I Get By by Dead Stars (Brooklyn, New York)
Dead Stars have produced a glorious little tribute to ’90s alt-rock by way of their EP I Get By. On this three-track release from the Brooklyn-based band, the palpable influence of Weezer crosses paths with that of more millennial guitar pop acts. Though the fact that this band owes a lot to grunge groups like Nirvana is obvious—especially so because of the record’s fidelity—this is more recognizably an EP of power pop songs in the post-pop/punk tradition. I Get By is an EP that delivers on every expectation one would have of a grunge/power pop revival act, with little wiggle room by way of contemporary influence.
There is an unexpected warmth to the EP’s production, mostly by way of high and tight guitar parts that grind up nice and close to the ear. There isn’t a lot of sharpness to this EP, and the cranker, buzzier tone that the guitars adopt serves it rather well. ‘I Get By’ has the most recognizably grunge influences on the record, honing in on the types of chord progressions and vocal melodies that Nirvana cut their teeth on.
‘Leaving’, with its Yo La Tengo guitar fuzz and more idiosyncratically late ’90s chord progressions, bears resemblance to indie rock acts like Built to Spill. A catchy guitar riff is buried beyond rescue in the swarm of guitar scuzz and a bassline so dominant that you can almost feel the strings slapping against your face. The ambiguous, hidden nature of what is meant to be catchy in a song like this lends loads to its overall appeal, though some of the songs’ catchiness may be buried in their production.
EP closer ‘Kill Me in the Summertime’ continues the late ’90s indie vibe of the previous track, with a more wistfully coastal sheen to the songwriting. Verses are broken into nicely by ragged, almost synth-guitar-sounding solos somewhat reminiscent of Nick Valensi’s guitar part on ‘12:51’. Clocking in at just under 10 minutes, I Get By is an easy piece of late ’90s nostalgia boosted admirably by some earnestly scuzzed out production.
‘Heaven’ by Lead Stones (Brooklyn, New York)
Equal parts Tame Impala and Guided By Voices, Lead Stones’ ‘Heaven’ single is the succinct, psychedelic answer to any wintertime blues you may be dealing with. Vibrating riffs and scuffy, jangly guitar parts are summer incarnate, and ‘Heaven’ is chock full of both with ample room left for reverby vocals and an organ part reminiscent of late ’60s psychedelic acts. The song is lofty; it floats slightly above the usual aural arena of a song.
B-side ‘Bottle Goblins’ almost sounds like the trance-inspired work of Madchester acts like The Stone Roses. The song has the feeling of a cactus flower to it; something classically and serenely—almost lazily—beautiful, but associated with a sharpness and deserted naturalness. This song evokes images of a great beautiful desert stretching into an endless coastline of soft blue sky: an impressive feat for a song that was recorded in Brooklyn.
Lead Stones have a lot in common with other new wave psych rock bands like the aforementioned Tame Impala and other revival acts. Their Brooklyn origin certainly adds more of an east coast flavor to their sound than some other bands they might generally be more compatible with, especially by way of dungeony basslines and some very crescented, Real Estate-esque guitar licks. Druggy and atmospheric, ‘Heaven’ is a 7-inch worth searching for, and Lead Stones are a band whose promises of preeminently guitar driven psych rock pave a bright future.