Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Graham Repulski on Big School records
It took me about five seconds reading the one sheet from Big School Records to throw this on the turntable this morning. Home recorded, hiss, (and yes lo-fi...is that a dirty word?) was all I needed to really want to hear this 4 song EP from Graham Repulski
The A-Side's first one "The Color is Red" doesn't disappoint with it's bottom of the barrel (top of the tweeter?) treble explosion, the tin can telephone vocal is turned up to 11 with a plucked, pinging around metallic sound of an electric. Graham is really belting out this vocal, like some of the All Time Quarterback tracks or that first Cloud Nothings record...when you have this clear vision... even purposely buried under the textures it's still following a directed plan, there's nothing haphazard about the sound here, which shouldn't be the case. Again I always worry how this heavily crafted stuff is ever going to satisfy an audience live. It's never going to be duplicated exactly like this, which can also be a great thing, if you cultivate the fans for it but you set yourself up to fail from the beginning in some ways, but it's not stopping Graham. "Everyone likes my three dollar shirt", goes then to the other extreme with this buried, muffled beat, and that scratchy vocal, he's really nailed a specific sound for himself. I think that's what can be so unique about this kind of damaged recording style, the range of expression that's possible out of a hissy and cranked out, overblown guitar is endless...there's still areas of this to explore. The vocals have no hesitation, it's far from the typical confessional personal bedroom-at-night feel...it's yelling out to everyone over ringing guitar tones, tambourine, punched in basslines, no effects. It's always going to be great to hear this kind of raw self expression for better or worse. I'm a blind fan of this genre...beginning with Alien Lanes which it has a lot in common with here.
B-Side, "Mommy's Dreaming" goes with a massive drum machine, this one really building the layers, which all come together in a bit more support of the belted static vocal. A lot of pop crafting is evident, the messed up guitar solo, scratching up and down the fret board, in that great first take, happy accident feel. This is the closest on the EP to a massive no-fi shoegaze, with a lot of lofty, poetic vocals, I think he might be sort of working on a parody of that kind of pop?
This runs right into "My New reputation". Who doesn't stop to read a handwritten page in cursive with heart stickers, lying in the street? A middle school valentines day confession stuck to a puddle. I definitely do. This takes you right back in that place...I think it might be more than where some people are willing to go. The far away rec room, out of tune piano being beaten to death, cracking vocals, major hiss or a hail storm right next to the tape player...the confidence of this vocal is such a contrast to this kind of stolen confessional recording, but it's another new direction for this sound as a whole, a new direction for the home recorder, these aren't demo's or lost recordings...these are exactly recorded the way they;re meant to be heard.
Hand numbered red vinyl with cut out, well... ripped out, slashed heart shaped balloons that fist headed characters are holding. On Big School Records, who carry that concept way into their site design with 'the principle's office' and 'students' sections... you'll find this one under 'supplies' check out their 'smoking cigarettes in the parking lot' section for this preview of the single.