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Active Listening Night on Earth (2019), 6/10 Links:

Philadelphia's Empath, originally the trio of guitarist Emily Shanahan, vocalist Catherine Elicson and drummer Garrett Koloski, married pop levity, punk frenzy and loud noise in the songs collected on the cassette Crystal Reality Vol 1 & 2 (2016). Gut Feeling boasts a catchy refrain drenched in guitar noise, while the pounding Scout's Song emanates Velvet Underground-ish vibrations. The savage garage rave-up Dark Honey is calm compared with the hellish dissonance of Heaven.

Synth-man Randall Coon joined the trio for the four-song EP Liberating Guilt and Fear (2018), a less cacophonous project that contains the cow-punk of Carpet (reminiscent of Tex & The Horseheads), the manic no-wave jam No Attachment, the deranged boogie-pop of The Eye, and the nine-minute electroacoustic mess III (an even more abstract 24-minute version titled III+ surfaced in 2020).

The 27-minute mini-album Active Listening: Night on Earth (Get Better, 2019) is a much more streamlined and tidy affair. Soft Shape recalls the female-led Brit-pop bands of the 1980s with just a bit more jamming by drums and guitar. Pure Intent is another venture into drunk cowpunk (just adding a noisy coda). The best demonstration of their energy comes with the comic punk-rock of Rowing. But they lose credibility with the ambient electronic piece IV. Poorly sung and poorly played, the atonal ballad Roses That Cry sounds like a cover of pop hit made by a group of beginning teenagers. It's all chaotic and feverish, but ultimately melodic.

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