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Conduits, an Omaha band consisting of members of The Good Life, Eagle Seagull, Son Ambulance, Neva Dinova, Cursive, and The Golden Age, was formed in late 2009. Built from an equal love of drone, shoegaze, post rock, early synth, and the 1970′s, their sound exists in a world bigger than the sum of its parts: chiming guitars, steady drum beats, analog synths, proggy basslines, and beautiful female vocals that are strong enough to not get lost in the swirling soundscapes.
Though they hail from a town famous for producing singer-songwriters, Conduits’ music wouldn’t feel right played on an acoustic guitar. These guys know that a perfectly placed drum hit, a thunderous synth bass crescendo, or a squalling guitar can sometimes be just as crushing as any lyric or chord progression. They draw as much from Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine as they do from Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin, and probably land somewhere in the middle.
The music scribes and bloggers that have already caught on to the band Conduits have all enjoyed bandying about the word “shoegaze” like a ball of yarn when talking about the band. It’s an understandable and easy shorthand for a group that prefers darker, dreamier sounds carried to the apex by a female vocalist who sounds haunted and enraptured. And it’s a descriptor that this Omaha-based sextet wouldn’t necessarily mind as they do list Jason Spaceman (Spiritualized, Spacemen 3), Beth Gibbons (Portishead), and Slowdive among their varied musical inspirations.
Truth be told, though, shoegaze only scratches the surface of what’s behind the music of Conduits. These aren’t affected youth staring at their guitar pedals and hoping that the audience in front of them would just go away. This is music that pulses and crackles with energy and incident. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Let’s talk about how this all started.
The original Conduits demos were the creation of JJ Idt and Nate Mickish, two guitarists already busy in the Omaha music scene with their anxious pop and rock outfits. Working together, the pair found much more to express than just inner angst. They were aiming for soundscapes that embraced drones, psychedelia, and a fervent rhythmic punch. And the more they played the more they heard a female voice filling in the empty spaces in these songs.
Enter Jenna Morrison. Best known for her work as a member of indie rockers Son, Ambulance, Morrison brought that rare combination of attainability and remoteness (think: Gibbons, Hope Sandoval, Trish Keenan, Sandy Denny) to her vocal performances. It was the perfect element to help spark these already tempestuous creations into full-blown blazes.
The band – rounded out by bassist Mike Overfield, keyboardist Patrick Newbery, and drummer Roger Lewis – has taken off like a shot since those first demos. They’ve secured a number of amazing support slots in their hometown, sharing the stage with acts like The Hold Steady and The Appleseed Cast, as well as doing a short, well-received jaunt opening for Bright Eyes.
Now, Conduits is looking to take on the rest of the U.S. and beyond with the release of their debut self-titled album. The eight-song dreamscape flows with a cinematic ambition. Songs like “Top of the Hill” and “Limbs and Leaves” provide the soundtrack for slow motion dance scenes, while “Last Dirge” and “Misery Train” are all fast edits and racing hearts.
The point here is for you to stop starting at your own feet, and cast your eyes towards Conduits. Enjoy the spectacle. Get caught in the whirlwind of sound and ideas. Move with them.
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