If there’s one word or genre to describe Liz Hogg’s S/T debut LP it’s clearly experimental. I can safely say I’ve never heard sounds strung together like Hogg does on this record. Some of my favorite moments on the album are when the stranger instruments, sounds, and drones, emerge from occasional strains of traditional indie rock progressions. After reading the description of Liz Hogg on her Bandcamp, I also see how this record is very much a product of a city basement, with all of the DIY associations that come with that territory.
The most traditional pop record on the album, and incidentally my favorite track, ‘All Concealment Is Treachery,’ still manages to operate on the wavelength of experimental music, avoiding direct imitation of mainstream traditional “indie rock.” It’s a catchy song, but certainly not formatted to be on the same playlist as a band like Haim. That’s probably Liz Hogg’s best selling point: it’s not like today’s indie music.
As far as influences go, I’m at a loss to pinpoint one artist from whom Hogg derived a majority of her sound, which is always a big plus. The only reference point that crossed my mind at points while listening to the album was the guitar work of The Durutti Column and Vini Reilly, but Hogg maintains a strumming style that’s uniquely her own. The record is essentially an album of ethereal melodies punctuated by chiming guitar strums, dissonance, and the odd cheap keyboard sound.
Hogg stresses in the liner notes of her album that each song was built off of a small musical idea, usually between 5-60 seconds long. It’s funny to me that another one of the records which in my opinion succeeds the best on the album is the closer, ‘This Is Trash,’ the longest song of the album, clocking in at 4:50. I think the strongest parts of Liz Hogg are when Hogg develops her ideas the furthest.
The more dissonant and sketch-like tracks make sense thematically with the liner notes, but I’m a pop kid at heart, so I find the best moments of the album to be when Hogg synthesizes experimental sounds with a more traditional song structure. The key to this is that she doesn’t synthesize it with a more traditional current indie rock sound. It’s always refreshing to hear independent music that doesn’t reflect the trends.
For a debut project, Liz Hogg’s S/T LP conveys a deep appreciation for the theory behind the creation of the music itself. The detailed liner notes are essential to truly appreciate this record. The fact that this LP was recorded from 2009-18 is also an interesting approach that makes this album feel like it exists out of time, and divorced from any specific trend. If one were to sum up this album in two words I suppose experimental folk would be the correct two, but this isn’t a Lou Barlow album, it’s a Liz Hogg album, and for creating a unique combination of sounds with “every piece of equipment [she] owned],” Hogg surely deserves praise for her efforts.