Saturday, December 15, 2012

Enterprising Sidewalks: The Comeback of Lorelei

In the pre-internet days, it was hard to know when indie bands were going to drop something new.

And even though I sort of knew Mike Schulman (and some of those Slumberland kids) from college, I usually didn't know what the label was doing until I rolled into Vinyl Ink -- where Schulman worked and other folks congregated -- and took a scan of the shelves to see what was out.

But, oddly, one of my favorite Slumberland releases was found in a pawn shop bin.

Yep, I first heard Everyone Must Touch The Stove after finding the CD for a few bucks in a pawn shop in the Silver Spring area.

Sorry Mike.

Anyway, Lorelei -- Matthew Dingee, Stephen Gardner, and Davis White -- are back with their first new record in nearly 18 years. The Slumberland sound is there but the edges have been polished.

Recorded by Ben Bailes (Chessie) and Archie Moore (Velocity Girl, The Saturday People, and on and on), and Guy Fixsen, Enterprising Sidewalks is a shiny blur of effects, smooth vocals, inventive drumming, and big tunes.

"Hammer Meets Tongs" uses jazzy drumming and a stop/start pattern to great effect. Like a lot of the tunes on Enterprising Sidewalks, Kitchens of Distinction seem to be a big influence this time around. If this is still shoegaze, it's a bit more focused than things were 18 years ago.

"Majority Stakes" with its Krupa-beat and Joy Division-vocal-style moves the record into moody territory before "Wound Up" brings things back to the land of familiar indie rock.

"Let Go Of Our Ego" features a ferocious guitar-attack from Dingee -- a nod to the band's glorious past, as does "Three Interlocking Screens" and a few other cuts on the record.

"Dismissal Conversation" and a few other tracks wave briefly at those lads in Modest Mouse but the pieces here are not as jarring or discordant. Lorelei make loud music that somehow seems smooth and serene; how can something so loud be so calm?

"Hole Punch" works those effects pedals like Robin Guthrie. Lorelei, with their band name presumably from that awesome Cocteau Twins song, owe just as much to the sonic expanses of 4AD territory -- the non-Pixies stuff -- as they do to the obvious touchstones of Ride and My Bloody Valentine.

Enterprising Sidewalks is a remarkably crisp and clean sounding record -- thank Archie Moore, I'd guess, as he worked a similar magic on that first Pains Of Being Pure At Heart record -- which retains the fury, controlled this time, of those early noise-worshipping Slumberland releases.

Follow Lorelei on their official website:

Buy Enterprising Sidewalks from Slumberland Records.