Friday, July 30, 2010

The Famines on Mammoth Cave

This came in the stack of new singles from Paul at the Mammoth Cave, who is busily documenting a pretty amazing sounding scene from up North, including their latest single form The Famines.

I love this black and white aesthetic Mammoth Cave has going on these and this newspaper looking cover is great. It's actually an article from George Orwell about politics and the English language, mostly railing against the decline of grammar and how basically if you can't even use standard rules to communicate then basically whatever you're talking about starts out at a disadvantage...I think? it was pretty long, and printed really tiny after having been xeroxed so, I was filling in the dots.

The Famines, like any two piece, start out with very little to work with to make an impression of even a melody. But these self imposed restrictions often create rules to constantly fight against. Out of necessity they're making a hell of a noise, in 'Syllable' the guitar rhythm and drums are completely divorced from each other, then the vocal delivery is off on it's own Garrett is managing to keep these two separate melodies going is really his own, it isn't easy to follow.

The impressive thing about any massively blown out sound like this is the seemingly infinite amount of expression in recording imperfectly. Does is sound like Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Tyvek? In ways, but not really at the same time. Is it all overdriven in the red with a steady layer of fuzz coating the whole thing? Well.....yea.
I think what probably is offending everyone when the term 'lo-fi' is even mentioned is that it applies to such a wide reaching diverse cross section of bands...does it need to be broken down further into subcategories? That seems to always be the solution. The point is that doesn't describe what's happening might as well tell me about the microphones and drum kit...all of that can be useful, but it's a tiny part of the the fuck does it come together? What are they getting at?
'Got Lies', the B-Side is not blues so much as maybe it's rooted in the Kinks, that once removed reinterpreted sound. I'm tempted to think this of this one as a sort of punk velvet underground. It's got those droning chords, especially in the second refrain, it's almost a bowed sitar sound? But maybe that comes from again connecting those dots between peaks of sound waves. Sounds have a weird way of changing at these volumes. This track is insanely complex while still being a straight up catchy melodic song. The transition between a sort of punk rockabilly down to the acapella vocals and tom solo involves numerous free form steps that can only be played by a tight two piece like this.
That moment when it's just Garrett alone singing for a minute with the hum of an amp in the background is just one of those great moments they, (and I) appreciate for just a second. they have that restraint to work at melody and structure this way. It's surprising and stays grounded in previous eras sounds but turning into something else.
It's the reason for a B-Side on a single, they get outside the box for a second.
I like the idea that they are recording so loud because of the quiet moments like that. So when it picks up again of course it's peaking and blown out, it's doing it's job of being that foil to the quiet dark verse. It's all delivered with just the right amount of echo that bounces off itself so you can only vaguely infer there's some kind of fucked up situation with a girl going on.

Get it from Mammoth Cave, the Famines sound bad ass based on the other stuff on their website, these sound like a departure from some of the tracks I heard, but I can see why you'd put this on a sweet, sweet seven inch.
And god damn it if they don't include a download card....I guess I'm going to have to look into doing that for my single, because it's freaking convenient...christ, more technology B.S. to possibly go wrong.

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