Alaska Reid used to lead Alyeska, an LA rock band who gave off pleasing Sonic Youth vibes and occasionally drifted into Kurt Vile’s dazed headspace. That made them a good fit for veteran producer John Agnello, who counts both Vile and Sonic Youth among his clients. Agnello produced Alyeska’s 2017 debut album Crush, an under-the-radar gem that had me excited to hear more from the band. Instead, Reid is pivoting to a solo career that sounds equally promising.
“Quake,” Reid’s debut solo single out today, is decidedly poppier than her work with Alyeska, but it has nothing to do with today’s mainstream sounds. Guitars remain prominent, first gorgeously gleaming and later distorted to the point of incineration. The song beats to a burbling synthetic pulse, like an ’80s pop tune that’s gradually being swallowed up by fuzz. Reid’s breathy, fraying refrain: “Waiting for the quake, you and I/ In these famous times/ Waiting for the quake, you and I/ My heart’s about to break.”
The way it incorporates pop elements while remaining grounded in a retro alternative aesthetic, “Quake” wouldn’t sound out of place on Sky Ferreira’s Night Time, My Time. That’s high praise around these parts. Over email, Reid shared some background on the track:
I wrote “Quake” when I was feeling really weird about my life. I was slowly breaking up my band and a relationship and trying to feel adult in some way. I poured my identity into something that was just endlessly hard because I couldn’t let go. Going home to Montana, I met this girl at the SLC airport — she was on her way to meet her boyfriend who was not a nice guy. I felt fucked up and sad about a lot of things, but the things this girl told me about her life kind of jolted me out of my own head. I ended up seeing her and her boyfriend at baggage claim, and we waved like she had said nothing. It made me think about how it is better to break your own heart for a bit than to succumb to being with someone or in some place because you’re so afraid of being alone.
“Quake” is out now via Reid’s own AKR Records.