“You make me feel lost and stupid,” drawls Alaska Reid in “Stones.” The 20-year-old Alyeska frontwoman’s dozy voice floats slightly above the surging, sprawling sound she creates with guitarist/bassist Enzo Scardapane and drummer Ben Spear. Yet she sings the line like that’s not such a bad thing to feel. Indeed, her band’s fuzzy, dream rock may have a pleasingly narcotic effect on listeners, too, even if they ought to be wary of the aggressive currents flowing beneath the placid surface it may convey.
Culled from the same sessions with Kurt Vile producer John Agnello that yielded the eight songs on the L.A.-based band’s debut EP Crush, “Stones” demonstrates Alyeska’s precocious mastery of a trick that was a favorite of Sonic Youth. Like Kim Gordon’s so often did, Reid’s voice conveys a sense of languor that’s somehow impervious to the racket that surrounds it. Alyeska boasts another connection to New York’s finest in that their recordings with Agnello were the last to be made in The Music Shop, the legendary studio where Sonic Youth made Dirty. (David Bowie did Blackstar there, too.)
But the most vivid moments in “Stones” and the songs on Crush suggest that her band is fast developing its own sensibility and may soon outgrow the reference points so beloved by dream-pop and noise-rock acts alike. For instance, Reid’s laconic wit is very much her own thing, even if what she says about feeling “doggone tired by your sugar talk” in “Stones” seems like another piece of misdirection in a song that’s defined more by its force and momentum than any hints of fatigue and apathy.
“Stones” is out now on streaming services and Alyeska’s Bandcamp and Facebook pages. The band recently played a handful of area dates. If you missed 'em, you can console yourself with their video for "Lose My Place."
Today's song, featured on The Morning Show with John Richards, is "Weird Ways" by Strand of Oaks, from the 2019 album Eraserland on Dead Oceans.
Today's song, featured on The Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is "West is my Home II" by Essam, from the 2018 self-released album 12.12.
Today's song, featured on The Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is "Sympacide" by Pion, from the 2018 Sympacide EP on Entreprise.