Sonic Spotlight (Fall 2016)

It has been a while since I have last posted a SoundCloud Spotlight. Summer has treated me a little bit too well but I am now ready to get back into things. I am rebranding the series as Sonic Spotlight to reflect my interest in the development of new sonic textures coming out in modern indie music (muzak for you aficionados). For the fall of 2016, I have a Washington, DC indie band by the name of The Sea Lifecurrently under DC record label Babe City Records. The Sea Life consists of Jon Weiss and Payton Brown on guitar, Jordan Sanders on bass, and new member Jules Hale (Den-Mate) on kit. Originally a jam band out of Wootton High School in Rockville, MD, The Sea Life has transformed into something refreshing and original. Weiss notes that they are influenced by “anything that hits [us] in the feels; from Bill Callahan to Black Sabbath to David Bowie”. To relate them to some other bands, they create music like they were Mac Demarco on crack, My Bloody Valentine on acid, or even Beach Boys on PCP. But comparing them to these mainstream bands does their music no justice. They are very much unique and are hard to describe. If I had to, I would put them somewhere on the shoegaze spectrum.

I want to cover two of their currently availible songs. The first song is “NY Models“. Off of their record Transitions, “NY Models” reflects upon the anxiety of everyday life and the stress caused by the repetitions of our seemingly dead-end lives. The song talks about loneliness and the feelings of self doubt many young people in this world today feel as it gets harder and harder to make a living. This song takes its time to develop and create a wide open atmosphere through its sweeping reverb and janky guitar melodies. The imagery of “pattern neck ties, scenes from empty red eyes, are you alright?” evokes a certain feeling of monotony and deliria. It raises questions such as “Where is my escape? When will I find my purpose?” At the same time, this song reflects the saying “Hindsight is 20/20” all too well- “Now I’m looking back through what was white and black too,  now all I see, blues and reds and gray waves.” Whenever we look back, we regret our words and actions but The Sea Life proposes for us to move on. Attached to this post is a video of Jon and Payton playing a stripped down version of “NY Models” that I feel best represents the song. The next song I would like to look at is “Hounds of Thought“. This song is also off of the album Transitions. “Hounds of Thought” gives off a very King of the Beach vibe. This song discusses anxiety racing through one’s head as he or she begins to descend into a self-hating episode. A very dark undertone accompanies a very floaty and soathing texture. As the fuzzed out rhythm guitar blends with the chorused out and hall reverbed lead guitar, the vocals pierce our ears (in a good way) and create a wall between us and the outside world. The song again nods at the saying “Hindsight is 20/20”. It paints a picture of a down man reflecting upon his lost love and what he should have done. These thoughts cosume his body as the “Hounds of thought don’t lose” and eat his mind up. The very last lyrics of the song bring us a resolution- “the nervous reasons I will never know, the hounds will let you go…”. The Sea Life seeks to not only understand our own depression but also to lift us up. And with that, I want to finish saying that The Sea Life represents more than just the freedom of expression or a DIY attitude many young artists have today, they represent family and community that many bands neglect. Their family of artists create melody driven happiness that can turn any day around. Make sure you check out The Sea Life on Bandcamp and Spotify. And if you are ever in DC, check to see if they are playing live. You never know what you might find!

Peace and Love,


(edited by M.B.)

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