Updated: Jan 1
If their debut album, Beauty & Balance, is any indication, S.C.A.B. are right at the cusp of quantitative success (having truly already achieved the qualitative kind, in my opinion). The New York post-punk band with shoegaze and dreampop influences created a wholly enticing, emotionally honest album that manages to invoke a compulsion to dance, as well as the impulse to lay down on wet leaves in the woods on a cloudy day and cry. What more could you ask for?
Each track, written by the band’s frontman, Sean Carmago, tackles heavy emotional and interpersonal difficulties, but with a common thread of “what the fuck are any of us doing?”. The energetic, bubbly existential malaise of the opening track “Chartreuse”, laden with gin-induced apathy, really sets the stage for what’s to come.
My personal favorite track that also serves as an emblematic representation of the album as a whole is the fourth track, “Perpetual”. It opens with a tinnitus-like drone, creating a general discomfort. Then the instrumentals commence. I love the drums on this track so damn much. Throughout the whole album, there are some really interesting percussive choices that suggest strong artistic personality. This track also showcases one of my favorite bass lines on the album. It’s not so subtle that it loses its rhythmic power, but it blends so well with everything else going on in an elevating, symbiotic manner. Fucking love it. Sean’s vocals on this one are also quite affecting. The emotion he’s throwing into it are palpable and, with the lo-fi quality of the vocal recording, along with the dreamy chime of the guitar, precipitates the track into something akin to a dissociative fantasy.
(Illustration by: Ana Felix) (Band photos sourced from @seancoryalecbrandon)
A few days ago, I sat down in an 80s-media-culture-adorned coffeeshop in one of the more recently gentrified yuppie-infested neighborhoods of Chicago to have a quick phone conversation with Sean. I myself was in my own little self-induced fantasy world of sorts, zooted off caffeine and kratom, compliments of my yoga teaching, tarot card reading witch friend Sarah whom I had crashed with the night before. I spoke to him first about his musical influences. He directed me towards this actual absolute banger of a playlist linked to the band’s spotify and which I have embedded here (seriously, go listen to it).
I further inquired about what the process was like of recording Beauty & Balance and how their next album may differ. It turns out that Sean had done most of the writing for the first album and put it all together on the laptop in his bedroom once they had everything recorded (which was quite surprising and remains extremely impressive to me). Their tentatively self-titled upcoming album employed a much more collaborative approach. The entire band (the name of which is an acronym of the band members' first names) went down to Georgia to record it together, each offering their own unique artistic sensibilities and direction.
The album is complete and they are currently shopping it around, but judging from their single, “Stolen Jag Off Morgan Ave”, I don’t think that process is going to take too long. “Stolen Jag” really does serve as a testament to the band’s evolution, and in such a short amount of time. The sound is fuller, more confident, and even more of a call to get up and shake off the dread.
Go listen to S.C.A.B. on bandcamp or Spotify, and buy the living shit out of the new record whenever it drops. These guys are going places.
(You can also follow the band on Instagram @seancoryalecbrandon).