In the past few years, the genre of psych rock has seen a massive resurgence, spurred by the appeal of lo-fi soundscapes and a return to basic, yet sonically complicated walls of distorted instrumentation. Ascribing a specific term to the genre is problematic however, especially since the sound has been an ever-present factor in so many groups throughout the years. In an era of DIY production and a glut of fuzzed-out, garage-recorded albums, it can become hard to wade through the bounty of self-proclaimed psych rock bands flooding the music scene and pick out the real gems.
Snow White, hailing from Eugene, certainly seems to be one of those gems. Formed in 2014, the band consists of vocalist/keyboardista Lauren Hay, bassist Max Knackstedt, guitarist Tim Khadafi, and their newest member, Katelynn Erb on drums. The music is just as eclectic as the genre they occupy, and their sound draws influences from acts such as Portishead, My Bloody Valentine, John Coltrane and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. With that being said, music is up to interpretation by the specific listener and varies greatly from one person to the next depending on their influences as a participant or spectator.
I had the opportunity to attend and photograph one of Snow White’s first Portland shows last Wednesday, May 27 at The Liquor Store. They started out with “High As A Kite,” a steady, rhythmic tune anchored by drum and bass that spiraled into a cascade of sound, all buoyed by the frenetic vocals. As the night went on, the set intensified, straying into markedly more layered, dreamy territory. The drums and bass slowed and the guitar droned angrily, synchronizing with Hay’s voice as they fused together into an operatic siren, evoking the aggression of Pretenders-era Chrissie Hynde combined with the soaring, ironclad vocals of Florence Welch. The band’s sound took on an almost cinematic quality, finally blooming into what I can only describe as a psych-injected James Bond intro song on acid.
By the end of the set, I felt like I had watched a mini-evolution play out on stage. Snow White possesses a unique continuity between songs that translates extremely well to the live arena. Not only are there pronounced sound arcs specific to each song, but an overall arc that encompasses the entire performance. It was like listening to an album constructed to be one comprehensive piece as opposed to one driven by singles or a few standout tracks.
The group is currently putting together material for their next self-produced release, as well as steadily making a name for themselves outside of the Eugene area with their live performances. Snow White is certainly an up-and-coming band to keep your eye on and a force to be reckoned with in the coming years.