Week in Pop: ETA, Kristen Barredo, Micah E. Wood

Sjimon Gompers

San Joaquin's rising star—Kristen Barredo; press photo courtesy of the artist.

Darklands

Exploring the highlands, lowlands & Darklands; press photo courtesy of the band.

Moving forward to the Providence, Rhode Island scenes we introduce the band Darklands who present the world premiere of their new single of detrimental dissonance “The Hill I Choose To Die On”, featured off their upcoming album Hate It Here arriving May 18 via Atomic Action! Records. The trio of David Marcotte, Jeff Novak & Sam Patrick take the mantle of skilled noise designers from yesteryears to carve new pop hymns of disaffection & dissatisfaction for today’s weird times. With a recording assist from Trevor Vaughan; the trio sharpens their guitars to whirl wildly like the steel metal blades that fire blasts of air through wind tunnels that send the vocals & emotions flying along for the ride of their life.

Darklands’ “The Hill I Choose To Die On” is an anthem about choosing your own battles & ultimately designing your own demise. The angst from caustic conflicts that stem from within spill outward as emotions from anger, anguish & frustration fuel a fire that is expressed in a cathartic delivery of untamed combustion. The chord progression schemes cycle from moments of intimate interaction to towering high above the band like a sonic citadel that seeks to punish & serve up dishes of penance. And though there is a strong, uncompromising cyclone style of sound at work; Darklands deliver vocals that serve up vague slices of hope with even a hint of optimism that is encoded deep in the arrangement (if you listen closely). The beauty & charm of Darklands is the way that the Providence-three are able to cloak the feeling of a light that cannot be contained in a dense curtain of what can also be described as an unconquerable darkness. The peculiar paradox of this particular dichotomy is one of the most beguiling hallmarks of the trio’s style & sound that makes for repeat listens.

Hanging about with Darklands; photographed by Reid Haithcock.

Darklands’ own David Marcotte, Jeff Novak & Sam Patrick penned the following reflections about both their anticipated new album Hate It Here along with insights into the inspirations behind the single “The Hill I Choose To Die On”:

Hate It Here was written in between all the alone time that comes after a sad-ass break up, a time when all you can do is reflect on how, after almost 30 years of existence, absolutely nowhere feels like home. These are thoughts and actions I try to not dwell on as a daily routine, but when you put a lot of stock in someone to carry you into an unrealistic future only for them to walk out on you for another coast, you can’t help but want to exercise them. This album is how I chose to do so.

Musically, we knew this would be our first LP and likely the first collection of songs anyone would hear from us, so we wanted it to be the best representation of us as a band. We went back to the well of 90s bands we’ve always emulated, but the more shows we play and the more songs we write, the more I have to accept we’ll never be any of those dope bands. It’s easy to tell new fans that we love Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Archers of Loaf, Built to Spill and generally attempt to replicate that sound through a hardcore punk filter that we have yet to shed despite being well into adulthood. But at the end of the day, we will only ever sound like ourselves, for better or for worse—it’s best we try to make the most of that fact. All I listened to throughout the writing and recording process of this record was Oasis, Stone Roses and New Order.

Darklands beyond the blur; press photo courtesy of the band.

“The Hill I Choose to Die On’ is about my absolute obstinance towards doing what I’m told to do. Loved ones, friends, employers—all are helpless in attempting to contort my will around theirs. Naturally, this carries over into how we operate as a band. We have zero interest in having anyone outside of this band dictate how we conduct ourselves as people or artists. Yes, I am a pain to be around.

Musically, this song has some elements of an older demo era tune that sat on a shelf for some time. There might be some lightly pilfered Ian Brown and Torche elements, but regardless, this song is Darklands in a very undiluted form. If it’s not for you, best to shove off now. Otherwise, see you soon.

Darklands’ new album Hate It Here will be available May 18 via Atomic Action! Records.

Cover art for Darklands’ Hate It Here; courtesy of the band.

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