Despite the various ebbs and declines of indie pop cultivations we experienced in 2013, this was the year that DIY Stockton broke through. There were hints and indications all the way, Surf Club's Frankie Soto and Satan Wriders' John Steiner hipped all of us to an underground army with a might that has yet to be fully recognized. A crew affiliated under their self-made umbrella of “YUNG STKTN“, there have been constant murmurs and rumors around the 209 area code about a devastating tape in process from MLTD, entitled Born Ruined. So with 2013 now in the rear view mirror, and just in time for Xmas; MLTD's Logan Wells, Nick Coleman, Jose Meza, and Jacob Porta present a cassette of relentless beauty and heartbreaking majesty. In tune to the collaborative ethics code of YUNG STKTN, Ruined was born with a little help from Satan Wriders' Eli Wengrin, and mixed by Craft Spells' Justin Paul Vallesteros.
We were smitten at first listen to the single “Sunday”, a half-wakened dream ballad that immediately drew a slew of shoegaze and VU comparisons. And like the echoing sparse sound-scapes of “Sweet Lou”, a deconstructionist listen finds a haunted lullaby tribute to Lou Reed, or the meditative songwriting appeal of what influence weekends can lend that Logan described to us as:
“I think there's sort of this feeling of impending doom that goes along with Sundays, knowing that a week of school or a week of work is waiting for you in the morning. That feeling for me developed when I was really young and has stuck with me over the years. There's also this perception of Sunday being a recovery day for younger people, like you punish your body and mind for two days and then have to regroup yourself on Sunday to get back into a reasonable state for Monday. There's definitely a distinct feeling that goes along with a Sunday that almost anyone can relate to which probably makes it easy to write about or allude to.”
Influenced by the work of James Ganas and taking the following title from an ebook of the same name; there is nothing I can tell you that will ever prepare you for how the opener, “James Ganas was my Best Friend and I'm Sorry he Died so Young of Cancer”. From the steady processional of solemn tom-toms, guitars manifest and materialize all around like fleeting moments of the personal metaphysical experience that you can barely relate for fear of how others might judge you. The gorgeous and solemn beauty of this smashes ego into thousands of pieces in a song that could literally go on for an eternity, upsetting every nagging itch of your mortal coil on the chorus where Logan gently destroys every illusion that exists within the conceits of saviorhood. “Life is killing you…there's not much I can do…”
MLTD endures through the melding of mourning and meditations translating sadness through sonic expression. Depression and loss is conveyed through a mood lifting style of stoned serenity, as heard on “SADD”, engaging some of the most incredible guitar tones and effects grounded by the calm whispers of barely discernible dialogues of song craft. Before you realize that you have come to the end of the five song cycle, “Castro” kicks it up to the four quarter notches, takes the energy back to the old school of what could have been a Velvets outtake that knocks on the first world apathetic complacency of meditating and television watching. Born Ruined might one of the best overlooked offerings of 2013, and sets an even greater precedent for what 2014 may bring.