Chicago quartet Ganser probe the futility of striving for self-growth during these chaotic times for dark comedy and jagged sounds on their potent new album Just Look at That Sky (co-produced with Electrelane’s Mia Clarke) out July 31 on Felte Records.
Opening track “Lucky” announces an explosive energy that evokes the Midwest noise-rock legacy of bands like Jesus Lizard and Shellac, while embracing a more colorful palette of post-punk and art rock influences. Nadia Garofalo (keyboards/vocals)and Alicia Gaines (bass/vocals), a self-described two-headed monster who share lead vocal duties, can bring both a recalcitrant cool worthy of Kim Gordon and a booming sneer that recalls Poly Styrene; the discordant interplay of Charlie Landsman’s guitar and Brian Cundiff’s drums on standouts “Self Service” and “Bad Form” build to blistering climaxes that wouldn’t feel out of place on Red Medicine-era Fugazi.
The lyrics of manic explorations, worry and dread mark this record, and the epic messiness of daily life in our damaged times attacked with sardonic specificity as often as generalized doom. These songs chart inner monologues of emphatic confusion, emotions already deeply felt further ratcheted up by the anxiety of always having too much information about other people, and always being just one tweet away from knowing what everyone really thinks about us. Culminating in the closing track “Bags for Life,” which imagines how online discourse might tackle a front-row seat for the end of the world.
Equal parts Space Odyssey and Ghost World, Ganser released their debut LP Odd Talk in 2018 to favorable coverage from The New York Times, Billboard, and Stereogum. Building on their dissociative disorder namesake, the album’s tone vacillated between frenzied and contemplative, probing on questions of communication, intimacy, and avoidance.
Having shared stages with the likes of Daughters, Oh Sees, Viagra Boys as well as Modern English, Ganser is a band that refuses to be pinned down, four individuals of diverse backgrounds functioning as a collective consciousness.
Co-produced with Electrelane’s Mia Clarke and engineer Brian Fox, Just Look At That Sky is an assured, fully realized triumph of a record from an art-punk band that’s figured out how to focus on making great art, even if everything else around them falls apart.