I am keen to side projects. They are similar to independent start-ups that form organically. These projects often exist for only one album or tour. The fun and memories remain, but ultimately the reconnect happens with the group and the side project dies. I think of Little Joy. A brilliant project where Strokes drummer, Fab Moretti created a timeless album that made me realize that that members of my favorite band could exist outside the greater good. Even consider Jeff Magnum’s transition. The casual listener remembers the side project Neutral Milk Hotel and forgets the initiator in Olivia Tremor Control. These records have caused me to pay close attention whenever members of my favorite groups decide to branch out and try something new.
The latest side project worthy of note is Minneapolis-based Poliça. This group is an extension of Gayngs, a band that I adore. Members Channy Casselle and Ryan Olson initiated the idea in the summer of 2011. Just like any good co-founders, they decided to surround themselves with additional talent. A new outlook, fresh energy and a mix of something different began the build toward innovation. Dual drummers Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson were brought in to provide magnificent percussion. Bassist Chris Bierdan was the final piece to the puzzle.
If you like a deeply percussive groove then Poliça’s Give You The Ghost is certainly the album for you. From track to track this album is filled with the smartest, deepest beats that I have heard in a long time. Casselle’s vocals slide right over the top of each snare creating a sound so magnificent that I find myself at a loss in my search for a comparison. The album is enjoyable from end to end and has tremendous character. It is hard to believe that such a new project, created in an expedited fashion, can offer such a mature sound. Bat for Lashes fans should listen to Poliça. This provides a gloomy opportunity to dance. This is a string of sinister songs that project life.
The song “Dark Star” does the best job of promoting this gloomy groove theme. Casselle’s vocals are diminished by the production, but are brought to life with deep percussion. The chorus demands a foot tap. Rich melody pops over the top of minor chords to fill the listeners headphones. The last minute of the song is dedicated to sinful drum fills and Casselle’s final words mixed with horns. Consider it on the short list for songs that I will not live without for the remainder of the year.
“Lay Your Cards Out” should be noted when endorsing this record. Bon Iver’s Mike Noyce offers his vocals in this track. They are paired with an insane dose of rhythm towards the end of the song. The listener will also notice Noyce’s vocal contributions on “Wandering Star”. I give Poliça credit for roping a piece of last year’s indie darlings, Bon Iver, to help give validity to their tremendous sound.
With a successful side project, timing is everything and I truly believe that Poliça could not have done a better job on the execution of their release. Coming off the heels of Gayngs’ mate Justin Vernon’s self-titled release of Bon Iver last year they have found a legitimate way to ride coattails. Give You the Ghost is innovative, deep, and completely full of sound throughout its entirety. A true musical startup that deserves extra listening capital and could sustain for a sophomore release.
Readers in Bloomington have the chance to see Poliça on May 19 at 9:30 pm at The Bishop. Grab tickets for $10.
Written by Brett McGrath