In the last few years what is referred to as the DIY scene has given birth to a gluttonous amount of bands which for better or worse all sound pretty much the same. I’m speaking specifically of drone-y guitar driven rock bands that all probably stumbled onto the same scent, of what to their generation could now be in some sense considered “classic rock,” of cool old bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth, the way previous generations of youngsters found and emulated bands like Television, the Sex Pistols and the Velvet Underground, just to name a few entities which are in themselves massively influential stalwarts of then underground genres.
But I love the drone-rock resurgence now as much as I did back when shoegaze briefly flirted with re-entering the mass market more than a decade ago. One of the splinter groups, and there are many, of drone-rock is dream pop, a sound that has the grittiness of experimental rock with its steely and ear splitting wails of guitar which burst through humming loops of transient feedback and bright and shiny swirls of bubble-gum sweet electronic keyboards. It is in the vicinity this off-shoot genre that we find Son and Cynic.
Son and Cynic is Brian Obernesser on guitar, bass, drums and Cayla Shortley on vocals and keyboards. The pair are based in Denver Colorado but are both North Carolina natives who did not know one another previously to living in Colorado, and only met and formed Son and Cynic after making each other’s acquaintance through mutual friends.
Their debut record, Wherever I Am doesn’t break any new ground in the genre. The seven songs here average out at the four-minute mark and maintain a pretty steady mix of catchy hooks laced into some pretty straightforward beats with a few backing vocals and relevant layering that is typical of this kind of music. The fact that it’s done so seamlessly and in certain spots is even downright irresistible and is what makes Wherever I Am such a pleasure to listen to.
Wherever I Am opens with the spacey twang and slightly psychedelic vocals and mystic feedback on “The Arrival” and then speeds it up heading into the college-radio friendly “Get Away” with its energized guitars and mall-pop vocals. Even more so later is “Zig Zag Horizon” the perfect recipe of pop and rock is whipped up here with jangly guitars and Shortley’s sweet, multilayered vocals which parleys into the equally sweetened “Traveler” before closing it out with the slightly more sonic and world beat feel of “Cold Fever.”
Wherever I Am is a delightful listen not only for its songs compositions but for how good they sound for being self-recorded. This pair has the prescient pop formula down to a t, and they’re not afraid to use it, which is good news for the future
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