Release Date: Aug 23, 2011
Record label: Lefse Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
In the two years between their 2009 album Monster Head Room and Still Living, Sacramento's Ganglians signed to Lefse Records, leaving behind the dingy cobwebs of Woodsist’s roster and attempting to take their music into sunnier pastures. With a running time of just under an hour, the album stays true to the psychedelic flavor of their early tracks, but the group enlists Dirty Projectors producer Robby Moncrieff to beef up the music. Despite sounding more like a product of the studio than of the bedroom, Ganglians remain fundamentally themselves on Still Living -- they still have lo-fi merits, and are drenched in gallons of chamber reverb.
Sacramento psych-pop unit Ganglians snarl back with Still Living. Producer Robby Moncrieff (Dirty Projectors’ Bitte Orca) helms the boards and cuts through some of the fogginess heard on the band’s 2009 one-two punch of Ganglians and its immediate follow-up, Monster Head Room. Primordial surf-rock numbers “Evil Weave” and “Jungle” possess a scruffy and eerily melodic allure.
Sactown janglers Ganglians conceived Still Living, their nearly hour-long third LP, as something of a clearinghouse. Working, as they put it, "with no metronome," they went into the Still Living sessions to stretch out their limber melodies, tamp down their nervous energies, and wipe away some of the murk of their earlier work. That they did; the airy Still Living brings their gently unfurling, sunlit melodies and towering blasts of harmony into sharp focus.
Ganglians start their second album reaching for an anthem: the chorus of harmonizing voices that opens “Drop the Act” announces, “This is a sad, sad song for all you sad, sad people. ” The brightness of the melody and the jangly guitars that come right into accompany it certainly promise relief from sadness. However, as the song moves into the verse, the band falls down a peg into typical ‘60s copped melodies, midtempo doldrums.
After the ambitious one-two punch of their twin 2009 releases, Ganglians and Monster Head Room, Ganglians spent nearly two years on the road and in the studio formulating a follow-up. The result: Still Living, a sprawling record that looks to build on their psych-folk sound with a little bit of everything. The results are mixed, but it’s hard to knock the bubbling enthusiasm that spreads over everything they record.
Summer is winding down here in New York City. Temperatures are settling comfortably into the 80s, and July’s heatpocalypse is fading into distant memory as a new, equally dreadful prospect fills the minds of CMJ’s interns: the start of the fall school semester. But while the rest of us are mourning the season’s end, Sacramento quartet Ganglians has stepped into the void with Still Living, the group’s latest record and this summer’s final musical hurrah.
Admittedly, Ganglians’ third LP begins with a garish thud. An a cappella declaration that promptly begins the album with, “This is a sad, sad song for all you sad, sad people” is a tactic few bands could adequately execute with any semblance of grace. Luckily, however, this stain is quickly scoured with the first sounds of Ryan Grubbs’ guitar as Ganglians revert back to what they do best.