One of the things that i love about my "work" here on EvilSponge is finding great music that i might not have otherwise heard. Right now, New Ruins by Candace is rocking my world. The band is right up my alley: female voices in harmony, virtuoso bass played as a melody instrument, general hazy overall musical feel, a hint of the '80s hanging over everything, and chiming guitarwork.
Candace remind me of Tamaryn (well, the first 2 LPs), and Warpaint. This is what i like to listen to, and New Ruins has really been rocking my world these past few months, and is in my opinion, the first great record of 2018.
The band is a three piece: Sarah Rose on guitar, bass, and vocals with Sarah Nienaber on all of those plus synths, and drummer Mara Appel Des Lauriers who also sings. It is not clear who sings lead, or even if the same vocalist sings all of the songs here. Maybe they take turns singing lead (a la Warpaint) or maybe one sings as the others add backing harmonies. Who can tell. I can tell this though -- there is a lot of talent in those three women. And it really shows through on the record.
The album starts with the guitar slowly distorted so that it is a blur, a roar, and over this the bass picks a melody that skips along. The voice comes in, hushed and quiet, and Sunlight bounces along. On the chorus, the guitar sparkles into focus with clear chiming as the bass picks a happy little melody. Lovely.
The second track, Rewind is insanely catchy. The rhythm here really swings, the bass plunking away powerfully as the drums keep a steady beat. The guitar plays a light chiming guitar riff that reminds me of July Skies. The voice here is abbreviated, the sounds almost swallowed in a staccato pattern that mirrors the steady drumming and the thunking bass. On the choruses, there is just a hint of distortion as the whole thing soars. This is really lovely.
Candace channel The Ocean Blue on Between the Day and Now, a sparkly bright tune that sounds almost like an outtake from Cerulean. The voice is a light hum and the guitars are echoed and chiming. It reverbs along nicely with a walking bass riff.
Waltz is, well, a slow waltz. Something about tapped drums in slow 3/4 time reminds me of clean-cut early 1960s teen pop, and the picked guitar certainly helps maintain that illusion. However, the voices are covered in tremolo, the harmonies wavering in a way reminiscent of Warpaint.
Whoever plays guitar on Wallflower has clearly listened to early Felt, as there is a Maurice Deebank feel to the guitar here. The guitar chimes in slow layers, stepping on the chorus into a big reverbing sound as the tune seems to slow down around it. The bass is subtle here, more subdued than on a lot of other tracks, but it all still works well.
On Baggy the bass is a fast dancing riff. The voice here sounds different to me as well, meaning that either a different member of the trio is singing lead or that the vocal production is different. The guitar reminds me of Peter Koppes circa Starfish a nice trebly blur.
The guitar disappears under a western desert blue on Mendocino. The long slow notes under tremolo pair well with the martial drum beat. Very Californian. New Ruins seems Californian as well, but instead of the desert, i am here reminded of the cocaine-drenched LA suburbs in the late 1970s and the tremendous pop that spawned. Candace do this stuff amazingly well.
And finally the record ends with Wait Always, a slow song with the guitar wavering for a few seconds each note as the bass picks a lazy riff and the drums tap a lethargic beat. Distortion and echo flows like crazy around the voice, and at the end of the song is ramps up with all them singing in harmony, a very beautiful moment to end the album.
An album that really impresses. I hope to hear more from this trio.