Release Date: Feb 11, 2014
Record label: Carpark Records
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
The term got torn a new one decades ago when Sonic Youth called it 'disgusting', ill-equipped to represent the effort inherent in slogging away at being an alternative rock band. But 'slacker' is a word that gets chucked around in much of the press attendant to Massachusetts' Speedy Ortiz, a band who, yes, wreath themselves in sludge and a deceptive looseness of groove, a louche delivery that belies the bitchin' shred of their fretboard acrobatics. Frontwoman Sadie Dupuis, as is often mentioned, also fronts an all-girl Pavement covers outfit, an homage to a band similarly tied up in the ideology of that word.
Amid their debut album’s tales of mutually manipulative relationships, Speedy Ortiz singer-guitarist Sadie Dupuis asked the crucial question: “If I’m despondent, who’s at fault?” Sure, blame the shithead exes and cruel kids who teased when she broke her leg, but on the Massachusetts band’s new EP, Dupuis examines her relationship with herself for clues. The results aren’t pretty, but then unpicking ugliness is one of Dupuis’ greatest strengths as a songwriter. On ‘Real Hair’, she’s by turns crazy and paranoid, a sucker for falling for people as damaged as she is before protectively pushing them away, acting cruel as a cover for her inability to connect.
"Well, it's not what you think," Sadie Dupuis sings a few seconds into "American Horror", kicking off Speedy Ortiz's new four-song EP, Real Hair. A lot of Speedy Ortiz songs seem to start this way, somewhere between a snicker and a shrug, like Dupuis just showed up late for class in snowboots and a swimcap. Throughout Real Hair, Dupuis keeps finding herself in some awfully precarious positions: sleepless on "American Horror", falling "for a bonebag" on "Oxygal", falling—or is it not falling—for a "bad news" waiter on "Shine Theory." But, whatever comes their way, on Real Hair, the increasingly confident Speedy Ortiz seem more than capable of figuring something out.
The deeper Sadie Dupuis looks into herself, the denser her music gets. As a poet trained at the graduate level, the lead songwriter of Speedy Ortiz draws upon language nimbly, dancing between lofty metaphor and slangy vulgarities. She’s as quick to invite listeners to suck her imaginary dick as she is to imagine herself as an aging racehorse (“Hitch”) or a lost swimmer freezing in a cold lake (“No Below”).
Last year found Speedy Ortiz breaking out with Major Arcana. Their short return EP, Real Hair, could easily have been a victory lap. But it is anything but. Along with the Sports EP, which preceded Major Arcana, this EP tells the story of a band in constant subtle evolution. Opener “American ….
For Real Hair, Speedy Ortiz enlisted the production services of Paul Q. Kolderie, who helps the band untangle some of the knotty discordance of its debut album, Major Arcana, in much the same way he helped the Pixies and Dinosaur Jr. balance their heavy and poppy impulses. It's a fitting collaboration, since Sadie Dupuis and company still often resemble a composite of Helium's tangled guitar interplay, Liz Phair's throaty vulnerability, and Bettie Serveert's ability to sound fragile and moshpit-ready at the same time.
Sun Kil Moon, Benji (Stream) Heartbreaking and raw, Benji is Sun Kil Moon’s best album to date, and indisputably cements Mark Kozelek’s reputation as one of the finest storytellers in contemporary indie music. Kozelek focuses each song around a central character or theme—usually friends or family from Ohio who have died or in some way encountered death—and combines tightly woven narratives with his own captivating and idiosyncratic free association to explore the way in which humans process other people’s tragedies through their own experiences. The sparse musical arrangements and haunting production only serve to heighten the album’s intimacy and ultimately render it a masterpiece of reflection and introspection, destined to be played on repeat in scores of late-night, tired, and lonely rooms.
At a recent NYC gig, Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis introduced “American Horror” as a song about the band’s favorite TV show, the fantastically campy melodrama American Horror Story. It sounded reasonable enough: the song, a wonderful slice of dissonant pop from the band’s new EP, Real Hair, halts and jerks like a schizophrenic patient in a haunted psych ward, while Dupuis paints an imagistic portrait of people left strapped to hospital beds to marinate in their own nightmares. She revealed in a later conversation she’d been kidding about that TV bit, but that only makes it better.
College Rock. You know, Indie Rock’s grandpa – Alternative Rock’s daddy? America’s Northeast begot some of the stranger, darker, fiercer bands hitting the “mainstream,” so to speak, of that subgenre – Dinosaur Jr, Throwing Muses, Sebadoh, to name a few. Speedy Ortiz, hailing from Northampton, Mass, right in the midst of this hotbed, wear these influences shamelessly on their sleeve, though the band has decried the notion that they are a throwback and resist, if not outright reject, the tag of “retro.” Well, for better or worse, their sound unmistakably hearkens back to that era and specific cadre of bands.
In case you were living under a rock last year and missed Speedy Ortiz’s breakthrough album, Major Arcana, here’s what’s up. Speedy Ortiz are a sludgy indie-rock band who toe the line between meandering guitar riffs and perfect pop songs. Sadie Dupuis’ deadpan vocal delivery and subversive lyrics liken her to a young Liz Phair, but with a giddy punk-rock energy suited for sweaty basement shows.
Calling to mind everyone from Dinosaur Jr. to The Pixies, Boston indie noise rockers follow up last year’s great full length, Major Arcana, with the solid, but frustratingly short vinyl 12” EP Real Hair (it’s also available digitally). The four-song tease, finds the band pretty much were they left off last year, churning our great indie rock songs backed by swirling distorted guitars.