The Glands - Double Coda 2LPNew West Records
There is an enormous and curiously shaped hole in the story of the Glands, the on-again/mostly off-again duo or quartet or sometimes quintet but let's just say band from Athens, Georgia, who released only two albums of weird, irascible, irresistible indie rock before band leader Ross Shapiro died in 2016. He wrote the songs, he sang the songs, he played guitar, and he gathered around him a bunch of close friends to play them. He inspired many people around town, frustrated many others, and generally proved to be a painstaking artist with an ear for catchy melodies, a very grim sense of humor, a taste for reheated Dunkin Donuts coffee, a supernaturally exhaustive knowledge of Grateful Dead bootlegs, and a creativity that extended beyond music to the strange portraits he painted and the odd shapes he sculpted.
Ross' passing left a hole in Athens, in the community where he had become a fixture and arguably even a celebrity of sorts. And there really is something heroic about his career as an artist, something noble to a life devoted to creativity and creation, even if that mostly means jamming with friends. The Glands first two albums established Ross as an unlikely and maybe even unwilling cult artist; you could argue that not enough people bought Double Thriller and The Glands, but everyone who did became avid fans for life. And even though we only have access to an infinitesimal portion of the music he made, these two albums' and now this third! (Double Coda) add invaluable detail and nuance to our portrait of Ross Shapiro. We can see him reflected back to us in his songs: a guy whose grumpiness hid a big heart and whose reticence could not obscure his talent and vision. (Stephen Deusner)