Caffeine Drip ep
So Sure is a trio comprised of brother Sean and Brendan Kelly of the Charleston, SC, power trio, A Fragile Tomorrow, which also includes their brother, Dom, and Shaun Rhodes. In So Sure, Sean and Brendan have teamed up with drummer Kyle Polk of The Explorers Club. The band was conceived last year, but only officially formed during the Covid-19 lockdown this year. Sean handles vocals, guitars, bass, and synth, Brendan deals with guitars, bass, synth, and programming, and Polk deals with drums, pads, and percussion. The Brothers Kelly found themselves with an itch to explore the world of dream pop, shoegaze, post punk and the music of the late 80s/early 90s. Polk was also down with this, being a longtime friend and collaborator, and they decided to play My Bloody Valentines’ seminal Loveless front to back, and so the band was formed.
Caffeine Drip was recorded remotely between Savannah, GA, Montgomery, NY, and Charleston, and they found themselves this spring confronting the racial injustice demonstrated by George Floyd’s murder by the Minneapolis Police, and the rise of a reinvigorated Black Lives Matter movement, and the anxieties and concerns that the US faces as a nation at this time and place.
So Sure has put their money where their mouth is, and all proceeds from Caffeine Drip will be going to the ACLU and its advocacy to confront racial injustice and an end to police brutality.
The title track begins the 5-song ep, which begins with a heavily processed guitar and Sean Kelly’s blissed out shoegazer vocals, as the bass slowly bubbles up to the surface and then the drums emerge in a stutter-step and I feel like it’s 1994 all over again and I’m kicked back and listening to Chapterhouse.
One one hand, I find the current rejuvenation of the shoegazer scene by today’s musicians amusing, and the Lord knows I have heard some horrible attempts to recreate that moment. There is always a problem in attempting to revisit the past, whether its just some horrible posturing, or, worse, a blatant rip off of older artists. So Sure are neither of this. Yes, there is a massive throwback to the dreamier end of shoegaze on Caffeine Drip, think more Chapterhouse, Lush, MBV. But, it is beautifully constructed music, and both recreates the sound of the early 90s, and propels it forward.
There is a syncopated synth that washes over ‘Caffeine Drip,’ the song, as it moves towards its end that evokes sundown on a hot summer evening, the mosquitos emerging, the haze in the air as the Sun dips below the hills.
‘Cookstown Mary’ promises something louder and a bigger explosion of sound, and whilst it has fiercesome drumming, So Sure keep this one from going off the rails, Sean Kelly’s vocals sound imminent, insistent, and panicked in my ears as I listen on my headphones. Musically, propelled by Polk’s furious drumming, the bass is a steady chug, one guitar repeats the same basic riff, whilst the other in my right ear, shrieks into a crescendo and then starts all over again.
The first single from the ep, ‘Paper Thin Skinned’ is the closer, beginning in a wash of a synth and a Peter Hook bassline, Sean Kelly’s voice emerges from the mire and Polk’s drums kick in. Kelly’s vocals fly over the music, further adding to the dreamy nature of the music, out of which eventually emerges a guitar riff that comes to drive the track.
I was a huge shoegazer fan back in the day, Ride remain one of my favourite bands to this day. The other part of me, the one that is not amused by the shoegazer revival, finds me pressing play on Caffeine Drip at least once a day. This is some really good music.