Them Are Us Too – Amends
Them Are Us Too – Amends (2018)
It might be a crude generalization, but I'd say in music there are two ways to achieve greatness: do something that hasn't been done before, or do something, regardless of novelty, really really well. Depending who you are, you might put a premium on one or the other; and sometimes music that's not novel might be mistaken as such, simply for lack of exposure, which is forgivable. I like to think I personally don't skew my favor one way or the other – but our own biases are the hardest to apprehend.
Them Are Us Too fall into the latter category. Their sound is in the mould of 80s and 90s dream pop and shoegaze; singer Kennedy Ashlyn's vocals evoke inevitable comparisons to Elizabeth Fraser (of Cocteau Twins). Still, no matter how stylistically her vocals might be informed by her predecessors, her talent must be acknowledged. It's a glorious voice to hear, and listening to it leaves no doubt she's enjoying singing as much as we enjoy hearing it. This is the sound of a voice that was put on Earth to sing, with the utmost conviction and sincerity of inner expression, until there's nothing left in the lungs. The other half of the duo, Cash Askew, weaves a luscious tapestry of sounds to underpin the towering voice, guitars twinkling and swirling while colossal drum hits rock the sternum. It all comes together in a momentous harmony that stands rightfully as something worthy of its own place no matter how many comparisons it invites.
Cash Askew was one of thirty-six people who died during the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland, CA in 2016. Amends, released in 2018, is a collection of songs that would've been their second album, according to Ashlyn, polished up with the help of some additional contributors. There's no way to rectify a premature death, but this deeply moving collection of music I think is as fitting a eulogy as could be. Ashlyn has gone on to forge her own identity as a solo artist in SRSQ, continuing the thematic thread of her prior group while beginning to explore new territory. Them Are Us Too have through tragedy receded to history, but with Amends they leave us with a resounding signal of hope, and in SRSQ that glorious voice continues to live out its destiny.