Sharks and Sailors/Honey and Salt, “All Static”/“Cohere”
Damn. Just…damn. Listening to “All Static,” the A-side of this split-7″ from now-departed post-rock trio Sharks and Sailors, I can’t help but tear up a little bit, I swear. It’s a near-perfect encapsulation of everything I truly loved about the band, from the muscular-yet-smart guitars to bassist/vocalist Melissa Lonchambon-Ryan’s serene, serious voice to the brooding, drifting, atmospheric haze, all wrapped up in one neat, tidy package.
Which is fitting, I guess, considering that it’s the band’s last-ever release, but it kills me even still — I feel like I’ve just gotten a final “here, you left this behind” package from an ex-lover, that kind of door-closing-forever moment that means you’re never going to be able to go back to the way you were.
It’d be a disservice to the band to wallow, however; instead, I’m determined to just be happy as hell to get this one last song. And for that, it’s quite a song. Like I said, it brings together all those elements I liked about S&S’s music, but with an added edge to it — while the track does start off relatively quiet and restrained, Lonchambon-Ryan’s not content to just lay back and nod along this time out, instead howling out the chorus
In a funny twist, what “All Static” reminds me of more than anything else is fellow-travelers Ume’s recent stuff, with both bands stepping further away from the all-out eardrum-crushing assault in favor of something more thoughtful and subtle. They definitely can crank it up and pummel you — and here, they definitely do, at times — but they don’t have to. On top of being a great song in itself, it’s also an intriguing, tantalizing glimpse of where Sharks and Sailors might’ve been headed if they’d soldiered on.
Given all that, I don’t envy Austinites Honey and Salt, whose “Cohere” sits on the other side of the record; they’ve got a tough act to follow. They make it work, however — downshifting somewhat, the band is low-key but complex, with neat, delicate, prog-y guitar lines winding in and out as the song meanders along. Honey and Salt make me think of a noodlier, jazzier, probably friendlier Fugazi, or maybe of those early-early emo bands, back before the blueprint really got set in stone.
The guitars are almost too deft and nimble for my tastes, honestly — I only have a limited attention span when it comes to the prog stuff — but then about two-thirds of the way through, the band throws caution to the winds and explode into a great, great bit of Cap’n Jazz/Promise Ring-sounding rock. And after that, I feel compelled to go back and listen to both sides of the record over and over again.
(Obligatory Full Disclosure Time: Former SCR contributor Danny Mee apparently plays drums in Honey and Salt, although I swear to God I had no idea that was the case ’til I finished writing up the 7″ and went looking for a band link for H&S. Hand on my heart, y’all.)