Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: Am I

The Glow – Am I (Album Review, Stream)

LVL UP was a band that meant an extraordinary amount to a handful of people and publications, this one included. Losing them last year was a hard pill to swallow but the band’s dissolution allowed its members to pursue freshly formed or revived projects that were of a more directly personal nature. One of those projects was multi-instrumentalist Mike Caridi’s The Glow, which had existed in various forms throughout the years but never released a proper album.

Am I corrects that fact with a kaleidoscopic grace. Caridi’s warped pop-leaning sensibilities shine though this material, even as it gets coated in fuzz and distortion. Am I effortlessly builds a surrealist world both around and inside of its songs, conjuring up images of schools, rivers, lost youth, and open skies. There’s a smoky nostalgia that lingers in the corners, as Caridi soothes, broods, reflects, and embraces various aspects of the songwriter’s personality.

Breezy and endlessly enjoyable, Am I is best enjoyed with a good pair of headphones — the production work throughout is remarkable — and without distraction. There are endless layers to be uncovered in the habitats that Am I creates and revisits, each teeming with fresh life. A quintessential spring record, Am I also doubles as a necessary reminder that when good things have to end, there are other memories to be formed and paths to be forged once the dust has settled. In all, Am I is a fresh start and a poignant reminder of Caridi’s outsize songwriting talent. One of the year’s most enjoyable basement pop listens.

Listen to Am I below and pick it up from Double Double Whammy here.

The Glow – I Am Not Warm + Weight of Sun (Stream)

One of the hardest pills to swallow last year was the dissolution of LVL UP, a band that meant a lot to me and many others on a personal level. What helped ease the sadness that accompanied that announcement was that each of the band’s members would continue pursuing music through different outlets. Dave Benton’s Trace Mountains (which also features drummer Greg Rutkin) released the excellent A Partner To Lean On before 2018 was over, Nick Corbo followed suit with a single for his new project Spirit Was, and Mike Caridi began teasing material for his largely solo venture, The Glow.

Earlier this week, The Glow announced a debut album and released a pair of singles to stoke the anticipation for its release. Mission accomplished. Am I, due out May 24 on Double Double Whammy, will be comprised of two halves of songs. Reportedly, half of this incoming set was written when Caridi was 23 and LVL UP was in full bloom, with the other half being written much more recently, around the band’s end. Appropriately, “I Am Not Warm” — which has previously appeared as a demo — and “Weight of Sun”, offer a glimpse at each half.

Both songs run just past the 1:50 mark, falling very much in line with Caridi’s established tendencies of writing breezy basement pop songs with sticky melodies. Another dominant Caridi trademark’s present in the abundance of warm tones, creating impossibly lovely soundscapes. Where this new era of The Glow differs from the songwriter’s is in its expansiveness, which is evidenced in both the dynamic shifts present in each track. Whether it’s an abrupt break to a mournful piano outro or the continuously shifting nature of “Weight of Sun”, there’s a very real sense that Caridi’s world-building through composition.

“I Am Not Warm” and “Weight of Sun” constitute an incredibly impressive opening barrage from a reliably great songwriter looking to further a burgeoning legacy. Lose yourself in the deceptively elegant charms of each track and circle May 24 on the calendar. Early indicators are pointing towards that Friday being one worth celebrating.

Listen to “I Am Not Warm” and “Weight of Sun” below and pre-order Am I from Double Double Whammy here.