LONGWAVE – The Strangest Things (2003)

Review by: Jeremiah Methven
Album assigned by: Jake Myers

Rating: 4/10
Best Song: “Everywhere You Turn”

Well, I suppose when you review albums outside of what you would normally listen to, you’re not always going to be that fond of what you hear. My initial Google search of Longwave suggested they would be a shoegaze group – I suppose this is true, but it’s a very radio-friendly, polished version of shoegaze, and not really in a good way in my eyes. Admittedly, I don’t have much familiarity with the genre outside of My Bloody Valentine. But where MBV at their best aimed to assault the listener with visceral yet eerily beautiful noise, Longwave’s guitar drones are pushed into the background to emphasize the reedy voice of singer Steve Schiltz, who sounds like Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day. Between the production and singing, it can’t help but sound like fairly generic alt-rock circa 2003 with shoegaze guitars added in.

Honestly, on first listen I thought this album was pretty dire and that I was going to be giving it a rating like a 2. The overall sound is just not one that really appeals to me. But although I still don’t really like this album, multiple listens did bring some out of the positives. The first two tracks strike me as overall solid and memorable – “Wake Me When It’s Over” has a fairly lengthy atmospheric build-up, but generally lives up to it with a catchy chorus, and “Everywhere You Turn” borders on being a cheesy anthem, but it has some energy and genuine sincerity with its falsetto chorus, so I think it’s a keeper. 

From there, it gets a bit more dicey. “I Know It’s Coming Someday” has another memorable chorus, but is a little too anthem-by-the-numbers for my liking. The other slower songs like “Meet Me at the Bottom” and the title track are busts – Longwave is much more listenable to me when they play uptempo. When they go slow, Schiltz’s delivery is cringe-worthy to my ears, with the part in “Meet Me at the Bottom” where he sings “they’ve got you by the balls” being a particular low moment. The rest all follows the same basic formula of generic alt-pop songs with droning guitars added in and varying between pleasant decency to generic mediocrity. 

Overall, there are some things to like here, but this doesn’t just seem like music that has stood the test of time to me. It takes me back to my early adolescent days before I discovered the Beatles and only listened to ‘alternative’ college radio that played lots of bands like Our Lady Peace, and I’d prefer not to be taken back to those days. I suppose if I’m being generous, I could say they were aiming for a poppier take on shoegaze, but the overall result to me is a bland, watered-down version that veers far closer to radio-friendly ‘alternative’ bands of ill repute than to bands like MBV.

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