Within the past two years or so it seems as though psychedelic shoegaze inspired rock and pop bands have been oozing through the cracks and into the mainstream. Some of these bands have been around making this kind of music forever; I am thinking here of The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Cure, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and The War on Drugs just to touch on some of the big ones.
But then there are bands like Canada’s Black Mountain and the short lived Liz Harris vehicle Helen, that have also released excellent work without being recognized for it. But alas there are building blocks and when one looks at a building they see an amalgamation of bricks but not all the bricks at once.
Another shoegaze brick in the wall so to speak is the ambient Arizona haze-rockers Dirt Friends. They formed back in the beginning of 2015 after a few other projects their members were working on went on hiatus. Their first record, the poetic Sunsets & Night Sweats, put out by Tucson indie label Commercial Appeal Records, dips its toes into the waters of shoegaze but keeps the hiss and fuzz to a bare minimum and instead lets poppy hooks and jangly guitars do most of the work here.
It’s hard not to take the bait on tunes like the sing-song-y “Easy,” a college rock radio hit if ever there was one. Or how about the well-crafted mix of guitar textures and “fuck all” friendly lyricism of “Dump 'Em Out.” Then there’s the lo-fi electricity on the shimmering “Shit Cologne” which plays like a slightly more reserved version of something out of the early Modest Mouse catalogue, though unlike Isaak Brock who unleashes his fury like Bruce Banner becoming the Hulk singer Nick Livak likes to hang back, seeming to let the words release themselves.
The closest he seems to come to anger is “Chili Dogs” which despite its silly title is a straight faced look at the shittier points of life, such as the heart blistering lines “there's a limit to how much you think that you should drink / and you never end up going home with the woman that you wanted it to be.” Then there’s this gem from the equally boozy “Night Cap” on which Livak laments “well the doctor says that i should stay off my feet / to take advice like that is impossible for me / ‘cause I’m always on the run.”
If anything Sunsets & Night Sweats merely winks in the direction of full on shoegaze, though it still bears a phosphorescent sheen that would have been impossible without those genres subtle influences. But Sunsets & Night Sweats is essentially an indie pop record, and a rather marvelous one at that.
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