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Dawning Release Debut Demo Tape (Review)

Former Apricot Blush frontman Jackson Wise emerges from a long hiatus with the debut of his newest project, Dawning. The project is a collaboration between Wise and his new pal, graphic designer and musician Matt Massara. Yesterday saw the release of their first collection of songs, a 6 track Demo Tape filled with fuzzy, expansive indie / slowcore songs.

Wise and Massara recorded the Dawning Demo Tape in a workshop garage in downtown Charleston, with help from a few special guests. The crew had set up a DIY recording rig in the workshop owned by Jackson’s neighbor that has become their practice space over the past several months, and pieced together the project in about two weeks.

“We All Went Swimming” opens things up with a punk-infused shoegaze sound that is both atmospheric and driving, and features Carter Long (of Cry Baby) and Chris Love. The track builds in intensity as Jackson stretches out his vocals with some healthy shouting of lyrics that express frustration and disconnectedness.

While you may assume from listening to that first track that you’re in for a wild punk rock ride, the second track, “Sediment”, takes things down a notch. The track begins with an extended guitar intro filled with exploratory picking, giving the impression of being deep in thought, and perhaps lost or wandering. Finally, the vocals kick in as Jackson wonders why he’s so afraid, when there’s nothing around him to be afraid of.

Next up is “Kreuzberg”, bringing the punk energy back to the tape with cranked-up guitars and tons of fuzz. Still, there is a disconnect that can be felt on the track that has been present since the opening notes of the tape. This theme of feeling lost and disconnected continues through the rest of the tape, and the lofi recordings further add to this feeling.

Carter Long returns with a feature on the final two tracks, including the closer “In Irons”, with wailing guitars reminiscent of early Modest Mouse. This track is titled after a term in sailing that refers to being stuck with the point pointed directly into the wind, and so you’re unable to move even if you tried.

Overall, Dawning have crafted an interesting collection of songs that feels loose and creative. This is a band that was working out ideas, found that they had some interesting ones, and decided to share them with the world. Here’s to hoping that this Demo Tape is only the first of many releases from this project.

Dawning will make their live debut on Friday, April 15th at Cutty’s in downtown Charleston, where they’ll be joined by fellow locals Art Star and Asheville’s Secret Shame.

Listen to Demo Tape by Dawning below.