“Glendale” is the name of a single from a band called Cheekface. Glendale is also a city in the county of Los Angeles, California. You’ve probably already sort-of heard about the city, (home of Universal Studios) so let’s talk about the song for a bit, and in doing so we’ll also sort-of be talking about the city, and a bunch of other stuff that can occur in culture.
First off, be warned that this is one of those tracks that you’re not going to be able to walk away from. One play demands two plays; two plays demand a third play – and so on and so forth. The simplicity of this rolling one-chord song is an expertly layered; percussive sediments build, vocals add color, and the melody rolls like a lava lamp. There’s just enough cowbell, there’s a tempo that suggests you strut, and a guitar that’s been passed through a pedal to make it sound like a Moog synth – before you know it the instrumental hypnosis is underway. You’re in.
There’s humor here, but it’s dark and intelligent, not bright or gimmicky. (despite Greg Katz’s costuming in band portraiture) Lyrically, we slowly rattle through the lesser-known landmarks of the city. “the Galleria is in retrograde / Zankou Chicken is in retrograde / the United States of America is in retrograde / I am in retrograde” All this talk of stuff being in retrograde is how the broader population of the planet perceives the jargoning, Los-Angelesification of words and culture. This quasi-morbid framing of Cheekface’s worldview is refreshing; it relies on intelligence, as well as the ability to dance, to get along with things. There’s no real phrasing to capture the intimacy of this song… it’s a low-key first-person observation that also has the capacity to become an anthem that will break out of the city limits.
This first single leads to a new album in the not-too-distant future; a release that will do well to follow this angular approach. There are echos of Pavement, but this is something more relaxed, or more friendly, or something. The warmth of Cheekface continues in the artwork for the single. Painted by Amanda Tannen (who you will recognize from her work on bass and backing vocals, with Mark Echo Edwards on drums and percussion, and the formerly mentioned Katz on vocals and guitar) this slice of cherry pie is about as friendly as you could want when serving a song about community and culture.
Aside from the instrumental hook, the hypnotic tempo, and smart percussive work (Mark Echo Edwards’ mum should be proud) the heart of this song is it’s heart. And it’s the personality of the band; their unique and unforced style, that makes Cheekface so welcome at the start of a year in which we can really turn shit around.
For “Glendale” we award Cheekface exactly 14 hits of more cowbell.
HURRY – KEEP UP – CHEEKFACE
PHOTO BY MIRIAM BRUMMEL