Generating Gen X
Creepoid might allegedly hail from the sunny city of Philadelphia, but their sound is straight from the heart of rainy-ass Seattle. It might be the blearly-eyed, chorus pedal-infused fuzz that fills out their gloomy tunes, or the distinctly kitschy nihilism of their lyrics (“The seams are ripping / And all this is nothing at all”) or maybe even just the fact they have a chick bassist, but there’s something about this quartet that just screams early ’90s grunge/alt-rock in the most authentic way possible. You know, in the context of 2015.
Cemetery Highrise Slum leans away from the metal-infused grunge demographic like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden — its songs aren’t at all chiseled from the same tonal bedrock, but instead feature an astute smattering of influences that share an era rather than a particular sound. The eighth-note bass intro of “Tell The Man” sounds straight out of one of the Pixies’ rudimentarily punkier songs, and is garnished with the melancholy vocals and reverb-soaked clean guitar tone of a polished Nevermind cut. “Fingernails” evokes the ethereal nature of Jeff Buckley’s all too brief catalogue throughout the mid-paced Generation X trudge.
“Seams” starts out with a bit of discordant dream pop, characterized by the nasally singing style and swirling, whammy bar-fueled guitar parts, trademarked by My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields, who is a person mentioned far too frequently in album reviews for the quantity of music he’s put out. That description might be misleading. “Dream pop” might conjure thoughts of some of the more… delicate contemporary indie bands whose atmosphere is constructed of keyboards and breathily seductive layered vocals. There’s much more actual Slowdive/shoegaze influence at work on Cemetery Highrise Slum than, say, Beach House’s latest record (which you should totally check out). In true early alt fashion, Creepoid have gone out of their way to pick perfectly ugly-sounding chords that erode and slur together. Despite all this post-modern niche mastery, some of Creepid’s multi-minute feedback solos meander just a bit. Shocking, but it comes with the package.
Creepoid range from taking broad stylistic cues from great bands to straight up plagiarizing giants of their genre. Album highlight “Devil In The Subtext” sounds vaguely like Swervedriver’s “Blowin’ Cool” with a dark cloud hanging over the faux-surf rock riff, while “Worthless and Pure” features the exact same vocal delivery, frenetic guitar (who’s strumming like its trying to catch up with the rest of the song) and biting tom fills as a Dinosaur Jr. single. Shamefully uncreative, but, for what it’s worth, lead singer Patrick Troxell does an impeccable J. Mascis impression.
Creepoid’s 90’s revivalist aesthetic is a lot of fun, but it’ll come as no surprise the group’s lyrics aren’t exactly a breath of fresh air; they’re predictably hopeless, bouncing between being coolly apathetic and completely morose. In the bleak, echoey dirge “Here,” the group laments that “The light would burn your wings / It doesn’t matter when you’re alone.” SO GRUNGE, but it’s not all depression and regression. “Shaking” starts out with a waltz beat that is just, like, one solid push away from turning into “Earth Angel,” if it weren’t for all those pitch bends and delay effects. Creepoid even keep the flame of romance alive in the ’90s with “You’re the one that keep me returning to this shell of a town / You’re shaking my heart” before diving head first into a power ballad version of a noise jam.
You might not hear anything you find particularly inventive on Cemetery Highrise Slum. Even so, the diced up bits of The Cure and Screaming Trees and Meat Puppets will hook you into Creepoid’s revivalist aesthetic long enough to realize these guys have written an album of good songs that’s cohesive and varied and just abrasive enough to warrant another listen. Creep on, you crazy diamonds.