HDLSS – HDLSS (SELF-RELEASED, 2010)

Headless Horseman is a boy/girl girlpop duo from Brooklyn who play fractured pop-songs beneath the pall of six year old consumer grade electronics pumped out of a sticker-plastered ghetto blaster older-sister hand me down. While it is that kind of thing (the below-fi blue-eyed soul jams of How To Dress Well are comfortable sonic partners), it is also more than that kind of thing. Beyond an aesthetic that has become less crucial in defining a band’s sound as “lo-fi” or “no-fi” or whatever, Headless Horseman displays some stunning moments of pure weirdo-pop brilliance. Strip away the samples, the chop-shop vocal arrangements, occasional outbursts of noise-on-noise, and you get to some solid, and occasionally brilliant, bedrock pop arrangements. “SH8KR” and the single “Wavlngth” are clattering, power tool wielding, EKG glitching mid-tempo burners whose driving melody (just check out the buzzsaw guitars on “Wavlngth’s” chorus)  belie any sense of the obligatory anachronistic noise for its own sake. The weirdness, the fidelity, the tonality, are simply a slack line between the hanging tacks of the Vaselines and Kurt Vile. This current runs unrestrained between Headless Horseman.  The ironic/comically titled “Swan Song” begins with a distant choir of buried vocal drones filtered through a vacuum of a warped tape deck that melts slowly (with a few hitches) into laid back acoustic strummer that lists and drifts in and out of Conner O’Neill‘s multi-tracked falsetto. “Growing” on the other hand, flips the script and starts as a laid back strummer, revving into a galloping, beeping, gamelan clanking crescendo that plays to its ultimate breaking point before being spirited away as Fareed Sajan’s wiry falsetto plays out the record.

The chances of being one of the “first” in music blogging these days is a rare privilege. With an oversaturated market (which may or may not from the result of music blogging) finding and championing a band like Sonic Youth or Dinosaur Jr. may seem a little unlikely. But maybe, just maybe you will receive something in your inbox like Headless Horseman. Something that is by no means game changing, but wholly and completely engrossing and exciting. Something that you feel 100% confident about getting behind. 

Ryan H.

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