lowcloudcover: …I Took a Second Too Long (Breathing Room Records, 2004)
With reference to the term “shoegaze”, one is usually referring to one narrow brand of music. Usually, “shoegaze” features heavily affected walls of guitars, simple bass lines, buried non-descript vocals with unintelligible lyrics, and a drum part that grooves less than it simply keeps a steady beat. And, we love shoegaze for what it is, because frequently that typical combination of sounds add up to become a wondrous musical experience! However, there are times when a subgenre is stretched just enough to breathe new life into it, giving the listener a new frame of reference from which to listen to music. California band lowcloudcover provides that new vision for shoegaze, as their 30 minute long EP …I Took a Second Too Long fuses the wall of guitar approach to shoegaze with the groove of rock and the dark imagery of goth. What results from this mixture of influences is a fresh take on shoegaze, as well as an interesting listen from an up and coming band.
…I Took a Second Too Long opens with “Intro”, a 1 minute long experimental jumble of distorted guitar sounds that eventually give way to a simple electronic drum beat. The beat of the drum beat flows right into the rhythm of the live drums that kick in for “Menace”. Indeed, the title for this song is apt, as the song reeks of goth influences with its dark melody and frantic male/female vocals. The guitars on this song scream and wail mournfully, while the rhythm section of Dario Izarraras and Jay Richardson provide a crisp groove. The song propels itself mercifully towards its end incorporating keyboards that give it a S.S. Bountyhunter feel. “Menace”, blends into the majestic “Where Did You Go”. This 7 minute song features another tight groove, eerie keyboard sounds buried in the mix, as well as nice guitar work (both in the wall of sound shoegaze type as well as more conventional rock guitar lines). However, the song itself is nicely written with a catchy melody in both the verses and chorus, and excellent male vocals soaring above the music. The song builds to a long extended jam that any shoegaze fan would appreciate, as lowcloudcover patiently grooves along while incorporating more ethereal underlying sounds. The groove then fades away to reveal dreamy calm sounds that eventually blend right into the opening strains of “The Last Lemming”. “The Last Lemming” begins creepily, with disjointed guitar parts and unnerving affected vocals. The song suddenly erupts in tempo with menacing guitar work and a steady rhythm, before allowing the slow tempo and lonely sounding vocals to appear again. “The Last Lemming” then slowly builds into a heart-breaking climax, with more soaring male vocals and sensitive put powerful full band instrumentation. Subtle drones wash over the listener as a postlude, and “Battle Scars” rears its head with its energetic rock feel. The melody and overall again sounds vaguely reminiscent of S.S. Bountyhunter, yet incorporates a more live feel in the music with the vigorous drum and guitar playing. …I Took a Second Too Long ends with “Give Me Mine”, which starts out conventionally enough as a dark pseudo-slowcore song, only to turn on its head partway through as a tense noisy musical expression. Aggressive guitars, buried keyboards, and the ever-driving groove of Izarraras and Richardson bring the song (and the EP) to a tortured yet satisfying conclusion.
All throughout …I Took a Second Too Long, the recording and production quality shine, giving the EP a slick professional feel while sacrificing nothing of the amazing mood that lowcloudcover has strived to create. And, in encased in an attractive package, …I Took a Second Too Long also looks like a top-notch professional project. As such, the EP pits lowcloudcover as a serious band with a unique sound and the chops to pursue their singular vision of dark shoegaze/rock/goth music. The press release that accompanied …I Took a Second Too Long portrays the sound of lowcloudcover as “black paint pouring straight from the can, anticipating at the edge and then dropping in a great rush”. This description vividly describes this band’s accomplishment in creating a collection of songs that boldly take their place at the edge of the shoegaze scene.
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