There’s something about the omnipresent sunshine in San Diego that prompts the city’s musical talent to create bleak, sinister songs in hopes to deflect it. From the theatrical goth of The Black Heart Procession to the subdued gloom of Pinback to the sci-fi/horror punk of Kill Me Tomorrow, there’s a shared vein of shadowyness in many of the scene’s best bands. As far as I know, there’s no secret society of Southern California musicians who band together and say “let’s be dark!” And yet, it’s a common occurrence. One of the newest and most exciting bands to come from the seaside city shares these themes, as well, even naming themselves after the one form of relief we receive from the sun in June – LowCloudCover.
LowCloudCover is dark and eerie, much like many of the aforementioned acts, but in an entirely different way. They aren’t exactly goth. They aren’t so much theatrical. They’re not mopey. And unlike Kill Me Tomorrow, I’m pretty sure they’re human. LowCloudCover’s music is murky and dense, heavy with layers of effects, melding into a thick stew of sound. Bassist Dario Izzararas and Jay Richardson cement a solid, menacing foundation of pulse-pounding low end while Greg Russell’s surreal guitar and Bekkah Walker’s haunting synth thicken the sonic textures into a hypnotic, diaphanous gauze. But tossed into the heady mix are melodies, sinister and gorgeous, and, more importantly, memorable.
The band’s second release and first for Breathing Room Records, …I Took a Second Too Long, blends all of these elements into an adrenaline inducing thirty-minute rush. Boasting only six tracks (including a one-minute opener), Second displays a band that’s not afraid to stretch a song well into unheard-of lengths in pop music. But it never gets boring. Nine-minute centerpiece “The Last Lemming,” for instance, could very well be three songs, as it takes so many twists and turns, it’s more fitting to call it an opus, as “song” doesn’t really do it justice. The seven-minute “Where Did You Go?” is similarly epic, but far more unsettling and without the dreamy interludes.
The record’s shorter songs, however, have a more immediate appeal, though you couldn’t exactly call them upbeat. Proper album opener “Menace” is exactly what the title implies, as minor-key keyboards and droning guitars race over Jay and Dario’s ironclad stomp. “Battle Scars” is similarly harrowing, sharing more in common with early-80s post-punk than, say, My Bloody Valentine. But closer “Give Me Mine” offers no sign of light at the end of the tunnel. If anything, it’s the creepiest track of them all, burying Russell’s vocals in reverb as Walker’s synth tones whirr overhead.
LowCloudCover’s music is murky and uncomfortable. And yet it’s strangely beautiful and powerful. In a live setting, the band is even more formidable, playing so loud they’ve been known to shift a contact lens with bass alone. When LowCloudCover comes to your town, don’t miss them. Just remember to wear protection.
Hint Hint – Young Days
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Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.