RELEASE: Courage Reels
RELEASE DATE: 21st April 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Morningside Young Team Records
Following on from a handful of well-executed, tight and impressively written EP’s and singles that explored a wide array of genres including traditional shoegaze and much louder feedback ridden noise rock, is the debut full length album 'Courage Reels' from Edinburgh based four piece Wozniak. It’s a heavy, noisy and progressive listen, and one on which the band decides to take full advantage of their instruments, creating several lengthy songs with two or three lines of vocals in it amid riff after riff of sonic noise and what sounds at times to be well-captured jam sessions. Many songs take on this structure; and through it 'Courage Reels' at times sounds anywhere from stoner/sludge metal, progressive rock, shoegaze, dream pop, alt-rock, then throw in a bit of alt-metal and a weird kind of krautrock for good measure and tie them all together in layers of noisy feedback and what you get are tall sprawling arrangements that make Wozniak sound like a ten piece. 'Courage Reels' gets it's full release on April 21st 2017 via 'Morningside Young Team Records' and it is available to pre-order right now in various formats from wozniak.bandcamp.com
Courage Reels by Wozniak
'Courage Reels' opens with the instrumental ‘Shader’ that morphs itself around a heavy stoner metal riff and the gentle tapping of the drums in the background. However, after this introductory riff, the band launch into what sounds more like a traditional shoegaze due to the tone of their guitars and the musical melding between the guitar and the drums. ‘Shader’ takes this form for almost the entire song; jumping from a stoner metal riff into more airy shoegaze passages, all the while masking a background of feedback that compliments the music immensely. Much slower and distant is the shoegaze track ‘Ghosting’ whose form takes the shape of ‘Shader’ in that it jumps from heavy fuzzing back to its mellow origins; coming off as less heavy than ‘Shader’ but more intricate. The slowed, winding parts of the song are soothingly beautiful, masking mood and sound over a distinct form of song writing. ‘Ghosting’ also happens to contain vocals; all five lines of them, so drowned out you can hardly hear them, which actually fits in well with the context of the song. ‘Super Panther’ ties both previous songs together and revisits the more shoegaze sides of the bands sound, implementing fuzz bass and a fantastic drum track over the top of the winding and shimmering guitars that play a demented kind of indie rock. This song also sounds strongly influenced by alt-rock, with its more linear structure and ‘traditional’ riff centred form of song writing on display.
Back in March 2017 the band released the first single from 'Courage Reels', and that single was ‘Perihelion’ which crops up as one of the best tracks on the entire release. It’s a beautiful, trance inducing mix of down-trodden guitar strumming that harkens back strongly to the classic shoegaze sound with swirls of a darker kind of dream pop. The vocal performance here is also fantastic and an album highlight, as well as the instrumentation and backing noise to which the song takes it cues and creations from. Although the song goes for several minutes, the band condense the vocal, quieter and more accessible section of the song to its beginning and then launch into a wild and commendable instrumental section that winds out the second half of the song strongly and passionately. In a similar way is ‘Scottish Dancer’ which blows past the eight minute mark in its form, which is distinctly reminiscent of cold shoegaze, to again show the bands strength in song writing. Scottish Dancer’s beginning, featuring another well produced vocal section, sounds better than ‘Perihelion’ in terms of every aspect of the song fitting swiftly together. Another amazing instrumental outro leads the songs second half, in which background feedback is used as a soundscape style to greatly enhance the songs sound. ‘Natsuko’ returns to a more conventional length and sounds more akin to post-punk than anything else the band touch on 'Courage Reels'. Although its beautiful and holds some impressive moments, I did wonder what its significance in context of the album was, and upon a second listen parts of it tended to sound more like an album filler than anything else.
‘Erebus’ is another true album highlight, perhaps due to fantastic contextual balancing by Wozniak in terms of the track listing on the album. After a few lengthy, heavy and layered songs, the band turns things back to the simple and the minimal, placing the listener’s perceptions upon simple guitar based strumming that goes further to highlight a mesmerizing undercurrent of dream pop-like guitar tones and textures in the mix. ‘Crush’ features the best drumming performance on the album, but unlike the few previous tracks avoids stronger shoegaze elements instead focusing upon a kind of alt-rock type sound, driven by a distant but interesting vocal performance. ‘Death Suit’ turns things back up to the lengthy heights of ‘Scottish Dancer’ and ‘Perihelion’ but with much less conviction. It starts strong, with a neat little guitar intro, but seeps into uneven sections of music that seem to be so far removed from the other that it becomes more of a slog than a listen. However, the six to eight minute section is absolutely masterful and deserves praise for being one of the greatest passages of music on the release.
I must fully admit that I’m a fan of Wozniak, whose style and experimentations in guitar-orientated music have shone through in a fantastic and interesting way through past releases. I especially love the song ‘El Maresme’ which is quite an old song from their fantastic EP Pikes Peak. I say all of this simply because 80% of the music on 'Courage Reels' is less like the bands previous studio EPs and singles; the engaging single 'Harker' remains firmly an alternative shoegaze/dream pop song, so does 'Auster' and its more guitar driven sound. For 'Courage Reels' to feature lengthy, heavy, more straight forward rock arrangements that you could almost always classify as alternative-rock, rather than the hazy dream pop or shoegaze-based musings of their previous efforts is somewhat of a challenge for the listener. I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, and we must all congratulate and encourage bands to transform, progress stylistically and traverse new terrain over song writing and performance, but I wonder if 'Courage Reels' is in fact the right kind of progression. It is a fantastic album (as noted by the rating) but ultimately it sounds like a band who are carrying only fragments of their previous skin after shredding it. Personally, as a fan and a listener, I would have loved to have heard more vocals on this instrumentally generous album. Also for some out there, a cover to cover listen would be just too much; the songs are lengthy affairs, the transitions within the songs are at times slightly awkward and the piling of lengthy songs after lengthy songs makes the album feel longer than it is. All of this probably sounds like mad criticism, but that could not be further from the truth. In fact, for all of the criticisms of the music I have, there is equal acclaim and admiration for 'Courage Reels'. It is exquisitely well produced and mixed, and the band shines through on every track to display a commitment and a wild sincerity to the well written songs featured on it. These elements amount to a well rounded and impressive album, bundled up fluently in commitment and sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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 Baeble Music and Culture (USA), Sounds and Colours Magazine (Latin America, London), Easterndaze (Latvia) and the Australian based heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
by Primal Music
ARTIST: The Age Of Coloured Lizards
RELEASE: Another Day
RELEASE DATE: March 29th 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Sotron Records
Norwegian based psychedelic explorers 'The Age Of Coloured Lizards' have released their highly anticipated four track debut EP 'Another Day' via the lovely folks over at Sotron Records. With a sound that permeates a multiple of different layers in the music genre spectrum, taking in dreamy shoegaze, psych, noise rock & fuzzy alt-rock 'The Age Of Coloured Lizards' do not disappoint. 'Another Day' is available to buy/download right now from theageofcoloredlizards.bandcamp.com
Another Day by The Age of Colored Lizards
The EP opens up held fast in a sparse but repetitive percussive arrangement and an angry guitar strum. Sublime vocalisations accompany the instrumentation as ‘Why’ swirls in a complacent kind of ‘JAMC’ hue that’s underscored at times with dreamy lines of interlacing lead guitar. Up next ‘In The Morning’ sways and moves through fuzzy layers of shimmering reverberation and melodious guitar progressions that cut a deft wedge through proceedings thus allowing that delectable vocal performance to shine through. It rises and falls through captivating guitar hooks and impressive production that collectively instil a brilliant melancholic feeling of lost loves & memories of misspent youth. Utterly addictive.
The EP's lead single ‘Pale White Sun’ swirls into the ether on a deliciously hazy psych-pop vibe reminiscent of those early sonic pioneers ‘The Birds’. It’s evident from the outset that these guys are well versed in music production as they inject fuzz and reverberation into the mix circumnavigating those impressive vocalisations with ease as they tip toe along a steady bedrock of impressive production. The EP closes out in a kinda infectious 1990’s 'Creation Records' swagger. ‘Stars Are Falling’ has definite early ‘Teenage Fanclub’ leanings as it noisily rumbles through layers of melodious fuzz topped with lazy percussive patterns, pop like instrumental progressions and another impressive vocal performance. Its lead lines loop and arc through layers of infectious reverb, skipping along the tips of those fuzzy frequencies with ease and help to close out what is a rather impressive EP.
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.
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Eulogies is a beautiful offering from Kolibrí, an artist who started out in Limerick, is Berlin bound but currently operates in Brighton. The name means 'hummingbird' and like its namesake, there is lots of energy and a clear taste for sweetness throughout this EP.
Eulogies E.P. by Kolibrí
The luscious textures of the three tracks give the record a aural cohesion, a tasty thread of red liquorice that ties the whole bundle together. Dream Theatre simmers sumptuously with waves and washes of wonderful sound. The vocal teeters on the right side of sadness. Eulogies soars high, with crackles and sparks flying and a chorus the size of the sky. The closing track Headcase opens in a rush of rumbles and powers along, its swirl of sounds ever-expanding. Delicious.
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.
ARTIST: Highest Sea
RELEASE: Haunted Hearts
RELEASE DATE: February 24th 2017
RECORD COMPANY: SPÄTI PALACE
Even though post-punk music is the sort of genre that’s been rinsed and re-used over and over again, there is some kind of sentimental breeze that blows through when you trip over something that’s in some way original or kind of whimsically nostalgic. In this case, one could trip over 'Haunted Hearts' by German based band Highest Sea, an EP that is not so much a step in a different direction, but rather a mediation on previous footprints. Said previous footsteps divulge in all things classically post/punk, the guitar driven stirring of alternative rock and the churning hum of dream pop; mixed together to create a kind of low-key form of shoegaze.
SP013 HIGHEST SEA - Haunted Hearts by SPÄTI PALACE
The EP opens with ‘Wait For The Night’ which hinges on alternative rock based guitar playing and slow, heavy drumming to create an atmosphere akin to less-intricate, muddled shoegaze music. The song is simple and straight-forward, slow and at times slightly dragging in its structural forms. By this I mean that you could think I’m not expressive of all the songs details, but honestly it is literally just as I describe it. Its slow, riff based alt-rock that spikes into the songs second half into a heavy thrashing kind of musical passage. ‘Hawaii’ is a more intricate, dense song, built this time around a post-punk rhythm section and a dream pop sounding guitar. The vocals stay wholly visible in the mix as the song rolls along with the double tap of a snare; the musical texturing displays a neat kind of laid-back sound to the song. The best song on the EP is by far ‘La Bellea Soledad’ which converges the vocals and the instrumentation into a truly beautiful moment of capture. The song is less direct than others and it gives an opportunity for all involved to shine thoroughly in the perspective of the listener. At its core though, the song still holds stylistic elements of dream pop heavily within itself, which can be heard most predominantly in the songs stop-start second half. All in all, a beautiful track. ‘Black Poison’ is the most open, the most presented the band gets on the entire EP. Its sound is based around an atmospheric vocal performance and a kind of musical side that borders on lo-fi, these two elements bounce off one another to create a memorably slower track whose second half and acoustic section does nothing but highlight the talents of the musicians involved.
While there is obviously moments of true intrigue and intelligence on 'Haunted Hearts' the whole thing comes off as, well, kind of ‘slight’. What I mean by this is that the structural elements of the songs show clearly and definitively, not that that’s a problem, its just that these structural elements are quite in-offensively linear and at times generic. But that’s not to say the band don’t have strengths, and that’s also not to say that these strengths aren’t on obvious display throughout the course of the EP. The lyrics remain fresh and engaging, the performances on the most part are strong and the depth of their song writing ability is shown fully on sections of every song. Its exploration is light, but its worth, its musicality and its roots prove rewarding, especially through production and sound.
Surfacing To Breathe by CLUSTERSUN
Catania based four piece 'Clustersun' are no strangers to this underground shoegaze scene having previously wowed the underground faithful with their debut album 'Out Of your Ego' back in April 2014. Since then Italogaze has seen it's stock rise considerably with numerous musical outfits & collectives emerging from its darker corners to try and emulate the previous successes that 'Clustersun' had notched up both here in Europe and over in the good old U.S of A with some very good results and some shockingly unmentionable attempts. The band have announced (that much maligned & very very scary) sophomore album and it is penned in for release on May 19th 2017 via the ever reliable Italian based Seahorse Recordings with a lead single entitled 'Raw Nerve' dropping on April 14th 2017. They've named the aforementioned album 'Surfacing To Breathe' and it is now available to pre-order on various formats via clustersun.bandcamp.com
'Raw Nerve' sits on a very precarious experimental curve with the band stepping out of their comfort zone to inject elements of modern day psych into their usual watered down electro-gaze firmament. It has a kraut like percussive swagger that lends itself brilliantly to that post-punk styled throbbing bass progression and it's angry guitar lines bob and weave menacingly through layers of senses pummelling reverberation. The heavily effected vocal lines dangerously lean (sort of like an over weight scales) atop of the instrumentation with an air of expectation that they might just fall off the sonic precipice at any moment; but that only adds to the overall atmosphere of this track. 'Raw Nerve' is a welcome & surprisingly experimental return from a band who have been out of the scene for far too long and this in turn only bodes well for the full album release.