The New Year - Snow

by Rob Taylor Rating:9 Release Date:2017-04-28

Bubba and Matt Kadane’s band,The New Year is really a continuation in spirit and execution of their earlier band, Bedhead (1991-1998), the proponents of what came to be called 'slo-core', another silly label which misrepresented the intense power Bedhead could summon at the apotheosis of their compositions. Whereas ‘slo-core’ connotes something slow or meandering punctuated by loud bursts of energy, the intense release of suppressed emotion in the music of the Kadanes comes more from a beautifully measured increase in pace and volume, the pulse quickening and the melody remaining steady, the zenith of development an eruption of an ecstatic three guitar attack, sharing a lot in common with bands like Slint and Mogwai. The trance-like repetition of some very attractive melodic lines is a Velvets characteristic, and the droll singing signifies a cool detachment from the world, allowing the guitars to dictate the mood.

There have been no releases from The New Year since 2008’s self-titled, but Bubba and Matt Kadane have been collaborating with David Bazan and Will Johnson in the band, Overseas since 2012.

They return with The New Year’s new album, Snow, essentially distilling the sounds of the band and its predecessor, Bedhead into an album of such lovely understatement that you’d be forgiven for failing to realise immediately just how great it is. Album single, ‘Recent History’ captures the soul of their music with an undistinguished intro which shifts effortlessly up two gears, establishing its trance-like melody and playing with it, adding lines until an almost devotional indie-rock polyphony plummets ahead at the track’s core. Oddly, the bass is buried in the mix so as to be almost indiscernible, but when you concentrate you realise that, in fact, it provides a kind of subterranean layer to the song’s rhythm.

The ruminative ‘Homebody’ may not have such anticipation at its climax, but those familiar with this band, and Bedhead, know that such songs have a solemnity which slots perfectly into their album format. Sojourns for the world-weary.  ‘Snow’ and ‘The Last Fall’ are keyboard lead sound pictures which are evocative but slightly prosaic, but again, sometimes when you’re confronted by the perfect, you’re disappointed in the imperfect. 

The Kadanes really excel in tracks like the aforementioned ‘Recent History’, and the truly wonderful ‘The Beast’ where the guitars meld to create some really unusual textures, powerful riffing with some oddly flat-note acoustic strumming, drumming which stop-starts with a lovely crisp attack on the cymbals, culminating in a wobbly repetitive guitar melody in polyphonic harmony with keyboard. 

Musicianship of the highest order.

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