Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Haunted Hearts Has A Initiation Debut

Haunted Hearts
Not everyone will get the hazy debut album by Dee Dee Penny (Dum Dum Girls) and Brandon Welchez (Crocodiles) and that's all right. The music made by the husband-wife duo isn't meant for everyone.

At its core, the duo idealizes the old art-sex-drug scene of New York City in the late seventies and early eighties in a style sensationalized by bands that existed in that era. They do it with artistic perfection, except Penny and Welchez don't really sensationalize it. They play it like it is being transmitted through time to anything with vacuum tubes.

All the while, you will hear influences from both of their bands, creating a richly shared landscape that is one part Dum Dum Girls and one part Crocodiles. It's both delicate and brutal, even if it never really climbs its way out of the art they wanted to make. Think of it that way to make it really stick.

Initiation is like listening to an imperfect distorted memory.

Initiate Me opens up the album with short and choppy meandering anchored by lyrics that are nothing short of submission. Penny chants "initiate me" with increasing abandon while initiating someone to make her into anything they want her to be.

It was recorded by Jon Greene at Electric Orange Studios in San Diego, mixed by Jorge Elbrecht (Ariel Pink/Violens) at Static Recording in Brooklyn, and mastered by Joe La Porta at Sterling Sound in New York City.

There is no guess work what it's all about. From the very first track, it's about sex, love, and debauchery. Except unlike most musicians producing lo-fi pop-rock today, they initially avoid too much fervor over the content. They present it as casually as someone might show off an old car.

At the same time, like many of the tracks, what makes most of the music interesting is listening to both musicians simultaneously toning each other up and down. Johnny Jupiter is no exception.

As the lead promotional track off the album, Haunted Hearts revives the surreal television series from the 1950s that likely aired on New York late night television in the decades that followed. Like some of the programs produced in the 1950s, there is an unnaturalness to it. It's trippy with the album's consistently creepy casualness.

Up Is Up (But So Is Down) captures the confusion with heart sunglasses, disco balls, fur coats, and a spaced-out synth-pop pulse that the art factory might have loved. Whereas Initiate Me is about submission, Up Is Up (But So Is Down) is about permission to be anything or anybody or any way.

The post-punk Something That Feels Bad Is Something That Feels Good falls along much the same thinking. There is permission, except this time it is given as equal trade. Someone can tie you up but only if they let you tie them down, as it were. And the duo does it all with a dispatched innocence.

The balance of the album drifts away from the listlessness of the first four tracks with enough conviction that it almost feels like two distinct EPs rather than a sharply written but short 8-track LP.

House of Lords is a heavier psychedelic synth-pulse reliant track. Love Incognito is an eighties throwback, written with significantly more grit. Strange Intentions seems to originate more from the Welchez side of the collaboration and Bring Me Down would be a depressive ballad of sorts if it wasn't produced with such meticulously light vocals from Penny. Her contribution, even as a duet, makes it closer soothing as opposed to sentimental as Welchez sings it.

Initiation By Haunted Hearts Beats 7.2 On The Liquid Hip Scale. 

Initiation deserves more than a single play to appreciate some of the finer details locked inside the tracks. Better yet, it might pay off to give each more space between songs. As fate would have it, most of them sound better when they are isolated from the album.

Initiation by Haunted Hearts can be found on Amazon or downloaded from iTunes. You can also order Initiation by Haunted Hearts from Barnes & Noble, which would only add more warmth to an already cozy collection. For tour schedules, visit Haunted Hearts on Facebook.
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