Shade’s debut album, Pipe Dream, falls somewhere squarely between post-rock and psych-pop. At least, I think that’s where it falls. It’s not really fair to try and pinpoint this record’s sound when it’s so readily apparent that Shade wants to avoid being pigeonholed at all costs. The eight tracks that make up Pipe Dream (spread across 36 minutes or so) are wildly inconsistent in the best way possible. As the band jumps around from noise-pop to psych-rock to various other hyphenated subgenres, the only noticeable connecting thread is that it all sounds kind of amazing.
Phelan LaVelle’s indecipherable vocals range from soothing (“Chrome Spliffs”) to extremely aggressive (“Poco”), while her guitar lines are exciting and unpredictable, moving in any and every direction, as if to intentionally throw the listener off course. The bass and drums of Will Cash and Al Daglis (respectively) are a constant assault on the senses, turned up as loud as possible in the mix, driving a harsh but often loose rhythm that gives LaVelle plenty of room to move around.
While the record’s somewhat improvisatory structure suggests these songs were built for live shows, Shade’s big, blown-out sound translates surprisingly well even on the shittiest of laptop speakers. Pipe Dream is an early highlight for Athens music in 2014. 4 out of 5.