Following the releases of Peter Sagar, a listener could almost construct some kind of chronological crash-course in the musical development of this generation’s contemporary guitar-music, or at least a very specific slice of it. From the head banging, grunge-inflected Pavement pounding of Outdoor Miners (in which Peter contributed bass lines and arguably some of that band’s catchiest vocal hooks), to the postapocalyptic, introspective croonerism of Sans AIDS–Peter’s solo project until moving to Montreal (where people actually know French)–his projects do represent, in their own way, some of the prevailing approaches and tendencies that everyone of this ilk is taking–and he’s usually fairly close to the forefront with all of it. What struck me most about this Homeshake business is how damn close sounding it is compared to anything in the Sans AIDS catalogue, and in that sense, it’s an indicator of another shift in the generational dialogue. Guitars formerly encrusted in barnacles of distortion and gallons of reverb are now plugged directly into the recording apparatus, clean and smooth, the more rubbery the better (“Don’t Try”); vocals that were once shrouded behind Pollardian fuzz and delay are now clean, hushed, and naked-sounding (“Northern Man”). The harsh edges of lo-fi production have been converted to the use of a quainter, more modest sound, in emulation of some kind of mature bedroom-recording aesthetic. Musically, too, echoes of grunge are all but eradicated under a sheen of smooth grooves, reaching even further in the past, beyond the agitation of the 00’s and 90’s to the relaxation of some imaginary vision of the world before we were born, a world when the bass was for laying grooves and the lead guitar was for bending notes (“Sally” and “Moon Woman”).
Of course, everything I’ve said so far could perhaps be said of perennial Sagar-cohort Mac Demarco and his shift away from Makeout Videotape, or Renny Wilson/Travis Bretzer and the Subatomics. In all cases, the split is obviously not as clean as I’ve made it out to be, and they are all the inheritors of the last two decades. Peter certainly still leans more towards the garage-rock of his past and less on the drugged-up-disco feel that he’s starting to lean into. Perhaps the opener “Haters” proves the point best: as a leftover from the last days of Sans AIDS, re-recorded to fit the current batch, it serves as a nice little bridge between the two worlds. Ultimately though, this tape is a just a really nice way to spend 25 minutes.