GANSER – ” Just Look at That Sky ” Best Albums Of 2020

Posted: January 2, 2021 in MUSIC
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Ganser released their debut LP Odd Talk in 2018 to favourable coverage from The New York Times, Billboard, and Stereogum. Building on their dissociative disorder namesake, the album’s tone vacillated between frenzied and contemplative, probing on questions of communication, intimacy, and avoidance. On Just Look at That Sky, Ganser further explores the personal inner climate of uncertain times.

Just Look at That Sky is full of poetic recitations about maintaining one’s sanity while the world caves in. The Chicago outfit’s second album contains the wide-eyed glare and off-the-wall energy of someone who’s close to the final straw and searching for the best way to cope. Its on-edge nature is quelled by surreal humour and dark playfulness, though Ganser leave plenty of room for existential spiralling, too. Meshing noise, art rock and post-punk, there’s a palpable sense of forward motion and doom, but it’s not a resigned doom—it’s a contemplative, purposeful doom that wouldn’t dare waste space on nihilism. This record starts strong with the pummeling “Lucky” and never lets up. Over nine tracks, Alicia Gaines, Nadia Garofalo, Brian Cundiff, & Charlie Landsman just batter you to death with good old fashioned punk rock, with a little bit of psychedelia and noise thrown in for good measure. With two lead vocalists, Alicia and Nadia, they put themselves above most other punk bands right away.

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Either one can hold down that position with ease, and they even share duties on “Bad Form”. Punk isn’t really known for its great-sounding vocals, but Ganser is here to make you listen. Like most punk albums, this record can put you on the edge, and this year with most of us being there already, it feels like a fitting release. With witty and surreal lyrics dealing with many of the world’s problems today, Ganser tackles it all in stride. The record ends with “Bags For Life” bringing it all to a head speaking directly about the problems of how much the online world has taken over our daily lives.

And then there’s Ganser’s lyrics: manic explorations of worry and dread mark this record, the epic messiness of daily life in our damaged times attacked with sardonic specificity as often as generalized doom. Just Look at That Sky isn’t afraid to acknowledge that we’re all Extremely Online all the time, but rather explicitly owns it. These songs chart inner monologues of emphatic confusion, emotions already deeply felt further ratcheted up by the anxiety of always having too much information about other people, and always being just one tweet or status update away from knowing what everyone really thinks about us. This culminates in closing track “Bags for Life,” which imagines how online discourse might tackle a front-row seat for the end of the world.

These are songs that never shy away from ugliness and confusion, that believe embracing the totality of the self sometimes means leaning into our dickish behavior. In the past, some listeners have had trouble reconciling non-male voices with the sorts of topics Ganser writes about, but that comes to an end with Just Look at That Sky. Co-produced with Electrelane’s Mia Clarke and engineer Brian Fox, this is an assured, fully realized triumph of a record from an art-punk band that’s figured out how to focus on making great art, even if everything else around them falls apart.
 
 

Single taken from Ganser’s ‘Just Look At That Sky’ Album Ganser is Alicia Gaines, Nadia Garofalo, Brian Cundiff, & Charlie Landsman.

Nadia Garofalo (keyboards/vocals) and Alicia Gaines (bass/vocals) met in art school, bonding over their shared love of The Residents, outsider communities, and transgressive filmmakers like John Waters and David Lynch. The hands-on, DIY craftsmanship honed in those years has carried over into a group that shares writing duties, collaborates closely on music videos and album art, and crafts Brechtian visuals to accompany their maximalist live show. Having shared stages with the likes of Daughters, Oh Sees, Algiers, as well as Modern English, Ganser is a band that refuses to be pinned down, four individuals of diverse backgrounds functioning with the collective consciousness of four people in uncertain times.

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