Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Morning Show host John Richards, is “No Direction” by Longwave from their 2008 album Secrets Are Sinister on Original Signal Recordings.
It is of no surprise that New York foursome Longwave have drawn comparisons to the likes of Radiohead and The Strokes: the band, especially on “No Direction,” manages to create the sort of epic, almost daunting spaces of the former while infusing them with the more delicate pop sensibilities of latter. Longwave was formed in 1999 by Rochester native Steve Schlitz, and after self-releasing their first album, Endsongs, they were signed to RCA for two more albums and worked with The Flaming Lips Dave Fridmann. Over the years, the band has swelled and shrank in size (Schlitz and bassist Shannon Ferguson are the only original members left), and they now find themselves releasing their fourth album, Secrets Are Sinister, with the creative freedom of independent label Original Signal Recordings.
To “No Direction” (also produced by Fridmann) they arrive as a lean foursome and inject their sound with a speed and all-around driving force that belies the song’s title. While the machine-gun rattle of drummer Jason Molina pushes the song forward, Schlitz and company are free to create a wall of guitar and sonic fuzz suited to the airy confines of an arena rock stage. What Longwave does better than many of their contemporaries, though, is balance this sort of epic sound with quiet, almost eerie moments when the guitar dwindles to a whimper and all that is left is Schlitz’s grandiose voice and the barely audible warble of the keyboard.
Starting in December, Longwave has a long line of tour dates, starting on the West Coast and winding back east for an end of the year show back home at Bowery Ballroom. They hit Seattle at Chop Suey on December 14 and will perform live on KEXP at 2PM that same day. Find out more about the band on their website and MySpace page. For now, get an inside look at their recording sessions in this video for the more subtly moving “Shining Hours”: