It’s rare I review shoegaze, which is odd considering how I believe it to be the genre that best showcases what indie music can offer; a more experimental, thoughtful and less laddish alternative to Oasis, Blur and their ilk. Although familiar with My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Ride (to name a few) from this side of the Atlantic, only The Swirlies, Whirr and Nothing loom large in my consciousness when it comes to our American cousins, this review, therefore, is an attempt to rectify this.
Cold Gawd is primarily California-based multi-instrumentalist Matt Wainwright and God Get Me The Fuck Out Of Here marks his sophomore release. According to the promo notes, the album ‘took shape in the winter of 2020 while working long solo shifts at a coffee shop in Chicago’ and was inspired by Wainwright‘s hope of returning to his hometown of Rancho Cucamonga. This was eventually achieved as evidenced by the stand-alone single Moving To California in March that preceded the album.
Sweet Jesus Wept Shit is quintessential shoegaze with heavy distortion, high volume and plaintive/yearning vocals. However, the track also has a post-hardcore influence, (note the screamed background vocals), which help give the band more of an edge compared to maybe their more whimsical contemporaries. A great opening statement of intent.
You Should Be Fine Down There is a little softer, almost romantic sounding, although the lyrics ‘thin the blood, fix the issues, still can’t sleep, no peace’, offer a different story. Musically there are obvious nods to the aforementioned My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive but with a post-punk flavour ala Cocteau Twins and The Cure. On the Pale Silver Sofa has a driving quality, a propulsive momentum with a more streamlined approach and this is something that Wainwright highlighted in his interview with Cult Nation ‘As that song evolved it became less tremolo focused and more rock bar chord’.
exceptional and makes for essential listening…
The halfway point of the album is marked by Two Iris Prints that recall the work of Chrome Waves, Deafheaven and lends a blackgaze presence to proceedings as well as some ethereal goth vibes that imbue the track with a sublime understated beauty. Comfort Thug is fascinating, a spoken word piece done to a brooding avant-garde soundtrack ala Sonic Youth (I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Lee Renaldo or Thurston Moore had guested here). Normal service is resumed with Gin, it’s the longest track on the album that has a hazy, summery feel, and seeing as the seasons are now passing into the colder months, it feels entirely necessary.
Fans of bands like Nothing and Whirr are advised to take note. I rarely, if ever, have a visceral emotional reaction when listening to music, the last time this happened was the Cinema Paradiso theme by Ennio Morricone, so a lifetime ago. This changed however with You The Well, a dreamy bittersweet love song that resonated with me on a deep level and penetrated my jaded, cynical heart. My favourite track by a country mile. The verbosely titled Passing Through The Opposite Of What It Approaches ends the album on a post-metal note, layers of cascading guitars and shrieked backing vocals bring the album to a brilliant crushing conclusion.
As Bad Brains did for hardcore, so Cold Gawd does for shoegaze in helping to encourage people of different ethnicities to break through what has traditionally been a white, middle-class genre. This would be all for naught if it wasn’t matched by the quality of the music, which in this case is exceptional and makes for essential listening.
Scribed by: Reza Mills