We get a lot of emails and press releases these days. The variety of stuff we have sent to us ranges from requests to cover projects by Slayer to Dakota Fanning and everything in between. Even through trying to be selective, there often seems to be more to cover than we have time for. It’s hard not to jump on those Pavement tickets (they’re still so good), but there’s nothing like discovering something new we’ve never seen before. Sure, we’ve gotten plenty of contacts from acts who have no idea what our interests are or what we care about. Sometimes they’re “wacky” pop-punk acts or maybe they just care more about acting and dressing like rock stars then actually creating something of substance. I don’t feel too bad ignoring those type of contacts because, if you don’t know who the fuck we are, then why should I give a fuck about researching and writing about who you are trying to be? Other times, however, I get that email that reminds me that the original goal was really to help bring attention to quality artists that often get overlooked. That’s how we discovered some surprising talent that we’ve covered in the past, like Untied States and Edison; through receiving random emails. Sometimes we get a really nice personalized direct contact that introduces us to someone like stencil artist Paper Monster. Sometimes it takes quite a few emails before we wise up and realize that we’ve been ignorantly overlooking something amazing, as was the case with one of my favorite newer acts, NURSES. All too often, I know that timing gets in the way and/or there are just things being lost in the chaos. A new Brooklyn quintet calling themselves Quiet Lights, has fallen into a mix of a few of these circumstances with us.
Earlier this month I received an email from a man named Marcus. I’m not sure of his exact role in the group, but he is definitely a musician and he makes up one-fifth of Quiet Lights. His message was simple and direct; providing us with a video link and a little information about his group. I looked over his links and told him that I would “make sure to post something” as soon as I had a moment. His contact seemed very genuine and he responded with both appreciation and an answer to a follow up question that I sent back to him. That was 20 days ago. Now I kind of feel like a dick. The regret doesn’t stem from simply not posting anything, because I’m not obligated to do shit. The main reason that I wish that we could have gotten something up about them sooner is because I actually really liked what he sent over… a lot. First it was a timing issue and then, as my gmail inbox got flooded, our “conversation” was ultimately buried under a plethora of tour updates and offers from vista print (get the message, we don’t want your fucking personalized magnets). I thought that I had “starred” the message, but apparently I had not. Then I couldn’t remember the band’s name. “What were they called again? It wasn’t Pretty Lights… What was that guy’s name, Maurice? No self, you’re thinking of the Brothers Gibb again? Fuck!” However, what did stick with me, and perhaps more importantly, was their actual content. Both the song and the video kept running through my head. I couldn’t recall the lyrics either but, even more important than that, I couldn’t forget the feeling that the song, “Twice Today“, and its corresponding video generated.
Obviously, I have managed to dig through my inbox and locate the original message and video, which is conveniently posted below. There’s something about the simplicity of this video, created by band member Nikhil Kamineni, that I feel works marvelously with the track. What’s much less simple, is the ease at which Quiet Lights manages to generate pure emotion with “Twice Today“. And, when I say “emotion”, please understand that I’m not referring to some sort of gut-wrenching emo tragedy, like some shitty Linkin Park track for misguided Juggalo youth to cut themselves to. They’re not Evanescence, it’s much subtler and a lot less terrible than that. It’s the sort of song that allows you to feel something for yourself, with complete separation of concern for the emotion of the person(s) who created it. The visuals and, in some ways, even the audio, are merely things for the group to transcend. The elements blur together into diffused light and mist. The song feels incredibly sparse while, somehow, maintaining a level of density. There’s is both a somber tone, yet an uplifting quality. There’s a minimalism to it, but it isn’t “empty”. In short, it’s more about the feeling than the individual elements that work to form that feeling.
There are more links and more information available. I have even found a photo or two of the group, which I have intentionally chosen not to include in this post. Watch the video first; those other things aren’t as important. For now, I don’t see the need to present an image of the people who created this work. Keep in mind that there are 5 members in this group. Five, and I couldn’t remember one particular instrument from the first time that I heard this song until now, just the blend of them all together. If you told me that Quiet Lights was a duo of accordion and theremin, I’d have no reason not to believe you. If you had said that they were constructed of a small orchestra, including a harmonium, oboe, lute, and sousaphone, I probably would have believed that too. It’s not always easy to meld everything into one sound with such cohesion, which tells me that the members are more focused on the end result as a collective then on spotlighting themselves as individuals. That mentality and intent allows their collective sounds to create a more individual and uniform result. This is to their benefit. After all, if the idea of art is to physically manifest the intangible into something tangible, which will then allow the physical senses of others to re-experience it on an emotional level, then what can be more successful than removing your own fingerprints from your creation?
Really though, all my babbling is just a bunch of worthless jive and bullshit. Plus, it’s all over just one simple track. The only really important information to relay is that it “exists” and that I “like” it. You’re going to listen to it, momentarily and draw your own conclusions anyway. I do, however, have a simple word of advice for Marcus and company: if you can manage to retain that element of anonymous phantoms breathing sound and allow your songs to buoy with a pulse of their own, run with it. It will be your strength.
We have been informed that Quiet Lights is currently offering a 3-song demo for free, while they continue to put the finishing touches on their upcoming debut album. The demo can be downloaded by clicking HERE.
Along with these songs from the demo, “Twice Today” and 6 other tracks will also appear on the full-length, which will be mixed by John Congleton (Smog, Antony & the Johnsons, Explosions in the Sky, etc.) and mastered by Alan Douches (Frightened Rabbit, Sufjan Stevens).