December 16, 2009
Sufjan Stevens wrote a pretty interesting esssay a couple years back about “Friend Rock”, music made by friends, and the unusual moral conundrums that it can stir up in a music enthusiast. While he concludes that the term is non-evaluative and there is such a thing as good friend rock, the connotations remain of music that is simply tolerated to keep up good appearance. I’ve listened to enough “Friend Rock” over the years that I think I can tell the difference, and Scenic Square falls into the rare category of being really really good. Basically, I would dig this stuff even if I didn’t go to high school with these fellas.
Scenic Square’s debut album combines a variety of styles from math rock to shoegaze to post-rock and creates a dense sonic landscape of shimmering electronica. The bleeps and blops are matched with new-wave inspired percussion and Jason Robert’s breathy, hushed vocals. “I Don’t Want To Go” is the album’s most delightful and addicting track, with a glisten of beats and feedback-y guitar backing a sweetly romantic vocal hook “I may never ever be alone, but that’s ok cause I don’t want to go”. “Neon Lights” is a more restrained slow jam that features radiant bells and subtle vocal harmony. Like the rest of the album, it’s both sweet and uplifting.
You can download the album at the band’s website (name your own price).