Sunday, June 6, 2021

Bachelor - Doomin’ Sun

Bachelor consists of Melina Duterte (Jay Som) and Ellen Kempner (Palehound), two talented LA-based singer-songwriters. They share writing credits in Bachelor, both sing and play, and apparently, upon meeting a few years ago, became inseparable friends. This is a terrific record; their talent at rock guitar, harmony vocals and songwriting is surpassed only by their superb instincts. The way they wring melody out of one electric guitar while making the other one squall; the way they have perfected the quiet/loud/quiet/loud dynamic; and mostly the way they perform their vocals until you are wondering if they are double-tracked, triple-tracked, or they just have that kind of amazing ability to sync up together - all these things tell you they must have spent months squeezing sounds out of a studio full of equipment, right? Well, apparently, they recorded the album in about a two week period at a house they rented, in bursts of what must have been hysterical joy. Some of this stuff is funny, some of it is poignant, but all of it sounds amazing. I hear echoes of many of my favorite 90's "indie rock" favorites - Guided by Voices, The Breeders, The Pixies (check out that roaring chorus in "Stay in the Car") - and Bachelor does not pale by comparison to those bands. Here's "Stay in the Car":

They show a real talent and dexterity at using a variety of production and musical effects throughout the record. "Spin Out" and "Moon", particularly, are well-layered and feature contrasts between the harmonic vocal sounds and a variety of stretched-out and treated guitar and synth sounds for a dreamlike quality that breaks up the intensity of the guitar tracks. Later on, the 4:06 “Aurora” takes the time to stretch out, and build some drum and synth tracks on top of a simple piano backing of the quiet, husky vocals which move up and back in the mix and closes out with an ethereal guitar solo. It’s a pretty song, and a nice use of these effects:

There is really not a weak track on this record. It’s an interesting dynamic, having two established young solo artists/bandleaders come together to form another band, just because they thought it would be fun to record together. Often it occurs in reverse - Uncle Tupelo or Drive-by Truckers break up and we get two great bands. But here, we get what sounds like a great new band from the opposite impulse. Duterte and Kempner were each making music on their own, but thought there was something else, something more, they could do together. And it’s lucky for us that they did. The record is out now (5/28) on Polyvinyl Records. 

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