Tera Melos

The history of Tera Melos, like the life of Dostoevsky, treads between transcendence and complete breakdown. In the early quartet years, live performances were as much about gymnastics and daredevilry as they were about actual performance. Bursts of hyper-musicianship sprouted between larger expanses of equipment-trashing, mid-measure cartwheeling, and death-defying rafter-swinging. The evolution from a four-piece to a trio saw the visual chaos reigned in and the aural chaos blossom. Destruction is no longer measured in terms of kicked over amps, bloody fingers, and broken bones. Instead, the deconstructive edge is embodied in Dada-ist pop appropriations, pedal wankery, noise squalls, and frenetic tempos.

Mutation is key. Tera Melos now is not Tera Melos four years ago. Or six months ago. A song isn't played in a dingy club the same way it was played in the recording studio. Nor is it played the same way it was the night before. Things evolve. Wrong is right. The glitches, improvisations, and general tomfuckery are part of the art and charm. You want clarity? Perfection? Easy hooks? You'll have to work a little harder than that. This is not casual listening.

A new phase of Tera Melos is born with the addition of John Clardy to the drum throne. Flanked by the cumulative ten strings of Nathan Latona and Nick Reinhart, one can only wonder what new amalgam of sonic confusion, modernist anxiety, and cosmic celebration is brewing in those hills outside of Sacramento.

Attention came swiftly following Speedy Ortiz's 2012 Sports EP on the Boston-centric label Exploding In Sound, and with good reason. Massachusetts-based songwriter/guitarist Sadie Dupuis' knotty, lyrically dense songs were fully realized by her bandmates, with intricate guitar lines crisscrossing over Darl Ferm's fluid bass and Mike Falcone's precisely executed drumming in a way that was simultaneously catchy and jarring. After the success of its 2013 Best New Music-honored debut full-length Major Arcana, the band formalized its assault through a year and a half of relentless touring with bands in whose brainy-slash-brawny legacies it followed—among them Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Ex Hex, and The Breeders. In 2014, the band added guitarist Devin McKnight of the Boston-based post-punk group Grass Is Green, whose guitar parts both match and challenge Dupuis'.

Speedy Ortiz's second proper album—Foil Deer, recorded at Rare Book Room in Brooklyn when the band wasn't pushing forward on its hectic 2014 tour schedule—comes out on April 21, 2015. The songs represent a leap forward, possessing a lightness that mirrors Dupuis's post-grad school outlook; they also have a deliberate nature to them, one that emanates from extra studio time and more experimentation with the band's essential form. (Ferm contributes a few unexpected guitar parts; Falcone's vocal harmonies zing in with more force.) Speedy Ortiz possesses big-tent rock swagger and punk's restless yet intimate spirit in a way that makes the impulses seem identical; while the quartet can still command crowds at festivals like Primavera Sound and Pitchfork Music Festival, they also relish playing Boston's teeming basements alongside the city's next generation of bands. That willingness to push not just forward, but in all directions, makes Speedy Ortiz one of rock's most exciting outfits.

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