After eight years, two moves, three lineup reconfigurations and incalculable miles logged on their various tour vans — an incalculable number of tour vans, perhaps — Philadelphia psychedelic punks Creepoid have come full circle.
The four childhood friends who founded the band in the winter of 2009 are the same four adults who rage in the band today. On bass and vocals, Anna Troxell; on guitar and vocals, Sean Miller; on lead guitar, PeteJoe Urban; on drums, Pat Troxell. Their sound has gone from tense-but-subdued (2010’s Yellow Life Giver) to loud (2011’s Horse Heaven, 2014’s Creepoid) to very very loud (2015’s Cemetery Highrise Slum) and back to a dynamic state that embraces moments decidedly subdued — something we hear in this week’s Key Studio Session.
Yes, the amplifiers are cranked — crushingly so, and used brilliantly to sculpt sound in breathtaking ways. “I’m Only,” the first of two new tracks the band debuted in their performance this week, is one of their hardest-hitting songs to date — it hammers right out the gate as syncopated beats, staccato chords and howling string bends pummel their way into a languid and drifting verse. Next to Bardo Pond, Creepoid probably possesses the best understanding of volume and vibe out of anybody we’ve recorded in this series. They brought their own fog machine and light show to the studio, and you can see how well it compliments the new music in the video below.
But Creepoid also does loud-loud astonishingly well; you can hear it in the band’s performances of “Dripping Eyelids,” and the punishing “Waste” from last year’s Burner EP. And it is also still wonderfully adept at the quiet end of the spectrum.
When I first interviewed Creepoid in the house they shared in the Manayunk hills circa 2010, Pat scoffed at comparisons the band’s debut single had gotten to Mazzy Star — a product, most likely, of Anna’s fluid vocal style and PeteJoe’s dreamy slide guitar on “Pink Tag Sale.” Creepoid saw itself as punk, rightfully so, and Pat’s quote at the time was kind of amazing — “nobody in Mazzy Star has fucking Black Flag tattoos.” I hope he’s not too upset at me for saying that “Gutter Jeweler,” the other new song the band premiered in this week’s Key Session, might be the most Mazzy Star thing they’ve done.
It’s graceful, it’s melodic, it’s freaking beautiful — a mix, again, of Urban’s skillful slide and a gentle rhythm. And unlike the gloom and despair on that first single, “Gutter Jeweler” brims with sonic optimism on the horizon; it’s Creepoid’s best pop song, but it’s pop on their own terms — crunched with vocal fuzz from their homemade tape delay rig, swelling in volume as the music builds, but unafraid to be delicate at its core.
You can listen to Creepoid’s Key Studio Session below, and grab a free download at Soundcloud; for funsies, trip back to The Key Studio Sessions Volume 1, where you can hear a nine-minute rendition of “Enabler” from the band’s first Key Studio Session. And since this all will no doubt have you hype to see them live, take note; Creepoid just announced a sick lineup gig at Underground Arts on March 10th with Purling Hiss, Ecstatic Vision and The Spirit of the Beehive; tickets and more information on the show can be found at Facebook or on the XPN Concert Calendar.
It’s the band’s kickoff show for a spring tour with Ecstatic Vision, which takes them to SXSW and back; check out that tour poster below, and listen to more from their tourmates here.