ARTIST: Soft Wounds
RELEASE: The Last EP
RELEASE DATE: 9th March 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
‘Soft Wounds’ are a Toronto-based shoegaze/alt-rock duo who base their influence’s off 90’s era shoegaze and dream-pop; creating noise/filtered textures and filters that lay softly over the structure of linear alt-rock tracks. ‘The Last EP’ captures a colourful mixture of downtrodden and emotive alt-rock tunes which generally centre around a style of vocalization that sounds almost as if it is floating. Accompanying this are catchy guitar riffs and a melodic rhythm section that precisely captures the emotive state of the sounds at the forefront of the music. The band are made up of Charlie Berger and Matt Rimon. ‘The Last EP’ was officially released back on March 9th 2018 and is available to buy/download right now via softwounds.bandcamp.com
‘Story’ opens up proceedings on the EP, wherein the bands texturing is put on full display as the noise-laden backing to the music is covered by reverb soaked guitars and the rhythmic backdrop of drums. The guitars also feature the kind of heavy FX and audio manipulation found on some of the most seminal shoegaze releases of the past. If one were to pair back the guitar FX and un-dampen some of the background sounds, the song would present a more classic post-punk feeling; structurally it also echoes this frame. ‘Her Ghost’ takes the emotive soundscapes further, and slows down the tempo for an almost ballad like setting. Much like on ‘Story’ the riffs that weave in and around the rest of the instrumentation become the catchy centrepiece for the sound to float around upon. Of special note is the second half of the track and the soft sounds of the pre-outro where the tweaking pick of the guitar melds beautifully with the rhythm section. ‘Wide Open’ may be the best song on the EP: the riffs and layering of the sound offers a great line in the sand between all out FX guitar driven washdown and restrained and a more conservative guitar practice. The band gel together on ‘Wide Open’ perhaps most strongly than on any other song; somehow making the song sound strongly rehearsed but also slightly jam-oriented at the same time?
‘On The Fence’ sounds closer t0 a kind of dark dream-pop than it does to shoegaze or heavy alt-rock, however, its instrumentation remains the same as on previous track. In the context of the EP, as well as the strength of the previous songs, ‘On the Fence’ would potentially be the least interesting and engaging track on the EP. Why? It seems like elements of previous songs are re-used, which is fine, but they are disused in a uninteresting and unoriginal way, making it sound as though its features the weakest elements of the EP. Interestingly enough, ‘Watch You’, which follows on is one of the EP’s greatest triumphs, introducing dynamic musical elements as well as the shimmering guitar sounds we all associate with shoegaze. ‘Finally’ is in some senses, Soft Wounds culmination of previously explored musical elements into one lengthy practice. The inclusion of beautiful background humming synths in the intros truly capture the beauty that seems to flow from the song.
On this EP ‘Soft Wounds’ truly hone their craft and capture, utilize and present their own sound for the listener. Their own sound, it should be noted, is in a sense a collective channel of influential bands in and around the genres of shoegaze, dream-pop, alt-rock and more. Where many bands utilize this influence, it is generally abused in a derivate sense more so than a transformation from something done into something original. My main criticism of the EP is by far the vocals. Whether it’s the production or mixing, or whether it’s the vocals themselves I’m not entirely sure; all there is to say is that they become overly whingy and at points present themselves so holy angelic and clean sounding that it is almost a distraction from the music itself. Also on some points the mixing makes things, specifically sounds in the background and the drums, murky and damp to the listener. Beyond that the EP is engaging and strong; most specifically through production and sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on Baeble Music and Culture (USA), Sounds and Colours Magazine (Latin America, London), Easterndaze (Latvia) and the Australian-based heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.