The Rocky Valentines – Erase

By Ryan G

Musical families can be a tricky thing to cover. On one hand, there’s the excitement of learning that someone’s child, sibling or cousin is forming a project. On the other hand, there can be a perception of nepotism or privilege that comes by association. Also, name recognition can mean that fans of the older project put unrealistic pressure on the new project to deliver.

As for me, I had moderate excitement going into my listening experience with Erase. Starflyer 59 and Joy Electric were early forays of yours truly into shoegaze and synthpop, respectively. So, rather than expectations I’d like to think it was more curiosity than anything, but anyway… Erase is a solid record.

Nothing here jumps out at me that’s surprising. The album as a whole has a heavy feeling, but sonically its somewhere between fatigue and the feeling of smothered by a comforter in your bed. That is to say, imagine crawling into bed on a day that you’re feeling overwhelmed by life and burying your head under the largest throw pillow you can find. That’s the vibe.

Though my description might seem melodramatic, I promise you Erase is anything but. “Sing the Song” carries with it an aura of embrace and an instantly memorable hook. The vocals are earnest and eeriely reminiscent of Aaron Sprinkle at times. “Doing All I Can” seems to mix in my mind elements of “Slow Hands” by Interpol and “Young In My Head” by Starflyer 59. Those guitar tones are iconic, but in my mind not trademarked by anybody. So, to hear Charlie Martin’s take on this classic hook-driven shoegaze sound is fun to experience.

An aspect of this record that could be polarizing is the way the music threatens to swallow up vocals in the mix. Of course, this is a trademark element of shoegaze, and that genre isn’t for everyone. It’s noteworthy, though, that this shines through quite obviously in “Agree to Disagree.” The wall of sound thrust our way here is reminiscent of the cacophony of clashing voices in an argument. At a certain point the topic at hand gets drowned out and it’s just noise – therefore, agreeing to disagree is the best outcome.

Songs like “Stick it Out” and “Doing All I Can” are a bit more dynamic in nature. The former in particular has some of the brightest sounding guitarwork on the record – which is impressive, given the brooding, almost smothering context.

Erase is satisfying, fun album that I would undoubtedly enjoy very much in a live setting. Whenever I make it up to the Pacific Northwest, I’ll have an eye on the concert calendar for a show from the Martin Clan that hopefully includes The Rocky Valentines.

Follow the band on Instagram.

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