Soft Shoulder: Not The New One LP (Gilgongo, 2020)

February 16, 2021 at 6:41 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Soft Shoulder: Not The New One LP

This album collects tracks recorded between 2015 and 2019 by various formations of the Phoenix-based group, essentially a vehicle for songwriter/shouter/musician James Fella. Contributors include Paul Arambula and members of No Babies, Filthy Grin, and other groups. It might not be a proper album recorded by a steady lineup, but it could pass for one, as Fella has a pretty consistent vision for his brand of Swell Maps/The Fall-esque noisy post-punk; the detours and freakouts all seem like part of the plan. Some tracks featured shorted-out electronics, and “Nowhere with Arambula” is skronky rat’s-nest free jazz. “Discard If Expired” starts out like a song but then gets constantly unwound, backed up, slipped out, and filed down, then returns to the ragged rhythm as if nothing happened. “R&S Holdings”, dedicated to featured bandmates Ricky Martyr and Sean Nieves, is a manic, heavy jam filled with vocals blown out and scattered by effects. After some more heat-damaged garage rock, “11 By 17” is another short swarm of improv jazz noise, then “Berlin’s Saat L’Lite” overlays a driving, kind of peppy rhythm with dissonant scraping and police radio transmissions. The extraneous noises go away, but then even stranger voices gargle and beatbox over the music.

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