Music News

Past Lives: Tapestry of Webs, in "Nothing Not New"

Artist: Past Lives

Title: Tapestry of Webs

Release date: February 23
Label: Suicide Squeeze

Dammit! I just read that The Rolling Stones will be re-issuing Exile on Main Street in May and that it's going to have a bunch of extra tracks. I've got a copy of the double-album on vinyl (complete with the postcards that came with early pressings!) but still don't have the album's songs anywhere in my digital collection. I'd sure love to get this reissue, but I'm contractually obligated, for the next 10 months and three days, to not listen to anything released before 2010 -- no "Rip This Joint" or "Torn and Frayed." No "Tumbling Dice." So disappointed. 

Instead, I'm stuck with bands like Past Lives.

To be fair, Past Lives isn't really bad at all -- especially in the nebulously defined genre of post-rock, which is what I assume Past Lives would be categorized. Save for their conventional guitar-bass-keyboards-drums lineup, the band eschews songwriting and arranging conventions. In fact, they have an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach that reminded me of the Los Campesinos! record from earlier this year, but with a less anarchic and a more artful tack.

I was surprised to read that this band is from Seattle and not Chicago. When I was living in Chicago in the early 2000s, every other band in the massive complex of rehearsal studios I rented with my band sounded like Past Lives. I was also surprised to learn that Past Lives comprises three-fourths of a hardcore band called Blood Brothers, because Past Lives sounds nothing like hardcore/screamo and, though the music is challenging, it isn't abrasive.

It reminds me a lot of the bands you might've found on the Dischord label in the '90s, after the label moved away from hardcore into post-Fugazi art rock. If you like that stuff, you'll dig Past Lives. Tapestry of Webs sure ain't Exile, but it beats the hell out of Shearwater

Best song: "Vanishing Twin," in which the singer sounds a bit like Mick Jones of The Clash.
Rotation: Medium
Deja Vu: Superior Street Studios, ca. 2001
I'd rather listen to: Hot Snakes' Audit in Progress
Grade: B-

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

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Jay Bennett
Contact: Jay Bennett