With the release of its long-awaited self-titled album, Golomb has arrived and is here with a statement record. One that boasts themes of isolation, the warmth of being together, mental hurdles, and many more intricate, intimate topics. You won’t have to go much further than the first three songs to become a believer, but everything about this album will want you to keep pushing forward for more. From the crushing guitar and drums and poignant lyrics of “Western Threshold” to the wondrous mysticism of tour de force track “Energy,” Golomb has it all and delicately packages it up into an ethereal presentation of experimental rock and alternative shoegaze.
“Unexpected Negative Force” wastes no time in getting off, with a blistering chorus—“Good thoughts, bad thoughts, good thoughts/Can’t control them/Bad thoughts, good thoughts, bad thoughts/Always confuse them”—and scorching drums to boot. It’s a perfect nose-first dive into the world of Golomb. The following track “Heartbeat” features the softer side of Golomb, and when those slithering undertones and screeching guitars appear throughout the record, it’s almost guaranteed to make your skin crawl. “Heartbeat” surely achieves that.
Golomb evokes comparisons to My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything (“Energy”), Sonic Youth’s Goo (“Western Threshold”), and The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Honey’s Dead (“Sensory Deprivation”). Golomb is composed of Mickey Shuman (guitar, vocals), Xenia Bleveans-Holm (bass, vocals), and Hawken Holm (drums). These three are certainly onto something drastically integral in brooding excitement here in the Columbus scene.
One of the many things that impresses me about Golomb is how singular their musical mission and goals seem. Golomb is a very friendly band, but what they’re cooking up right now has subconsciously put them in a league of their own. The band’s led-by-committee singularity and directness with its songs—not settling on one specific style and not letting one member control the limelight—provides a ton of hope for its future prospects and is also what helped the band maintain the distinct, raw image throughout the album. Recording the album with Keith Hanlon at Secret Studio also helped this cause.
It’s quite possible that a chunk of the songs on Golomb were inspired by two of the band’s members’ brief stint living out West. Not only in sonic textures (it’s gritty, it’s raw) but in how the openness and curving directions that Golomb songs take you through are similar to how one may feel traversing the open Western highways at night.
What initially got me hooked on Golomb was an August 2019 recording at Cafe Bourbon Street in Columbus that the band had put up on Bandcamp. I hadn’t come across anything so raw and enthralling at the same time, in some time. There seemed to be a force behind Golomb, a certain aware energy that can punctuate souls on every listen. I believe what pushes a lot of these emotional textures of Golomb songs are the deeply personal lyrics. Like words plucked out of a diary, Golomb songs both set a scene and curate your feelings.
No song in the band’s discography does this better than “Energy.” The track is a seven-minute chef d’oeuvre that is nothing short of an emotional roller coaster. The recording at Bobo’s – just shy of six minutes – made my skin crawl and eyes bubble; the LP version left me in tears. Mysterious phrases like “heavy emptiness” and “empty density” cut through you like butter a la knife. Even the opening lines—“Sitting in the dark, I hear a flash flicker around my heart/As I venture back, I can see the beat of your fluttering heart”—do everything they can to prepare you for the darkest, most beautiful of Golomb moments. The droining one-minute intro—which at times sounds something like a mix between a motorbike revving and a stream flowing—before we hear a softly throttling guitar is by far one of the most grounding moments of the whole LP. What ensues in the following five minutes is emotional madness. Do we even deserve the following five tracks?
While most would be completely satisfied with Golomb holding back the rest of the record, that isn’t the case. With 10 tracks that all could have arguably been a lead single, Golomb is nothing short of a statement record. The teeter-tottering of the drums; the steadiness of the bass; the precious delivery. There is a reverberating spirituality about Golomb, and that’s what keeps me coming back and listening all the way through the record.
Golomb crafts intimate music, and in any art form this can be a difficult terrain to traverse; as with intimacy often comes vulnerability, which can typically be seated in pain. Golomb’s music will make you feel presently alone yet futuristically, hopefully fulfilled. The simmering stillness of tracks like “Heartbeat,” “One Thousand Million,” and “Sensory Deprivation” often lead to or come trailing off of moments of juxtaposed, giddy-up adventurism of tracks such as “Unexpected Negative Force,” “Heaven,” and “Higher Power.” When set in motion, it’s magic.
If you had to choose a Columbus band to rally behind and put your entire stock toward, Golomb would be an extremely safe bet.