If this is the first you’ve heard of Knives and Daggers, you’re not alone. The quintet formed in Asheville half a decade ago, but a number of sonic adjustments and personnel changes kept it on the sidelines of the local music scene until now. However, with a fresh new recording in the can and a permanent lineup finally cemented, the band is preparing to reemerge with tonight’s CD release and an ensuing mini-tour up the East Coast.
Explains multi-instrumentalist Lauren Brown, “Until now, lineups weren’t consistent long enough to get a studio recording, nor did we have much money to spend on it. In the past couple of years we’ve made efforts to manage the band as more of a business, in terms of both the band structure and the finances, and we felt more comfortable making the investment into our first proper album.”
That investment paid off. What Hurts the Most is 30 minutes of sweeping, nostalgia-inducing swells, both bright and melancholy at once. It’s classic shoegaze from start to finish, but for the most part, Knives and Daggers shys away from the heavy use of effects that characterized the ‘80s shoegaze scene, instead opting for dense layers of guitars and strings to build its epic tides of sound.
Knives and Daggers’ live show, while maintaining the climatic builds and beautiful gloom of the record, is noticeably heavier (or “turbulently loud,” as the band describes it), a fact Brown attributes to the absence of strings and a heavy emphasis on guitars.
“The songs are generally written to be performed by three guitars, even if strings are recorded in the concept demos,” she explains. “This means that there are only a handful of songs at live shows where I can pick up the violin.”
The release show will also include sets from local multi-instrumentalist Jason Smith and psychedelic rockers Soft Opening. DJs from Straight Gaze, an Asheville FM program devoted entirely to shoegaze, will provide music between bands.