(Click here for Part 1 of my review of the White Laces/Arches split 7-inch. Apologies up front for not addressing the yellow cassette that came with my pre-order, but it definitely deserves its own day in the sun.)
Dreams aren’t always made of cumulus clouds and unicorns. Even the most pleasant dreams have narrative surprises, shifting contexts and bouts with anxiety — all the messy side-effects of your brain’s attempt to file away the bazillion thoughts and images it has to absorb on a daily basis. I’ve fallen for Arches song “Late Last Night” because it illustrates how beautifully dream-like a song really can be, and not just because of its relaxed tempo or reverb-heavy guitar and vocal treatments. “Late Last Night” graces the opposite side from White Laces’ “Dissolve Into Color” on the two Worthless Junk labelmates’ recently released split 7-inch record, and it provides a fascinating counterbalance to its companion track. Sure, you start out floating happily along, riding the gentle waves of sliding and bending lead guitar lines, but just when you’re lulled into a state of relaxation, the song takes a sudden turn, with increased distortion and intensity. This darker cloud lifts soon enough, but the damage is done. Your sense of security is shot and you’re left waiting for the other turbulent shoe to drop. Herein lies the song’s strength — its shifts mimic brilliantly the way dreams evolve unexpectedly, without warning and seemingly without reason. When I wrote on Friday about White Laces’ side of the record, I spent some time talking about how much I loved the song’s ending. “Late Last Night” satisfies till its very last moments, as well. If you listen closely to the nearly minute-long drone that brings the song to a close, you’ll hear the tone kick up slightly just before it drops out. This makes me so happy, in part because I can’t help but think of the climactic scene in meta-scary movie Scream, in which one of the survivors correctly predicts that the killer, who appears to be dead, actually has one more scare left in him (before Neve Campbell shoots him in the head like a boss). That subtle tonal shift is a fitting end to the fitful sleep that “Late Last Night” affords, and I highly recommend that you click play below and see where the dream takes you. If you dig, you can buy the 7-inch from Worthless Junk Records here or name your price for a digital download of “Late Last Night” here.
Arches — “Late Last Night“
Last Sunday, I came home to find a very exciting and much-anticipated parcel sitting on my porch. It was a smallish cardboard box that enclosed 3 items: a Worthless Junk Records sticker, the new White Laces/Arches split 7″ and a yellow cassette with “W.L.” handwritten on one side and “AR” on the other. Because there’s a whole lot of awesome going on in this parcel, I’m splitting up my thoughts into two parts, starting with White Laces’ side of the record. Recorded at Mystic Fortress studio in Roanoke and etched into super-groovy colored vinyl, “Dissolve Into Color” is a wonderfully expressive song, and it bears one of the trademark characteristics that make White Laces so exceptional — the band’s unique ability to create sonic space, and lots of it. Doubled vocals and undulating guitars with elastic lead notes create a feeling of lateral movement that, when combined with driving, forward momentum-building drums and bass, pushes the boundaries of the song outward in all directions. Such spaciousness makes it easy to lose yourself in “Dissolve Into Color,” especially when it kicks into high gear during the instrumental buildup that comprises the final quarter of the song. Starting with just drums and two notes played back and forth on guitar, the crescendo builds and builds like a game of Jenga being played in reverse, until all the elements are in place, forming a massive-sounding structure that feels powerful and solid even as it maintains its elasticity. Another thing I love about this song is the brief epilogue that brings it to a close. After the buildup climaxes and several of the instruments drop out, the crescendo’s din temporarily remains, feeling less like an afterthought than a spirit that refuses to leave. This yearning piece of punctuation is just one of the many things “Dissolve Into Color” does well, and I encourage you to listen below, snag the record here, and check back for Part 2, in which I’ll take a look at Arches song “Late Last Night” and the mysterious yellow cassette.
White Laces — “Dissolve Into Color“
OK, Dawes. I understand that you can’t help writing beautiful and moving songs. But that’s no reason to go around making people get all misty in public places. See, I had no idea what I was getting into when, during one of my embarrassingly frequent trips to Panera, I hit play and heard the opening piano line of “A Little Bit of Everything.” All I knew was that my friend Mike liked the song and that it involved biscuits and beans — this much I gleaned from Mike casually singing a few lines. Maybe I’m alone here, but in my experience, beans haven’t often been part of emotionally charged songs (though the lyric in “We’re Gonna Make It” about having to eat beans every day offers a quality exception), so let’s just say I was caught a little off-guard. But I’m so glad it happened. Not knowing what “A Little Bit Of Everything” was about afforded me the most wonderfully pure, tear-jerking listening experience I could have hoped for. But this is not sentiment for sentiment’s sake. And I think I know a thing or two about sentiment for sentiment’s sake, having rewatched two-thirds of The Notebook last weekend. Each of the song’s three verses tells a nuanced story that hits on different emotional pressure points, as if Taylor Goldsmith imagined himself an engineer at a power plant, deftly opening and closing valves to maintain just the right level of internal pressure, ensuring that the whole thing doesn’t explode (as opposed to The Notebook, which is of course the Chernobyl of this analogy). See what I mean by checking out the acoustic performance of “A Little Bit Of Everything” above, the studio version and Dawes’ infinitely lovable anthem “When My Time Comes” below, and click here to buy Dawes’ most recent album, Nothing Is Wrong.
Dawes — “A Little Bit Of Everything“
Dawes — “When My Time Comes“