Draag, “Actually, the quiet is nice”

Following last year’s release of their debut album, the LA band continue to push forward their dreamy grungegaze romps on a six-song EP.

Draag, Actually, the quiet is nice

Following last year’s release of their debut album, the LA band continue to push forward their dreamy grungegaze romps on a six-song EP.

Words: Kurt Orzeck

May 15, 2024

Actually, the quiet is nice

Music projects usually don’t start with a 10-year-old kid, a cassette tape deck, and an insatiable yearning to perform karaoke. But that pretty much sums up the origin story of Draag, the dream-pop outfit spearheaded by visionary musician and songwriter Adrian Acosta. His band’s newest release, Actually, the quiet is nice, may only be an EP consisting of six songs, but the one-time prodigy’s latest foray into noisy and grungy shoegaze reminds us that there’s still plenty of uncharted territory to be explored within an increasingly congested scene. Surely, some concertgoers who catch one of Draag’s thoroughly entertaining live performances still pigeonhole the project as yet another self-centered shoegaze affair. But those same people are almost certainly the oblivious attendees who spend more time staring at their phones than the majestic journey unfolding onstage. Talk about shoegazing.

On the new EP, Acosta once again finds himself crafting songs without resorting to non-traditional rock instruments, refusing to add flourishes to these compositions in an effort to give them a polished sheen. Acosta learned at a young age that neither musicians nor their fans win when they focus on chiseling a gorgeous exoskeleton. Much to the contrary, Acosta is attuned to what’s more deeply ingrained—and far more important—in a work of art: the provocative, unexpected twists and turns are proof that the artist has imbued Draag’s songs with a life of their own. Discover those forces at work by taking the pulse of a song, and true artistry has prevailed.

Actually exemplifies an exceptional maturity and artistic acumen that takes years for much older and prolific musicians to understand and embrace. Even more impressive, Acosta often lets his bandmates take center stage over the course of the project. Vocalist and synth player Jessica Huang not only imbues but grounds the first half of the EP with whimsical singing. But suddenly, upending the conventional song sequence of EPs, Acosta and his other bandmates—guitarist Ray Montes, bassist Nick Kelley, and drummer Eric Fabbro—pull a fast one. Draag resurrect the raucous romps that originally caught the ear of listeners fascinated by the recent grungegaze movement.

With Actually, the quiet is nice, Acosta and his bandmates transcend the saccharin noise that infects mainstream music by and large. The listeners who marvel at Acosta’s unbridled project don’t need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the illustrious musical experience; they sprint toward it, adrenalized by the desire to see what Draag will come up with next.