Oceanator "Things I Never Said" vinyl release

Quoting a Deli blogger from a few years back, Oceanator is "the Brooklyn-based grunge project of Elise Okusami, one bore in equal parts from the its [sic] crunch-heavy guitars as well as Okusami's no-holds barred lyricism." I'm opening with this quote since there's nothing to indicate the songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has departed from her no-holds and crunch-heavy ways in the interim (but what do I know she could be working on a pirate-metal chiptune opera as we speak) and when it comes to Brooklyn-based grunge well there's still some of that around too--despite the best efforts of real estate developers who are attempting to entirely wall off Greenpoint with high-rise condos, clearly a plot to turn the neighborhood into a penal colony inspired by John Carpenter's Escape From New York so the joke's on the condo buyers and renters--and did you know Brooklyn actually invented grunge. Not the music. Actual grunge.

Oceanator released her debut full-length LP Things I Never Said last summer and reviewers at the time tended to dwell for understandable reasons on the album's recurring themes of cataclysm and apocalypse. Even though it was written and recorded well before the actual apocalypse arrived (the opening act of the apocalypse anyway) Okusami managed to channel the upcoming zeitgeist as demonstrated in the opening one-two crunchy-grungy punch of "Goodbye, Goodnight" and "A Crack In The World." But what's striking in listening to the album now is how little Okusami dwells on disaster itself, and how instead her lyrics so ably depict and dissect all the ways people react to disaster whether interpersonal or societal or both: Hiding away or diving straight into it. Looking to be alone or seeking human contact. Thinking too much or pursuing oblivion. Viewing disaster as an end point or a starting point for renewal. This album lays it all out and it's cheaper than therapy.

Much the same goes for the music too considering how Oceanator conjures an array of psychological mood state. Sure there's the aforementioned crunchy grunge but there's also the poppy bop of "Heartbeat", the new wave sheen of "I Would Find You" (new video alert!) and the classic girl group sway of "Walk With You" (RIP Mary Wilson) which back-to-back make up the middle portion of the album. Things I Never Said climaxes with the penultimate track "The Sky Is Falling" with its dramatic stop-start verses, soaring guitar breaks, and majestic outro that adds layers of additional guitar, keyboard, and ghostly background vocals to the mix before a final breakdown at the end. And finally the closer "Sunrise" is not at all ironically named but instead ends on a ray of hope: "I'm going outside today / I'm feeling like things might be okay." This album takes the listener on an actual journey.

 

And speaking of journeys if you journey over to Polyvinyl Records they've just re-released the album, now available on vinyl for the first time so you can show off your Hi-Fi system to your pet rock. And who wants plain ol' black vinyl (BOR-ing) so you get a choice between Orange Swirl vs. Funfetti aka "Clown Vomit" which suggests these records may be edible but I'd check with the manufacturer first. (Jason Lee)