Froth At Amoeba, Tuesday February 21st 2017
Froth is a band that I have already seen a few times, in particular during some of these cool festivals organized by Burger Records at the Echo/Echoplex. Each time, the venue got packed to the roof for their set while an abundance of crowd surfing occurred at the same time. There was obviously no surfing at Amoeba where they were playing an in-store to celebrate their new album ‘Outside (briefly)’, which comes out on February 24th on Wichita Recordings, and, as usual, Amoeba had it available in advance.
Froth are melancholic shoegazers and they build a dense atmosphere during their long sprawling songs, which often started with JooJoo Ashworth’s lo-fi and dreamy vocals almost isolated from the rest of the sound. While the guitars were slowly carrying the delicate and gloomy melodies, the fuzz would often explode mid-song in a shoegazing and floating experience, mixed with some occasional noisy experimentation and krautrocky loops. Froth has apparently evolved into a new and more elaborated sound, moodier and more atmospheric, like a sad post-punk emo kind of thing. However, they didn’t play a lot of songs of their new album at Amoeba, so their dreamy moody new ones were alternating with more buoyant ones, without showing too much contrast nevertheless. Their short set was a mixture of shoegaze and dreamy meditations, blending into plaintive melodies and walls of fuzz a la My Bloody Valentine, occasionally turning epic.
For a band that formed in 2013, Froth is very prolific as ‘Outside (briefly)’ is already their third album, following their debut LP ‘Patterns’ which was originally only intended as a small-run cassette release. They got so successful in the underground Southern California music scene that they properly released ‘Patterns’ on vinyl in 2014 and then followed with ‘Bleak’ on Burger Records in 2015. Since that time, Froth got national attention with reviews on NPR, Noisey and Stereogum and an opening spot for bands such as The Drums. They have many upcoming dates (including one at the tiny desert gateway Pappy & Harriet’s) and are part of the Desert Daze Caravan US tour with Temples, Deap Vally, Night Beats, JJUUJJUU.
‘Outside (briefly)’ is described as their most elaborated album so far, with ‘intricately arranged instrumentals, and some of their most experimental songwriting to date’, an evolution which can be more appreciated by listening to the record itself as their fuzzy dream-pop-shoegazing sound was highlighted by the use of cello, synths, drum machines and other keys, whereas their set at Amoeba was purely guitar-drums-driven. And, if I didn’t pay enough attention to the lyrics as Ashworth’s vocals were buried under too much fuzz, you have to know that these psych-rockers have found inspiration in the classics since the album draws its darkness vibe from the works of Haruki Murakami and Richard Brautigan – the album title comes from a chapter in one of his books.
It’s the type of music bands of the Pacific Northwest can make (and have made in the 90s) because, as they record title seems to suggest, they can’t barely go outside… So it is a bit puzzling to see that sunny California can also inspire such gloomy and dark soundscapes beside the typical surf-pop-rock? May be Froth is responsible for the terrible rainy weather we had lately after all.
On My Chest