Sure we’ve heard a lot of neo-post-punky-ethereal-shoegazey indie bands over the past 10 years, but I heard this band Drab Majesty just the other day during Part Time Punks‘ radio program (on Los Angeles’s militantly independent KXLU FM) that really impressed me. Guitar driven and drenched with tons of chorus and reverb, what immediately catches our attention about Drab Majesty’s sound are the infectiously danceable rhythms and the catchy goosebump inducing melodies amidst the delaying guitars and foggy vocals of the electric turquoise post-psychedelia of it all. Sometimes you’ll even catch a breath of some synthesizer texture in the mix as a muscular drum machine pattern pulses on urging us to dance while we’re swirling into oblivion. There’s even an audible tape hiss at the beginning and end of each track. But where so many consciously self-styled DIY indie rockers would use that as some ironic aesthetic affectation, L.A.’s Drab Majesty genuinely sound like hyper-romantic precociousness teenagers poring their hearts out making music in their bedrooms. It’s a wonderful sound.
But there’s a catch. In our post-postmodern world where we all know too much, everything is a nod or reference to something else, where we’re not sure if someone is kidding or being sincere, just as we’re bonding with the gushing late Syd Barrett-esque sensitivity and fragility of their music, Drab Majesty throws us a curve ball. It appears that Drab Majesty isn’t so much a band as we were initially thinking, but rather some shadowy solo project of Deb Demure: a futuristic androgynous Baroque figure that seems to be part Ziggy Stardust, part Genesis P. Orridge. Is Drab Majesty for real then? Is their seemingly heartfelt sound just another in a long line of deceptive, albeit thought provoking, musically inclined performance artists? Hard to tell. What is for certain is that Drab Majesty’s music has an undeniable haunting power to it that stands independent of any conceptual art project. From the obtusely beautiful opening track “Pragmagick” with its abyssal guitar pings and strangely operatic chorus, to the swooning beauty of “In A Hotel (Somewhere)” that evokes both Slowdive’s “Slovaki Space Station“ and The Cure’s “Closedown from Disintegration“, to the brooding dirge of “Y.K.E.D.A.” with its driving synth bass line and cavernous vocals, Drab Majesty’s four song bandcamp debut leaves us longing for more. Along with San Fransisco’s Soft Moon and L.A.’s other great soon-to-be-next-big-neo-post-punk thing Deathday, Drab Majesty could very well fall right in line with those great bands and carve out a unique place in the glittering shadows and cobwebs of The West Coast’s ever evolving new musical darkness.- Nove Mura