New Music: Half Dream – “Too Much”

Half Dream: New Single. Same Direction.

by Jay Armstrong

Anyone familiar knows already my steady distaste for gender bias long outstanding in the attitudes of musicians on the male side of life. I may have not have witnessed outright sexism but heaven help me if someone were to demand I list all the moments these eyes have peeped its subtle forms in action. Stand behind your favorite venue on a night where a female-fronted band has a prime slot on a killer show; find a group of band bros not on the bill and slide within earshot. Apparently, a band bringing out a crowd every time they play has only to do with hordes of sex-fiend zombies looking for a quick fantasy fix. People being unimpressed by yet another band with Fender Jags plugged through some Tyco my-first-Ty-Segall-pedal-pack could never be a possibility. An ego in place of confidence does nasty things to the personality of otherwise good people. For some reason when a dude plays power chords through reverb it is a sign of willful restraint, for a non-dude a beacon of lacked skill. Chances are you have heard this shit too. Nothing in all of that is about Half Dream as we know them but it does touch loosely on their new single “Too Much.” Both in context of the song itself and for the watermark on what this song signifies for their future; unless there is a drastic turning away from masculine fragility rearing up whenever someone feels entitled to recognition they have not earned, I expect its presence will remain near by as Half Dream continue on their inevitabe upward descent.

The songs of Paige Renée Berry reveal themselves over time. To take any song she has written, to make assumptions about grasped meaning after the first listen, would be misdirected. One has to be drawn in by the Half Dream sound and over time slowly learn to translate the language. As far as the discussion on meaning goes, only silence need remain beyond Berry telling us “Too Much” is about her own experience as a woman navigating between the compromise and condescension of existing in a hierarchy of oppression cutely tucked beneath the soft banner of social mores. I’m paraphrasing but that’s the gist.

Having spent two paragraphs focusing on the ideological repercussions of nonsense gender norms is offensive. I apologize. “Too Much” may have a heart anchored to the mire of life’s injustices, the experience on the listener side is much more superficial and therefore rather enjoyable. I would not be this dismissive if we had not already become accustomed to Berry’s poetic processing of therapeutic self-understanding. With, and by way of, that familiarity I feel drawn away from context to enjoy the experience viscerally. This song is bigger than Half Dream seemed to have in them. It might not be dancy but on the slide-scale of their sound, it might as well be disco. What a jam. No one is surprised. This being the first song to feature the new lineup with Jake Ames, Bryan Dalle Molle, and Vanessa Jollay could factor into it.

It hits me that we have only had a Half Dream EP so far. What is it about this band that makes them feel as though they have held such a longstanding presence? Could it be how active they—I will speak plurally of the band going forward, this song calls for it—have been about cultivating an involved relationship with us even when the world was dark and we each faced it alone? Could it be the familiarity of sound that drew us into them from note one? The organic progression of growth? The way we now hear the confidence take hold in a moment of proverbial skin shedding? Nah, we must merely be choosing to love them because a woman is at the front. Same old bullshit. I wish I wasn’t forced to write about this so I could spend more time writing about mediocre bands whose lyrical depth would be laughable if we didn’t already have our side hurting doubled over at the way the jealous types try to hide their spineless presence behind so much reverb you can hear the echo of their ambitions shattering down our halls of standards long after the reading of this article has come and gone. Come and gone. So many forgotten. So many never noticed. And it’s all because of bands like Half Dream who put in the work and got what they have earned. Despite what some might try spinning us to the contrary.

On the subject of hard work and earning what comes their way. “Too Much” is being put out by Major Label Records and marks the first of two singles produced by Elijah Ford (Gary Clark Jr./Ryan Bingham) and recorded at 5th St. Studios by Nick Joswick (White Denim/Black Pistol Fire). The plan is to work with the duo again in april when they go to cut their first full length. Big things. No one could have predicted any of this. Except for everyone. Who would have thought being talented and likable would be so beneficial?

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