Grooms have announced their latest album Comb The Feelings Through Your Hair today. The venerable Western Vinyl imprint will be issuing the band’s fourth LP on February 17. To celebrate, they’ve premiered the record’s first single “Doctor M”, which can be streamed below.
Having lived, worked, and created in the ever evolving Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn for over a decade, native Texan Travis Johnson has felt the direct impact of the growth and dissolution that comes with rapid gentrification. His band Grooms practiced, and recorded at Brooklyn’s Death By Audio for seven years (first as Muggabears, then as Grooms) before they were forced out of their spiritual and literal home in November 2014 when DBA shut its doors. A little over a year before, with the band’s income not providing enough money to support any of its members, bass player and co-writer Emily Ambruso went on hiatus from the band, leaving Johnson as the only original member. Despite these unfortunate blows, Johnson soldiered on, soon recruiting Jay Heiselmann on bass, and actor/comedian Steve Levine on drums.
Travis Johnson’s relentless perseverance isn’t a central theme, but it’s worth keeping in mind when listening to the 11 songs that comprise the new Grooms album Comb the Feelings Through Your Hair, an album which marks a clear aesthetic and thematic departure from the group’s previous efforts. After months of experimenting with sound collages, samples, and electronic beats, the band recorded an obsessively detailed and melodically complex album, with a heavy focus on mood and texture. Unlike their previous album Infinity Caller (which Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis called “…an exercise in explosion and restraint hallmarked by sweeping guitars, stuttery drums, and cryptic, airy vocals…”) many of the songs on Comb… bring the band’s rhythm section to the fore, and Johnson’s trademark guitar stylings often take a backseat to his psychedelic sample-collages and ambient electronics.
On Comb… that violence is most evident on “Something Wild”, a song about destroying the high-priced waterfront condos that contribute to the rising cost of living in neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Greenpoint, and then feeling conflicted about it. Love is the subject matter on “Bed Version” (a song which Johnson describes as “a fantasy about seeing the joy in my girlfriend’s face as she realizes she’s not cosmically alone.”), and the album becomes wistful on “Cross Off” (a remembrance and longing for the good old days when Ambruso was still an active member of the band), but even on these songs Levine’s alternately Krautrock and Elvin Jones-inspired drums, and Heiselmann’s propulsive bass help to maintain the album’s intense atmosphere.
01. Bed Version
02. Comb The Feelings Through Your Hair
03. Cross Off
04. Something Wild
05. Doctor M
06. Half Cloud
07. Will The Boys?
08. Savage Seminar
09. Grenadine Scene From Inside
10. Foster Sister
11. Later A Dream