The first time I was in New York I got off the train into Manhattan coming out of Brooklyn and walked up the staircase into the city and it was crazy. It was the fourth of July weekend and the streets were filled to capacity.
It was Union Square and nothing could have prepared me for it, even though I’d been living in Chicago. It was Chicago on steroids. You come up the stairs from below ground and it’s like a storm of nonsense just went off and keeps going off. You lose your manners in a matter of seconds. No one cares to hear excuse me because it’s a mute phrase. Shit is just going on and you make the most of it. No holds barred.
Born out of this mayhem of the city that never sleeps comes the NYC dream pop duo Reliant Tom. The pair are Claire Cuny who sings and Monte Weber. The pair met in New York. At the time Cuny was playing shows as a singer/songwriter as well as working as a dance choreographer and Weber was working on his Masters in music theory and composition at NYU as well as freelancing as a composer and sound artist. Their somberly electronic debut EP quite simply titled Reliant Tom’s EP is comprised of four songs and clocks in at just under twenty minutes.
From their opening track “Poor You” I started to get the feeling quite soon of more recent dream pop acts like LA by way of DC duo Gems, Denmark’s CHINAH, and Portland’s Liz Harris who records under the Moniker Grouper, mostly due to the combination of live recorded instruments fused with electronic elements that sounded of a higher quality than a Casio keyboard run through Garage band.
The electronic manipulations are present but never over the top and Cuny’s firm yet beautiful vocals pair rather nicely with the blips and bleeps and bits of sonic buildup and feedback. This is especially noticeable on the woozy and electronic elegance of “Flying Ship.” Next on “I Can’t Wait” shuffles along with scraps and scrapes of soft drums and keys and Cuny’s vocals turn more ethereal and drift in and out of Weber’s soundscape. The EP closes with the sunny sounds and syncopated beats of “All the Same.”
As ambient noise pop acts tend to bleed together after a time simply due to the fact that there is only so far one can take the material before an album of it simply sounds like one loop of music even though the lyrics may have changed and the beats are slightly different and the feedback placed in a different spot, after a while you’re not fooling anyone anymore. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy dreamy pop and electronic based bands, I really love them, however I listen to them infrequently. But to speak of Reliant Tom’s EP it is definitely an album I know I’ll find myself revisiting on late nights and early mornings.
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