Release Date: May 29, 2012
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Shoegaze
That a young band can legitimize its name by appropriating a lyric or song title of an influence is nothing new: Spoon is named for a Can song; Radiohead, for the Talking Heads. Naming your band for a specific moment on a specific track of your adopted ancestor, though, is another level of homage. 2:54’s eponymous second comes about halfway through “A History of Bad Men” by proto-grunge group the Melvins, when a climactic percussive barrage gets mired in distortion-sludge and the bassline slows to a Metallica-esque crawl.
Such is the fickle nature of the hype machine that, despite London-based sisters Hannah and Colette Thurlow’s band 2:54 only existing for little over 18 months, it feels like their debut has been a long time coming. At a time when bands are thrown at the studio and spat out with a half-arsed, cobbled together debut to maintain momentum by getting ‘out there’ quickly, taking your time can be dangerous.And yet, impressively defying expectation is ‘2:54’’s biggest strength. From its spacious, shoegaze-inflected production to the surprisingly clean melodic lines that resonate throughout, this is an album that rings with the honed precision and craftsmanship of a job thoroughly done.
For their debut, London-based sister duo 2:54 do what is required of them: they create a signature sound. Throughout the 10 tracks of their self-titled album, Hannah and Colette Thurlow have developed a musical persona that puts them in the same category of shoegaze-girl-power-rock as Warpaint. While “sonic branding” is important for a band just starting out and trying to make a mark, 2:54 falls short of being a truly great album because each song just starts to sound the same.
Drawing listeners in with their effortlessly hypnotic sound and languid cool, London duo 2:54 deliver an album of melancholy modern shoegaze on their self-titled debut. Naming themselves for their very favorite moment of a Melvins song, 2:54 bring that same sense of specificity to their songwriting, crafting songs that, while textured and dramatic, still feel very concise. 2:54 aren't delving into the kind of wild-eyed, mind-boggling sound blasts that My Bloody Valentine destroyed eardrums and melted minds with, but are instead following more in the tradition of Lush with a sound that feels more compact.
You put in hours, if not years, trying to be the most objective, astute listener possible, but all that self-knowledge leads you to realize is that, yes, you're still a total sucker. I don't know what your weakness is, but my ownership of nearly every bit of recorded Cure and Smashing Pumpkins doesn't lie: If I hear a song begin with nothing more than a churning, melodic bassline and anticipatory drum rumble, I'm defenseless. In that sense, 2:54 are "my type.
2:54 play NXNE on Friday (June 15) at Lee’s Palace. See listing. Rating: NNN The focus of most of what's been written about British sister band 2:54, and what Hannah and Collette Thurlow indeed project, is dichotomy. Their music is seeking and smouldering, shadowed by detached delivery. On their ….
UK sister duo 2:54 explore a strange synergy between the churning sludge rock of bands like Kyuss and early Queens of the Stone Age and the kind of retro shoe-gazing shimmer that colors a range of contemporary indie acts. The name 2:54 derives from a climactic juncture in a Melvins’ song, and while their hazy, ruddy-eyed compositions never quite explode with the fury of their namesake’s distorted dirges, they definitely pack more grungy punch than many of their likeminded peers. 2:54 is produced by Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey) and mixed by Alan Moulder (Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails), two studio legends of the ‘90s alt rock era, and though there are hints of nostalgia here for a time when indie truly rocked, these songs sound right at home alongside the work of current buzz-worthy acts such as Frankie Rose and Chromatics.
Rounded to two decimal places, there are 2.54 centimetres in an inch. I don’t know what this has to do with Colette and Hannah Thurlow, who decided to name their band 2:54, but it’s hard to imagine that they spent their school days memorising measurements in conversion tables. Listening to their self-titled debut album, it’s more likely that they spent their teenage years listening to The Jesus And Mary Chain, shopping for leather jackets and red lipstick and working their way through all seven seasons of Buffy The Vampire Slayer (thanks Wikipedia!).
Guitars flicker like strobe lights, drums pound, and for 10 hold-your-breath seconds Revolving, the opening track on 2:54's debut album, threatens to be the most thrilling quasi-goth melodrama you'll hear all year. But then, snap: the drums sink into a plodding 4/4 beat, the guitars start sulking and the only points of interest are Colette Thurlow's soaring vocals at the end of each chorus. Track two, You're Early, repeats the pattern: bass notes hulk like abandoned warehouses against moonlit guitars; drums skitter through the shadows, and for 48 entire seconds Colette and her sister Hannah can do no wrong.
From Joy Division through The Cure, to Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, and The Mission, there was a time when 2:54's variety of forlorn music was in perpetual supply. These days, a gloomily-inclined music fan must either settle into genre blends or explore the deeper indie fringes for a more traditional goth-rock fix. Every now and then a band such as 2:54 will emerge with many of the same ingredients as goth's original gangsters, but something about their flavor will be just off; it's not because it sounds disingenuous, but because they've forgotten the elements that allow their cold sounds to connect with its listeners.
So, what have you been listening to in 2012? It’s a question I’m asked all too frequently and one that, aside from simply listing what’s currently lodged on the hard drive of my iPhone, is getting increasingly difficult to answer. Any stock reply based on one of the “traditional” genres simply doesn’t do justice to the dizzying breadth and scope of what’s currently being produced. It’s no surprise that with free access to virtually every type of music ever made only a click away, this year has already given us Grimes’ “post-internet”, the scattergun hip-hop of El-P, and John Talabot’s shimmering re-imagining of deep house to name but three albums that’ll surely be bothering best-of lists come December.
A collection of mature and addictive tracks from sisters doing it their own way. Jen Long 2012 It would be easy to dismiss 2:54 solely on their hype. The east London-based sisters dress in dark leather, refrain from smiling in photos, and often find themselves mentioned in the same breath as The xx. But look past the image to concentrate on the music and you’ll find a record of endearing and warmly intimate songs.
London, UK four-piece 2:54 play the kind of atmospheric, shoegazing alt-rock that screams for the Midas touch of Alan Moulder (My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver). So it should come as no surprise that the influential producer/mixer answered their call. Led by sisters Hannah and Colette Thurlow, 2:54 brought in Moulder to mix and Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey, Placebo) to produce their self-titled debut.
SpaceGhostPurrp Most of the debut album by SpaceGhostPurrp, “Mysterious Phonk: The Chronicles of SpaceGhostPurrp” (4AD), consists of cleaned-up versions of earlier mixtape tracks. And cleaned up is not a euphemism. This Miami rapper-producer’s earliest releases — especially the intoxicating and asphyxiating “Blvckland Rvdix 66.6” — were often vexingly muddled, dubbed-out and dank.