The boys are back in town: Cutouts have a freshly minted EP out, titled Loosies. It’s swirling with grey areas and soft-toned blacks and blues, conjuring up everything from Vietnam War-era art rock crescendo to slick post-punk revival percussing. As you can glean from the title, the EP is composed of four unreleased b-sides and three demo recordings of tracks from their previous EP, Baby Blue Suede. The seven-track project gives a taste of Cutouts’ headspace and where their auroral (read: somehow bright and dark at the same damn time) tracks originate from.
While Brooklyn/Queens based, Cutouts hail from San Francisco originally, which is made known extensively in all their work via a feeling of brisk air melding to cold, sharp water. The opening track offers up ethereal humming that explicitly feels like the scene in a movie where someone stands in the shower and the water rushes by in slow motion. It’s pure velvet introspection with little more than a steady “hum” and the build up of an echoed guitar-synth pattern. It also has the name “Midnight Roller,” which feels like it could be on an early Fleetwood Mac album. The following track, “Habits,” which is available now to stream, begins with the flatly mixed sound of a quickly strummed acoustic guitar and a overtly frumpy kick drum — quickly morphing into the syncopation of a much fuller, lusher track that is, put simply, really good. The song progresses so naturally, the focus on a fuzzy vocal track puncturing through the building of the acoustic and drum foundation, until it gets to an instrumental midpoint that recalls early Grizzly Bear’s ebbs and flows. The song is captivating start to finish, a perfectly sonic dream pop song. It features Chris Maier on lead vocals, who usually reserves himself for guitar/keys.
Another b-side, “Osmosis,” with a focus on a flush of multiple vocals chanting “Let’s go down, down, down / I wanna lay that deep soul on you / Nobody knows you the way I do,” is simply pretty/pretty simple. There’s a sad and gorgeous saxophone solo in the midst of the track, mirroring and supplementing the calm vocals. The father of Cutouts’ usual lead-singer Alex MacKay calls the EP “unflinchingly dreary and depressing,” and those words ring most true for “Osmosis.” The EP then features three demos of tracks from Baby Blue Suede – “Nina,” “Phone Sex,” “Ma V Man” – all of which give a ride down memory lane and reminded me of last winter’s NYC snowstorm when I was in dire of need of some sad, cold tunes. The EP ends with an awesome but brief psychedelic interlude titled “Mantra.” It would feel right at home on both Dark Side of the Moon and InnerSpeaker. Overall, Loosies scratches a certain itch by chiming in the archetypal dreary introspective singer-songwriter to a larger musical conversation, blending genres and delivering on pure, crisp feelings. Check it out.
Loosies is available for purchase and download on Bandcamp, and “Habits” is available on all streaming platforms.