Anyone who has overseen even the most modest of music blogs knows the insufferable burden that every site's email inbox inevitably becomes. In the couple of years I ran Thought on Tracks, I became well-acquainted with the daily PR spam of remixes, mash-ups, and buzz bands that make discerning shit from Shinola a legitimate chore. On the flip side, the payoff of stumbling upon an undiscovered diamond in the rough proves addictive. One dependable source of diamonds in the ToT inbox was musician and producer Neil Weir.
For the better part of a decade, Weir has owned and operated Old Blackberry Way recording studio in the Dinkytown neighborhood of Minneapolis. Through projects like the female noise rock outfit Is/Is to Weir's own more melodic output with bands like Heavy Deeds and Pony Trash, I found he had a knack for building atmosphere around deceptively simple arrangements. The songs often grow bigger than themselves, engulfing the listener, forcing us to peal back the layers that shroud the songs core musical elements without suffocating or losing sight of them.
Today marks the release of the third album from Weir's familial shoegaze/noise pop project, The Chambermaids. The band released its self-titled, debut LP in 2006, after beginning as a two-piece with Neil and his sister Martha under the name The Shut-Ins in 2003. Since then, the supporting cast has shifted from record to record, while the sibling core has remained intact. On Whatever Happened Tomorrrow, The Chambermaids keep things concise with many of the album's nine tracks clocking in at well under three minutes.
As is the case with much of Neil's work, the vocals are embedded somewhere in the middle of the mix, allowing the instruments to swirl like waves around and over them. This decision makes the vocals a textural reference point as much as a lyrical one. However, Martha's vocals on "Scraped Away" prove more prominent and discernible. Nevertheless the focus, as with most shoegaze, is on the greater whole rather than the individual. The howling guitars and propulsive rhythms remove all other thoughts from our consciousness, effectively "scraping away" any preoccupying worry that we may have brought to the listening experience. Listen to "Scraped Away" below and pre-order your copy of Whatever Happened Tomorrow on limited-edition wax from Bandcamp.