Warehouse constructs a monument to the past on super low.
My first exposure to Warehouse was via the house show scene Atlanta. They were headlining a show at their home base, Thee Yellow House, where there were so many people moshing that the floor buckled and the chandelier was ripped from the ceiling. Framed paintings and found objects jutted out of holes in the walls. Outside, people were breathing fire and tossing huge fireworks into the street, prompting the police to arrive. The energy was chaotic with the sense that anything could happen and probably would. Warehouse’s new album super low was mostly written in that house, and they bring the same unpredictability to their music. Drawing from early R.E.M. and Pylon, guitars circle each other warily while vocalist Elaine Edenfield moves from a whisper to a scream in a moment, all combining with a rhythm section that's not afraid to change up the tempo. This is post-punk in its purest form, but while their first album Tesseract seemed like it was prioritizing avant-garde ideas over tunes, super low takes the band’s wilder ideas and folds them into more streamlined songs; but by no means this is a tame release.
Recorded in the wake of guitarist Ben Jackson and Edenfield being evicted from the Yellow House so it could be made into a parking garage, the first two songs of super low reflects the anxiety and chaos brought on by transition. Edenfield’s growl is at full force, and the band members surge and crash around each other with seemingly little regard for melody or structure. But starting with "Simultaneous Contrast," the band eases up on their assault and focuses on crafting something beautiful. "Long Exposure" sounds like a whisper, and "Audrey Horne" has such a discernible groove that you can imagine the song’s namesake swaying to in a brown plaid skirt. "Reservoir" is a sunny love song despite the screams, or maybe even because of them. While most of Edenfield’s lyrics are cryptic if not indecipherable, there are some references to their displacement. On "Reservoir" she ruminates on origins (“If something comes from nothing does it make it nothing?”) and the future (“I can tell we're heading towards the apex / Or the end / And either way / It will be fine”). On the title track, named after a grocery store, she admits, “I can’t destroy the things that keep me alive and I can’t destroy the things that lead to where you lie.” The decrepit nature of the Yellow House was what made it such a great place for Atlanta punks, and that squalor also made it an easy choice for construction. On "Garden Walls" she extols “an exposition, a paradise, something to find, a monument covered in vines,” in a wistful tone before bringing the full force of her growl to shout “something to find.” The house that spawned the band may be gone, but on super low, Warehouse has erected a monument of their own.
Listen to Warehouse on bandcamp.
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Mo Wilson is a writer who enjoys collecting posters and still has a CD player. You can find him on twitter @sadgayfriendx.