♫♪  Demitasse - Blue Medicine [Excerpts]

Demitasse is the latest permutation of the San Antonio based Buttercup who, in many ways are one of the most important bands I ever encountered in my life. The musical landscape south of Austin in Texas during the early-mid 2000’s was pretty spare and often Americana and/or punk driven and Buttercup stood out in the best way possible with their melancholic weirdo pop. I’m still fairly convinced that their 2005 debut Sick Yellow Flower is the most complete record to come out of San Antonio and it’s focus on feebly spare pop instilled a fascination with the power of fragmented melody and negative space in me that remains to this day. Every song on Sick Yellow Flower seemed so frail that they appeared to be on the verge of collapsing at any second. Even lushly arranged uptempo numbers like “In Spain” and “Cutting Daisies” threatened to either explode or collapse under their more expansively raucous arrangements. Buttercup was also great at writing catchy and cathartic rock music and these songs wound up dominating much of their followup album which seemed to somewhat mistakingly establish them as a sleek power pop band. Buttercup definitely owned this identity as well but I often got the sense from subsequent releases that these dudes were much more interested in how far they could strip away their songs and further warp the intimacy of their debut. As a result, Buttercup remained and became more of a straightforward pop band while the exact same songwriters decided to dedicate two respective projects to their exploration of melancholic intimacy. Demitasse is one of these bands.

Demitasse’s debut, Blue Medicine is largely born of familial tragedy but instead of amplifying these moments into grandiose anthems or intensely sincere confessionals , Demitasse create warm spacious reductionist pop. Most tracks are built around minimal guitar/voice tracks with drums, piano, and droning synths occasionally intruding. The liveness of these recordings often allows certain phrases and rhythms to linger long after they normally would. This coupled with the muted instrumental palette makes tracks like “The Executioner’s Song” and the excellent “Couples Therapy” reminiscent of other reductionist pop artists such as Souled American and Mark Hollis. The duo’s commitment to rich chord progressions and melodic invention amidst the space is also evocative of 90’s chamber pop artists like the Pernice Brothers and Eric Matthews but Demitasse’s work is far more bleak and spare than even the darkest songs of those artists. However, despite the gravity of these recordings, Demitasse manages to find some self-conscious black humor in their brooding on tracks like “I Remove My Penis,” “The Power of Positive Thinking,” and the aforementioned “Couples Therapy.” Throughout, it remains clear that these dudes are better than ever at crafting perfectly fractured spare pop.

Blue Medicine is out now via the band’s Bedlamb imprint. You can listen to four songs from the album below:

• Demitasse: http://www.bedlambrecords.org/demitasse
• Bedlamb: http://www.bedlambrecords.org/content

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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