Welcome to Boombox Blitz, an artist spotlight series showcasing overlooked singers, songwriters and musicians who are quietly taking over the world.
You can hear their heartbeats throbbing in their music, from the waves of “Late Night Store” to the sluggish but dreamy “Walking in Your Sleep.” Husky Gawenda and Gideon Preiss thrive when tasked with such folk-rock psychedelia, friendly marrying their fateful roots with vibe-hard synths. Despite lukewarm reviews, the pair’s third studio album Punchbuzz shocks and wrenches along, tearing you apart at the seams, and Husky wrap their vision of unmistakable uncertainties around life’s most honest truths. “I’ve been awake for days now, and I’m seeing ghosts,” they wander around a ghoulish melody, which seems to haunt them at every turn, and well-flexed drums, rattling their fingertips and shooting down their spines. “I was fixing a fall for singing stars like tambourines. I was coming off all rosy. There’s a fire storm and it’s closing,” rumbles “Flower Drum,” an elastic mixture of polka-spotted rhythms and warm guitar warbles. Songs such as this, along with “Spaces Between Heartbeats,” are not far removed from their first two records, 2011’s Forever So (2011) and 2014’s follow-up Ruckers Hill.
“I think in the past we played folk music because we had made this decision somewhere along the line that we were a folk band and we have always loved folk music. But this time around, we changed things up. We found a new kind of freedom. And with that came new territory and a new adventure for the band,” Gawenda explained. They soar valiantly, chests puffed out and minds at ease, unshackled from pressures of genre and style–coming into their own as purveyors of thought: modern men turned daredevils.
With producer Matt Redlich–known for his work with The Trouble with Templeton, Sorry Hills, Holly Holly, Peppy Emma Louise–leading them into a splintered, over-brushed forest, the duo come alive and feel every ounce of thorn piercing their sides. “Melbourne was new to me as it always is when I return from being away. But it was also full of ghosts – remnants of my past life, people who were no longer around, places that were at once familiar and foreign, memories that drifted through my dreams and waking thoughts, becoming fused and inseparable,” Gawenda has said about the opening track, a song of booming drums and emotional pandemonium as they come off an eight-month traipse across Europe and return home.
“I slept little but dreamt a lot. My dreams were of the past, they took me back over and over again when what I wanted was to start again, to find something brand new,” he added. “‘Ghost’ was part of a process of coming to terms with this half asleep, half awake, somewhere between the haunted past and the sunlit possibility of tomorrow.”
“Ghost,” for all its faded, spooky presence, blends into the rest of the album with fearsome bravery: the stage is set and Gawenda and Preiss drift purposefully into detailed vignettes of the darkest corners of their minds. “Waiting for the night to speak to me,” they mull on the titular cut. On “Cracks in the Pavement,” they chase after another kind of specter, weeping, “The devil is here to dine with us. The morning’s a new beginning. The sun will come around and light up the night.” The foggy, overcast “Spaces Between Heartbeats” sustains the album’s thread lines with unswerving aptitude. “Came home from my ghost retreat,” they recollect, “waking up from a six-month foggy sleep, and I was making out with her in a symmetry her monster finds.” Across a luscious terrain, the album never feels as if they’ve lost their way; the path is just breaking through the busted twigs and array of wild plant life. They look sheepishly on and at least pretend they know what they’re doing, cutting further into the wooded land around them.
Punchbuzz is out now on iTunes, and you can spin below, via Spotify:
Top photo credit: Luke Henery