L.A. band Second Still played The Echoplex last Sunday, after releasing their self-titled debut this month on Manic Depression Records. The three-piece band offers a stylish, minimal “coldwave” sound with haunting vocals, strong bass lines and straightforward machine drums. The album is good, but the songs were pleasantly fuller and richer live, with singer Suki San proving to be an intense, interesting presence onstage. The band gave off an electric energy, despite saying very little to the crowd. At a pause between songs, San announced solemnly, “A string has been broken,” which got some cheers.
The band, which includes Ryan Walker on guitar and Alex Hartman on bass, are originally from Brooklyn, but relocated to Los Angeles just after recording Second Still. The album apparently deals with themes like depression, anxiety and frustration, but there’s a beauty to its darkness and it’s not a downer to listen to it. San’s vocals occasionally sound like a subdued Siouxie Sioux, who is probably a big influence, or like Jessicka Addams of former local band Scarling. In the music, there are more nods to Joy Division and The Cure in the bass lines and cold, clear guitar. “Try Not To Hide,” which was particularly fun live, might be the strongest track, with its head-bobbing bass and energetic chorus. There is also an excellent bridge/outro where San sings the title lyric over and over, culminating in scifi-spiraling sounds.
More pics by Isabel Maya Photography after the jump
“Strangers” has an interesting rhythm that gives it a ponderous feel, especially in the moments where Walker quickly plucks the strings in a descending melody. “New Barn” is a Gothy number with the fitting line, “I’m too romantic to grow old,” while “Sleep” sounds like early Interpol, in both its driving guitar and looping bass groove. The incantatory “You Too So Alike” has a suitably dark and flashing video here. I like the mysterious lyric in that one: “Someone’s in the water…Could you go and help her?” Please go help her… Second Still is available on the group’s Bandcamp page, and hopefully, the band will be playing another local show soon.
All photos by Isabel Maya Photography