It’s only upon starting to listen to Seed that one realizes a female singer fronting an emo band is such a rarity. Why is that? In many ways, it could be argued that the music is tailor-made for a female sensibility (women learn to be in better touch with their emotions and can definitely articulate them better – comparatively, men are more than a little inept). Regardless, the whys fall by the wayside quickly as singer/bassist Jessica Knight, guitarists Mitch Baker and Nick DeMarco, guitarist/keyboardist Cassie Staub and drummer Brandon Carnes creep out of the proverbial rushes and present a less heavy-handed and definitely more melodic permutation of emo-core.
As one listens to Seed, the first thing that becomes apparent is that, in the context of emo, Looming stands as a brand apart. From note one, the chord progression which supports “Down” after “Intro” wordlessly opens these proceedings features precisely no solid chords; at least initially, all guitar figures are delicate and arpeggiated. What’s more, the drums (while cymbal-heavy – as is customary for any form of punk rock) swish more than they wallop and the bass is more sinewy than it is propulsive.
Simply said, what listeners find on Seed is most definitely punk rock, but that doesn’t mean it sounds at all like everything else – and then Jessica Knight opens her mouth and releases a vocal tone which is equal parts Southern belle and angry bitch. The result is, very simply, completely unlike any other in punk rock and is completely hypnotizing for it.
Throughout the first proper song after the album’s “Intro,” Knight veers back and forth between dry-eyed but vicious self-analysis and self-deprecation (check out lines like “I’ve done a rotten job of showing myself here/ I’ve got some muddy eyes I’m good at wiping clear down on this muddy floor/ Comparing things I lack staring at my front door.”) as the band attempts to produce the perfect aural device which implies the song’s title: “Down.” It’s definitely chilly and definitely dark but, unlike most emo, it is not at all combative which, for many listeners, is the hook which will have them wanting to see where the album goes.
As the A-side progresses, listeners will discover that, after “Down,” they’ll be following the band deeper still. Throughout songs like “Queen,” the title track and “Smoke,” Knight insists on never cutting herself a break as she examines loneliness (in “Queen,” most notably, as lines like “My mind’s gone dry but I swear I saw you first” illustrate) and indulges some old world temptation (with a snake in “Seed”) and then desperately seeks cover and protection (see “Smoke”). Of course, she never finds any of what she’s looking for but continues on, undaunted. Listeners, for their part, will find that following the singer’s thick, uniquely Georgian accent (which sort of defaults to a combination of judgemental and soulful, in this context) is the height of simplicity and they’ll really feel for her every time she loses the draw again. Even the B-side proves not to feature any safety or luck for the singer (and no dynamic shifts for the band either), but listeners will still shuffle along with the band, hopeful until “Lace” finally closes out the album and the needle lifts.
Readers who have yet to experience any music from Seed might assume that going front-to-back with the album might be difficult (how many themes of unrelenting defeat can one album sustain?) but, in the end, that proves not to be true at all. What listeners find when they run the complete duration of Seed is that being knocked down, beaten up and left behind can be cathartic; with the glow of Jessica Knight’s voice to give them warmth and a light to find their way, listeners can appreciate the inherent misery of Seed. It’s not for every day, but when you’re already miserable and just need a shoulder to lean on, those are the days when it would be good to have “Seed” at the ready.
(No Sleep Records)