Provisionally Listed: ‘Morningside’  (specifically ‘Friends’)  by Fazerdaze

Provisionally Listed: ‘Morningside’ (specifically ‘Friends’) by Fazerdaze

Never judge an album by your laptop speakers.

And NO I’m not talking about digital vs. analogue or the fucking warm sound your petroleum based non-renewable vinyl records make. But let’s have a quick chat about that before we begin. Once upon a time, and by time I mean ten years, not even half a generation ago, you could swing by your local record store on the way home from uni and buy a good condition used record that you actually wanted for about fifteen bux. I was on the dole and could buy up to my heart’s content and still have enough money to barely eat and almost pay rent. How times have changed. They’re fucking pricey now. Even with the not so shitty pay from my shitty job I have to budget for these kinds of purchases and compromise. Fortunately, because of the skyrocketing price of hard copy music, what I wanted last week is usually on the shelf the next, but something else would be there to take its place by then so you have to CHOOSE.

Let’s get one thing straight. I still encourage you all to buy records, CDs, music boxes, whatever your poison is. Dunedin only has a few record stores left and only one of them has an acceptable range of new music. Support them. Forgo your rent by helping them pay theirs. It is not all about you. Fuck you and your limited subscription tip of the iceberg Spotifuck playlist. If I hear you sprucing Spotifuck’s benefits of “having everything I want to listen to” I will inject liquid cement into even the most remote passages of your ear canals. 

Anyway, the internet. It’s useful. We love it. Yawn. Everything I’m sent to review comes into my inbox packaged in tiny little em pee three files. Which is fine. I can download them. I do. They take up valuable space on my hard drive. Hell, I even transfer those files to my personal listening device so that material is readily available and shittily reproducible in every space in my life. The house, the car, my work place. There it is: MY LIFE. Yawn. But what are YOU hearing? With access to all these different means of reproduction the very essence of a recording can be mysteriously transformed to a point where the reference, the original, the intended thing, is lost, occasionally replaced by something that is extraordinary. Most music is pretty ordinary and can pass through all these filters still smelling like evaporating cat piss in decaying carpet.

Something happened.

In the last twelve months there have been some really great songs, not just good, but strikingly memorable songs released by local artists. Here they are, the best ones, sing along if you know the words.

‘Sink’ by Street Chant.
‘Play it as it Lays’ by Astro Children
‘You’re a Stranger to Me Now’ by IE Crazy (new album out on MUZAI now)

Top songs, all of them best served live. I want to add a song to this list. Conditionally. Let’s review.

Fazerdaze. Yes, Fazerdaze. New album, well I guess debut, ‘Morningside’ is out on Flying Nun, or will be by the time this issue of Critic is in your bathroom/toilet. I really wanted to go into this one with an open mind. The last radio single thing ‘Reel’ from the first EP released in 2014 really bothered me. Why? Because reminded me of the Smashing Pumpkins song ‘1979’. I loved this band. Seriously. I knew all the songs. I had my mum embroid over my permanent penned science class project love heart logo on my too baggy discount denim jeans. I was sixteen. I was in a Smashing Pumpkins cover band. Awful! Now their music, and other music that sounds like their music, makes me nauseous. I still see the occasional t-shirt. I am your gagging future self. Inspired by ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’ you now own a domesticated pet rat. That is a joke. I am old. But I’ve seen it happen.

I started listening to ‘Morningside’ through my lil inbuilt phone speaker. What I heard was lightweight mechanised pop with a distinct home-made flavour. Simplicity is the point here. The electronic drum beats punch in and out economically and when the guitar’s not in chordsville it plucks out a ‘Disintegration’ era Cure counter melody over the keys. It’s a climbing frame to hang the vocal melodies on, all of which are buried in a tomb of reverb. It sets up a great contrast with the dryness of the instruments but it really comes at the expense of the lyrics, which, once you extract them from this digitised quick sand, are really believable confessional character studies. Something’s working here. I’ve been humming bits and pieces from ‘Jennifer’ and ‘Take it Slow’ for the last few days. But it’s all a bit elevator. Except for one song. Kinda.

I’m listening to these songs, they’re starting to blur into one another, then suddenly this familiar vocal melody spits out of the phone. I start pacing around, confused, my memory isn’t quite as good as it used to be, but I need to remember. This song is called ‘Friends’, it’s got this cheeky rubber band intro and a great verse vocal melody, I can hear the words, it’s an apology and I’m a sucker for a good apology song. Then, out of nowhere, this unexpected crushing electric chorus bursts forth and I’m out of my chair and pacing again and thinking about the other great songs I mentioned earlier and so surprised and grateful, the song it reminds me of comes out of its cave and it’s ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ by the Stone Roses, and I loved that song and I still like it and I don’t feel like being sick. It’s dynamic. It’s great. It’s the rewarding oddity on ‘Morningside’.

Then I listen to it on my home stereo and I’m confused. Something is wrong. It’s the bass frequencies. They’re present. I didn’t expect them to be there. I don’t want them to be there. It changes the entire character of the song. I sit back down.

I play it back on my cell phone and it all comes back together.

‘Friends’. It’s a great song. 

Provided you listen to it on cheap speakers. 

This article first appeared in Issue 9, 2017.
Posted 12:17pm Sunday 30th April 2017 by Reg Norris.