Mall Goths by Scarves (due out 2/17) is an album comprised of ten vignettes depicting characters along the I-5 corridor between Bellingham, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Struggling against their reality, desperate for rebellion, yet inextricably stuck, they fall in love in one city and break up in the next, all over meticulously unhinged instrumentals.
Scarves was formed in mid-2013 by Niko Stathakopoulos of Silicon Girls, Marshall Verdoes of Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band, and David Price of Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head. All three found themselves in bands in the midst of implosion, and wanted a creative outlet that existed simply for the sake of making art and blowing off steam. The project took on real significance for Stathakopoulos when they began work on their debut release, TV EP (2013), with Sam Anderson of Hey Marseilles. “Lyrics suddenly became super important to me,” relates Stathakopoulos. “Suddenly our slacker rock sensibility wasn’t enough. I wanted our songs to mean something, to tell a story.”
After touring behind TV EP for a few months, they headed back to Soundhouse in Seattle to record their first full length, Empty Houses, with Dylan Wall (So Pitted, Craft Spells). Scarves toured lightly in support of the release, and once again, discord crept into the project: “I am the only original left,” says Stathakopoulos. “During that time, we went through 11 members.” In late 2015, drummer Cael Watts and bassist Hector Rodriguez III joined Stathakopoulos, and the band got back to work. Newly invigorated, the band booked time at Chris Walla’s legendary Hall of Justice studio for their next record,
Written while Stathakopoulos was travelling continuously through the Northwest, the record crackles with the bleary-eyed intensity of too many hours spent flying down the highway. “My girlfriend at the time was living in Portland, so I would drive eight hours from Bellingham to see her,” says Stathakopoulos, “or I would drive two hours to practice with my band who all lived in Seattle. We would practice and get the instrumentals done together, then record them on an iPhone, and I would drive around listening to the little blown out audio files and just sort of diary over them.”
Glide is debuting the full album premiere for Scarves’ Mall Goths (below), a tantalizing mix of songs that combines the guitar mysteries of Built to Spill and the alternative wisdom of the Flaming Lips and Sunny Day Real Estate. The ten songs on Mall Goths, while experimental and avoiding familiar song structures, reveal a tenacity for the listener to expect the unexpected while still offering digestible harmonies and tasteful musicianship. Scarves are onto something here and Mall Goths certainly might be rewriting the manual on indie experimental hijacks.