by Zachary Zalman Green (@zatchkerouac)
Just outside of Pete’s Candy Store awaits the Prius, decked out with a weather-proof body bag limply deflated on top of the car waiting to be fed with gear. Gilliver is loading out, about to embark on week two of tour, New England in January. They accidentally steal an extra cymbal stand which I will have to return on my way back through NYC in the coming weeks and which I will subsequently forget to do.
The audience is full of friends from New Hampshire whom have all absconded to a life of lop-sided rents and where the band--Molly Brown (guitar/vocals), Mia Govoni (percussion/vocals), Dylan Brown (bass/vocals) and most recent member Ash Torok (guitar), also hail from; there’s a scattering of parents, and Tanbark--all in all a fairly typical crowd for a hungover New Year’s Day crowd and a band’s first tour. What hasn’t quite settled yet is the thunderstorm of Gilliver’s first record, Gilded Lily (Don’t Live Like Me, 2019), which would later be grabbed up and spit out to a Spotify just last month.
The title track filters in like sawdust looking to surface and then takes its serrated edge to the atmosphere, “Air is clearer than the water / choking on the moss.” Brown insists their way right into your heart, “I will talk my way in,” only to reveal their sterling self under a nest of gold and hair. It’s an exhaustion that can be found throughout the record--a fuzzed out gratitude for feeling something, even if it only means self-immolation while grasping at a glimmer of self acceptance.
Catching ablaze is the standout track, “Arizona,” which you probably understand geographically and politically is roughly as many miles away from Gilliver’s bucolic north as can be. Also on the list of things I assume you know is that we have about a good 10 - 15 years left on this burning fucking earth and Gilliver is already preparing chili over the funeral pyre, safely from a desert butte. As brother Brown’s bass comes ripping in so does a slow ooze of caustic insides and perhaps a suspiciously proud “harlot”. True of Brown’s wit and delight, they send up humble roars throughout -- “I run my hands under the water / I run my mouth all day / Running from my shadow of desire / Running from every word you say.”
Govoni not only keeps a thumping pace on drums but wraps harmonies at the speed of a burning rope around Brown and Dylan’s stoney face-down bass. It’s endearing to think of Sleep and Sharon Van Etten in one breath, but Gillver is driving at a clip faster than a Prius can really provide. There’s a lot of scorched earth throughout this record but often a feeling that adds up to us all being okay in the end.
For a debut album, it’s a doomy fist pump for those who wander and eat berries and work too damn hard just to get nowhere (re: “One More Good Season”) but the place you started. And already with two tours in their mullets, Gilliver is living their days out fixing up a school bus and farming up a dangerous cord of kindling for the next heart-shaker.