In three and a half decades of life on this earth, I have yet to find a better pairing for angst than loud guitars, pounding drums, and slightly off-tune vocals. The 90s was undeniably the peak of this sort of sonic therapy, offering up bands like the Smashing Pumpkins, HUM, Far, Nirvana, and countless others that created a template so perfectly tailored for youthful ennui that I struggle to think of how teenagers coped before 1991.
I’m not sure if any member of Daydreamer was alive in the 90s—this is a kind of universally adolescent disquietness that I can’t imagine anyone older than 25 capturing with this sort of accuracy—but their EP Out of Earshot captures the musical sweet spot of 90s alt-rock with so much authenticity that it seems like they released this album during the Clinton administration.
To say that the Philadelphia trio pays tribute to the shoegaze and grunge bands of yore would be an understatement. If alt-rock was a religion, they would be monks, sequestered away from society and taking vows of…well, not silence, but you get the idea. This EP is an act of devotion to the gods of electric guitars and drum sets.
It is Loud with a capital L, in the kind of way that the power still hits you even without cranking your own speakers. It’s the kind of music that Rivers Cuomo was talking about in “In the Garage.” This kind of rock and roll that is created in an effort of drowning out all of the troubles in your life, and is in turn listened to in an effort to do the same. It reminds me of when I first realized just how exciting distorted amps and feedback and cymbal crashes could be, when I would turn my amp all the way up until it became the only thing in the world I was aware of.
I realize that all this talk about its youthful exuberance might give the wrong impression; this is a sophisticated record. The songwriting is top-notch with instrumental performances to match. The guitar riffs are fresh and inventive, the drums moving through tempo changes and rhythmic shifts like a premiere athlete. The melodies are infectious, practically designed for singing along.
It’s over in an all-too-brief seventeen minutes, but every moment of that is pure alt-rock bliss, begging to be played on repeat.
Out of Earshot is out now on digital, but if the nostalgia factor isn’t strong enough, you can order it on cassette through Better Days Will Haunt You (I already ordered mine).