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The guitar line proves the immediate guide, like a Real Estate song that grew up and out of its parents basement, or maybe a Wavves song that never got all the way to the beach, “Irene” tumbles forward with a laissez-faire inevitability. This group of 19-year-olds craft a sort of washed out punk: short songs that hit again and again with an intensity that never borders on the intentional.

by Geoff Nelson

24 Jun 2013


Photo: Josh Anderson

The band’s new sound features a more synthesizer-heavy backdrop coupled with strong baselines and the beautiful hurricane of singer Sarah Negahdari’s vocals. Negahdari, most recently playing bass on tour with Silversun Pickups, charms at the top of the room on “Galaxy”, leaning into the duet as a sea of swirling guitars spin around her. The Fleetwood Mac influence - and Negahdari confirmed this isn’t just critical speculation - is less easy to spot on “Galaxy” than it is on “Endless”, but the guitar acrobatics give a mild hint, discrete objects held aloft, a spinning infinity. If modern rock and alternative radio producers have an ounce of vision, “Endless” will be at radio by the end of the summer and Amethyst will be making its case for one the best independent rock records of 2013. (32ft/second)

On “Native American”, the band, an all female foursome, layers vocals and guitars in a hazy, cold medicine architecture. Noticeably changing tempo between verse and chorus, a slower drive in the refrain, indicating something of an inside-out ethos, already lilting guitars gone contemplative in a nearly wordless chorus that is respite inside of respite.

While flashing ode to the big tents under which James Blake, the xx and the Weekend have re-appropriated, and in some cases bastardized, the weird R&B fever that took hold in 2011, Aquilo show more interest in a cloud-clearing chorus on lead demo, “Calling Me”. It is bifurcated to be sure, verses at one timbre and refrain at another, but the design is an intentional dualism: at once elegant and memorable.

Reprinted with permission from 32ft/second.

A very promising act out of Sheffield, Blessa return with their second single, “Pale”, still firmly lodged in the gauzy sonics that sound like a never-ending loop of the roller coaster scene in Fear. The band builds layers of reverberating guitars and winsome vocals before tipping toward a punctuating chorus, most memorably turning the word “hold” into a three syllable experience. It is love in reverse, memorialized and pretty from far away. The final movement, propulsive and seasick in the best of ways, focuses on the lyric, “it was impossibly easy for you”—which maybe it wasn’t but this doesn’t seem to matter here—all forgotten in the fires of an arrangement in full self-actualization mode.

Reprinted with permission from 32ft/second.

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