shoegaze qualities are there but there is a dirtiness to it that works really well. The very inspired guitar riff and in fact the whole groove that happens at the end of the song is just great and could have gone on longer.
“what my body tells me when i'm with you” felt like a vignette. The open with a groove and end with the same groove and melody. There are changes to the drums but I would call this song more ambient than anything just because of how repetitive it is.
The other highlight was “SLOW92”. This was the song where the female vocalist shines. It felt like she was singing lead hear rather than creating a hypnotic vocal pattern. The elements also work really well here and the song builds to the best climax on the EP.
If you aren’t an engineer you most likely don’t realize that shoegaze is one of the hardest genres to produce, record, mix and master. I remember the first time I heard Loveless and thought it was the worst thing I ever heard. It wasn’t until I started studying engineering that I realized the complexity. Decades later I still I think it's one of the best mixed and produced albums I’ve ever heard. That’s why I commend this band for their efforts and in particular “SLOW92” and “GOTH”.
Shoegaze is one of the off kilter genres that has a relatively small but dedicated fan base. I think fans of the genre will appreciate this EP and perhaps more important the possibilities and potential they have. I became a fan and am looking forward to hearing more from them. Recommended.
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