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Aftergloam: A Frenetic Swim Through A Slow Ocean

Slow Ocean

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They say that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so you better get it right. “Silverlight”, the opening track on Aftergloam’s first long-player Slow Ocean (on Lolipop and available on Bandcamp) does that in every possible way. Throughout, blistering guitar work does a hypnotic dance with jangly psychedelics, the dreamy vocals of Elvis Galvez surfing on – then diving straight into – the saturated waters of the band’s distortion-crazed guitars. The first time those guitars meet Tianna Nicole’s drums, well, this reviewer can’t remember hearing a cascade of sound that grand since the glory days of Nirvana. The highs here on this track are propellingly high enough to cause one to go twirling around with one’s eyes closed and arms outstretched in a great mystic hug of all things noise. It’s an absolute triumph. Impression secured.

In a brief Facebook chat with Galvez, he listed Sonic Youth, Autolux and Bastidas, a Bandcamp group possibly due for a CITC review of their own, as major influences. Nicole’s percussive avalanche reminds me of Dave Grohl at times, and general comparisons to noise gods Sonic Youth almost go without saying. According to Galvez, the genesis of the band was when “Tianna and I met sometime in 2007. I had responded to an ad she had posted and we met up at a local guitar center and have been playing music ever since. Aftergloam officially formed in 2009. We are all LA natives and were raised in the San Fernando Valley.” They’ve added a couple of bandmates since those early days (Luis Sanchez, who shares lead and rhythm duties with Galvez, and Kim Quin on bass) and have refined their sound to the point at which we find them today, the purveyors of a melodic noise that’s raucously hypnotic.

The band term themselves a Shoegrunge Psych band from L.A., and in fact at times sound like the lovechild of The Church and Sonic Youth. They’ve got the jangly, melodic guitars, the lilting, dreamy vocals. They’ve got the saturated, fantastically-distorted wall of sound. And it all works so blissfully together that I’m a bit stunned at what I’m hearing. Here they are, at this point a rather unknown band, and yet every track on this latest studio effort of theirs is spilling out of my speakers like rough-hewn diamonds falling out of a jewel thief’s pockets.

aftergloam pic

Tom’s Coming Down” is an in-your-face garage pop tune about what else, drugs! Driven from beginning to end by the storming rhythm section of Nicole and Quin, with blistering guitar work by the boys, the track finds the band tacitly vying for status of mosh pit kings and queens, Galvez’s vocals dreamily swimming in the midst of that glorious distortion, and just when you thought the music has peaked, it digs down and finds an additional gear and boosts the listener into a grungy euphoria.

The slinky little number “Moonchildren” begins as though Chris Issak has been dropped into the middle of a David Lynch flick, Galvez’s vocals soft and hypnotic, beseeching listeners to ‘come out and play with us’. Trance-like, the song languorously, inexorably pulls us in, a voodoo spell cast upon us by some queen of the netherworld.

so glad you called me out

you call the shot

come out and play with us

you walk the talk in your dirty shoes

we howl at the moon

we walk the moon

By the time the band explodes in a distorted haze of psychedelic goodness, we’re long since theirs, although, hell, they’ve had us from the beginning.

“Aim Between The Lines” is the kind of album centerpiece that should put this band on everybody’s map. Their formula – alternating those smooth jangly melodies with wild, grungy distortion, the latter in the end always winning out in some glorious fashion – is on extraordinary display. By this point on Slow Ocean Galvez’s vocals have given into the distortion pedal themselves and are brimming with an intensity not heard elsewhere, while the rhythm section just plain rocks. Even the jangly guitar portions of the track have an earnestness to them, and when they’re overtaken by the gods of distortion, the band seems to be summoning their inner Foo Fighter.

Aftergloam has taken the sound they’ve carried through their earlier releases (Anatomy of an Elegy, Aftergloam self-titled EP) and elevated it. They’ve emerged from the studio with a release that any mid-career veterans of the festival circuit would be thrilled to call their own, and yet this is a band not quite to the point of regularly headlining. Maybe they stumbled upon some secret sauce, or hit the studio with the planets aligned just so, or maybe, just maybe, they’ve in fact hit their stride and were fortunate enough to record that magical moment. Whichever the case, rejoice in this recording, and if you’re lucky enough to be anywhere close by when this band plies their trade of blissful, melodic noise, do not hesitate, go see them live.

 This is what’s in store if you do, eighth track “Eyes Shut” shot live at KXLU in L.A