California-based alt.rock meets indie-electro act The Cowls (aka Damion Jurrens) is a musical powerhouse, having narrowed down scores of songs to the final twelve that appeared on January 2019’s Certain Calculations album. There’s a new video for a standout track from the album, and you can see it now.
Damion has taken time out from recording his new album to create a lo-fi, DIY video to accompany one of the standout tracks from the album, Time is on My Nerves. With an aquatic colour scheme that mirrors the Nirvana-inspired grungy bass line, the video relies on variations on a theme – a Looper/Groundhog Day effect if you will – to reinforce the lyrical musings on time and change.
With an arrangement that contains echoes of LCD Soundsystem, Talking Heads and Beck, the wry and witty lyrics are served on a hook-heavy, ear-friendly indie-electro foundation. The song was conceived in the midst of a burst of creativity, fuelled by a different way of working, that led to the Certain Calculations album.
Damion says: ‘I always cultivated a strong connection to all sorts of electronic music – from Kraftwerk, (which terrified me as a child) to Gary Numan (who introduced me to the joys of the Minimoog with Cars) to Depeche Mode (whose pop sensibilities and fantastic arrangements always killed me).’ For reasons that are unclear to me now, I never felt as though I was allowed to truly explore those electronic influences as a songwriter.’
He goes on to say: ‘Fortunately, I overcame that silly bit of self-limitation. One day in the summer of 2018, I was working on demos and began to feel a bit stifled. I decided to see what might happen if I started out with a drum machine and a synth instead of a guitar riff. The result was the song Shake This and the realization that I could do all sorts of fun things with my arrangements if I drew on the electronic sounds I had listened to since I was a kid. It was liberating. And I was hooked.‘
From that sea change in work style and the creative liberation that followed came Time is on My Nerves and the multitude of tracks that were eventually distilled down to Certain Calculations tracklisting. That sense of freedom did lead Damion to examine some of the processes that led him to make that change, even though he was not consciously aware of it at the time.
As a result, the lyrical tone of the track and indeed the album have a deep emotional resonance for Damion that is somewhat at odds with its light, bright sound:
‘Much to my own surprise, nearly all of the songs were about isolation and an inability to be heard. This stems from frustration dating back to my time playing in indie rock bands in New York. Though I met with some success during that time, that success came as a guitarist playing someone else’s songs. My own songs never found an audience, and I felt a lingering sense of disappointment. That disappointment revisited me as I wrote the new album, and while the melodies are upbeat and optimistic, the lyrics are pensive and often profoundly lonely.’