May 13, 2016

EP: claire cottrill - brains a bus station

Take a look inside Claire Cottrills' dream pop diary.

Claire Cottrill’s August EP, growing, features a song called “song 2 my journal.”  Though her most recent EP, brains a bus station, is a sonic departure from growing, this title is a succinct way of describing the lyrical emotion that seems to find its way into all of her songs. I adore when she is forthright about what events the songs are recalling, in the description of her February 2015 EP, have a nice day, she informs the listener that she wrote every song while visiting New York. Even the photos that serve as the cover art for her various releases seem like the photos one would tape in their journal – a photo of bouquets of flowers from the trip to NYC, what I assume is a photo booth picture of her and a friend in black and white, and for brains a bus station, a photo of Claire’s leg mid-stride in a pair of frayed jeans. Her quick one to two minute songs reinforce this idea and reflect journal entries quickly scrawled as to include only the most important information of the day’s events. 

From the very beginning of brains a bus station, it’s clear that this album is different from those preceding it. She opens the first song “survive” with a drum machine, and for the majority of the song the drum machine seems to command the whole operation, rather than her soft voice calling the shots. The whole of brains a bus station seems more intense, the guitar booming from the track rather than staying in the background. 

Her journal-like quality seems to be at its height in the fourth track, “how it feels when we make eye contact at that party.” The song, which features no vocals from Claire, is short and sweet – she finds a way to convey the emotions she has so strongly transmitted through vocals with her instruments, this time a keyboard, doing the work. This song is a harsh contrast from the one preceding it which is in response to the party itself – not just this particular moment. The song is swaying and sharp, detailing her reluctance toward attending said party. On brains a bus station, she is working past being celebrated just for her sweet voice – she is learning to have her instruments as equals to her voice. It’s not as if her instrumental work was shoddy on her past EPs, don’t get me wrong, but to me the guitar was simply background noise and her voice stole all of my attention. Now, especially with this fourth track, Claire seems to be firmly instructing her listeners to pay attention to it all. I still appreciate her flowing voice but now that I feel so acquainted with it,  I'm more eager to unravel what’s behind it.

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Listen to claire cottrill on bandcamp.

Written by Rachel Davies