Total Slacker — Parallels (Aug 19, 2016) ♦ Rountree byl často přirovnáván ke Thurston Mooreovi a ne bezdůvodně. Oba jsou si blízcí tonálně, lyrikou, způsobem psaní, plným imperativů a také seriózními texty. Někdo může vidět příbuzenectví se Sonic Youth nebo My Bloody Valentine. Je zde několik ostrých kytarových riffů. Prostě dá se u toho žít. Každá píseň má v sobě obrovskou energii, přesto mi učarovala nejvíce “Telephone Your Soul”. On the Brooklyn band’s third album, ‘Parallels,’ songwriter Tucker Rountree grapples with making sludgy garage rock go pop.Location: Brooklyn, New York
Genre: Shoegaze, Indie Rock, Lo~Fi
Album release: Aug 19, 2016
Record Label: ONErpm / Verge Records
01. Turn on the Lights 4:02
02. Vision 2:35
03. Community College Hero 3:04
04. Don’t Want to Be Alone 3:58
05. Olympus Hills 2:57
06. Telephone Your Soul 7:29
07. Don’t Ever Fade Away 2:59
08. Want It That Way 3:11
09. Erased Your Number 2:42
10. Lost in Your Eyes 3:43
11. Journeys Ahead 2:34 Personnel:
♦ Tucker Rountree: Vocals, Guitar
♦ Zoë Brecher: Drums
♦ Lydia Gammill : Bass
♦ Mattie Siegal : Drums
Ξ Brooklyn shoegazers Total Slacker have consistently written songs held together by little more than gluesticks and twine — delightfully mellow garage pop with a DIY scruff that betrayed carefully considered songwriting. But on the band’s lead single for their upcoming third studio album Parallels, the follow~up to 2014’s Slip Away, they’ve never before sounded so tightly composed. With a longing bassline and cascading guitar riff backing vocalist Tucker Rountree’s SoCal~by~way~of~Brooklyn affectation (though he’s actually from Utah), “Turn On The Lights” sounds like what Blink~182 would write if they’d grown up on Slowdive rather than the Descendents. “It’s dark in your eyes tonight/ I’ve got to see through,” Tucker commands, before pleading “Don’t turn away.” It’s exhausting to chase after the dissipating spirit of someone you love, but it’s more difficult to accept that you aren’t losing them, they’re leaving you. “Turn On The Lights” is the desperate call to come home before the one you are calling disconnects their voicemail. Some insight from Rountree:
Ξ In “Turn On The Lights,” I was working with writing in contrast. The lyrics are about introspection and searching for a deeper meaning with someone you love.
Allie Volpe, Sep 9 2016, 4:02pm
Total Slacker Is Working Hard at Being Great
♦ On a recent Friday — August 19, to be exact — Tucker Rountree’s band Total Slacker released their third album, Parallels. By Saturday, Rountree was in Montauk. He likes escaping the bustle of New York City from time to time, to wander in nature a bit. The weather was nice, and he attended the East Hampton Artists & Writers Charity Softball Game. Paul Simon was rumored to be playing.
♦ Rountree never really thought about the day following an album release as one with any significance; he thinks of it as the closing of one chapter. Rountree thrives on progression. It’s visible on Parallels, where he employs subtle experiments, modulations, and unexpected key changes that don’t necessarily trick your ear but offer a surprise. He’s already onto writing the fourth LP, honing his craft of trying to write a truly great pop song.
♦ “I enjoy the challenge of writing in the pop form,” Rountree told me. “It’s a form that many people have used for 80 years in western pop culture, but it’s still a challenge to see what you can do with it.”
♦ Parallels, while not exactly pop in the strictest sense, aims to bridge the tendencies that have traditionally marked Total Slacker — a Brooklyn trio who describe themselves on Facebook as “slimegaze” — and the accessibility of, say, Katy Perry. “Don’t Want To Be Alone” shares the narrative of a kid begging for a late~night companion over a Police~like chord progression; a fast and shoegazey opening guitar phrase on throw~caution~to~the~wind~and~overcome track “Olympus Hills” features Nick Kelvin from Sunflower Bean on guitar. Glittering synths and a New Wave guitar outro on “Want It That Way” skew more 80s teen movie soundtrack than stoner rock. The production is crisp and clean even when melodies are plodding and guitars fuzzed.
♦ Even while employing standard pop techniques like hitting the first chorus within 30 seconds on “Erased Your Number,” or with the optimistic message and easily digestible mid~empo pacing on “Journeys Ahead,” Rountree combines grunge, shoegaze, and 90s alt rock. He sheds some of the snark, humor, and lo~fi sludge that peppered the first two Total Slacker albums, Thrashin’ and Slip Away, and harps on the humanness in longing, loneliness, and adversity.
♦ “There’s a whole other level of pop music that’s interesting to me: the cultural subconscious and the fabric of western society,” Rountree explained. “Pop music is an amalgam of what’s going on in everyone’s lives on a larger, cultural level.”
♦ Rountree is constantly thirsty for knowledge. Self~taught in many areas, including philosophy, theology, and astrology, he’s not ashamed to point out that he didn’t go to college. He enjoys sinking his teeth into whatever book, literature, or Wikipedia page that interests him. In lieu of schooling, Rountree traveled the country in his late teens with “the Christian version of *NSync,” a religious pop act called Shepherd Hall. It was a natural step into professional music after growing up in a religious community just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah.
♦ Beginning when he was about five years old, Rountree lived in a semi~communal spiritual group called Order of the Lamb. While children were sheltered from the popular music of the time, group activities were heavily rooted in music, and it wasn’t uncommon to find large circles of guitar players each strumming the same chord progression in unison. It was in this community and with his musician father’s guidance that Rountree began to play guitar, quickly commanding the instrument and deeply in love with it by the time he was an adolescent.
♦ “When you’re nine years old you don’t see that that’s unusual or out of the ordinary,” he said of his upbringing. “Now as an adult, I’m fully aware of how unique that kind of childhood was.”
♦ One afternoon in the summer of 1991, he remembers distinctly, Rountree was at the Order of the Lamb’s leader’s home, playing with a vintage 1970s Gibson electric guitar when he came up with a riff. It was the first original piece of music he’d ever wrote, a short movement he still can recall now over 20 years later.
♦ “It was everything that I’d learned from my dad from ages six to nine and then all of the church music that I heard in the group, all put into a melting pot.”
♦ Such musical revelations have shaped Rountree’s life. Throughout his childhood, he’d been fascinated with Grammy~winning guitar virtuoso Eric Johnson, who’d done session work on Cat Stevens and Carole King records as well as released his own albums to critical acclaim. By the time he was 20, after his stint touring with Shepherd Hall, Rountree was fully enveloped in his “jazz phase” and had moved to Austin with his new wife. Once a week, he’d perform with a jazz quartet at a local restaurant. Eric Johnson started showing up. They began hanging out, talking shop, and playing guitar together, which led to Johnson taking Rountree on tour with him as an opener. There, Rountree would perform his postmodern jazz solo work. He then made a jazz record with producer and bassist Roscoe Beck when he was 23. The downside? It was only released in Germany.
♦ “That was part of the reason where I was like, ‘OK, maybe I’ll try out this pop thing,’” he remembered. “I was so focused on jazz music for a long time and it was a really fun change, but it was also the product of my environment.”
♦ Rountree moved to Brooklyn in 2009, and he immersed himself in the DIY community, attending shows at venues like Death By Audio. He paired up with musicians such as Zachary Cole Smith, now of DIIV, who was briefly one of the first Total Slacker drummers. By the time their first album, Thrashin’ was released in 2011, Total Slacker had a solidified lineup of Rountree, Emily Oppenheimer on bass, and Ross Condon (brother of Zach Condon of Beirut). The band had garnered a reputation for crafting lo~fi garage rock with silly song titles like “Shitty Baby.” Rountree would flex his guitar prowess, but the messages on Total Slacker’s first two records, including 2014’s Slip Away, teetered between juvenile humor and thoughtful substance. He was in his mid~20s and was essentially playing catchup on all of the more mainstream music he’d missed growing up in the group and focusing on his jazz career.
♦ “I’m still actually catching up on all of my pop references,” he said. “I moved to New York and it was like, ‘Oh wow, there’s this whole other world, this whole other thing I can try,” and the songs were easier to write.”
♦ Now, throughout a handful of lineup changes — the band currently consists of Lydia Gammill on bass and Mattie Siegal on drums — Total Slacker have honed in on honest messages and a more flattering way of showing off their talents. Parallels is wrought with songs of hope, love and triumph, as opposed to the Big Gulps and babysitter’s boyfriends of albums prior. “You’ve gotta see yourself in the place you want to be / and looking tomorrow cuz the past is history”, he sings on “Journeys Ahead.” And for Rountree specifically, that means growing from the various musical incarnations of his youth.
♦ “I didn’t know I was a writer for a while because I started out being obsessed with jazz music,” he said. “I didn’t know that was going to be the thing that I developed into. I came into writing pop music from a different place.” ♦ https://noisey.vice.com/
Words by Alexis Murphy
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