Minneapolis-based indie/post-punk/noise-pop outfit The Stress Of Her Regard have released their self-titled LP. Vocalist/guitarist/lyricist Ciaran Daly explains, "I was working as a bartender in south Minneapolis a few blocks from 38th and Chicago [now renamed George Floyd Square] during the years we made this record, watching a fascist regime take hold. We scrubbed a fair bit of hate graffiti out of the bathrooms during those years. What was weird was that almost no one seemed to be addressing this in music. The songs on this album are very much a response to what was going on at the time."
Produced by Ed Ackerson, who passed away during the making of the record, the album offers visceral, indie-rock flavours merged with cutting political commentary and mischievous literature references.
Made up of Ciaran Daly, Criostoir Daly (bass), and Eric Wilson (vocals, drums), The Stress Of Her Regard got together after the brothers' band The Idle Hands dissolved. They discovered Eric while Ciaran was complaining to Eric about the duo's drummer situation. Eric, also a musician, had learned drums for his solo record. They released their debut EP, Sport Marriage, in 2015.
Borrowing their name from the fantasy novel by Tim Powers, the new album brims with erudite references and interesting vocabulary. Ciaran says, "I don't have a literature degree, but I try hard to make it obvious that I paid attention to the Shakespeare portion of high school."
Encompassing 11-tracks, highlights on the album include the opening track, "Callipygian," a grunge-flavoured tune at once raw and edgy. Reminiscent of the Kings of Leon crossed with Pearl Jam, the tune exudes beguiling stripped-down harmonics.
"Meds" offers tangs of grunge-flavoured punk-lite momentum as dirty, minimalist guitars give the tune retro Kink-like aromas, especially the Brit-inflected vocals. While "Wall and Broad" probes the history of car bombs in politics, utilizing stingy basslines juxtaposed against throbbing drums.
A personal favourite, "Love," rolls out on a thrumming bassline and powerful drums as echoing vocals imbue the lyrics with poignant significance.
The band's cover of Bob Dylan's "Moonshiner" delivers grunge-tinged guitars and desolate falsetto harmonies, displaying the melancholic nature of the song.
"I've been a moonshiner / For seventeen long years / I've spent all my money / On whiskey and beer / I go to some hollow / And sit at my still / And if whiskey don't kill me / Then I don't know what will."
"Raised By Wolves" summons up memories of Black Sabbath crossed with The Killers, generating a spine-chilling heavy metal-flavoured indie rock song. The last track, "Ah Ha," pushes out grimy colours surging with punk brio.
The Stress Of Her Regard, both the band and the album, are well-worth listening to. There's a blunt impatience to their music that's at once caustic and alluring.