The vinyls. Remember those? Seems like I haven’t received a lot of vinyl to review in the last couple of months. I had a reader comment not too long ago that I should limit the Vinyl Anachronist music reviews to just LPs if I’m going to give this column that name. Deep down, I keep the name because it’s a continuation of my blog, which I just recently discontinued, and an extension of this persona I created back in 1998. But I agree with you. YES, I should limit this column to LPs. But I can’t because most artists who are just starting out, or in a very insular genre such as contemporary jazz, don’t have the money right now to send LPs all over the place hoping for reviews–hence the preponderance of CDs and digital downloads. I wish I received that many LPs for review, that daily front porch squeal of delight, especially since I’m running out of room for all these CDs. That doesn’t excuse my neglect when it comes to this LP, Squarewave’s Hazy.
I’d forgotten all about it. I didn’t see it until a few days ago, when finally some more review LPs arrived. I said uh-oh, how long has this been here? I think it was released in early autumn, but still. Squarewave’s Hazy was an immediate hit with me–I heard Pink Floyd, the Moody Blues and about half of the entire shoegazer genre rolled up into a very sloppy handmade cigarette that’s rolled by a pretty young girl and subsequently smoked in the parking lot in front of the laundromat.
Squarewave’s Hazy is moody and atmospheric, with rich orchestral backgrounds and more than a hint of Nick Cave’s bare yet theatrical approach. (The band labels itself ambient rock, which fits with just a little overlap into ’80s New Wave.) I hear something familiar in the vocals, something that keeps reminding me of Roger Waters and Thurston Moore. And maybe Bryan Ferry. Oh, and the song “Not Asking” totally reminds me of The Smith’s “A Push and a Shove and the Land Is Ours.” It’s all good.
The band’s story is unique, if only for its durability. Jeff Jagielo and Patrick Connaughty, who both play guitars and keyboards and sing, have been making music together for 30 years. Based in Madison, Wisconsin, the duo have released a handful of albums over the years–their last was A Tighter Knot back in 2016. Connaughty moved to Kansas City some years ago, but the two continue to work back and forth, sharing ideas and making changes. For Squarewave’s Hazy, the two enlisted bassist Alivia Kleinfeldt and drummer Brendan Manley, with another layer of beauty introduced by Biff Blumfumgagnge‘s violin, which has been massaged into that orchestral flow. All but Manley sing.
The LP pressing is quiet and clean–a comment I haven’t considered since the last time I checked out a new LP. That’s a shame, since I have two turntables set up for review: the Living Sounds Audio T3 turntable with a Soundsmith The Voice cartridge, and a Gem Dandy Polytable Signature with a Sorane arm and my ZYX Bloom 3 cartridge. Hopefully Squarewave’s Haze is the kick in the pants I need to dive back into vinyl.