Heaven’s Gate – “Drone” (Stereogum Premiere)

The 1980 film Heaven’s Gate was of the rare kind that was nominated for the Palme D’or at Cannes simultaneously with Worst Film at the Razzies. Butchered in the editing room, Michael Cimino’s (who previously had swept the Oscars with The Deer Hunter) divisive film was one that some critics thought could be a masterpiece if it were just presented properly. I have no idea if the Brooklyn up-and-comers Heaven’s Gate named themselves after Cimino’s epic, but when I hear their explosive new single “Drone,” I’m reminded of it regardless.

That film makes you consider that with the right presentation something that might be tired or boring can become passionate and sincere. And while many people might roll their eyes at the idea of another band mining the sounds of vintage indie rock, “Drone” shows Heaven’s Gate can reassemble these sounds into something exciting and vibrant. It’s an approach that they share with labelmates Speedy Ortiz, but to a very different end. “Drone,” is a charging slice of shoegaze bringing to mind older bands with its distortion burn, but leaving you at a loss with the specifics (not unlike its beautiful, jarring artwork above which brings to mind a Magic Eye picture gone wrong.) The details are wonderful; especially the guitar work which jumps between fuzzy chaos and dark clarity, but it’s all tied together by front-woman Jess Paps and her incredible voice. At the best moments in “Drone,” she takes the common “wordless vocals,” trend so often associated with shoegaze and makes it sound muscular and brutally aggressive. There is nothing you would call a coo here; Paps is not fucking around. Listen below, and keep an eye out for the band’s new album Transmuting (which you can pre-order here) because by the sound of this track it’s looking to be a good one.

Transmuting is out 9/24 on Inflated Records