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Following the release of the shoegaze masterpiece Delaware in 1992, and the intricate experimentations on National Coma in 1993, Drop Nineteens disbanded. They had a great run. Shared stages with Radiohead, Hole, Blur, PJ Harvey. Went from being teenaged kids in Boston to mid twenty somethings with an MTV video under their belt. So when Drop Nineteens ceased to be, Greg Ackell felt content, music was a closed chapter.
That was until 2021. For the first time in nearly 30 years, Ackell felt compelled to pick up a guitar. He immediately called up Steve Zimmeran, the band’s bassist and fellow guitarist, and the two got writing. It felt effortless for Ackell, like he never stopped writing music. “We were off to the races,” he says. “But also the question came up: what does a Drop Nineteens song sound like today? Enter Hard Light, the band’s stunning third record. It’s the band’s proverbial follow up to Delaware, a modern Drop Nineteens record that is completely singular in its sound and vision.
The first task making Hard Light, was of course, getting the rest of the band back together. Drop Nineteens is an inherently collaborative project. Ackell’s primarily the lyrics writer, and he collaborates with Zimmerman, Paula Kelley, Motohiro Yasue, and Peter Koeplin to create the sonic world. The record came together over the course of a year, recording at a patchwork of studios all around the country. Making music together felt natural, fluid, exciting.
The guitar reverb is expansive as ever. Ackell and Kelley’s vocals are crystalline. “Scapa Flow,” is triumphant. An excellent example of what a modern day Drop Nineteens song sounds like. The guitars glide like clouds on a blue sky day, drums shuffle in the background, searching. Ackell and Kelley’s vocals are cool toned and dreamy, bound up in a haze of reverb. It’s unquestionably lovely. You could say the same for the whole of the record. Hard Light is so lovely. A portrait of a band 30 years later, as talented and as dedicated to their craft as ever.
Barry says: It's been THIRTY YEARS since Boston's Drop Nineteens put out an album, and we've finally been gifted with another outing. While 'Hard Light' clearly trades in the sort of woozy heft and wall-of-sound intensity we've come to know from the 90's shoegaze, it's got a more nuanced melodic edge, shining through the fog when you least expect.
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