ARTIST: Dead Sea Apes
RELEASE: Sixth Side Of The Pentagon
RELEASE DATE: 3rd April 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Sky Lantern Records & Cardinal Fuzz Records
Manchester based experimental psych aficionado's 'Dead Sea Apes' have returned with a brand new album entitled 'Sixth Side Of The Pentagon'. The band have been carving out their own rather special niche in a scene that strives on it's core principles of expansive and consciousness-altering guitar, bass and drum based compositions. 'Dead Sea Apes' have never easily fitted into a 'psychedelic scene' as such like so many of their contemporaries but have instead taken a different path to sonic enlightenment by experimenting with dub, electronic sequencing and mind altering reverberations that both thrill and hypnotise all at once. 'Sixth Side Of The Pentagon' is available to pre-order right now from skylanternrecords.bandcamp.com (US) or cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com (UK) on standard weight black vinyl edition, 250 copies with full color printed inner sleeves & on CD.
Sixth Side of the Pentagon by Dead Sea Apes
Cavernous reverb peppered with echoing percussive delays swirl menacingly around the rise and fall of a repetitive bass line as ‘The Map Is Not The Territory’ kicks open the door to an atmospheric world of mesmerising (almost incantational) psychedelic dub. This track heaves effortlessly through moments of unrepentant experimentation as growling guitars ride soaring instrumental drones and deliriously off kilter drum patterns as its lead lines whip and harass the senses with wild sonic abandon. Up next, ‘Sixth Side Version I’ provides an atmospheric interlude before ‘Low Resolution’ staggers into earshot riding a resonating drone and slow moving bass line. Synth lines fizz as the tension builds and the track meanders through layers of reverberating lead guitar lines collectively battered by angry synchronised electronics. ‘Dead Sea Apes’ inject the twenty second long 'Sixth Side Version II' next, fitting another piece into the sonic jigsaw before unleashing the brilliant ‘Pale Anxiety’, my favourite track on the entire release. Slow moving drones swirl and loop around a snaking bass line as a repetitive percussive assault keeps a steady metronomic beat. The occasional delayed vocal line slips into earshot riding a turbulent processional wave of noisy reverb laden electronics, jittering effected guitar lines and the odd chopped brass sample that tumbles and dances through layers of echoing hypnotics.
‘Nerve Centre’ explodes into a cacophony of guitar stabs, intense ethereal vocal samples as wailing lead guitar lines and those off tempo drum patterns that collectively add billowing atmosphere. This track hangs suspended in the sonic ether, held fast in a whirlwind of undulating reverb and mind bending production. 'Sixth Side Version III' enters audible range and squeezes shuddering lo-fi instrumentation into a melting pot of spellbinding echoing delays whilst ‘Lo Res’ ambles into the ether tethered to a meandering bass line and it’s accompanying sequenced electronic theatrics. Glorious guitar progressions act like bedrock thus fixating this listener to their hypnotising sway whilst swirling bleeps and whirrs meld with immense production to bring us on a gratifying sonic adventure of immense proportions. The album twinkles and jitters in a golden hued haze before the opening salvos of ‘Tentacles (The Machine Rolls on)’ shatter the illusion and unfurl their sonic tendrils to intertwine brilliantly with a shuddering drum pattern, undulating bass progression and venomous lines of spoken word. Angry sequenced production gradually bubble up to the surface to circumnavigate the entire piece, draping it in resonating reverb laced snare hits and the constant gyrating throb of bass.
The album drags ‘Sixth Side Version IV’ out into the open to show us it’s final death throws before plying us with it’s closing soundscape. ‘Rectifier’ jangles and sways on a wave of fizzing synth, hypnotic bass and the repetitive pitter patter of steady metronomic percussion. Heady lead lines stream and glide in close proximity to those senses pummelling effected delays and the occasional stab of rhythm guitar as ‘Dead Sea Apes’ exhume every single morsel of hallucinogenic dub they can muster and fire it out into the sonic ether. A fitting end to a bloody marvellous album.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last four years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
by Primal Music
ARTIST: Alternative Facts V/A
RELEASE: A Shoegaze Resistance Compilation
RELEASE DATE: 17th March 2017
RECORD COMPANY: DKFM Shoegaze
Normally we don't cover compilation releases here at Primal Music. And it takes something really, really worthwhile and selfless for us to commit to reviewing one in full. But every once and a while something truly spectacular arrives in our inbox that is very very difficult to ignore. 'Alternative Facts' is a brand new eighteen track compilation of shoegaze & dream pop artists standing in opposition to tyranny. Half of the musical contributions to this compilation are new and exclusive, never heard before now. All proceeds from this album will be split evenly between Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union & is the brainchild of Cory Osborne (Lightfoils/Panda Riot) & Greg Wilson (DKFM Shoegaze Radio) with support of dozens of talented musicians and graphic artists, and released as the only label issue from our brothers & sisters over on DKFM Shoegaze Radio. The compilation gets it's full release on March 17th 2017 and is available to pre-order right now from dkfmshoegaze.bandcamp.com
Alternative F̷acts: A Shoegaze Resistance Compilation by DKFM Shoegaze
This compilation opens up on a high, swirling deftly in a hazy ball of beautiful noise. ‘Whimsical’ have just released their latest sublime long player ‘Sleep To Dream’ via Saint Marie Records and here they unleash ‘Had I Known’ a noisy (previously unreleased) brute that sails effortlessly through growling instrumentation & tumbling waves of reverberation, topped off by the beautiful almost ethereal vocal skills of Krissy Vanderwoude. Up next, Milwaukee based ‘Brief Candles’ have lifted a previously unheard track from their forthcoming new album and supplied it specifically for this very worthwhile compilation. ‘Alarm Fatigue’ jangles and shines like a sonic beacon, filled with beautifully intense driving instrumentation, shimmering vocal lines and brilliantly executed composition. The ever amazing ‘Lightfoils’ appear here too with a huge track entitled ‘Retrace’ featuring Rebecca Scott on vocal duties. This track soars through blissful layers of impressionistic lead lines drenched in resonating reverb & underscored by that rambling bass line. Definitely one of the highlights on this release for me.
San Francisco based Lauren Grubb aka ‘To The Wedding’ takes a track from her brand new soon to be released EP entitled ‘Here And Now’, her first new music since 2014’s immense ‘Silver Currents’ and supplies it solely for this comp. ‘Brightest Light’ growls as it enters earshot trembling on a bedrock of noisy bass frequencies and an explosive percussive attack. Lauren’s vocals are addictively engaging as they meld effortlessly with screaming lead lines and sublime feedback laden instrumentation. The ever brilliant ‘Stargazer Lillies’ have taken time out of a busy touring schedule to record a brand new, never heard before track specifically for this compilation release. ‘Lets Kill Time’ is seriously addictive with it’s droning guitars and swirling instrumentation that deftly circumnavigates that sublime vocal line whilst the immense Californian based husband & wife team of Jenny & Joseph Andreotti aka ‘Fawns Of Love’ bring their dreamy brand of lo-fi shoegaze to bare with a brand new track entitled ‘Please’, hot on the heels of their recently released debut album 'Who Cares About Tomorrow'.
Chicago based ‘Panda Riot’ are primed to release their latest long player ‘Infinity Maps’ sometime in late spring. They have supplied a pre-release track specifically for this compilation and ‘Gold Lines’ doesn’t disappoint. It explodes into earshot held fast in a swirling ball of effervescent guitars and repetitive drum patterns as beautifully executed vocalisations float effortlessly into the ether underscored by throbbing bass lines and brilliant production. Up next, noisy San Francisco based shoegaze/dream pop outfit ‘Balms’ have graciously supplied a previously unheard track entitled ‘Nothing In’, lifted off their forthcoming debut full length release. ‘Nothing In’ sways and drives through streaming waves of explosive instrumentation that gyrates effortlessly around that highly addictive vocal track. This is so good and it leaves me in no doubt whatsoever that ‘Balms’ are definitely ones to watch out for in 2017. Wavy Chicago based ‘Lazy Legs’ are represented here with the shimmering ‘Crush’ a track that boils and rages in reverb laden splendour deftly undercut by that beautifully intense vocal line whilst California based ‘SHEER’ have donated a track from their soon to be released six track EP ‘Psychic Quarry’ penned in for release on April 28th 2017. ‘Room’ swerves into earshot raging blissfully in a tangled sonic ball filled with screaming lead guitars, throbbing bass lines, explosive drum patterns and a stunning vocal track. I’m really looking forward to hearing the full EP in April.
Dan Ballek (Mr. K’s Dream) & Paul Lopez (Spell 336, Sana Obruent) aka ‘Angel Falls’ supply a newly remastered version of ‘Touch The Sun’, a trembling reverb laced piece with steadying percussion, upfront vocals and a soaring chorus line whilst the ever reliable ‘The Foreign Resort’ have handed over the beautifully entrancing ‘Skyline-Decay’ for this compilation and it doesn’t disappoint. Hypnotic synth lines lead you into a false sense of security here and its not long before the band unleash a blistering electronically charged post-punk standard underscored by hazy shoegaze moments and a brilliantly executed vocal performance. ‘AEVE CVE’ is a new side project by Preston Maddox (Bloody Knives, S T F U) and he offers up a brand new track here. ‘Glassrain’ is explosive. It’s a menacing, electronically charged drum & bass behemoth with an undercurrent of growling bass frequencies and delicious sequenced synth lines. It’s fascinatingly euphoric nature will be a shock to most but what I’m really impressed with here is Preston's ability to experiment with different music genres to create brand new sonic adventures to explore.
Seattle based ‘Blackpool Astronomy’ are a band who don’t usually float my boat musically. They are however represented here with a rare alternate version of a track entitled ‘Safe Place’ lifted off their forthcoming new LP penned in for release later in 2017. Up next, the immense Minneapolis based ‘Chatham Rise’ bring their magical brand of psych induced shoegaze/space-rock to the party with a track entitled ‘How Do You Sleep’, a jangling cacophony of woozy reverb laced frequencies that float and twirl through layers of hypnotic instrumentation and gloriously hazy vocalisations. Alaska based ‘A Thousand Hours’ are a band who have peaked my attention of late and I’m on record as saying that at times they remind me of seminal US based outfit ‘For Against’ with their brand of driving post-punk hued shoegaze. For this compilation they give up the brilliant ‘Soon’, a shimmering effervescent piece drenched in reverb and overlaid with stunning vocals, soaring lead lines and throbbing bass frequencies. Definitely a track to float away with and having heard their forthcoming debut album in full I can safely say that it will be on many a music reviewers end of year list for 2017.
The compilations penultimate piece comes from Seattle based experimental noise pop outfit ‘Charlatan’ entitled ‘Still Life’ and it’s lifted off their latest ten track release ‘Supermax’. ‘Still Life’ is brash, angry and atmospheric. It swerves into earshot gyrating wildly in a feedback laden ball of fuzz and sequenced percussion, collectively drenched in stunning reverb. It’s vocals scream anti-establishment with their punk rock leanings, riding a turbulent wave of fizzing electronics. Bloody good stuff if you ask me. The closing track on this mammoth collection comes from the ever reliable Philadelphia based ‘Stellarscope’. ‘This Is How It Ends’ is an exclusive track specifically supplied for this compilation. It screams into the ether in a raging cloud of dissonance and discord. Soaring guitars and pulsating drum patterns envelope the instantly recognisable vocalisations of Tom Lugo, Stellarscope’s now legendary guitarist/frontman thus closing out a very interesting compilation of artists.
RELEASE DATE: 1st March 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Gravy Train Recordings
Noisy Bristol based trio 'Jesuits' have just released a brand new six track EP entitled 'Cloudhead' via the UK based independent record label 'Gravy Train Recordings'. The band are made up of Arthur Jay - Vox/Guitar, Lily Cook - Bass & Miles Hastings - Drums and their sound is peppered with wide ranging influences such as post-punk, shoegaze, psych & no-wave. 'Cloudhead' is available to buy/download right now from jesuits.bandcamp.com
Cloudhead by Jesuits
In a turbulent cloud of repetitious feedback whipped by swirls of reverberation the delicious opening salvos of ‘Hardware Store’ swirl into the ether. This menacing reproach is quickly swept away by whirring winds of melody driven instrumentation, those instantly addictive vocalisations and the constant thrum of metronomic percussion. This track vibrates and throbs through layer after layer of stunning production, is peppered with noisy moments of screaming feedback and blissfully lurches from chord change to chord change without breaking sweat. A magnificent opening track indeed. Up next, Jesuits inject some swagger into proceedings as ‘Masturbation Clerk’ drives headlong into a raging whirlwind of explosive drum patterns, throbbing bass frequencies and noisy guitars that collectively circumnavigate those impressively melodious vocal lines. Lead lines whip and lick the entire piece to within an inch of its life before we’re led into the tracks final death throws.
‘Pescatori’ builds from the off, morphing monstrously into a gyrating repetitious behemoth filled with pulsating instrumentation and unrepentant reverberation whilst the EP’s title track ‘Cloudhead’ does exactly as it says on the tin and it’s droning (one minute thirty seven second) assault on the senses is well received. The EP’s penultimate piece is a seething ball of sonic energy. ‘Radio Bunnies’ bounces into the sonic ether pinned fast to a steadying drum pattern and cascading guitar progressions. It’s vocal lines are sublime and they ride a wave of overdriven noise that spirals deliciously through swathes of screaming lead guitar licks that are underscored by throbbing bass lines and layered production theatrics. The EP’s closes out surging through a tempestuous stream of explosive instrumentation that is reminiscent at times to early Creation Records era ‘Swervedriver’. ‘Hexx’ is deliriously malicious, it takes no fucking prisoners and is probably my favourite track on this entire release. It’s a marvellous end to a brilliantly executed EP.
Black Needle Noise is the new moniker under which famed and acclaimed underground producer John Fryer tweaks and creates. It’s a new kind of heightened ambient/experimental project that holds nothing back while traversing for adventure in the darkest realms of electronic and dream pop music. While it’s refreshing and original, one can’t help but hear the signature touch of the legendary producer in every corner of every track, as pounding drums mix with several bouts of 80’s sounding music. For those who don’t know of John Fryer, his retrospective production chronology reads like a trip through the alternative underground of the 80’s and 90’s; having produced or had some part in releases from a wide array of bands and artists from the post-punk era. And for those of you who do know him, you will recognize him and his signature sound as one half of 4AD legends This Mortal Coil, a band who are comfortably considered one of the most influential and acclaimed British alternative acts of the past century. Black Needle Noise borrows some of Mortal Coils gothic flavours, along with a heavy and deep electronic sound that adds a modern feel to each song. Fryer has been releasing singles from Black Needle Noise’s debut album one by one, which will eventually amount to a full album release; featuring a guest list of some of the most brilliant and talented musicians from across the world alternative music scene.
Swimming Through Dreams by Black Needle Noise with Mimi Page
‘Heaven’ is a warped, percussive and dark musical journey; guided through the depths of darkness by the thrum of a bass guitar and the heavy, sludge like weight of the backing drums. Throughout the song, Fryer introduces a plethora of brilliant production techniques; one of which is the way the instruments mix together to create what can only be described as an intriguingly confusing piece of music making. And although the experimental instrumentation and production sound like a giant stomping, Fryer adds a neat and tricky piece of This Mortal Coil's gothic edge to the song by featuring a dazzlingly swaying choir like string section deep at the back of the song. The vocal performance, by the ever-talented Jennie Vee, hits every note beautifully; crafting another dimension to the song in the fantastic context of contrast. Fryer followed ‘Heaven’ by releasing the much more ambient and electronic influenced ‘She Stands On A Storm’, which is a powerful electronic standard that features a synthpop/industrial chorus. In a similar vein to ‘Heaven’ it mixes this electronic instrumentation and programming with a myriad of sounds and noises that land somewhere between samples and FX heavy feedback loops and tricks; that walk around freely in the background of the song. Fryer again utilizes a fantastic vocalist to sing amidst the tenebrosity and darkly dispersed sounds of his musical structures; this time it is the harmonious pipes of Andrea Kerr, who comes across as more subdued to Vee, but in a way that does wonders for the song.
Perhaps the best lead single that Black Needle Noise has released is the atmospheric, soaring, dream pop/ethereal wave oscillating of ‘Swimming Through Dreams’, with a wondrous vocal track from Mimi Page, who presents the case for how voice can be used as an instrument just as a guitar may. It’s three minutes of Fryer layering choir synth upon choir synth upon string arrangements to create a song that sounds like the musical equivalent of glowing. But even though he does everything right in a production sense, it is Page’s hypnotic vocals that serves as the most interesting layer of them all. ‘Teeth to Grey’ is another symphonic piece of dark electronic pop music, this time with the added element of a trap-influenced drum machine program within the song. If one single showed how brilliant of a producer Fryer was, it would be this; where noises, instruments and sounds rattle around the song to create a confusing and engaging listening experience. Things are panned around, and then they’re not, and then other sounds seep in while your concentrating on another thing, all the while you hear the tiny micro-cogs of a greater machine churning out something memorable and heavily influenced by a darker form of 80’s ethereal wave pop. For ‘Teeth to Grey’ he calls upon the skill and talent of the vocalist from experimental/trip hop project Omniflux, whose voice is again greatly different in mood to those featured on other tracks. Vocals here are much more hushed and whispered, keeping in key with the intricate and net-like music. The much more dream pop influenced ‘Treasured Lies’ sees the combination of electro-pop and the soaring kind of shoegaze that’s made less with guitars than it is with walls of light and bright sounds. The vocal performance of Zialand is a good fit for the producers more experimental tendencies, which at the songs beginning takes the form of lo-fi feedback and frequencies.
These collective singles showcase the genius of Fryer’s production and song writing techniques, harking back to his older projects and musical explorations in the ‘good ol’ days’ of alternative music. If there is one thing that is definitely different from his earlier This Mortal Coil releases it is that every single released by Black Needle Noise sounds clean and polished, even when a cacophony of noise screeches and whizzes away in the background. Much like fellow producer Dean Garcia, the technological advancements in music production, mixing and recording seemed to have allowed Fryer to create a more fluid and smooth sound; all the while creating beats and dense gothic sounds that still hold their intent through the ‘fresh’ production style. Praise should be given to every vocalist who Fryer has enlisted for this project; each containing their own distinctive vocal styles that suit their chosen songs with an air of beauty and mystery. These Black Needle Noise songs showcase a producer at the top of his game, through his skills and talents in mixing, song writing and sound.
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
RELEASE DATE: 14th December 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Lavender Sweep Records
I am riding a wave of nostalgia – it’s 1994 day on 6 Music and impossible not to think back with fondness. So when I open the email from the esteemed editor and find that it’s a re-release of a lost EP from 1993, the timing could not be better. According to their Bandcamp page, Ozean formed in California in the early 90s after a flyer was handed out at a shoegaze show. They soon recorded their first demos on a Fostex Model 80, straight to tape. No unlimited takes in those days, and definitely no plug-ins! They made some cassette tapes, and split soon after.
Ozean by Ozean
Twenty-odd years on, those original recordings have been uncovered, and thanks to the wonder of the internet, Ozean’s dreaminess is making it out to a whole new audience. The timing is good – the shoegaze resurgence is well underway, with many of the genre’s big-hitters releasing new music this year. Ozean’s self-titled three track demo is a perfect parcel of the loveliness you’d expect of a band formed after a Ride and Lush gig. The fluttering guitars and wistful vocals transport the listener, overwhelmed and sentimental, back to those heady days. As well as their stated influences, I can hear The Sundays in Scenic. Fall floats like a feather, with flanged bass anchoring those big guitars. The closing track Porcelain drifts with no particular place to go. Ah, the possibilities.......
The EP was re-released via Lavender Sweep Records over in Wales on a limited edition c30 which has already sold out but you can get your hands on it digitally via the bands own bandcamp page: ozean.bandcamp.com
In her time, Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr has attended raves and rock clubs. She enjoys pedals, pizza and spy dramas. Sarah also plays guitar in Edinburgh-based noisemakers Wozniak and is co-founder of Morningside Young Team who put on gigs and put out records for discerning audiences who enjoy fuzz and confusion.
Carpal Tunnel by Laedj.
Melbourne's resident noise merchants 'Laedj.' have returned with a stunning brand new single entitled 'Carpal Tunnel', the follow up to their recently released debut single 'Pacific', both of which are taken from their forthcoming debut EP penned in for release over the coming months. The band include members of Melbourne based outfits such as 'Inventions, Yachtburner, Breve, Singing For Humans' & 'Hotel on Mayfair' and their sound is distinctly fuzzy with shimmering shoegaze connotations underscored at times by soaring psych/dream pop flair. 'Carpal Tunnel' is available to buy/download right now from laedj.bandcamp.com
'Carpal Tunnel' drives into the ether lashed tightly to a busy percussive attack and straddled by throbbing bass lines & hazy production. Its guitar progressions swirl and arc throughout the piece, whipping up a sonic frenzy, sending out layer after layer of delicious reverb that collectively circumnavigates those impressive vocalisations. If this is a prelude to the full release we're definitely in for something rather special.
ARTIST: Fawns Of Love
RELEASE: Who Cares About Tomorrow
RELEASE DATE: 3rd March 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Californian based husband and wife team of Jenny & Joseph Andreotti aka 'Fawns Of Love' have released a mesmerising debut eight track album in the guise of 'Who Cares About Tomorrow', a blissful thrill ride through layers of dreamy lo-fi shoegaze laden dream pop that on first listen harks back to genre pioneers such as Cocteau Twins & Slowdive but with the occasional nod to MBV & Jesus And Mary Chain. 'Who Cares About Tomorrow' is out now and is available to buy/download via fawnsoflove.bandcamp.com
Who Cares About Tomorrow by FAWNS OF LOVE
In a haze of blissful reverberation and swirling sonic frequencies ‘Silly Boy’ swoons into the ether held fast within a whirlwind of tremulous guitars and repetitive sequenced percussion. Add into the mix the dreamy vocalisations of Jenny Andreotti and what we have is a shimmering wall of translucent dream pop underscored by a flurry of shoegaze impressions, impressive instrumentation and some fantastic production. Up next, ‘Thats What We Do’ sparks my fascination with it’s cascading bass lines, layers of synth & soaring reverb drenched guitars. The metronomic thud of distant sequenced electronics keeps this listener focused as the whole piece acts like a sonic conduit for those effortless vocalisations.
‘His Face’ soars into earshot tumbling cyclonically in a whirring ball of shimmering reverb and subtle synth swells whilst ‘How We Live’ echoes Disintegration era Cure melded with a splattering of the fantastic Cocteau Twins. ‘Names Names Names’ tumbles into audible range tangled up in a turbulent wave of percussion before unfurling it’s sonic tendrils and unleashing a beautiful array of hazy synth swells, throbbing bass frequencies, repetitive percussion and soaring guitars that collectively circumnavigate those fragile vocals with ease. The arrival of sequenced electronics seems to breathe some new life into the piece but ultimately it’s the transfixing almost ethereal like vocalisations of Jenny Andreotti that steal the show.
Up next, ‘Miranda’ shimmers and gyrates as it floats into the ether coupled with blissful instrumentation, haunting vocalisations and those brilliantly executed lead guitar lines whilst the albums penultimate piece billows and spirals through swathes of dark atmosphere. ‘Girls’ hovers in an undulating cloud of electronic percussion, jangling guitars and subtle synth swells as it ripples layer after layer of stunning reverberation out into the ether, gently protecting those ethereal vocalisations with aplomb. ‘Girls’ is a marvellous track and probably my favourite on the entire album. ‘Who Cares About Tomorrow’ closes out with ‘Scattered Pieces’. A melancholic affair that tumbles through soaring synth swells, repetitive electronic percussion and resonating guitar progressions that collectively envelope another impressive vocal. It’s a fitting end to a rather interesting debut album.
ARTIST: Seventeen Years
RELEASE DATE: 14th February 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Spirit Goth Records
What do you get when you cross the ethos and contextual background and instrumentation of old school post-punk with a fresh, modern form of dream pop? Well it’s something like 2004 by Kansas based Seventeen Years, an EP that appears not in waves of noise or walls of sounds, but in a slight, dreamy way… With a tinge of punk thrown in for a wild flavour. At times the release can be so subtle that the vocals fade into the music; creating one big pool of sounds, thoughts and noises that form a song. 2004 is by no means a step forward in the genre; nor is it wildly different, it’s just a simple little EP… With a bit of this, and a bit of that. The album was released back on the 14th February 2017 via the ever prolific 'Spirit Goth Records' and you can buy/download it right now from spiritgothrecords.bandcamp.com
2004 by Seventeen Years
2004 opens with ‘Strain’ . It features a clean, crisp FX guitar sound and the churn of a tight bass guitar riff that sounds like it could have come straight out of a 1980’s coldwave/post-punk song. In a similar way, the drums smash away in a double tap snare mentality that accompanies the bass guitar smoothly; creating a tight, well performed and well produced rhythm section. However, of all the songs instrumental and production elements, it is the skilfully drowned out vocals that give the song a radiant, almost slowcore, dark mentality. After a few listens, one can really appreciate ‘Strain’ for what it is; and that is a dark, wallowing piece of contemplation. Where many dream pop artists turn to the bright, sparkling cliffs of blue oceans and shorelines for metaphors and onamattapea to create a warm feeling of nostalgia or hazy coloured contemplation, Seventeen Years turn the opposite direction and carve up something different altogether, while at the same time maintaining that aforementioned air of nostalgia or yearning. ‘Worthless’ begins with the same guitar picking as on ‘Strain’ and dives further into the musical style explored on the opening track. The vocals remain drowned; a major highlight of the song is a passage where the vocal performance and guitar interlock in a solo section where one tries to dampen out the other: brilliant. Although the greatest moment in the song is the fantastic guitar solo/outro in the second half of the song; speaking so many words without singing any of them.
‘VGS’ begins with a programmed beat before introducing guitar and then a few bright soundscape pieces of noise that link back into themes associated with rear-view mirror gazing. It may be the EP’s best song, fit with an obtuse kind of artificial sound in the drum machine that is contrasted with a heartfelt vocal and guitar performance, all the while underpinned by the bright sounds and samples that dance around in the mix. ‘Bury’ turns the mood into a lighter, brighter feeling. Credit to the fantastic riffs explored on the song that really highlight the bands skill and talent. A song that sounds different again is the follower ‘Moonhome’, which seems to see the music shining brighter while the lyrics going the opposite direction. There is further exploration made with the guitar, and a great sense of musical blending and textualizing with the bass and guitar sounds. Toward the second half of the song, the band enter into a dreamy, hazy, jam like section of music that sounds truly marvellous, underpinned by the upper fret pickings of a FX’d guitar. ‘Ascend’ begins with a warm wavering pad of soundscaped pop synth that progresses all the way through the song; eventually accompanied by percussive electronics and some buzzing and whizzing noises that sound like a computer being started up or something like that. ‘Ascend’, in context with the EP, is like some sort of outro or later album interlude; providing beautifully dreamy instrumental sounds.
Funnily enough, 2004 sounds like some sort of concept album when you think about it. It’s concept being the sound and instrumentation of the music; beginning in a dark and hushed way before slowly turning light as the EP goes on. Perhaps Seventeen Years meant to do this, maybe they did not, either way 2004 is a great piece of music that really makes use of the things it has. There isn’t eighty million synths all humming away in a cacophony of sound, there’s no ethereal samples or tricky sequencing; it’s just a band, a few tricks here and there and then some added sounds and noises that add to the whole thing and ties it together nicely. As mentioned before, the performances highlight what the undercurrent of dream pop practice really concerns… That is the belief that music can morph into imagery, and that imagery can be as emotive as the music itself. Seventeen Years accomplish that here, through mixing, performance, production and sounds.
Daybreak by Divisionists
Londoners 'Divisionists' have unleashed a brand new single entitled 'Dream Landscape' lifted from their forthcoming full length debut album 'Daybreak' penned in for release on March 17th 2017 via the London based Mount Watatic Records. This latest single comes hot on the heels of the brilliant 'Say You Can', the albums lead track which garnered serious support worldwide in both radio & press circles and it also follows on from the bands debut four track EP 'we play rock music ...' released back in 2011. With a sound that skips brilliantly through harmonic psych & power-pop, is sometimes underscored by patchy alternative rock rudiments and stops off for the occasional psych-folk singalong, 'Divisionsits' have a lot going on sonically.
The band are made up of Brendan Quinn – guitar/lead & backing vocals/piano/organ, Rob McGregor – drums/percussion, Mark Bennett – guitar/synths/backing vocals & Mike Whitaker – bass/piano/ backing vocals and the 'Daybreak' album will be available digitally from March 17th 2017 but is available to pre-order right now on on lovely 180 Gram orange vinyl which includes a full-colour folded insert with artwork and lyrics via divisionists.bandcamp.com
'Dream Landscape' swirls into the ether on resonating guitar frequencies that rise and fall blissfully through beautifully astute progressions laced in glorious reverberation. Cascading bass lines straddle steadying percussion as undulating lead licks whip and harass the entire piece into submission allowing those stunning vocalisations to hold court thus stirring up audible manifestations of those 60's psych-pop pioneers 'The Byrds, The Beatles, The Velvet Underground & Crazy Horse'. 'Dream Landscape' is a truly magnificent track and this in turn only bodes well for the full album release.
Dublin based swirling neo-psych/garage psych aficionados 'This Other Kingdom' have unleashed a stunning brand new video to accompany the lead track entitled 'COMATOSED' from their highly anticipated twelve track sophomore opus 'Rêveur' penned in for release on April 21st via the ever brilliant 'Wrong Way Records'. 'This Other Kingdom' are made up of Del Kerton - vocals/keys, Declan Dunne - guitar/vocals & Git Sweeney - drums and they are no strangers to this modern day psych scene having previously supported some serious international heavy hitters like 'Holy Wave, The Cult of Dom Keller, TAU, Radar Men from the Moon & Yuck'.
The full album is to be released on 21st April 2017 on translucent orange vinyl with purple splatter, CD and download via Wrong Way Records. You can pre-order the album right now from wrongwayrecords.bandcamp.com
A launch party in Dublin and Manchester accompanies the release, with a full tour scheduled for May 2017.