*photo taken at Viva Pomona by Monique Hernandez for Grimy Goods
all words by Andy Lara
From the opening moments of Stay Inside, the new EP by Palm Springs trio You Me & Us, one is visited with the chilled-out, sunny vibes of Southern California: it is a personal gift from singer-songwriter Carlee Hendrix, a postcard from a day at the beach last summer. The band, rounded out by bassist Alyssa Midcalf and drummer Ignacio Caniza, crafts a distinctively fuzzy, noisy and summer-y sound that celebrates that old Rilo Kiley lyric “hail to whatever you find in the sunlight that surrounds you.”
On “Warm and Dry”, the EP’s opening track and single, Hendrix’s lo-fi, beefy, and overdriven guitars contrast her layered, cutesy, and heavenly vocals to create a perfect combination of oppositions. “Warm and Dry” is a convenient summary of the EP’s best parts; it is sea of sound: dense, dreamy, chilled-out. A drowned-out solo splashed in reverb brings to mind other dream-pop bands such as Mazzy Star, Beach House, and My Bloody Valentine: bands interested in sonic landscapes or wide-angle-lens music, instant nostalgia.
One thing that becomes immediately clear is that Hendrix is a great storyteller. Whether she is illustrating vignettes of a warm winter (yes, even when singing about winter the tone is summery), or fading youth, or a lover just out of reach, her honesty and straightforward approach compliments quite nicely the bubblegum fuzz-punk she sings over. The immediacy and confessional tone of Hendrix’s fuzzy love songs, as a result, draws the listener in and takes him/her along for an adventure down memory lane. While she does sing about relationships, boredom, and not wanting to leave your room (like any other 19-year-old), she avoids over-emotionalism with a wry and quirky sleight-of-hand like on “Bad Luck/Terrible Timing”, where Hendrix sings “And I am doomed / permanently doomed/ cause, darling, all I wanna do is love you.” This whimsical (and dare I say twee?) nature of Hendrix’s songwriting brings the listener front and center to one of the EP’s main themes: the games/pursuit/playfulness of being young and/or nostalgia for those days.
The songs on Stay Inside are as sunny and upbeat as they are relatively short in length and they capture the spirit of the summer in Palm Springs—with its palm trees, mountains, sunsets, and starry skies. Surprisingly, the longest song on the EP, “Freckles”, is also the saddest-sounding (in both tone and subject matter): it is a downcast, reverb-drenched and heartbroken ode. Of course summer is not complete without the dog days, and Hendrix realizes this as she ends the EP, in summary, by saying, “the longest days of summer are the days I’m without you.”
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*photos taken at Viva Pomona by Monique Hernandez for Grimy Goods