Indie rockers move forward by gazing back
2013 has been a huge year for the past. It seems there’s been a running trend throughout some of the best music released in recent memory. Emulate one specific era, put your own spin on it, and voila! You’ve got a hit that critics will describe as “well-informed.” Kanye tore into the intersection between acid house and early industrial rock, Daft Punk chrono-ported their newest album in from 1979 Los Angeles, and Tame Impala didn’t even front after earning their Beatles comparison, naming one of their singles “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards.” This is shaping up to be one appealing bandwagon on which a start-up band could eagerly hop.
New York prog outfit Heaven, however, took a higher road.
In a recent conversation with the Dig, guitarist Matt Sumrow wasn’t shy about his influences. He openly copped to digging My Bloody Valentine’s newest work, early Ride albums, classic Psychedelic Furs material, and old New Order records. Besides pegging him as a guy with an enviable library of music, Sumrow’s tastes beg one nagging question: When you’re down with everything, where does your sound come from? He doesn’t see it as a pick-one-choose-one proposition.
“What we’re trying to do is something that’s not really tuned in to any one time period,” Sumrow said.
“We’re trying to make our own stamp. The ’60s had it, the ’70s had it, the ’80s had it, and the ’90s had it. We want it.”
Heaven’s upcoming LP Telepathic Love represents the culmination of the group’s myriad passions, and through this wide collection of influences the band breaks away with a wholly novel sound. Considering Love as a cohesive album and not just a collection of discrete pieces, a listener realizes that the band has accomplished a difficult thing: nine songs that all sound completely different, but all unmistakably created by Heaven. Love’s got something for everyone. “New Amsterdam” is an eerie warning call injected with a low dose of morphine. “Colors in the Whites of Your Eyes” has the gall to toe the line into grungy pop. “Centuries” plays sweet, swooning, and softly ethereal. The songs complement different moods, preferences and genre distinctions, but they’re all bound together by Sumrow’s soothing vocals and emotive guitars.
Heaven never stalls on one sound or aesthetic for too long, and why should they? There’s so much ground to cover.
Though they may be rooted in the past, Heaven decidedly lives in the future. Whether intended or not, their music harkens towards an exciting future in the indie sphere of influence. The smart money’s on repurposing, not emulating. Synthesizing influences, not parroting them. If you believe that there really is a wave, Heaven is on the crest of it. Sumrow’s optimistic: “When I was in high school, I was listening to the indie stuff, the weird stuff. I felt like no one else knew, which was cool. But at the same time, I had to scour. Now, anyone can access music. The kids are getting into more stuff, and they know much more.” The writing’s on the wall. The Next Big Thing might just be The Last Big Thing.
In Heaven’s case, this is definitely for the better.
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