Author: Riley Urbano
Glass Beach broke out in a big way last year thanks to their incredible debut record, informatively titled the first glass beach album. While all members of the band have released music in countless other capacities (solo acts, live work for other bands, and so on) the first glass beach album marks the band’s debut as a uniquely momentous project; and, thanks to the project’s popularity, this record has also netted the band a slot on the roster of Run For Cover, an internet-era institution that’s released records for such esteemed acts as Elvis Depressedly, Modern Baseball, and (Sandy) Alex G.
Like many of their new label mates, Glass Beach distinguishes itself as a band with a clever and unique take on emo music that flirts with countless other musical traditions: they’ve listed the first glass beach album as being “punk,” “art rock,” “bedroom pop,” and “post-emo,” but I personally feel that even that expansive of a description doesn’t do the record justice. There’s a grandiose sense of drama and theatricality running through the whole album that reminds me of bands like Queen and My Chemical Romance, piercing digital synths are given space in the mix equal to guitars and vocals, and chord progressions and melodies that seem to draw from jazzy vintage pop like Frank Sinatra (at least to my relatively uncultured ears). You can hear all of this, and more, for yourself, one tracks like the bombastic opener, “classic j dies and goes to hell part 1”:
Cymbal swells, arranged brass, and an understated classy piano performance stand in for any sort of conventional emo aesthetic, even as the vocals cement the track as, at the very least, emo adjacent. The track continues to throw curveballs from there; the band breaks into a dance beat more characteristic of a DFA Records band, and even begins to layer in the kind of glassy, resonant synth swells one might expect to hear from a Soundcloud producer, all without ever going too far out on a limb. It’s bands like this that always impress me the most — Glass Beach has no issues dispensing with the more ornamental aspects of their genre, and they anchor that iconoclastic streak with an incredibly strong command of songwriting fundamentals and performance. All that is to say, their music is super fun, and I’m really looking forward to catching them live.
Speaking of which – they’re playing the Vera Project pretty soon, January 28th. If “classic j” sounded good to you, this’ll be an incredible opportunity to see them make these rube-goldberg machine compositions work in a live setting!
Riley Urbano | vera shows are always cheap, just sayin | KXSU Music Reporter