The noisy, disjointed no-wave of Tempe, AZ’s Soft Shoulder is deceptively complex: simultaneously experimental and familiar. Side A could just be called “Stair,” but instead earns itself the moniker “Stair (YOBS) Junk Interlude (Repeat #2.5) Stair (Gilgongo HQ)” in an effort to differentiate each of its three-tracks-in-one based on where and when it was recorded and by whom. The sounds on display are lo-fi and crunchy as fuck, but production is clearly king for Soft Shoulder, and every discordant moment feels intentional. Side B shrugs off some of the pretense in favor of apparent sentiment. It features a version of the riffy, driving “Wyld Parrots,” a song originally written by the band’s Gilgongo labelmates Wounded Lion for a 2009 release that was bogged down by drama with their previous label. Soft Shoulder rounds out their Side B love letter with a silly, spacey birthday song for their friend Iggy—who was turning five at the time of recording—and it’s just as adorable as it sounds. What Stairlacks in cohesion, it more than compensates for with its undeniable depth of approach.
–Kelley O’Death (Gilgongo, [email protected], gilgongorecords.com)