Records We Remember: Super Low by Warehouse

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There’s this conflated notion that if it sounds pretty, it must be music. If the sound is harsh, raw, sensitive to the ear, it’s a far cry from what music should be. Then comes the glory of punk — the dissonant, jagged and frayed edges of music that invite both outrage and bliss, sometimes simultaneously. It’s a genre of contrasts that oftentimes plays the game of balancing between sincerity and affectation. Amongst all the noise of the genre lies Warehouse, a band now defunct.

Three years ago, as an avid audiophile new to the city, I was bare of expectations and eager to find something new. I’d lived all my life in Chattanooga, a city whose main exports are bluegrass and tatted white hiker dudes. Insofar as the music scene, there’d be some passing groups that might catch the ear, but nothing that’s earth shattering. The main venues in town are for the touring acts, and the smaller ones are either 21 and over or infested with leering creeps. The city’s come along way since the beginning of the millenia, but there’s still much to be done.

Seeing Warehouse live when I did, a fresh face to the big city, was transformative. I’m not saying that I lived out the age old seance of the “our band could be your life” schtick, but the performance opened up doors to new ways to listening and experiencing music. They were slated to open up for Sunflower Bean and The Lemon Twigs; it was the night that Leonard Cohen died. I hadn’t listened to much of their work besides a couple of tracks. Once it was showtime, the group wandered onstage — most of them looking disinterested or the kind of person you’d find intently inspecting labels at Trader Joe’s — and began playing.

The performance felt so casual, so effortless, yet visceral and honest in a way that I hadn’t seen before. Elaine Edenfield’s ragged voice wove through stories of regret, nostalgia, and vulnerability with the swagger of a punk and the tact of a poet. Guitarists Ben Jackson and Alex Bailey exchange of twirling, harsh chords and scales brought a sense of adventure to the song, while bassist Josh Hughes and drummer Doug Bleicher’s understated rhythm section gave the group’s discord a base to build from. Learning that these folks were local upped the ante — you mean these guys are from here? Of course, that’s what it means, yet I’d been so used to touring groups with this kind of talent. The moment felt so important, there were groups in Atlanta that were stretching the barriers of their art and creating something that’s innovative, yet still deeply personal.

After the performance, I leaped at the first chance I got to grab a copy of Super Low. Since then, it’s been an important album to me, from songs “Exit Only,” “Reservoir,” and “Audrey Lorde.” “Don’t ever fall behind / Just because it’s easier / Don’t ever lose your place / Or throw it all way” sings Edenfield on “Reservoir.”  It’s an album that ripples in it’s clear expressions of anger and solitude. It’s one of those albums that exists in its own space in time, one that you can go back to in times of jubilation and depression. Like clay, a different experience can be taken from it depending on the mood. Certain themes and melodies might take prevalence while others keep to the background.

In one interview, the group noted the abstract expressionist Robert Rauschenberg as one of their influences, and just like his paintings, Super Low offers a collage of experience, emotions, and concepts. It’s in those contrasts — resonance against dissonance, chaos against structure, sincerity against disinterested affectation — that lies the joyous noise of Warehouse, a band now defunct.