Slow Warm Death - Slow Warm Death (2013)
It’s about time that you came to terms with the fact that emo revival, as we once knew it, has been dead for a while. Most of your favorite bands have broken up, reunited, and broken up again already. I think we can agree that it’s been over at least since The A.V. Club started calling it “twinklecore,” and that was more than six months ago. When Snowing broke up in November 2011, I wrote a lengthy and personal piece that essentially forecasted the end of the movement; that was nearly two years ago and no emo band since then has affected me to the extent that they did.
Now it’s 2013, and frontman John Galm has just unveiled Slow Warm Death, his radically different post-Snowing band whose debut self-titled album is out now on bandcamp. It is definitely fitting that the person leading the charge away from the late-2000s emo aesthetic is one of the revival movement’s chief forebears. With his work in Snowing and his previous band Street Smart Cyclist, Galm both typified that aesthetic and exemplified its potential for greatness. Now, with Slow Warm Death, Galm and his band have challenged themselves to taking on an entirely new sound, while preserving the visceral aspect that made his emo records so ‘emotive.’
Credit where credit is due; making this kind of record was a particularly admirable challenge for these guys to take on. If you had told any of the emo kids I knew two years ago that by 2013, Snowing would have broken up and the frontman would have started a blues rock band, they would have laughed in your face. And yet, through sheer force and brutish grit, Galm and co. succeed in redeeming the genre perhaps most maligned by the fans of his former bands. I see a parallel in the way that indie rock bands have co-opted the sounds of 80s sophistipop in the past few years; in terms of its redemptive ability, Slow Warm Death is a lot like Destroyer’s Kaputt or Bon Iver’s self-titled LP. Expect ‘post-emo blues’ to be big in 2014.
Musically, Slow Warm Death takes a scorched-earth approach to the band’s deliberately brash aesthetic. The levels are almost uniformly maxed-out throughout its brisk, 24 minute runtime, and even the occasional moments of quiet (the beginning of “Sleep,” the shoegazy “Blood 2”) sound primed to explode into the blistering fury that characterizes the surrounding tracks. The album sounds lo-fi, but it’s actually terrifically mixed, featuring a truly overpowering collection of reverberant, fuzz-everything instrumental tones. Its touchstones are pretty evident, — “Alone” sounds like White Blood Cells-era White Stripes, the irresistibly catchy “Sunburn” evokes Ty Segall — but due to these guys’ background in punk rock, Slow Warm Death is leagues heavier and more aggressive than any of the source material it draws from. The result is a true marriage of noise punk and blues rock, something that I honestly don’t believe anyone has been able to pull off as well as Slow Warm Death does on this record.
Beyond the splintering guitars and thundering percussive heft, there is a lot more to love about this record than it initially gives away. Galm is a terrific lyricist and singer, and although much of what he sings is masked by the sonic hurricane that perpetually surrounds him, his brilliant melodies make up for that. On “Liar,” he spits words out at a clip that matches rhythmically with a spindly, dynamic guitar and bass riff. It’s a great effect, even if the speed at which he sings makes it hard to hold onto the words. Working in a much more traditional songwriting mode than before, Galm’s knack for earworm choruses shines especially bright on Slow Warm Death. If this album takes off, the chilling, desperate “Crack” will be sure to elicit massive singalongs. Likewise, “Sunburn” is a straight up power pop anthem with a bright chorus that winkingly obfuscates its depressing lyrics. Despite these moments, the band occasionally veers into gloomier, heavier territory that relies on sound more than songwriting. “Kill You” is the best example of this— over a crushing minor-key riff, Galm moans with more hatred and vile meanness than he did on any Snowing or Street Smart track.
Although now a dynamic four-piece, Slow Warm Death originally started as a humble solo project of Galm’s. He passed around a self-recorded demo album last year, which leaked to the internet and surprised a lot of Snowing fans. I caught wind of it, and although I didn’t love the collection as a whole, I named the track “Sleep” my 15th favorite song of last year. Ironically, although the opening track “Sleep” was far and away the best cut from the demo album, the Slow Warm Death version doesn’t distinguish itself amongst the rest of the album’s tracks nearly as much. In contrast to every other song that was re-recorded for this album, the cavernous “Sleep” actually loses something in the translation to a full-band sound. That’s the lone disappointment on this record though; the rest of it is thoroughly terrific and convincingly pummeling. Snowing is dead, long live Slow Warm Death.
Stream Slow Warm Death at the embedded link above and download it for whatever you wish to pay at Slow Warm Death’s bandcamp page.
Stream: Slow Warm Death - Two Songs (2012)
Ex-Snowing frontman John Galm’s new punk-blues project Slow Warm Death just dropped re-recorded versions of two tracks from their solid Slow Warm Demos album from earlier in the year. You might recall that “Sleep” graced my Top 25 Songs of 2012 list at #15.
Stream “Alone” and “Blood II” above and download them for free HERE.
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 11/30/12
Thanks to everybody who tuned in to my broadcast of Left of the Dial on WNHU last night. I won’t be on the air next week, but I will return on the 14th to start playing some of my favorite songs of the past year in a three part radio series that will take place over the next three Fridays.
The full playlist from last night’s show is below,
along with a Spotify link to stream the available songs at the bottom*. Thanks again for listening!
*Edit: Spotify’s embed code doesn’t seem to be working with tumblr today. I will update this if it starts working again in the near future. Until then, I’m afraid you won’t be able to stream this playlist. Oh well! Enjoy it anyway.
- 1. Bomb The Music Industry! - “25!”
- 2. Sufjan Stevens - “Alphabet St.” (Prince cover)
- 3. Anamanaguchi - “Overarrow”
- 4. Parquet Courts - “Borrowed Time”
- 5. Title Fight - “Numb, But I Still Feel It”
- 6. Title Fight - “Head In The Ceiling Fan”
- 7. Title Fight - “Sympathy”
- 8. Tigers Jaw - “Between Your Band And The Other Band”
- 9. The Guru - “Cow”
- 10. Yo La Tengo - “Avalon Or Someone Very Similar”
- 11. Red House Painters - “Lord Kill The Pain”
- 12. Low - “Words” (Live, feat. Benjamin Gibbard)
- 13. Elliott Smith - “Waltz #2 (XO)”
- 14. Snowing - “Pump Fake (Demo)”
- 15. My Heart To Joy - “That Ungodly Arch-Villain Voltaire Is Dead”
- 16. Joie De Vivre - “Sundays”
- 17. Koji - “Matches”
- 18. WHY? - “Gnashville”
- 19. Radiohead - “These Are My Twisted Words”
- 20. Elvis Depressedly - “A Bible In A Bath of Bleach”
- 21. Paul Baribeau - “How Could That Be True”
- 22. Cat Power - “Empty Shell”
- 23. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - “Love Letter”
- 24. Carissa’s Wierd - “Low Budget Slow Motion Soundtrack Song For The Leaving Scene”
- 25. Sharon Van Etten - “Tornado”
- 26. Waxahatchee - “Bathtub” (Requested by firewalkwithmel)
Slow Warm Death - “Sleep”
Although most of the music on Slow Warm Death’s Slow Warm Demos album (which I reviewed HERE earlier this evening) has a stylistic basis in blues music, I’m finding myself increasingly drawn to the songs that fall outside of that style. After a few listens tonight, my favorite track on the record is definitely “Sleep,” which, as I mentioned in my review, begins with an acoustic intro that really reminds me of frontman John Galm’s lo-fi acoustic EP 11/22. Once this song erupts from its acoustic intro into something more grand, I start to get a pretty powerful Have a Nice Life vibe. Does anyone else pick up on this?
Download Slow Warm Death’s new demos album Slow Warm Demos for free HERE.
Snowing - “Pump Fake” (Pump Fake/Scherbatsky 7” version)
As previously reported, Snowing recently announced that they would be releasing a posthumous 7” record next year featuring two songs recorded during the I Could Do Whatever I Wanted If I Wanted sessions. We heard the new track “Scherbatsky” the other day, and now we have the a-side.
This song is an alternate version of “Pump Fake,” a song which was originally recorded for Snowing’s Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit demo in 2009. In comparison to the original, the new version seems much more raw and desperate, and sounds more in line with the material on the LP than on the debut record. Frontman John Galm sings with a strained passion and some sort of twisted confidence that he must have gained over the two years between the recording of the original and when this version was presumably recorded.
This alternate version of “Pump Fake” has been circulating on the internet now for a couple months, but it’s definitely worth hearing if you haven’t come across it already. At least now we have some context for it. The “Pump Fake” / “Scherbatsky” 7” is available for pre-order from Square of Opposition Records HERE.
Snowing - “Scherbatsky” (Previously unreleased)
If you’re anything like me, then you’re probably still reeling from Snowing’s breakup and final show, which went down on November 25th. Thankfully, some remnants of the band’s brief career remain, in the form of unreleased songs recorded during the I Could Do Whatever I Wanted If I Wanted LP sessions. Kindly enough, the band will treat listeners with some of the material from those sessions in the form of a new, 2 song 7” record. The “Pump Fake” / “Sherbatsky” 7” is available to pre-order from Square of Opposition Records’ bigcartel page now, and will include a new version of Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit’s “Pump Fake” and a previously unreleased song called “Sherbatsky”, which you can stream above.
The latter song is a true to form emo jam with lyrics that mention Charles Bukowski in the first line (at least if I’m hearing that correctly.) It’s pretty great, and would have fit in nicely on the LP had the band deemed it worthy of making the cut. If you pre-order the record now, it should ship by February or March. If you want, you can download this track online HERE.
Re: “A Final Word On The Band Called Snowing”
So, yesterday I posted a very lengthy and rather personal piece about Snowing, who played their final show last night in Philadelphia. In short, the response to the post has been nothing short of amazing. Thank you to all of you who read, liked, reblogged, or were otherwise moved by my writing and I really appreciate the support of all of you.
But more importantly, I’d like to take this time to thank John Galm, whom many of you probably know as the band’s singer/songwriter and bassist. Somehow, John came across the post and read it, and sent me a really thoughtful and kind message apologizing for what happened between us after My Heart To Joy’s final show, which I wrote about in the piece. I’m not gonna go into details beyond that, but I really appreciate that he reached out to me in that way.
I wish John Galm the best of luck in his future musical endeavors, and I can’t wait to see what he and the other former members of Snowing do now that they have officially broken up. I wish I could have been at the show last night!
Speaking of which, Daniel Bassini just uploaded a ton of fantastic photos from the show (including the one above), which you should all check out. Head over to his facebook page to see them!
A really great piece of personal writing! Fuck John Galm.
The message definitely isn’t supposed to be “Fuck John Galm”, but thank you for the compliment.
A Final Word On The Band Called Snowing
(or, A Brief History Of My Experience With Punk)
I’m currently sitting in a basement in Wilmington, Delaware, about thirty miles outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In a matter of hours, Pennsylvanian emo punks Snowing will play their final show ever, or, as Dan Bassini put it on his facebook page, “until they have a reunion show a year from now”. Like Bassini, many people seem to be taking this breakup rather lightly, perhaps no one more than the band members themselves. In a statement posted on their last.fm page, a representative from the band wrote, ”Snowing has come to an end at the ripe old age of 3 and a half (that’s over 90 in emo years!).” On their facebook page, the band has been similarly humorous and deadpan. In response to one fan’s mournful question as to why they broke up, the group replied “We certainly did this only to punish you.”
But all joking aside, Snowing’s breakup deals a significant blow to the emo revival movement and the overall wellbeing of the northeast underground. When Snowing rose out of the ashes of Street Smart Cyclist in 2008, the band was poised to take Street Smart’s emo revival vision beyond the Pennsylvania valley. With the surprisingly successful Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit 7”, released on Count Your Lucky Stars and Square of Opposition in 2009, Snowing did just that, stimulating the genre with a lo-fi mix of twinkly guitars, rough vocals, and bitingly self-deprecating lyrics. The scene’s momentum arguably peaked in early 2011, with the vinyl release of Snowing’s I Could Do Whatever I Wanted If I Wanted, but has been stalled in recent months by a series of unfortunate breakups. Between May and October of this year, such underground powerhouses as My Heart To Joy and Grown Ups have disbanded due to creative differences or internal conflicts. Announced in September, Snowing’s demise was the worst news yet.
The band had spent much of the past year touring behind I Could Do Whatever I Wanted…, which had been warmly received. It placed at #8 on my top 10 list for last year, and when it was issued on vinyl in the subsequent months after its digital release, the group’s fan base broadened considerably. As they gained blog notoriety, their last.fm play count inched towards 1 million plays, a landmark reached by only one of their immediate peers, fellow Pennsylvania punks Algernon Cadwallader. 860,000 plays is an impressive number, considering that Snowing’s official discography amounts to only seventeen songs. As a band at the forefront of an underground movement, Snowing’s breakup could yield unfortunate consequences for the already unstable scene.
Although I recognize the negative cultural impact of Snowing’s breakup, my personal feelings regarding the matter are more mixed. Snowing is a band that has been very important to me for a long time, but with whom I have not always had a consistently good relationship. The group first entered my life in the early autumn of 2010, when I was first getting into emotive hardcore. I had gone through Cap’n Jazz and Sunny Day Real Estate in the June, explored The Promise Ring in July, and obsessed over American Football as the summer faded in August, but by September I had neglected to even consider modern emo. My vision of emo in the 21st century was still informed by what I had seen in the malls of my home state of Connecticut: scene girls and boys wearing My Chemical Romance hoodies and neon colored Chuck Taylor’s, whining and complaining about their incredibly privileged suburban lives while perpetuating the played-out, childish notion that the world doesn’t understand.
I came across Snowing by chance on a certain online music forum, and downloaded their demo largely because of its enticing name. By name, Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit seemed to be a rejection of the vision of emo that those scene kids had projected. Little did I know that in the years after mall-core “emo” faded from the mainstream, bands like Snowing had effectively re-appropriated the term and restored dignity to the near-universally maligned word. By the time I realized this, it was October or November, and the word had gotten out that Snowing would be releasing a full-length follow up to their 5 song demo. I Could Do Whatever I Wanted If I Wanted was released digitally in late November 2010. Its release made for a late-year highlight, and prompted the first album review that I wrote for this blog that I remain incredibly proud of.
With I Could Do Whatever I Wanted, Snowing provided one of the first great underground punk albums released under my watch. The next month, they also provided me with one of my first great underground punk shows, effectively indoctrinating me into a scene that I hadn’t before known the existence of, or at least the scope of. The band played a now legendary show (pictured above) in New Haven, Connecticut, on December 30th, with Castevet, Stay Ahead Of The Weather, Midi & The Modern Dance, and a then-fledgling band from Willimantic called The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die. The show took place at a then-new house venue called The Cookie Jar, which was home to a group of Connecticut punks including the late, great Mitchell Dubey, who was tragically murdered there just three months later. It amazed me that such a thriving and lively musical community existed in my own back yard, and was welcoming me like an old friend. Along with Mitch, Andy, Emily, Greg, and Katie, I absolutely have to thank Snowing for opening that world up to me.
But just as the emo revival movement as a whole reached a peak and eventually began to implode in the subsequent months, my relationship with Snowing peaked and deteriorated in a similar way. When Mitch was killed, the punk community was dealt a huge blow on the local, regional, and even national levels. I don’t want to assert that it was entirely responsible for the deterioration of emo revival in the Northeast, but I can absolutely say that Mitch’s murder left the scene much more vulnerable than it was when I entered it. Although I would say that the scene has rallied in the months since that horrible night in March, it has come out looking and sounding very different. In the months afterwards, an unprecedented misery overhung every local show I attended. Just one month earlier, Mitch’s friends and one of his favorite bands My Heart To Joy announced their breakup with a cryptic and, in retrospect, chilling message on their tumblr page: “Everything comes with an expiration date.”
Their final show, which was scheduled for a May 14th date in Madison, was refitted as a Mitch Dubey benefit show, with all proceeds going towards his family. The show featured a stellar lineup that included a who’s who of Northeast and Midwest punk, including Into It. Over It., Algernon Cadwallader, and, more to the point, Snowing. Although the show itself reaffirmed my faith in the resilience of the punk community, I left it with something of a sour taste in my mouth. I came in to that show more excited to see Snowing than any other group on the lineup, having poured over the I Could Do Whatever I Wanted If I Wanted lyric sheet and prepared myself for a night of crowd surfing and rowdiness. I shouted and screamed along to their excellent live set, rejoicing as they pulled out older songs and threw in a cover of Guided By Voices excellent “Game Of Pricks”. After the set, I bought two records, stickers, and a t-shirt. I felt accepted and validated, and I felt solidarity in the support of all the other people at the show.
As I approached singer/bassist John Galm after the band’s set to introduce myself and thank him for all of the things that I undoubtedly owe to his band, he seemed a little caught off guard, but was otherwise easy to talk to and seemed rather happy. As my friend and I continued to talk to him, we found it surprising how open he was with us. In retrospect, our surprise was not unfounded. I woke up the following day with a lengthy and confusing facebook message from Galm himself, whom I had friended and messaged the previous night saying that it was nice meeting him at the show. I’ve long since deleted the message from my folder, but I still think about it a lot. It was a very reactionary and self-conscious message, which claimed that I had invaded his personal space and made him feel extremely uncomfortable and potentially terrible. I found this hugely unfair and incredibly disparaging, considering that he hadn’t given me that impression at all when we were actually talking, and for a while I couldn’t bring myself to listen at all to the same music which I had been playing nearly constantly for the past six months. I felt very alienated, bitter, and confused by our subsequent online exchange, and in some ways I still am.
I’ve thought a lot about that night, and what I could have done differently, but I can’t bring myself to identify any major faults of my own. For a long time during my period of bitterness, I wrote John Galm off as a self-important asshole — a victim to the anti-rockstar image that punk thrives on. But through a number of enlightening conversations, I eventually came to a different conclusion. Ironically, in spite of all of the time I had spent listening to and memorizing the lyrics of Snowing’s songs, I had neglected to consider where those lyrics were coming from. There is a lot of resentment, bitterness, anger, depression, and self-hate pressed into both of Snowing’s records. In Snowing’s music, Galm’s pain is displayed at face value, but when I met him, it was almost completely hidden. I now feel regret and guilt for not recognizing this prior to our meeting. Although someone’s actions can’t be justified or excused by their problems, no matter how deep-seeded they may be, they can be understood. I can’t claim to understand John Galm any more than anyone else he met on tour once, but I can understand why he acted the way he did to me. This is a truth that I haven’t been able to properly articulate until right now, sitting alone in this basement listening to those Snowing records.
It’s interesting the way things come full circle. When I originally set out to write this piece, which I will admit has turned out to be rather formless, I was not particularly upset that I will not be attending the band’s final show tonight. Now that I’ve finished it, I almost wish I could drive to Philadelphia right now only to reintroduce myself to the band for one last, fresh start. And yet, if I could have attended the show, I probably would not have been able to articulate these thoughts the way I now can. I suppose it’s too late to entertain such thoughts anyway. Honestly, maybe it’s better this way. I mean, what could be a better way to pay tribute to an emo band breaking up than sitting alone in my basement listening to their records and writing a lengthy, overwrought, and emotional piece about what they mean to me? It’s not very fun, but neither is Snowing’s music. At least it’s probably better than spending time with my family.
Oh god, look what you’ve done to me now, Snowing. If there is anything that emo bands have failed to teach me, it’s how to write a good ending. Just as I imagine the members of Snowing will feel some degree of uncertainty tomorrow about what to do next, I’m met with the same lack of closure and uncertainty of purpose. Rest in peace to the band that always mattered to me more than I gave them credit for. See you in hell (or at some venue in Philadelphia when you reunite next year).
I guess I’ll end with some lyrics. I’m not as destroyed by this breakup as some others undoubtedly are, but I can certainly imagine that there are people identifying with this particular song from Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit right now.
“And what did you think I would do after you left? Would I stay sober? I think it’d be much worse. I’d cut my arms off. No regeneration”
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 11/4/11
Thanks for listening to my show last night! Since I missed last week’s show because I was performing at my school, I had a ton of new music to debut on WNHU last night. Perhaps most notably, I played a few tracks from the long-awaited Beach Boys release The Smile Sessions, which I reviewed a few days ago HERE. Additionally, I played a brand new track from the recently-reunited Guided By Voices, two from the new, Beck-produced Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks album Mirror Traffic, and a cut from the new Surfer Blood EP. The full playlist is below, complete with youtube or bandcamp links to the songs when they’re available.
- 1. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - “Me and Mia”
- 2. Jawbreaker - “Boxcar”
- 3. Ovlov - “The City”
- 4. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - “Tigers”
- 5. Guided By Voices - “The Unsinkable Fats Domino”
- 6. Sebadoh - “Not A Friend”
- 7. The Germs - “Lexicon Devil”
- 8. Fucked Up - “The Other Shoe”
- 9. Titus Andronicus - “Titus Andronicus”
- 10. Pixies - “Mr. Grieves”
- 11. Surfer Blood - “Miranda”
- 12. Snowing - “KJ Jammin”
- 13. Milkshakes - “Kalabar’s Revenge (Demo)”
- 14. Street Smart Cyclist - “The Three Lane Cut”
- 15. Broadcaster - “All Your Friends”
- 16. Mister Heavenly - “Diddy Eyes”
- 17. R.E.M. - “7 Chinese Bros. (Live at The Aragon Ballroom)”
- 18. The Decemberists - “Calamity Song”
- 19. The Mountain Goats - “Weekend In Western Illinois”
- 20. boy crush - “dorothy dale diebold”
- 21. The Beach Boys - “Heroes And Villains” (The Smile Sessions version)
- 22. The Beach Boys - “Cabin Essence” (The Smile Sessions version)
- 23. The Beach Boys - “Surf’s Up” (The Smile Sessions version)
- 24. The Decemberists - “We Both Go Down Together”
- 25. Bright Eyes - “Falling Out Of Love At This Volume”
- 26. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - “Forever 28”
- 27. The Magnetic Fields - “All My Little Words”
- 28. By Surprise - “Motor Away” (Guided By Voices cover)
- 29. The Fucking Cops - “Gloria”
- 30. The Antlers - “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out”
- 31. Björk - “Hyperballad”
- 32. Julianna Barwick - “The Magic Place”
Tune in next Friday at 6 PM eastern time to catch another live broadcast of Left of the Dial on WNHU.
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 9/16/11
Below is the playlist from Friday night’s Left of the Dial radio show, which aired from 6 to 8 PM Eastern time on WNHU. Next Friday I’m going to be playing a show at my school, which means that I won’t be doing my radio show. Remember to tune in the week after that though.
- 1. The Antlers - “Kettering”
- 2. Midi & The Modern Dance - “Ghost”
- 3. Bright Eyes - “The Calendar Hung Itself”
- 4. Suns - “Casual”
- 5. WHY? - “Light Leaves”
- 6. Giles Corey - “Blackest Bile”
- 7. Carissa’s Wierd - “September Come Take This Heart Away”
- 8. Modest Mouse - “Cowboy Dan”
- 9. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - “Mega Steve”
- 10. Slint - “Nosferatu Man”
- 11. Liturgy - “Returner”
- 12. Cymbals Eat Guitars - “Plainclothes”
- 13. Snowing - “KJ Jammin”
- 14. Ovlov - “I Got Well”
- 15. Rites of Spring - “Nudes”
- 16. The Replacements - “We’re Comin’ Out”
- 17. Hostage Calm - “War On A Feeling”
- 18. Girls - “Saying I Love You”
- 19. The War On Drugs - “Come To The City”
- 20. Sigur Ros - “Untitled #4”
- 21. Idaho - “You Were A Dick”
- 22. Morrissey - “I’m Not Sorry”
- 23. Andrew Jackson Jihad - “Big Bird”
- 24. Neutral Milk Hotel - “Ferris Wheel On Fire”
- 25. Sharon Van Etten - “Love More”
- 26. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - “To The Janitor, To The King”
- 27. The Smiths - “Oscillate Wildly”