first love(s) of 2014… Warpaint and Gem Club

“I’m worried, I’m always in love” – Jeff Tweedy/Jay Bennett

Sometimes I fall quite easily. We aren’t even a month into 2014 (and still have some 2013 thoughts to share) but I’m already smitten, school-boy/puppy dog style. Fortunately, wandering ears won’t offend or get me in trouble with my musical paramours; they all seem to get along quite amicably in the record shelf and hard drive. (Though, if there were some sort competition for my eardrum’s affection, a musical Wrestle-mania of sorts, I’m betting on the 180 gram vinyl and FLAC files. In the audio realm, it’s definitely all about bulk). 

Okay enough with that extended and over involved metaphor and on to the stuff of note: la musica!


Gem Club’s In Roses (on NPR’s First Listen)

James T. Kirk always said space was the final frontier. I think that is partially right, except I think what he meant was the space of our imagination. Music that expands and inspires the imagination, one’s own room of Walter Mitty-esque musings, is a precious, rare, and wondrous commodity. Gem Club’s music is exactly this brand of thought generating catalyst. In Roses works in a space between sparse, delicate chamber pieces and lush layered composition, pregnant with thought and emotion. The lead singer’s high falsetto vocals waver like clouds in the distance, suggestive of ideas but fluid and protean, difficult to latch on to. On an initial listen (or four), In Roses is all about texture and atmosphere. At this stage, I cannot quite make out the subject matter of the record but for now I can live in that space until I see a lyric sheet. For those looking for a musical analogue, their sound is reminiscent of Lost in the Trees and Efterklang in its delicacy, Low in its pacing, and a latter day Bon Iver/Justin Vernon in its sonic layering. Let this wash over you and lull you to daydreams, magical journeys, or a pleasant reverie.

Warpaint’s Warpaint (on NPR’s First Listen)

Another record in the more deliberate and thought-provoking vein, but of a totally different style and speed. Warpaint makes a unique brand of post-punk music with a decidedly West-Coast, expansive, ethereal, and spacey-feel. You can feel the South California sunshine pouring through these rich, dark sounding guitar jams. Sounding like a latter-day Pretty Girls Make Graves at a third the pace mixed with a melodious, almost folkie, and soulful 70s quality to their vocals and a dash of late 80s/early 90s downtempo metal guitar riffs (think Tool/Metallica at their subdued moments), the ladies of Warpaint produce a luscious tapestry of entrancing groves that will leave you spellbound and swaying smiling. And, if you have the chance to see them live (which you definitely should!), you’ll be wowed by their precision and professionalism.

Listen soon because these links will disappear! (…but I’ll replace when needed.)


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