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Lose Today

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Album Review

Longtime collaborators in Wolf Eyes, Nate Young and John Olson started Stare Case in 2010 as a "blues" side project. More often than not "blues" (or sometimes "roots") appears in highly dubious quotes when referencing Stare Case's dirgey noise atmospherics. While there is a high-plains loneliness in the sparsity of the tracks, and a definite down-and-out quality to these freaked-out bummers, Eric Clapton this is not. Lose Today, the group's first proper full-length, follows the regular three or four dozen limited-run CD-Rs and cassettes commonplace to any Wolf Eyes-related project. This falls under the "proper" album category for both its availability (a distribution of more than the 30 or so copies that some earlier releases ran in editions of) and the more considered production. Extremely simple (sometimes two or three off-time notes) looped basslines are the core of almost all the songs. These trudging figures, played by Young, set a loping pace over which the duo stretches out in an array of seasick electronics and buzzing noise. While Young's vocals with Wolf Eyes and other projects are sometimes effected and screamed to the point of being indiscernible, the delivery here is straight, unprocessed, and clear as he's likely to ever get. Album opener "Days Like Faces" finds Young repeating "It's good to see your face" over and over with changing inflection and growing sarcasm, his character fading from old smiling friend to drunken psychopath as the noise in the background escalates. "Bed That Eats" finds an equally unsettling rut to occupy, Young muttering Jandek-meets-Manson-style mantras about bad habits, being unlikable, and other problems. On top of these eerie song skeletons are Olson's restrained interjections of woodwinds and modified electronics. The saxophone gargles and waves of queasy squelches ramp up a building tension to which there is no release. Instead, this uneasiness plateaus and hangs out in the aural equivalent of an open field of briars until the record fizzles to a close. Creating this dynamic landscape requires incredible patience on the part of the players, and Lose Today finds an ugly, broken, but somehow astonishingly forthright space that few acts take the time to get to. Rather than a band that plays the blues, Stare Case is the sound of desperate living wearing its characters to the point of exhaustion. The sound of a tedious life, what the blues are all about, warped and mangled back to its essence.

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