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Posted on December 24th, 2013 (10:00 am) by Sachia Sanchez

When Craig Nice and Andy Rauworth started playing music together, they certainly didn't envision the amount of success and popularity they would achieve. Less likely that they would break up and discontinue making music after being together for so long. Gauntlet Hair are a shoegaze/noise punk band based out of Colorado, with beginnings in Chicago when Nice and Rauworth began playing when they were freshmen in high school. Stills is their final project tallying at about ten songs, released on Dead Oceans label.

Stills certainly has a unique texture to the singing and progression, unlike its predecessor the self-titled, debut record, the energy and the psychedelic pop influences are gone. Instead we are presented with a raw musical expression. While it’s hard to say if the break-up was influenced by the release of this album, the moods between the albums are drastically different. This is a darker side of Gauntlet Hair.

Many tracks feature a really cheesy '80s synth vibe. “Bad Apple” is a track that could have easily been a Depeche Mode song. It’s a heavy track featuring lyrics like, “This chamber can't come back to put this war, deal with it another comes back, only 'cause another came back, my gods sing up with bad apple.” The lyrics are dense and this record isn’t going to be one that will get a lot of rotations at parties. “New to It” does not sound like anything that Illinois would inspire. It is distinctly west coast which cleverly features influences of surfer punk. “Falling Out” follows suit and sounds almost Wavves-inspired: it’s an apathetic remark to how they feel about the people who have hurt them. In “Heave,” the vocals sound remarkably reminiscent of British punk. There is a lot of loss and longing here, and while those themes are touched by every artist at one point or another, you can’t help but wonder who broke their hearts so badly that they retaliated in such a manner. “G.I.D.” has these banging drums which alternate with synths, here they are trying to woo someone unsuccessfully. It’s a high school love story.

The themes hosted in Stills hardly inspire or entertain. It seems like this record was almost rushed, taped together in the hopes that the hype from their debut record had not dissipated. “Obey Me” is one track that stands out, despite its length. It offers a conclave of synths and spacey vocals. This is how their darker side should have been delivered. Stills is barely over thirty minutes long, yet it manages to showcase Gauntlet Hair’s disinterest in making music.

Gauntlet Hair is putting a lot of distance from their original music and themes. In an effort to score a darker album, Gauntlet Hair falls short. The vocals are about as distorted and alien as before, but the music is now a bit heavier and emotionally tasking to deal with. NIce and Rauworth sound bored in the record; the singing is dull and a lot of the emphasis is made on music production. The whiny and monotone vocals at time are too distracting to appreciate the music which is fantastic, but the overall effort leaves the listener disappointed. Unfortunately we may never see how Gauntlet Hair would have improved from this record.

Track List:
1. Human Nature
2. Spew
3. Simple
4. Bad Apple
5. New To It
6. Obey Me
7. Heave
8. G.I.D.
9. Falling Out
10. Waste Your Art

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

61 / 100
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