New To Us – Steady Holiday

Steady Holiday by Joseph Armario
Photo by Joseph Amario – http://www.josepharmario.com

Who?
Steady Holiday is the pseudonym of songwriter Dre Babinski. Her latest EP, Terror, features the playing of Blake Straus and Josh Adams, known for his work with Jenny Lewis, and is produced by Gus Seyffert who has recorded the likes of Beck and The Black Keys.

What?
All the elements here are familiar, but the combination is strangely unique. There’s nods to trip-hop, library music, and the more dramatic end of 60’s pop. It’s an often eerie combination of swooping strings, primal electronic squelches and Dre’s folky, half-whispered vocals, pitched somewhere between Alessi’s Ark and Cross Records’ Emily Cross.

Where?
Steady Holiday is from the second biggest city in the United States, Los Angeles. With a population of nearly four million, Los Angeles is widely regarded as the cultural, financial, and commercial centre of Southern California. Divided into 80 districts and neighbourhoods, Los Angeles is a culturally diverse city and the home to people from more than 140 countries speaking 224 different identified languages. Los Angeles is currently home to more artists, writers, filmmakers, actors, dancers and musicians than any city has been at any point in recorded history. Name a genre of music and you’ll find a representative from Los Angeles, whether it’s The Byrds take of psych-folk, Black Flags explorations in hardcore or thrash metal legends Megadeath.

When?
Although Dre Babinski has been playing with bands around LA for a number of years, it’s only recently that she has adopted the Steady Holiday moniker, and found an outlet for her own creativity. The debut Steady Holiday album, Under The Influence, came out on Infinite Best in June last year, and has recently been followed up by the fascinating Terror EP on the same label.

Why?
After releasing a break-out debut album just last year, you could have forgiven Dre Babinski for taking a bit of time off. Instead, inspired by the political upheaval in her home country last November, Dre was inspired to write three brand new songs, each tackling the reality of life in Trump-era America. These tracks make up the bulk of the Terror EP; equal parts a compelling vision of where Steady Holiday’s music is heading next, and a bleak vision of where her country is heading.

More Than One Way is an unguarded plea to think about the way we do things, as Dre puts it, “There’s nothing very subtle about this one. I’m upset with the amount of greed, self-righteousness, inhumanity, and objective misuse of power in America. It’s an evocative time”. Musically it’s a stunning combination of expansive cinematic strings, and scything slices of synths. Lyrically it touches on our ability to close our eyes and pretend we’re doing the right thing. The title track Terror walks a similar territory, but adds a certain sashaying, pop quality bringing to mind the likes of Molly Burch or Charlie Hilton.

The EP is bulked out by two additional cuts, Deepsleeper’s remix of New Heaven, the closing track to debut album Under The Influence, which turns it into a minimal, twinkling beauty in the mold of Sigur Rós, and a home recording of a new song, Language I Speak. The latter is a wonderfully sparse piece of bare-bones songwriting, stripped back to just a voice and guitar; it concludes the EP with the hauntingly honest lyric, “likely I won’t return here, there’s more out there for me”.

Our personal favourite is Halloween in November, the title of which probably tells you all you need to know about the lyrical content, but musically it’s fascinating. There’s a touch of Dance Me To The End Of Love-era Leonard Cohen in the simplistic electronic tones, while Dre’s vocal performance is fascinating, particularly the way it seems to fade gently as she reaches into the upper echelons of her vocal range to pull out perfect melodies. There’s even a delightfully filthy guitar solo thrown on the end for good measure, which works even if it seemingly has no right to.

Why Not?
It’s perhaps a bit too pristine, polished and composed for some, the musical and vocal delivery perhaps not matching the angry tones of the lyricism – but as Dre sings, “there’s more than one way to get high”, and perhaps in putting her own spin on a political song, Steady Holiday have shown you don’t have to be a punk to be a protest singer.

Terror EP is out now via Infinite Best. Click HERE for more information on Steady Holiday.

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