The New Loud, Measures Melt

By - Jun 4th, 2010 12:48 am
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By DJ Hostettler, Erika Bock & Jeff Moody

DJ: The New Loud have been a Milwaukee fixture for nearly a decade, so how is it possible that Measures Melt is their full-length debut? The blame for his long-overdue treat can probably be laid on guitarist/vocalist/producer Shane Olivo, a relentless perfectionist whose studio chops have made bands like the Box Social, 7 Angels 7 Plagues, and Beatallica sound awesome (or in the case of Fallout Boy, at least less sucky). Knowing his attention to detail in the studio, it’s probably no surprise that the benefit of owning his own studio made Measures Melt a luxurious, meticulous project.

In any event, the wait is over–The New Loud unleash their debut disc tonight at Cactus Club with support from local 70s glam tribute Ekko Galaxie and the Rings of Saturn and Chicago’s glam-pop Maybenauts. Measures Melt was greeted at the Fan-Belt bunker with an interesting polarization of reactions–equal parts “awesome!” and “ugh.” Eyebrow raised, we decided to attack the disc from numerous angles: the positive (Erika Bock), the negative (Jeff Moody), and the level-headed center (hi!). So let’s get rolling with the good stuff first. Hey Erika, what were your thoughts upon hearing the new The New Loud?

Erika: They’re channeling Shiny Toy Guns. It’s kind of freaking me out. The vocal harmonies, the synths, the grittier guitar bits to break it up, it’s very Shiny Toy Guns. I mean, I like Shiny Toy Guns, but I was expecting this to be like their ME(Secrets)YOU EP. A little more rock, a little less…video game/MIDI/*pew pew pew*. I’m going to stop typing “Shiny Toy Guns” now.

The first four tracks sound like a cross between bad Euro dance-pop and awesome hip children’s show music. Like something they’d have on Yo Gabba Gabba. Does it sound like I don’t like this record? Because I kind of do. Even the super-syrupy dance pop…but probably only in small doses, or when I’m cleaning my apartment. It’s good cleaning music!

They redid “Secrets” and “Heartattack” from that EP. I like the previous versions better. They were a little less slick. The production is really slick. Shane knows his way around the studio. But I almost wonder if that works against them here. Maybe I just want them to ROCK more. The last time I saw them live they were so much more ROCKING.

“Get Lost” is the first track that doesn’t give me a toothache, and I like that. I think prefer The New Loud to be pissed off. They sound better when they’re bitchy musically and not just lyrically. “Don’t Dance” has this crazy rock opera aspect to it in the breakdowns. I like that. I was telling DJ that they reminded me of bis. He didn’t really buy into that until I made him Google “Eurodisco.”

Jeff: I really don’t enjoy Shane Olivo’s voice. It all starts with him, he’s the very first voice you hear (multitracked!) and I have a hard time listening to him. I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but he sounds like he’s singing through his nose to me, and it’s distracting.

Obviously these guys are massively influenced by early-eighties synth-pop. New Order and Joy Division come up as influences on their bio page. The New Loud would do well to take a cue from Joy Division and pare all the bizzyness down a bit. They’ve got twenty sonic pounds (15 of which are not all that interesting, melodically) stuffed into five pound bags on every track and it’s just too much static. It sounds forced to me. There’s a point at about 2:12 in “Out Of Control” where this sound, like a cross between a screaming jet engine and the  brake on a steam train comes in loud as holy hell for no apparent reason other than to break up the continuity of the song and convey some sense of “being out of control.” Annoying.

Too many electric drum fills. Actually, for me, one electronic drum fill is too much. The only good electric drum kit is one that’s outside yer house on curbside pickup day. I thought “Wrapped In Plastic” was such an apt song title for The New Loud, because this disc really sounds like it has a hermetic seal around it. It’s cold, which is fine… Front 242 was cold as hell, but there were monster hooks and beats to latch onto. Nothing hooked me on Measures Melt. “Better This Way” almost had me, but I prefer the real Atari Teenage Riot to the New Loud version.

Erika, I LOVE YO GABBA GABBA… but what I love about them is they are so much fun. This record isn’t fun. It all sounds so serious, and that combined with the cold electronic bizzyness just came up one big mess for me. I’d love to hear what they sound like loosened up and with some good humor.

Erika: See, I wasn’t even going to go as far back as citing Joy Division/New Order as obvious influences, because I just assume everyone in the world who’s in a band that utilizes a synth would do so in their own bio. Isn’t this a rule? “If your band has an electronic drum kit and/or electronic keys/samples, you must cite Joy Division or Kraftwerk.”

Jeff, I think they’re having fun. Or trying really hard to have fun. It’s just lost in the message, and we aren’t getting the full effect. Perhaps in your case, all the joy is buried under those pesky drum fills?

DJ: Well, I’m not sure what Six Finger Satellite or Lost Sounds would say to the notion that keyboard bands are required to cite Joy Division and Kraftwerk! I do see what Jeff’s saying, though–it’s hard to feel like a band’s having fun when the spontaneity has been sucked out by so much studio work. I think no matter where any of us land on The New Loud’s love/hate spectrum, we all agree that there’s a bit of studio overkill here. It’s the diametric opposite of the Steve Albini “band plays live with minimal overdubs” approach–not that I think that would have worked on Measures Melt, but perhaps a balance could have been struck between the two philosophies. The email blast promoting Friday’s show said that they’ve worked on this CD over “the last couple years”–that’s crazy! Sometimes there’s something to be said for “good enough”–imperfections and happy accidents are a part of what makes music human.

Still, I disagree with the notion that there’s a lack of hooks or monster beats. “Wrapped in Plastic” has an angelic chorus thanks to keyboardist Jessi Nakles, and the opening line of “Heartattack” sticks in my head for days on a routine basis. “Don’t Dance,” despite suffering from a condition I’ve dubbed “‘Let’s Get Rocked’ Syndrome” with its “I dance you/Do you dance me too” lyrics, is perfect radio-ready candy pop that delivers its bite by piling on enough sugar to eat through your enamel–not a bad thing when it comes with epic pogo-inducing breakdowns.

The band is at its best, I feel, when they throw in the noisy bits–the cybernetic boomerang action at the front of “Wrapped in Plastic,” the brief blast in the middle of “Don’t Dance,” and yes, even the siren scream in the middle of “Out of Control.” (And as a drummer, I’m gonna stand up for the electric/acoustic hybrid approach.  esthetically, I’m on board.) But it is a controlled, very *deliberate* sort of noise; even when the songs get crazy, they’re very much under control. I think the songs on Measures Melt are solid, but like Jeff, I’d love to hear them loosened up, and like Erika said, more ROCKING. What would this album have sounded like had it been recorded in a span of months–even weeks–instead of years?

0 thoughts on “Review: The New Loud, Measures Melt”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Well, it looks like you all had some kind of preconceived notion on how this SHOULD sound to you. I’m sorry I let you all down by not being Steve Albini enough – L.O-fucking-L – I’m not sure how that approach fits the band, but I’m sure it sounds great in your minds.

    This whole article seems to have been written from a typical negative bitch session mentality that is very typical of the Milwaukee music scene. This town is in deep need of some community building. Its pretty disheartening that when a local artist works hard on something that it is so easy for their peers to tear it down, not only for what it is not, but also for what it was never intended to be – instead of talking more about what it actually is.

    Shane Olivo
    The New Loud

  2. Anonymous says:

    One of the more thoughtful reviews – honest and perceptive, whether they like it or not. I think a lot of people accept “overproduced” when it is some big band from that magical “somewhere else”, but not so much when a band that should be small sounds like they’ve already made it big.

    A thing that I find difficult to understand is why people who have no interest in certain types of music end up reviewing it. It is not like there is very little music out there to review, if you don’t like electronics then why take the time to listen to that? Why not listen to and review music more to your liking and then judge it based on itself?

    Radish Beat
    The New Loud

  3. Anonymous says:


    I’m not really sure that you read the review all the way through. I never said you guys should record like Steve Albini–there’s no way that approach would work for your band and i said so. Heck, i also pointed out that i LIKE the songs on the record. There’s plenty of positive in this review and i’m sorry if the critical parts rubbed you the wrong way. Honestly, considering how savagely i’ve heard you talk about a lot of bands local and not, i’d have thought you could take it.

    I like you guys, i like your band–you know i do. Always have. I really don’t see anyone taking a shit on your CD or “tearing it down” here. All criticism is meant constructively and you can take it or leave it as you will. What should we have done–be dishonest and just write you a blowjob?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dear Radish –

    I love electronic music of all sorts. I’ve been listening to a lot of Fever Ray and Deadmau5 lately. In fact, I am a regularly-appearing club DJ. I would probably DJ a track like “Secrets” and love every minute of it.

    Dear Shane –

    Doesn’t every band who has released music and performed in public have to contend with preconceived notions based on prior work whenever they release something new? And what DJ said is really apt: We like you, and your band (I really did enjoy most of the record), but we were being honest (er, at least I was – everyone else could be lying for all I know. Kidding!)

  5. Anonymous says:

    It just seems like you attached yourself to one aspect of the record you didn’t like and made that the thesis of the review. The EP we released in Feb was exactly the same in terms of production style which is all the more confusing as to why this would be such a sticking point for the LP review. Yes, both records are different than our demo from 4 years ago when we still had a bass player. Should that be so surprising?

    For the record, I am not trying to be minimalist, lo-fi or natural – in anyway – which should be obvious. I consciously left the aggression and energy to our live show to give the band as a whole more depth and dimension. Focusing the record more on layering/slickness.

    That way if you enjoy slickness and lots of sounds and layers happening sonically/harmonically you can listen to the record, but if you want to see something a lot more gritty and in your face you can see a live show.

    ALSO: Recording the record did take a matter of months – I guess when I say worked on for 2 years – I mean recorded on and off while trying to establish a game plan for semi-worldwide release while keeping our identity and staying totally independent of any type of label. Don’t forget this same time period yielded an EP and 12″ single of remixes – not to mention trying to figure out coordination of everything in terms working with press/video/radio/blog etc.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I think the style/electronic-music comment was more directed at the Jeff guy who had such insightful commentary as “Too many electric drum fills. Actually, for me, one electronic drum fill is too much. The only good electric drum kit is one that’s outside yer house on curbside pickup day.”

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’ve never been crazy about electric drums, but that doesn’t mean I discount the entire genre of electronic music. I’ve actually listened to alot of it, especially when Wax Trax! was still in the biz. Just not crazy about the sound electronic drums make.

    I liked the record the least of the three of us, but it was very important to me that we be fair, constructive and sensitive to the glaringly apparent fact that you all WORKED YER ASSES OFF to make the record. I listened to it on a pair of quality headphones and I could hear how much sonic grooming went into it. I just happen to think you groomed the life out of it. It’s an opinion, and yer gonna get alot of them semi-worldwide from places and people who don’t have a history with you and will not bother to be constructive in their criticism. I’m sure you know this already.

    I’m sorry I can’t get to Cactus tonight. I really would like to hear the live version of the yer songs, especially since I know them now. Maybe some other time. Then you can punch me in the face.

    Have a great show tonight, and best of luck with the new elpee.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I totally read this as an overall positive review. Huh.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Wow! An album review from a guy who is dancing in the video of the band who he is reviewing! Great job of not letting a conflict of interest stand in the way of crappy music journalism. Can’t wait for the IFIHADHIFI review!

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