Pressing Concerns: Supernowhere, Allegra Krieger, Cashmere Washington, Poorly Drawn House

A special, earlier-in-the-week Pressing Concerns looks at new albums from Supernowhere, Allegra Krieger, and Poorly Drawn House, and the latest EP from Cashmere Washington. In other news, expect the Rosy Overdrive February playlist post to go up about a week from now.

If you’re looking for more new music, you can browse previous editions of Pressing Concerns or visit the site directory.

Supernowhere – Skinless Takes a Flight

Release date: March 2nd
Record label: Topshelf
Genre: Indie rock, math rock, dreamy jangly rock
Formats: Vinyl, CD, cassette, digital
Pull track: Basement Window

One of the more promising under-the-radar developments of 2021 was Topshelf Records’ signing of Supernowhere and re-releasing their 2018 debut record Gestalt last August. The trio flipped from the Northeast to the Northwest in between their first record and its follow-up, relocating to Seattle from Burlington, Vermont, but you’d be hard-pressed to nail the songs on Skinless Takes a Flight to anywhere geographically. Because apparently the material for this record was born out of outtakes from Gestalt, it’s no surprise that Skinless Takes a Flight isn’t a huge departure, but it’s equally apparent that these songs have grown in the interstitial time. They’re are a little more refined, a little less noisy—the shimmery, ornamental playing of guitarist/vocalist Kurt Henry has always been important to Supernowhere’s sound, but it’s even more apparent here, feeling as central as bassist/usual lead singer Meredith Davey’s vocals.

Of course, Henry’s guitar isn’t the only element at work in spinning the webs of Skinless Takes a Flight—Davey’s bass and Matthew Anderson’s drumming are essential elements in constructing Supernowhere’s circular, tangled version of indie rock (the first two songs are called “Circles” and “Dirty Tangle”, by the way). Lead single “Basement Window” features a passionate vocal from Davey that would be equally at home on an emo-tinged rock or indie folk song, a melodic 80s post-punk bassline, and a recurring jangle-rock guitar arpeggio. It’s a very specific amalgamation of sounds that Supernowhere makes sound as natural as a three-chord garage rock stomp. Davey is an inviting frontperson, and Skinless Takes a Flight congeals into pure accessibility at times (like the Henry-sung dream pop of “The Hand”), but the record is an occasionally incidental pop record, if anything—like a wild animal wandering through a forest, equally likely to advance through brush and bramble as to walk along the main path. (Bandcamp link)

Allegra Krieger – Precious Thing

Release date: March 4th
Record label: Northern Spy
Genre: Indie folk
Formats: CD, cassette, digital
Pull track: Wake Me If I’m Asleep

Precious Thing opens with nearly two minutes of instrumental before the opening lines float in with Krieger remarking, “The ambulance’s siren mixes with the violin / There’s a body on a bed rolling down the street”.  The world in which Precious Thing resides is already firmly established. The New York-based Allegra Krieger crossed the country to record the record, her third full-length, in the Bay Area with Luke Temple of Here We Go Magic, and the touches of Temple and a stable of other multi-instrumentalists are felt all over Precious Thing. The contributions of Rob Taylor are particularly notable—upright bass and strings accompany Krieger’s delicately-played, loping acoustic guitar and piano on every track. A folk record recorded in California with “respectable” instrumental flourishes runs the risk of being a pastiche affair, but Krieger the songwriter seems to have very little interest in that.

In Precious Thing, the past is relevant to Krieger, but mostly in regards to how it shapes the present, like how childhood communion experiences figure into “I Drank Wine” (“Thought they were bottles of blood, thought they were cleanin’ me up…Now I gotta get there myself”). The pedal steel and synth accents of “Just for the Night” put it into “cosmic country” territory even as Krieger grounds it on the subway, looking out the window. The title track features a different kind of passive observation, with Krieger taking the long view of something leaving her life (“I’m not giving up on you, I’m only giving time the chance to unravel into the past”). The closing track, “Walking”, takes on a simple folk ramble that’s perhaps Precious Thing’s most traditional moment musically, even as Krieger’s words turn romantic wanderlust on its head: “Now I go walking, just to do something / I don’t expect wonder or magic or rain”. The routine in “Walking”, captured this way, is forever, but so is everything that led up to it and, soon, whatever comes next. That’s a way to deal with eternity. (Bandcamp link)

Cashmere Washington – Almost Country for Old Men, Electro Country for They/Them

Release date: February 25th
Record label: Self-released
Genre: Lo-fi indie rock
Formats: Digital
Pull track: Charlie Brown

I already touched on this one when I premiered the song “Rosy” (no relation) last week, but Almost Country for Old Men, Electro Country for They/Them is worth taking a look at as a whole. The second in Cashmere Washington’s debut trio of EPs continues Thomas Dunn’s blend of indie rock with “beat-making and lo-fi production”—to give you an idea of where they’re coming from, the project is named after a song from jazz/math rock group Sharks Keep Moving, and Dunn has seemed to cite J. Dilla in promoting this EP more than any other influence. Almost Country for Old Men… feels more relaxed and confident than last year’s The Shape of Things to Come, not reaching as far into the emo tinge that appropriately colored that EP’s formative recollection. Instead, the new EP casts a wide net, appropriate for someone like Dunn’s dexterity.

The sleek piano-and-beats combo “Life Is” opens up Almost Country for Old Men… in more ways that just the obvious, and the other piano-centric song on the record, “Anywhere”, is a straight-up ballad. On the other end of the spectrum, “Charlie Brown” beefs up a slacker-rock body with a melodic bass groove, and “Rosy” flirts with pop punk. Sometimes the shift comes within the same song—most of “I Want You” features Dunn spilling out the lyrics in an earnest way that’s the most clear callback to The Shape of Things to Come, before ramping up to a deliberate Doug Martsch/J. Mascis guitar fireworks display in its last minute. All six of these tracks are highlights. I spoke of Cashmere Washington’s “promise” and “potential” when talking about The Shape of Things to Come; it’s being realized before our very ears. (Bandcamp link)

Poorly Drawn House – Home Doesn’t Have Four Walls

Release date: February 23rd
Record label: Candlepin
Genre: Post-rock, slowcore
Formats: CD, cassette, digital
Pull track: Night Hawks

Poorly Drawn House are like an amalgamation of all your favorite haunted 90s bands. The South Carolina trio clearly have spent time with with the layered, fuzzy side of slowcore, although they aren’t committed to the monotone vibe as strongly as your Bedheads and your Dusters. There are wide open spaces calling to mind the last two Talk Talk albums, as well as everyone’s favorite Talk Talk tribute band, Bark Psychosis. And while for the most part singer/guitarist Anthony Gansauer’s vocals are quietly whispered and the band not far behind, they do have a couple post-rock side of post-hardcore (or maybe post-hardcore side of post-rock) moments like Slint or Unwound. After writing these notes, Poorly Drawn House confirmed all of these bands as influences in a Post-Trash feature, so don’t take my word for it!

Album opener “The Walls As Witness” starts with a single chord that hangs in the air for a bit before repeating, builds to something of an indie rock crescendo, and then bows out with cricket noises. “Night Hawks” takes a different path, barreling strongly right out of the gate only to wander around in a daze for the last half of the song. Horns and a clarinet pop up regularly throughout Home Doesn’t Have Four Walls, most prominently filling in the space in between the moments when the trio lock together, but also adding to the noise when they do. There’s a rhythm to Home Doesn’t Have Four Walls that’s only really interrupted by the screaming at the end of “Thereupon the Grass”, the one moment where they’re more Rodan than Slint. Even then, though, the vocals are mixed lower than the instruments, sounding like they’re coming from another room. It’s okay, kids, sometimes the walls just make that noise. No need to worry. (Bandcamp link)

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