Friday, May 20, 2016

Song(s) of the Day # 852 Crystal Stilts

I'm a bit late on the case with this one but Crystal Stilts are my new current, favourite band. Not particularly active at the moment, their last single came out a couple of years ago, but I'm presently immersing myself in their records and particularly their last two albums, 2013's Nature Noir and 2011's In Love With Oblivion.

Brooklyn based, active in some form for over ten years, and very much a New York band in terms of sensibility though their two main members, singer Brad Hargett and guitarist JB Townsend hail originally from Florida, they draw on the heritage of driven, murky, melodic alternative guitar bands from the last fifty years, very much record collection rock, but with time their mix of sounds and feel becomes more distinctive and original, more and more their own voice.

I seem to be swimming against the tide here. They're receiving less attention rather than more with every successive release, as from my perspective, they get better and better. Nature Noir for example seemed to garner very little media attention or acclaim, even though it's a very fine record. The Velvet Underground is the clear start off point, but there' are also traces of those who picked up the baton from the Velvets years down the line, The Fall of Dragnet, The Blue Orchids, the Flying Nun bands, particularly The Clean, and also, as an aside, the mid-sixties garage bands, Aftermath period The Stones and 13th Floor Elevators.

Perhaps they're one of those bands whose reputation will build with time, as happened with many of those listed above, I certainly hope so. They have a dark, but inventive melodicism and lyrical focus that seems to touch on art, literature and the subconscious in the way that The Velvet Underground & Nico, Marquee Moon, The Modern Dance and Dragnet did. Listening to them is somewhat akin to being present at a seance among good friends all dressed in black and wearing shades.

It's difficult to make your voice heard playing this stuff nowadays, so prevalent is this psych sound that draws in turns from the decades that preceded it and walls the listener in with immersive, strangely familiar noise. I hope Crystal Stilts have more strings to their bow although I'm very happy just to have stumbled upon what they've put out up to date, I imagine they have.

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