July 12, 2013

LP: Southern Femisphere - Houses

Southern Femisphere's newest record offers 
a new definition to your once-beloved pop punk.  

We've spent a lot of time dreaming about the different places music makes us want to go. When we cover bands based in California we talk about how we want to take off in a convertible and drive into the depths of America. When we write about bands across the Atlantic Ocean we curse our meager bank accounts that cripple us from getting on the next plane to a new country. But we don't spend a lot of time talking about the East Coast even though we're all currently based there. More specifically, we often neglect the South, which is probably due to the fact we haven't spent much time down there and it isn't idealized like the West Coast is. But there are some pretty great things below the Mason-Dixon line, such as last September I had the best milkshake of my life at a Cookout in Raleigh, North Carolina. There's beautiful scenery, architecture, beaches, and you can get cheap gas and cigarettes. Some of my fondest childhood memories include road tripping down to Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston is also the home to one of my new favorite bands to come out of the South, the cleverly titled Southern Femisphere, whose new record Houses makes me nostalgic for the days of listening to my discman on long drives and battling my teenage angst.

Houses is Southern Femisphere's first album on Fork and Spoon Records, a small label based in the college town of Columbia, South Carolina that has put out some of our favorite releases by bands such as Chemical Peel and Coma Cinema. There's a lot that Houses reminds me of – the alternating harmonies and lack of a central voice bring to mind San Francisco's Grass Widow and strong, poppy guitar and bass riffs remind me of bands like Parasol and Sourpatch, which I like to think of as a new and debatably more awesome evolution of pop punk. But Houses isn't just the sum of Southern Femisphere's musical peers. It's an album that draws you in with songs that continuously twist and turn and build on themselves until reaching a finishing climax. The music on Houses is notable for its alternating sets of lyrics that are sung by the members of the band (Emily, Caroline, Brett, and Kim) until they overlap into melodic chaos. For example, the band demonstrates this talent on initially innocent-sounding second track "Igloo Hymn", which reminds me of what we lose when we grow up. Although I have a tendency to dislike songs that are longer than three minutes (mostly because my attention span sucks), songs like "One Alarm" keep me captivated with punctuated yelps and a slowed down ending that has the band playfully shouting "What's the most beautiful thing in the world? It's us, it's us, it's us". Houses takes a turn for the experimental with the nine-minute emotionally-fueled narrative "Possibility is Still Our Permanent Address", which feels more like a sequence of songs pieced together than one drawn out track. The album comes to a fitting finish with "Don't Sleep", a  song that follows the similar structure of changing pace before culminating into a beautiful horn sequence. Houses might require a little more of your attention, but it's worth it. 


Listen to Houses and more from Southern Femisphere here

Written by Emily Thompson