The Seconds just can’t make time for each other. Drummer Brian Chase juggles pop superstardom in the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and playing with avant-garde artists Ikue Mori and Tyondai Braxton. Singer and guitarist Zach Lehrhoff tours the globe in the reconfigured-as-neo-industrial-noise duo Ex Models. And bassist Jeannie Kwon helps engineering firm DMJM Harris improve civic transportation while earning her master’s in public administration at NYU.
But don’t refer to the notoriously rare band as a “side project,” lest you enjoy rubbing salt on open wounds. “We would like to devote more time but it’s tough,” explains Chase. “This band is a big part our lives. It’s definitely frustrating.”
Sympathetic fans can look forward to Kratitude (5 Rue Christine Records). A roiling cacophony of drums, guitar, bass, and vocals, the Seconds’ sophomore full-length transmutes its elements into a virulent and unholy strain of no wave that’s a quantum leap forward from the band’s catchier debut, Y. Moreover it’s a rock album—albeit a twisted one—and therefore a relief from the city’s preponderance of guitar-looping, knob-twisting improv noise bands.
Largely conceived by Chase, Kratitude exhibits his minimalism obsession. “It’s the most direct form of communication,” he explains. “Music feels purposeful when no extraneous ideas interfere.” The Seconds’ new fare establishes single motifs and perforates them with scrambled-reception guitar playing, muscular bass lines, monotone chants, and atonal yelps over erratic tempos.
“Moving,” for instance, begins as portentous clatter and explodes as a turbid mixture of drums and guitars. Its hypnotic mantra “Moving slowly/Moving faster” contrasts Chase’s deadpan vocals against Lehrhoff’s paroxysm of cackles befitting a hyena with Tourette’s. Meanwhile Kwon’s petulant tantrums place her squarely in this playpen of misfits. In “Sleeping,” Lehrhoff jaggedly plucks a lullaby melody over cascading vocals while Chase goes into a tribal frenzy. And Kwon sounds positively grief stricken and drunk on “Dedicatedtotheoneeye,” the creepiest Shirelles cover ever.
The Seconds recorded Kratitude at their rehearsal space in Williamsburg’s industrial park section. 5RC, which released Y, originally declined to issue a follow up because they felt the band couldn’t properly tour behind it. Chase & Co. sent 5RC a copy anyway. The Shirelles cover must have struck a chord. “They changed their minds,” says Chase.