Pink Frost “New Minds” Album Review + Stream…

Pink Frost

New Minds – Limited Vinyl // CD // DD

Under Road Records – Released June 16th, 2017

Reviewed By Andy “Dinger” Beresky

 

Taste Nation LLC founder and owner Matthew Thomas is well aware of my penchant for shoegazing at this point in time and had recommended I check out this new Pink Frost album.  He described them as a shoegaze band that was going for a heavier sound on their latest album.  At this point in time, I should be well aware of his penchant for understatement.  This album sounds like the ungodly love child of Smashing Pumpkins and Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats, conceived at a Cure concert during the Disintegration eraThis certainly ain’t a bad thing – let’s recall that The Smashing Pumpkins were my favorite band in high school, and Disintegration is a top ten all-time album for me.  The heavier tracks are blown out with some seriously fat fuzz-tones straight from the Siamese Dream era, and they have the melodies to match.    However, the overall vibe is dark, evil, and ethereal, which may sound like an unlikely combination, but they somehow pull it off.  It’s like listening to the soundtrack from your most pleasant nightmares ever.

 

Band Pic

 

Pink Frost actually have a bit of a back catalog, even though this is my first time listening to them.  That’s a shame, as this is my kind of band.  I’m going to do a bit more exploring into their past efforts and see where they take me.  It makes total sense that these guys and gal are from Chicago, also the hometown of The Smashing Pumpkins.  They’ve got that classic 90’s Chicago sound, with just a dash more of a modern edge and slightly sinister overtones.  New Minds  is rather entrancing in its approach, how it balances these somewhat disparate elements.  The opening title track starts off noisy and upbeat, with an off-kilter riff punctuated by a punk-ish rhythm section assault.  ‘Bare Roots’ is my favorite track on the album, with its relentless groove, stoner-ish riffs and incredibly guitar melodies.  There’s a breakdown into a quieter middle section that is straight up Siamese Dreamy, like something the Pumpkins would have used on tracks like ‘Silverfuck’ and ‘Geek U.S.A.’  The biggest difference is that you’re not going to hear any of the over-the-top lead guitar pyrotechnics that Billy Corgan was able to pull off in his heyday.

New Minds isn’t all about being heavy, and Pink Frost certainly shift gears into shoegaze and dream pop territories on tracks like ‘Avian’ and ‘Headlights.’  Despite the cleaner, lusher soundscapes employed on the quiet tracks, there’s still an underlying emotional longing and a resonant, bittersweet darkness in the lyrics.  Take some of the “Avian” lyrics, for example – “I will take what’s given/And I will steal your air/I’ll take your breath away/And the name you once wore.”  The vocals are emphasized and enhanced by a delivery that’s one part whisper and one part sneer.  The guitar interplay is textured and nuanced, even when the fuzz is full throttle, and the rhythm section certainly holds things down.  Production wise, everything has its place in the mix, and it’s all very full and powerful.

This is a solid album from start to finish, and culminates in the haunting samples from a newscast about a large fire on final track, “We No Time.”  There’s not a clunker or weak track to be found on New Minds, it’s one long goth-fuzz mindfuck of a listen.  I’d be curious to catch these cats live, and I’m also quite curious about what their next album will sound like.  Personally, I’d like to encourage them to continue in the heavier vein, because what they’re doing is working in my eyes and ears.  New Minds is one of this year’s stronger albums, and it’s gotten quite a bit of repeat plays from me, which is always a good sign.

Lineup:
Adam Lukas: Guitar, Vox
Paige Sandlin: Guitar
Alex Shumard: Bass
Jesse Hozeny: Drums


Album Review – Sorority Noise “Joy, Departed”

Sorority Noise

Joy, Departed

Topshelf Records – Vinyl / CD / Cassette / DD

When I saw Sharon Van Etten play to perhaps 30,000 souls at a festival in Kentucky, she unabashedly announced from the stage that she is very serious about her feelings.  That’s one of the many things that enamors her to me, though the list goes on and on. I’d like to take this time to unabashedly announce that she’s my celebrity crush.  Perhaps if I write a review that’s intriguing and interesting enough, she’ll one day become aware of my precarious existence and think to herself, “Hey, that guy is pretty cool for a supposed critic.  Andy Dingus Beresky seems like a guy who gets things done.  I wonder what makes him tick.  I wonder if he’d be interested in knowing what makes me tick.”

Of course, it’ll never work out between us, as she lives in Manhattan, and I’m motherfriggin’ country mouse as it comes.  Last time I was in Manhattan I had a full-fledged meltdown when I was stuck on the subway in the dark for an hour.  This ended with me sitting down and crying on a crowded subway car one fine May morning, and this did elicit an unexpected outpouring of empathy from the normally stoic New Yorkers who shared in my plight, though seemed so utterly unphased by the incident.  When I finally emerged from that underground nightmare, I’d missed my bus and chose to alleviate my woes with an expensive beer and cheap sushi at 10AM.  All’s well that ends well, I suppose, and maybe someday, my morning will end with Miss Van Etten and I sharing AM beers and sushi while we stare longingly into each other’s eyes.  I wonder if she even likes sushi??  Wow. I’m suddenly acutely aware that I’ve derailed this review from the very get-go.  That’s a new one even by my own admittedly low standards.

 

Great Band Shot

 

I bring this all up simply because Sorority Noise also strike me as being very serious about their feelings.  Actually, I’ll recant that statement ever so slightly, as I’m sure there’s a bit of tongue in cheekiness to Sorority Noise’s lyrical approach.  I mean, the first lines sung on the album are “Let me be the drug, that you use to fall in love, the heroin that keeps you warm enough” from the aptly titled lead track, ‘Blissth.’  Sure, that’s kind of sweet and romantic from a somewhat somber and morbid perspective, so I can relate to the underlying sentiment.  Still, it’s too over the top to be totally serious.

Sorority Noise is a four piece outfit from Hartford, Connecticut. They name check a bunch of bands that I’ve never heard as influences, such as Roswell Kid, Pinegrove, Modern Baseball, and Led Zeppelin.  Oh wait…I HAVE heard Led Zeppelin a couple times, and the two sound nothing alike.  The most obvious analogy to me is Weezer, who are a pretty straight forward rock band with obvious indie influence and emo appeal, though the big sound and clean production of their albums obviously sets them apart from the aesthetic of the original “emotional hardcore” bands that were in full bloom during the early to mid-90’s.  Sorority Noise may not sound exactly like Weezer – they’re far more dark, with a heavy emphasis on melancholia and moodiness.  However, they have a similar approach and appeal, in my mind.  They understand the emotional impact of indie/alternative rock, and are able to elevate it to anthemic heights by adding in the perfect amount of stadium-ready bombast.

Heck, these guys might not even like Weezer.  They might even hate them for all I know, and this paltry review may incite them to commit questionable acts of throwing star violence.  Sorority Noise have some similar elements: the big catchy choruses, the big crunchy guitars and the big rock solid rhythm section.  But there are a lot of reasons that my Weezer comparison is way, way off.  Overall, this record is much darker and bleaker, with a pervasive slacker/junky vibe to the lyrics, even in the moment when the music itself is all bittersweet pop and candy-coated melodies, such as on the self-explanatory song, “Using.”  The big difference is that Sorority Noise sound like they’re haunted. There are more atmospheric and orchestrated elements, and the dynamics are more stark.  They shift gears between minimalistic, downtempo indie to frenetically upbeat pop-punk with twin harmonized guitars, sometimes within the course of the same song.  At times, their lyrics go beyond simple self-deprecatory humor, and land firmly within the realm of the full-blown bummer.  This shouldn’t be much of a revelation, given the title of the album.

“Does hell taste as sweet as you thought, do you like what you bought?” This was the question I was left musing to myself after I’d finished the closing track “When I See You (Timberwolf)”.  I was starting to feel haunted as well, though it was that pleasant, warm, fun form of haunting, as if I’d transcended the gloom veil of the mundane, and for a brief instant tasted the highs of heaven and then drank the depths of hell before I took off my headphones, bundled up, and walked down the street for that next cup of afternoon coffee.

Reviewed by Andy “Dingus” Beresky