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Cold Showers - Love and Regret

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Artist: Cold Showers

Album: Love and Regret

Label: Dais

Review date: Nov. 2, 2012

Cold Showers: Goth Not Goth. They come at it from somewhere outside of the influence, because that part of this young Los Angeles’ band’s sound feels entirely an aesthetic decision, and not one that’s been lived. The somewhat murky thud of a production job by Darker My Love’s Rob Barbato, the heavy reliance on gated reverb, singer-bassist Jonathan Weinberg’s drowsy Ian Curtis impersonation, the Nord Lead-ness of Brian Davila’s synths, not to mention involvement elsewhere (guitarist Jessie Clavin, formerly of Mika Miko, also plays with Weinberg in her project, Bleached). These are tells of people who were maybe intrigued by the darkness but probably never committed all the way, and while there’s no real way to say “if you weren’t then, you can’t be now” to anyone without sounding like an asshole, I’m not the first person to bring it up. That’s gotta bother someone, and that might’ve been me — but not this time.

Punk could have gotten in their way of whatever ambitions they had towards the darkness, but everyone in punk who has a bedroom to go to probably devotes some specific percentage of it to Goth, starting in their teenage years. Their music plays like that; this is where Bloc Party could have went (Hous Party?). All of these songs are rippers, all with the professional L.A. looks and historical commitment to the Sunset Strip/”Rodney on the ‘ROQ” present in these gems, the searching, lovelorn feel of the Plimsouls beneath several applications of eye makeup. “BC,” Love and Regret’s best track, is rhythmically airtight, its momentum racing through the past 10 years of post-punk revivalism on a four-note guitar line and pounding bass-drum interplay, circling the inevitable abandonment of the form, its energy expended and the specters of hopelessness crowding it all out. Still, they race, and this song, even with lyrics so dark and final-sounding, cheekily inserts a refrain of “oh, woe is me” several times, juxtaposing camp with feelings of real loneliness, and making us move. “I Don’t Mind,” from their first 7” and redone here, bops along like every last Rock Is Back band of the early ’00s. Ten years ago, these people would have been wrung out by a major label, but here we are in the arid ’10s, and a great song like this is given a chance to flourish on its own.

It’s audacious for sure, if not outright mockery, to adopt a subculture, or at least to make inferences to doing so. But Cold Showers uses that cavalier attitude behind such a simple bedrock of references — Joy Division (a song called “New Dawn” all but writes a countermelody to “Insight”), The Church, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Strokes, Interpol — that creates a level of tension across Love and Regret that sustains them far better than any of their peers, or bands that’ve been stripping the bones of a dead music industry, dead dreams, childrens’ choirs and Sundance movie trailers. Cold Showers are Gilmore Girls in a Windows 8 endorsement world, and they sound like they are following their hearts and not the money.

By Doug Mosurock

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