Distortion and Snow
Red Pants is Madison, Wisconsin’s Jason Lambeth, a lo-fi noise rock singer-songwriter, as well as the owner of independent cassette label Painted Blonde. Today, we’re honored to premiere his new album, Distortion and Snow, a fuzzed-out and introspective modern indie rock classic that recalls and stands alongside works such as Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted and Sebadoh’s Bakesale.
Opener “We All Fall Down” opens standard enough with a foot-stomping rock riff and lyrics of “Everything has changed / Since I last played / This guitar / Ah ah ah” followed by “What comes first / The distortion / Or the delay“. They seem to draw parallels between Lambeth’s guitar playing and life in general, referring to the distortion and delay inherent in the struggle to navigate complicated interpersonal relationships and push through the obstacles the world presents to you. It’s an anthem for guitar heroes who might struggle to communicate through traditional means, but what truly makes the song spectacular is when the verse cuts off and Lambeth’s playing takes on the characteristics of wind chimes blowing in the winter breeze for the instrumental bridge. It’s one of the coolest, most beautiful effects we’ve heard in indie rock in a long while, and the fact that Lambeth pulls it off so convincingly with seemingly so little is very impressive. Follow-up “Summer Curls” is more straight-forward, marked by steady drumming courtesy of Elsa (IMAGES) and a simple two-chord main riff, but features some great organ in the chorus and once again, Lambeth uses the bridge to really flex his muscles on the axe.
Many of Distortion and Snow‘s songs are built upon being initial easy to grasp before introducing some concept or technique that ‘distorts’ the initial view you had of them, whether it be musical, lyrical, or both. In this way, they represent the snow that is referred to on multiple occasions throughout the record. Each song starts a snowflake with its own distinct pattern, crystal clear in the palm of your hand, but as they progress and as you spend more time analyzing them, they melt, changing shape. “Heartshade (In the Afternoon)” is a stand-out in that it seems the least concerned with standing out. Coated in fuzzy noise, Lambeth’s open, obscured vocals sway gently underneath to form a relaxed melody. It’s not aggressive enough to be called pure noise rock. Shoegaze is closer, but the textures aren’t really as sugary as what you’d think of when speaking of that genre. It’s hard to always make out what Lambeth is saying, and the melody seems to change depending on when and how you listen to it. It’s a baffling track, but not showy, and may be the most intriguing tune of the bunch. Another stand-out is “Citrus Kisses”. While “We All Fall Down” and “Driving Backwards” are the pre-release singles, this one along with the heavy, rollicking “Giant Hair” are probably the most immediate songs as a whole. It’s something of a laid-back slacker jam for the most part: catchy, romantic, lovable. Its bridge solo is the most badass of the whole record, however. We mentioned Pavement and Sebadoh before, but this one is all Martsch. In fact, while considering structure and sound the comparison isn’t all that obvious, Distortion and Snow‘s malleable philosophical qualities aren’t all that far removed from Perfect From Now On.
This is up our alley on pretty much every possible level. Distortion and Snow manages to be grand, sprawling, thought-provoking, and magical all within the timespan of an average sitcom episode, with humble recording means and a small selection of instruments. DIY indie at its finest, and we hope you’ll take some time to play in the snow.
You can stream Red Pants’ Distortion and Snow below:
Favorite tracks: “We All Fall Down”, “Heartshade (In the Afternoon)”, “Citrus Kisses”
You can learn about the making of Distortion and Snow via Lambeth’s 7-episode vlog series Let’s Make an Album. In episode one, you can see Lambeth jam “Citrus Kisses” and “Lines” with Elsa (IMAGES).
Red Pants’ Distortion and Snow is available to pre-order now and officially releases tomorrow, July 12th. Each cassette order comes with an original collage by Jason, and the first 20 orders will also receive an exclusive demo tape.