by Alex Wexelman (@AlexWexelman)
I buy all my books second-hand. It’s cheaper (my favorite used bookstore sells everything for half the listed price), but mostly I just like my books broken in. If Nikolas Escudero’s 100 were a papberback it’d have yellow pages and cursive writing in the margins. That is to say it is broken in but not without character.
The guitar-driven bedroom rock Escudero records is scrappy, which makes sense given that most 100’s 12 tracks were recorded in one take. Listen closely and you’ll notice the easter-egg quality of the album’s imperfections. But these moments of offbeat fills add a lively element to the LA by-way-of Chile artist’s lo-fi songs.
For Melina Duterte, it was Escudero’s vocals that won her over. The artist better known as Jay Som recommended 100 in her ‘Big Ups’ feature on Bandcamp. “He has this gritty, whiny voice that’s really tasteful,” she said. The slight nasal tonality of Escudero’s voice is reminiscent of Halcyon Digest-era Bradford Cox with the two singers even sharing a similar cadence.
Escudero’s words on the album hint at autobiography but they tend to set a mood more than tell a story. According to the press release, the songs fit into two categories: explorations of purpose and reflections on interpersonal relationships. What is perhaps my favorite track, “Telesthete,” is said to fit into the former school of thought, but with its opening line of, “They didn’t know you / quite like I do,” it sounds like it would fit snugly in the latter.
Sonically, “Telesthete” calls to my mind Elliott Smith’s “Speed Trials” with both songs featuring prominent ride cymbal and an ascending guitar line. “Stain,” another standout, is said to bridge the gap between these two guiding ideologies. It’s a slowcore, sleepy thing that contains the line, “just give me one more taste / the air’s never been so sweet.” The quote sums up my experience listening to 100—each time the noise of its final track subsides, I am drawn back to it like an insect to a sweet smell.
100 is out November 17th on Citrus City.