Posts Tagged ‘Just Look At That Sky’

Growth with no reward. Finding strength in your less desirable traits. Coming up with the perfect comeback hours later in bed, glaring at the ceiling. Asking yourself: am I improving, or am I just changing into something unrecognizable? Chicago quartet Ganser probe the futility of striving for self-growth during the chaos of our times for dark comedy and jagged sounds on their potent new album “Just Look at That Sky”, released July 31st on Felte Records. 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.

The album drew critical praise from the likes of The Quietus, Sound Opinions, Bandcamp, Brooklyn Vegan, CLASH Magazine, and more. The quartet is back now with a series of remixes, the first being album closer “Bags For Life,” remixed by Andy Bell of shoegaze legends Ride, under his dance moniker GLOK.

Their remix EP, Look at the Sun, will contain remixes from artists the band admires, has played with, or met online during quarantine and drops in full in the spring of 2021. Who will be next?

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Ganser is Alicia Gaines, Nadia Garofalo, Brian Cundiff, & Charlie Landsman.

All songs written & performed by Ganser except “Bags for Life” trumpet and trombone performance by Kevin Natoli & Michael Cox.

Releases March 23rd, 2021

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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Chicago-based rock quartet Ganser shared a self-directed video for their new track “Emergency Equipment and Exits” off of their forthcoming LP “Just Look at That Sky”, out July 31st on Felte,.

Out of the din of distorted pads emerges a groove that bursts into a soaring melody at full speed, immersing you in a hook only to branch elsewhere. The video features the band performing at their practice space interspersed with shots of downtown Chicago before settling on a swamp for a fleeting instance of pastoral quiet. With two terrifyingly cool lead vocalists in Nadia Garofalo and Alicia Gaines and a relentless guitar/drum attack from their bandmates Charlie Landsman and Brian Cundiff, this Chicago quartet kicked up one of 2020’s most impressive rackets on their second LP.

Post-punk outbursts like “Projector” and “Self Service” (both shouted by Garofalo) hit with just the right intensity to crowd out this headache of a year for a few minutes. Just as impressive were the subtler sounds that emerge on Just Look at That Sky’s back half: “Shadowcasting,” sung by Gaines, is a sparkling slow-burner that recalls mid-2000s Radiohead. The only thing missing was a chance to see how these songs sound in concert — and the webcasts that Ganser put on this year suggest they’ll leave our ears ringing in the best way when they’re able to tour again.

Alicia Gaines (vocals and bass) describes the video as follows: “Sometimes everything gets too close, even when things are good, and you get this screaming desire to run away. The song and video are both about feeling estranged from reality and choosing nothing over too much—the floor drops out, and you only have yourself to deal with. It was very strange to be focused on not only the video direction, but also safety precautions during this time.”

Single taken from Ganser’s ‘Just Look At That Sky’ Album —- Recorded 2019 at Altered States

best albums of 2020 Ganser

There’s a palpable sense of dread throughout Just Look At That Sky, the breathtaking LP from Chicago post-punks Ganser. Bassist Alicia Gaines and keyboardist Nadia Garofalo swap lead vocal duties and anchor these abrasive and stunning songs with divergent approaches between Garofalo’s biting punk delivery and Gaines’ ethereal alto. Tracks like “Shadowcasting” boast brooding atmospherics and foreboding lyrics from Gaines, where she sings, “The more I look at it / the worse it gets.” Elsewhere, the vibe gets more aggressive on the jagged single “Lucky,” where Garofalo shrieks, “You thought you’d be more than this / Thought you’d be OK” over screeching riffs. It’s everything you’d want in a post-punk LP.

Ganser understand tension better than most. The eight post-punk anthems that comprise their new album Just Look at That Sky (and one jazz/spoken word interlude) eschew the easy formula of build-and-release in favour of settling into moments of discomfort that mirror the uneasy narrators of their songs, drinking away their anxious existence and prepping for air disasters. Their rhythms are so taut they’re ready to snap, their guitar riffs caustic and unpredictable, so that when there is a moment of climax—like the surprising burst of horns on closer “Bags of Life”—it’s more than earned. I probably don’t have to explain why an album of aestheticized discomfort resonated as much as it did this year—anxiety loves company—but it’s more than a healthy outlet for nervous energy. It’s pure headphone catharsis.

Our new album ‘Just Look at That Sky’ is out now on Felte! Check out the videos from the album on their channel and stream the record on all platforms. Vinyl, CDs and merch available at Bandcamp.