Squid is a band with a well developed and unique sound. The group hails from the South London post-punk scene. Other bands in the scene include Black Midi and Black Country, New Road.
Instruments used in the project include guitar, saxophone, bass, drums and synthesizers. One change in this album compared to their previous work is an increased use of synthesizers in primary and background instrumentals.
“Swing (in a dream)”
I feel like this song is a bit unique in Squids lineup. The eerie intro heads the song off with retro sounding synths with drums, and then also with guitar. When bass, vocals, and a more distorted guitar come in, the song sounds more like classic Squid, but with the synths continuing in the background.
One interesting musical device used in the track would be the rhythmic relationship between the the guitar and drums. The drums play a straightforward beat in 4/4 while the guitar plays patterns that constantly shift and stress different beats. The combination of the patterns creates a push/pull feel.
This is a very unique track. It sounds like a funk band that was orchestrated by a horror movie soundtrack composer. The track constantly builds energy while gradually interchanging instrumental parts.
I feel that this album is more cohesive than Squid’s previous album, SGK. The tracks that were released as singles are quite good, but do not top the track “Narrator” off of SGK on their own in my opinion.
I’ll give this album an 8/10
Other recommended album tracks: “The Blades”, “Devils Den”, “Siphon Song”
Harry Permezel is a singer songwriter from Melbourne, Australia. He wrote, recorded, and produced this album himself. The album “Wax Man” was released on May 4, 2018. You might like this album if you like Elliot Smith, Sufjan Stevens and/or Wednesday.
His songs often feel calming yet driven, and more often than not have moderately sad subject matter.
This track is my favorite on the album. The guitar, drums, and vocals are closely unified in rhythm which makes the song feel driven, but not quite upbeat.
One of my favorite features of Permezel’s writing is exhibited well in this song; His lyrics often seem less like an interpretation of an experience and more like the an account of what happened. This kind of writing leaves room subjective interpretation which is often a mark of good songwriting.
The song begins with these lyrics:
“Trying to stop the little hand of the clock With all the bills you have got A fair while outside of the city You drove that car so fast”
“Wax Man” Lyrics by Harry Permezel
The lines establish clearly that there is someone in the speaker’s life who wishes to pause time, and does the closest thing possible (driving out of the city and ignoring their problems). The speaker then elaborates more about this avoidant character and establishes that their is trust between themselves and the character.
Eventually the song ends with this lyric:
“Trying to stop the little hand of the clock/ Will not do anything”
“Wax Man” lyrics by Harry Permezel
The first half of this couplet duplicates the first line that appears in the song while the second half modifies the first lines original meaning. This is a creative way to end the song and could possibly be described as a humorous as the advice contradicts the listener’s expectations.
In this song’s lyrics, the speaker clearly feels distant and indignant, but the musical aspects of the track feel almost peaceful. This juxtaposition is opposite of the experience of the speaker in the song. The speaker recalls:
“Scary sounds drowning out the thoughts I thought would make me feel better”
“Bonehead” lyrics by Harry Permezel
In the speakers life, sound drowns out attempts at positivity, but in the song, negative thoughts are drowned out by sound.
One of the coolest production moments on the album occurs in the first chorus of the song. The section begins with a straightforward harmony in which there is a main vocal and two more other vocals alongside it, but soon after, the voices are panned left to right and sing single words one after another. This use of stereo audio makes it sound like the vocals are bouncing from one ear to another which creates an interesting listening experience.
This is one of my favorite albums, which makes it difficult to to give it a rating. The songs on the album are very well written and were produced in an intriguing and memorable way. I will admit though that there isn’t really anything groundbreaking about the album, but that is not to say that every musical project needs to be.
Max Gowan is a North Carolina based artist who has released six solo albums. He has also worked behind the scenes filling a multitude of roles in the music production process for other artists.
This collaborative process has become a large part of his musical work. He has been credited on albums by groups and artists including fuvk, Infinity Crush, Laptop Funeral, and computer science. More about his work in Mixing, Mastering and Audio editing can be found on his website.
Solo Work and Production Attitudes
The best parts of Gowan’s recorded music would arguably be its unique atmosphere and sonic nuance. These qualities are a product of the artist’s attention towards each track in the arrangement/recording process.
In an interview with Max Gowan for the WKNC 88.1 FM podcast “Off the Record”, the artist explained,
“Technically I guess you could call my music singer songwriter, but it’s very focused on instrumentals. I am big into riffs if you will.”
This focus on creating interesting instrumentals is not just limited to the guitar. Rather, it is omnipresent in his recorded music. One of my favorite examples of his intriguing instrumentals would be the percussion on his track “Bad Breeze” off his 2017 album Far Corners.
The percussion consists mostly of a single looping sample that seems to be a recording of a single flexible object smacking against a surface.
The combination of the sound’s unique timbre, omnipresence and rhythm is uniquely alluring and strangely calming. During the song’s choruses, additional layers of percussion are added to create nuance in an otherwise consistent atmosphere created by the looping sample.
The unusual sound persists throughout the entire track until the fade out of the song begins.
Gowan’s focus on instrumentals has led to the creation of recorded music that is interesting and complex while remaining pleasing to the ear.
Pittsburgh based band feeble little horse released “Girl with Fish” on June 6 2023, it has since became one of my favorite albums of the year.
On feeble little horse’s Bandcamp page for their May 2021 release “modern tourism”, the band was comprised of just their two guitarists (a lineup lacking their current main vocalist and bassist, Lydia Slocum). I found it pretty interesting to look at this album and see the band in its primordial state.
With time and the addition of new members, the group’s sound has since developed to fall in a middle ground between noise pop and shoegaze.
Favorite track – “Steamroller”
This track is a fantastic example of just how well feeble little horse does dynamics within their songs. About half way through the song, all the instruments and vocals completely pause as if they were taking a breath- listening to it feels like looking down over the edge of a cliff. Next, you are knocked off the cliff and are meet with a wall of sound ornamented by a brief eerie and unfamiliar sounding guitar solo. The part then leads into the second verse of the song.
A combination of opposing qualities: a strong driving power is maintained in the song while soft, pleasing melodies are carried throughout. Of course feeble little horse is not the first band to make a song with both of these attributes, but they bring their own sound to these songs in a way that I can’t help but love.
Other Recommended Tracks
It’s hard to not list all the songs off this album in this because it is just so consistent, but below are a few I would recommend.
This has been the third album the band has released in a two year span and I feel they have continuing to improve with each album. I am super excited to see what this group puts out in the future.
Much like many other people who frequently listen to the WKNC daytime block, I was raised on the outdated music of my parents. I mistakenly assumed that there had to be a reason I only heard older music at home: it had to be better than new music or something.
I am glad I do not think this way anymore. Amazing music has been made in all kinds of genres and being open minded is what allows you to appreciate as much of it as possible.
Questionable Beatles Appreciation
So yeah, when I was younger, I really liked The Beatles. I listened to the “1” album (a compilation album including many of their largest hits) over and over again. For some reason, I thought this made me an authority on music or something.
A few things happened when music was brought up around me during that time which I now think are pretty funny.
Not being the friend you want to talk about music to
I was talking to a friend in seventh grade and he asked me what my favorite Beatles song was because he knew I loved their music. I had a hard time choosing a song so he told me his favorite song. The song was “Across the Universe”.
That song is often though to be one of the best Beatles songs. It has been covered by numerous artists including Fiona Apple, David Bowie and strangely even Evanescence…
Despite the songs critical acclaim, 13 year old me had no clue that the song existed so I told him, “I have never heard it, it probably sucks”.
This was an unfortunate thing for me to say about one of his favorite songs. I definitely did not “win” that conversation.
Music has such an awesome ability to bring people together and I was definitely not utilizing that at 13.
Struggling to know the decades
In sixth grade, my history teacher began talking about music and asked the class what our favorite 80’s bands were. I raised my hand and when I was called on I told the class that The Beatles were my favorite 80’s band. The teacher gave me a look as if I had said something wrong but I was not really sure why.
I later realized that The Beatles broke up 10 years before the decade even began.
Bonus story: Being mildly traumatized by recorded music
This story comes from when I was much younger but I thought I should include it. I was probably three or four and I was in the bath with my mom supervising me. A CD Boombox (an AM-FM radio with a built in CD player) was on the bathroom counter and the White Album by The Beatles was inside it playing.
Many people think that the album is too unfocused as it has many songs that are strange diversions, but I loved the stories and sounds in the songs as a child.
My mom briefly left the room and a song from the B side of the record that I had not heard before began playing. The track was “Revolution 9”.
If you have never heard the song, maybe consider listening to it so you could better understand how a three year old brain would react to it. The song sounds like it was designed to scare kids with its reversed dialogue, baby cries, rising orchestral pitches, crashing cymbals, distressed voices and other harsh sounds.
A fun bath time with soap bubbles soon became visceral horror. I was definitely crying and belligerent while this was happening.
What made this even worse was that I happened to be so small that I could not reach the CD player when I got out of the bath to skip the song so I just had to listen to it. I do not remember if the full 8 minutes and 22 seconds of the track played out or if my mom came back and stopped it but either way I was not having a good time.
I am still freaked out by that song (even though I think it is conceptually cool) and have skipped it while alone a few times.
Don’t be pretentious, especially not if you have no clue what you are talking about. You don’t want to sound like a middle-school aged Beatles fan, do you?