Oakland-based shoegazer outfit The Acharis — life partners Shaun Wagner and Mila Puccini — features Bay Area music scene vets, who have played in a number of different bands over the years. Back in 2015, Wagner and Puccini decided to create something together, that was entirely theirs.
2017’s full-length debut, Lost in the Vortex saw the pair sharing vocal and songwriting duties, as well as playing every instrument on the album. The duo’s John Fryer-produced sophomore album Blue Sky/Grey Heaven finds Wagner and Puccini collaborating with a newly recruited live band crafting a much darker sound with a studio polish that stylistically ranges from fragile noise pop to fuzzed out shoeaze. The album’s material also sees the band delivering a wider spectrum of moods.
“False Positive,” Blue Sky/Grey Heaven‘s first single is a brooding and decidedly 120 Minutes MTV era-like anthem centered around fuzzy power chords, thunderous drumming, ethereal boy-girl harmonies and an alternating quiet verse, loud chorus song structure. Sonically, “False Positive” seems to recall My Bloody Valentine, early Smashing Pumpkins and In Utereo era Nirvana — with a nasty, pissed off vibe.
“I came up with this riff when I was a teenager and it’s been bouncing around in my head ever since. The inspiration came from the huge sounding guitars on the first 2 Smashing Pumpkins albums. The original title was ‘Elephant’ as a nod to the Pumpkins track ‘Rhinoceros,'” the band explains in press notes. “When It came time to write the lyrics, I was walking around just being fucking bummed and wondering what I could possibly have to say to the world that would matter. I feel like often there is pressure to reveal some great truth or intelligent insight in a 3 minute rock song, which is just kind of ridiculous. I remember Kurt Cobain talking about how ‘Pennyroyal Tea‘ was about just being hopelessly depressed. So I took inspiration from that and just wrote about how I was feeling at the time. It has that kind of slacker 90’s vibe like yeah, everything is fucked, so what? It all comes full circle in the unintelligible screaming at the end of the song “There’s an elephant in the room. A rhinoceros. A hippopotamus. It’s true”
The accompanying video for “False Positive” sees the duo performing and wandering in a trippy Victorian house, where they encounter surreal and mind-bending decor and backdrops.