Lowell based alt-rock gloom quartet Green Piece will have you believe that their new EP Whatever traces its roots directly back to a green floppy disk. The word “demos” scrawled across it as pictured in a promotional post on the band’s Instagram account suggests that much.
But even beyond offering an origin story to the record, post seems to also artfully orient listeners to what they hear on Whatever. Simply speaking, the disk harkens back to the dominance of floppies in the 1980s and early 90s and their subsequent fall from relevance as USB and CD files prevailed in the mid to late 90s. Fittingly, Green Piece as a band recalls the shoegaze music that scored many of those years before similarly shrinking in the blinding light of the grunge movement.
In short, Green Piece’s latest record is at once a tribute to shoegaze and a dare to modern musicians to revive the genre in its original glory.
Nowhere is this clearer than on Whatever’s second track, “Secret Garden”. The song slowly fades in its introductory guitar riff over almost 15 seconds, effectively dropping a block of silence into the middle of the record. That pause goads listeners to reset their expectations in preparation for the shoegaze sound seldom heard in the modern indie scene. Further reinforcing that mood, “Secret Garden” itself features near monotone vocals on top of wafting guitar strums and an effortless sounding snare heavy drum pattern. This feels classic and soft, allowing a listener to slip off into the Green Piece soundscape.
From within that soundscape, the mood of “Secret Garden” bleeds cleanly into the EP’s closing track, “NPC”. Building behind a few sharp drum hits, “NPC” is as anthemic as a gloomy shoegaze song can be, drawing clear inspiration from the uptempo dream pop of bands like My Bloody Valentine. The first half of the song has an almost dance driven guitar melody. That soon drops, though, for the best defined but also quietest bridge on the EP which, in turn, features a brilliant keyboard driven reconstruction of that dance beat as it transitions to an outro. Just as the song subsequently reaches its peak complexity, the guitars, keys and drums cut, letting their sounds simply reverberate into a 20 second silence before the track, and the EP, finally end.
That ending shows what shoegaze was. In contrast, however, the first track lets listeners glimpse Green Piece’s versatility and resulting ability to craft slick modern indie rock. Playfully experimental with its eight-bit-esque intro, the song, “Stacy’s Dad” quickly turns to drum machine style claps and plays under a catchy guitar riff before integrating the rest of the band. The choruses, in turn, feature repetitive but screamed vocals behind, by then, growling guitar.
Regardless, as the juxtaposition of a more traditional alt-rock track like “Stacy’s Dad” with two more traditional shoegaze ones is artful, the complexity of this record truly lies in that 20 second silence at the end of “NPC”. That’s also where the aforementioned metaphor of the floppy disk falls apart.
When the technological world kept moving forward, and floppy disks lost their 90s dominance, they didn’t just go away. Even today, some old computers rely on them. Grunge, meanwhile legitimately did obliterate shoegaze. Big bands like My Bloody Valentine did not survive the early 90s. Those that did reformed in the following years, not as shoegaze reincarnated, but as Tame Impala style psychedelia. Green Piece, however, wants to add a chapter to that story and may well have done so in its small corner of the music world with what is an unapologetic and unmistakable shoegaze record.
Now in the literal and metaphorical silence they’ve left themselves with at the end of Whatever, they can craft the future shoegaze never got to live.