By Spike Brendle
During my short stint living in Austin, I was able to catch many bands that I would not have had the chance to see in Phoenix: GEMS, being one of my favorites. The week after SXSW is always rough, when you read about all of the bands that you “should have” seen. Skimming through a Consequence of Sound article (SXSW 2014, I should mention), I came across GEMS and was severely disappointed that I had missed them. Luckily for me, they had stuck around to play one last show opening for Classixx at The Parish that coming week.
From Washington, D.C., the self proclaimed (and definitely fitting) “Dream Wave/Shadow-Pop” duo GEMS are Lindsey Pitts (vocals and synth) and Clifford John (vocals and guitar). Being just the two of them, they are able to create such a huge sound, and their live shows carry just as much energy (if not more) than what they offer from the studio.
While at FORM Arcosanti this year, I ran into them and asked the (not so direct) question, “What are you guys up to now?” John answered casually, “Oh, we’re just finishing up our full length in L.A., it should be out close to September.” So, without further adieu, their first single “Living as a Ghost” was released this past Tuesday, and has been on repeat ever since.
A quick synopsis of this song: if Mazzy Star sang for Purity Ring with Kurt Cobain on guitar after over-dosing on reverb. Now take that song and put it through Google’s Deep Dream generator. There is so much more though: the tracks’ chorus is an unexpected and welcoming burst of energy with Pitts’ vocals sailing smoothly over the musical currents and crashing cymbals. All comparisons aside, GEMS have found a corner of the dark, synth infused noise-pop universe that has yet to be explored. Their new album, Kill the One You Love, is slated for release on October 30, 2015.