ARTIST: Wild Meadows
RELEASE: Wild Meadows
RELEASE DATE: 2nd March 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Wild Meadows are a Melbourne-based shoegaze/garage/alt-rock outfit whose self-titled eight track debut album sounds like a mix between 90’s neo-psychedlica in the vein of bands like Ride, and something a bit heavier and rock based, more in the taste of post-2000s alt-rock. Over the course of the album, the neat vocals of singer Jessica Lawrence sometimes soar, sometimes drown, over the tight rhythm section, guitar riffage and cloudy yet atmospheric synth lines… A worthy listen. The band are made up of Jessica Lawrence - vocals, James Ross - guitar/vocals/synth, Dylan Bird - guitar, Donovan Pill - bass & Simon Gemmill - drums/percussion. 'Wild Meadows' was officially released on March 2nd 2018 and is available to buy/download on various formats right now via wildmeadows.bandcamp.com
Wild Meadows album by Wild Meadows
Despite what it goes on to achieve, 'Wild Meadows' actually opens with the albums worst and most cliched track ‘First Exit’. The bass and drum performances are admirable, and the vocals are certainly in a suitable place, but altogether the song reaches no great convincing heights of either originality or enjoyment; it comes off sounding slightly ‘by the books’ alt-rock. Nevertheless, after the subjective false start, ‘Feel the Noise’ is one of the albums best tracks: a great blend between the softness of Lawrence’s vocals and the fantastic instrumentation which evokes the aforementioned 90’s neo-psych/shoegaze mix. The guitar tones and intricate bass performance join together to create a truly memorable and catchy chorus; the culmination of the track comes around the two-minute mark, where after a great bass riff, the band break into a free form instrumental passage: leading into the music atmospherically soaring. The follower, less dense ‘These Days’ is just as brilliant: it's strummed background guitar and steady drum pattern are good backups to the vocals, which this time are much clearer. Thanks to this very fact, the lyrics are more audible and could be judged as some of the best on the album. Altogether the song carries over the careful creation of an almost alt-pop sound that was heard on ‘Feel the Noise’, with catchy instrumentation and soothingly tended to production.
‘Fever’, with its backing vocals and rolling drums is a good example of how a band such as Wild Meadows can turn things slightly anthemic. The band again present a tight performance, with special note going to the drums, which at several points in the song descend into drill like fills as the rest of the band continue to craft a background soundscape that tends more to the alt-rock side of things. ‘Stay for a While’ is a post-punk sounding entry on the album, the hi-hat tap combines with the bass to create something 80’s inspired sounding. Later, the fantastic guitar tones and the hum of what sounds like a synth adds an almost dream-pop to the mix, resulting in one of the albums most simple yet most totally enjoyable tracks. The follower ‘Evergreen’ reiterates this form of simplicity and playfulness: ‘Evergreen’ features a great acoustic strumming pattern in the background. Notably, also, the song features male lead vocals, which adds a whole other dimension to the bands sound. The laid-back shoegaze/dream-pop undertones of the second half of the song are truly pleasant pieces of music.
‘Sunshine’ is a continuation of the laid-back alt-rock sound that band seeps into on the second half of Wild Meadows, featuring a more introspective instrumental backing. The vocals hazily sing of catching trains and the entire mood of song is heightened on the songs chorus where the players seem to crescendo into a more powerful and denser layering of their various instrumental compositions to the track. Somehow the bands save one of their greatest treasures for the second half of the release in the form of ‘Uzi’ which combines neo-psych with the tender and approachable sound of alternative rock. The vocals brilliantly hush down at the end of the lines meld with the brilliant guitar playing and a tight yet bright rhythm section… A worthy listen indeed.
Wild Meadows don’t do anything particularly original if we are looking at the scope of modern music: they’ve used a blueprint that was forged somewhere in the late 80’s, honed through the 90’s and established as a style in itself in the 2000s. But the way they use this blue print is of particular note. Things start dense, heavy, somewhat less lighter, and transition sonically into a comforting, laid back rock adventure, meaning that after you’ve listened to it all, it feels like the band have actually ventured somewhere. The production is very good, as is the mixing which balances the denser instrumentation brilliantly. Look, you’d better go listen to it yourself, that way you don’t have to read about it; you can actually enjoy the textures, the performances, the 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: Amusement Parks On Fire
RELEASE: All The New Ends
RELEASE DATE: 13th April 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Saint Marie Records
Last year (2017) seminal UK-based noise merchants 'Amusement Parks On Fire' unleashed a brand new two-track 7' single entitled 'Our Goal To Realise', their first sonic outing in over eight years. With a wide ranging and sometimes experimental sonic palate, way over fourteen years of experience and incredible song writing abilities the band stabled themselves with the good folks over at 'Saint Marie Records' and 'Our Goal To Realise' was officially released. Now the band have returned with 'All The New Ends', a captivating three track release filled with the same yearning soundscapes that swirled within 'Our Goal To Realise', soundscapes that skip nonchalantly through accomplished layers of experimental alternative sounds such as shoegaze, psych, dreampop, indie & art-rock. 'All The New Ends' get's it's official release on April 13th 2018 and is available to pre-order right now on various formats via saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com
'Amusement Parks On Fire' are pencilled in to tour Europe throughout April with details available via twitter.com/APOF
In a haze of reverberation and the rumble of distorted guitars the opening bars of ‘All The New Ends’ resonates on top of repetitive drum patterns and the hum of deep bass frequencies. Catchy chord structures pull intricate lines of lead guitar and 90’s sounding vocalisations into the mix melding shoegaze, melodic alt-rock and swirling noise into one massive sonic conglomerate. Up next, the instrumentally attuned ‘Temporal Rinse’ musters up it’s inner MBV as turbulent instrumental drones whip up a frenzy of noise permeated by twinkling tones steeped in brilliant production techniques. Intensely melodic frequencies sporadically bubble to the surface, looping and arcing throughout the sonic ether, creating magical sonic permutations that pulse with each passing circumference, intertwining at times with swells of feedback and the deafening roar of reverberation. ‘Temporal Rinse’ is a triumph and a highlight for me on this entire release.
The EP closes out with the immense twelve minute behemoth ‘Infernal Flame’. Noisy guitars accompany stunning vocal lines out into the ether as melodic chord structures echo through layers of addictive reverberation. A pounding percussive assault pulses from far below the mix before rising and erupting into an all out sonic assault on the senses as those throbbing bass lines follow tremulous instrumental progressions, carefully hugging those explosive drum patterns and soaring lead lines as they tumble throughout the piece. It’s a marvellous ending to another impressive release from ‘Amusement Parks On Fire’.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last five years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk & 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 genres 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.
ARTIST: Alien Lizard
RELEASE: Pure Kafka
RELEASE DATE: 23rd February 2018
Gdansk-based psychedelic explorers 'Alien Lizard' create no-nonsense psychedelic incantations filled to the brim with squally lysergic tinged reverberations, fizzing electronics and droning instrumentation all teetering brilliantly on top of shaking percussion and deep penetrative bass progressions. Their immense debut album entitled 'Pure Kafka' was officially released back on February 23rd 2018 and is available to buy/download right now via alienlizard.bandcamp.com
Pure Kafka by Alien Lizard
Menacing vocal samples courtesy of the legendary Charles Bukowski underpinned with swirling reverberations announces the arrival of ‘Swan’, the albums opening track. It’s sonic tendrils instantly reach out and pull a bedrock of repetitive percussion, the throb of deep bass frequencies and jangling strums of guitar into the mix allowing them to merge and dance as one huge pulsating organism until we’re greeted by those haunting vocalisations. ‘Alien Lizard’ lead their listeners patiently through deeply addictive verse passages that undulate hypnotically through melodious layers of music before throwing them headlong into those beautifully hellish sonic breaks filled with turbulent instrumentation and mind blowing production. As opening tracks go this is bloody mesmerising. Up next, the eastern tinged neo-psych sounds of ‘Pure Kafka’ waft their way into the musical ether. Twinkling tambourine melds with the rumble of drums as synth swells swirl effortlessly within cascading bass frequencies and those soaring guitar progressions envelope another impressive vocal performance. This track bounces along brilliantly, and it shimmers in amongst the resonating lo-fi hued production and the attractive pull of reverb.
‘A Brave New Ad’ is a repetitious beast with slow moving percussion that crawls across a lysergic tinged sonic wasteland filled with sequenced electronics, glitchy feedback and those ever constant reverberating vocalisations. This track is like an atmospheric dream sequence lifted from some weird 1970’s sci-fi movie soundtrack that’s been overdubbed by Aldous Huxley. A twisted ‘War of the Worlds’ drenched in acid blotched hallucinogenic’s. Mesmerising stuff. Up next, ‘Parallel Parks’ swirls into earshot trapped in a cloud of jangling acoustic vibes propped up by swirling clouds of synth and sporadic percussion. Brilliantly executed vocal lines simmer and float atop layers of reverberation giving off an almost 60’s psych-pop hue as we bob and weave in and out of very modern sounding atmospheric electronics. This track works really well. It’s gloriously stripped back and a welcome refrain from the previous (although brilliant) ‘Art-Psych’ leaning compositions. ‘Heaven Takes The Moon’ delightfully simmers in a heady sonic brew of melodically hypnotic instrumentation, steeped generously in glorious reverberation. Wispy vocalisations meander and move in and out of cascading bass progressions and the repetitive pull of tambourine as subtle swells of synth merge effortlessly with swirling drones and beautifully effervescent sound-waves to create something magical.
‘Forest Hunter’ is steeped in 60’s psychedelia. It’s pounding drum track marches repetitiously in metronomic time as a repetitive bass progression meanders and intertwines with the pull of guitar and that smoky vocal line. Sullen swells of synth bubble up from below the mix leading us into that hallucinogenic break before we’re pulled back out and guided back into the track as it quickly builds into a resonating sonic behemoth and tumbles into it’s finale whilst up next, ‘Welcome To Duat’ rattles on a sequenced breakbeat as it’s soaring feedback laden guitars rage just under the mix and that hypnotic bass line circumnavigates the entire piece like wild animal on the hunt. Again we’re lured into another magical lysergic-tinged break, filled to the brim with sparse percussion and electronic themed 70’s sci-fi soundtrack chic and then it’s on into that brilliant ear shattering, krautrock leaning middle section before expertly finishing up comfortably, somewhere in between neo-psych and eastern esoteric psych. ‘Welcome To Duat’ is a total sonic trip.
The albums penultimate piece buzzes into orbit sounding more like an Australian wind instrument than a vocal sample. ‘Another Camel For Camus’ is steeped in hypnotic neo-psychedelia. It’s meandering bass line is infectious and mixed with rolling percussion and the pull of wah-wah fuelled guitar is deeply spiritual ....... up to a point! It’s then that all hell breaks loose and we’re fired skywards into heady atmospheric prog-leaning fog. The drum track rocks slowly on it’s axis, building in tempo with each repetitive swirl as swells of menacing guitar pulse through layer after layer of reverb and the constant thrum of bass resonates throughout. This track builds momentum and levels of noise every couple of seconds as the addition of synth and distortion is almost to much to bear. And just when you think that it’s time to skip to the next track we’re brought back down to earth with a bang and cushioned in a blanket of shimmering sound-waves. ‘Another Camel For Camus’ is a white knuckle sonic thrill ride of epic proportions and a definite highlight for me on this entire release.
The album closes out with ‘Goodbye to the Holy Mountain’. Cymbals crash and instrumental drones bellow as we undulate hypnotically into slow moving percussion and haunting lines of hushed vocal, interspersed with heady reverberations, subtle swells of synth and luscious bass frequencies. Lead lines of guitar whip and cajole the piece to within an inch of it’s life as we gently sway in time with the percussive swagger of the piece and we’re led into it’s gloriously infectious finale. It’s a mind blowing ending to a thoroughly enjoyable album.
Liars by Belle Mare
Blissful dream-pop expertly infused with flourishes of alternative rock and subtle psychedelic incantations are the order of the day with the brand new single 'Liars' from Brooklyn-based duo 'Belle Mare'. This latest track is lifted from their soon to be announced and highly anticipated sophomore release, a follow up to their brilliant 2016 released debut long-player 'Heaven Forget'. 'Belle Mare' is a collaboration between songwriters Amelia Bushell and Thomas Servidone. 'Liars' had it's official release back on March 9th 2018 and is available to buy/download right now via bellemare.bandcamp.com
'Liars' swoons into then ether swirling effortlessly on a vocal line tethered to jangling progressions of guitar and blissful acoustic frequencies. Brilliant hooks, classy chord sequences and subtle highlights of lead guitar, steady percussion, humming bass and swells of synth add instrumental highlights to that mesmerising vocal courtesy of Amelia Bushell and collectively help to drive this track into it's psychedelically charged finale.
RELEASE DATE: March 1st 2018
Hailing from Yekaterinburg, Russia 'SAAT' are a female fronted shoegaze quartet with intricate post-punk & slowcore leanings and an alternative sonic attitude. Their debut self-titled two track EP was self released back on the 1st March 2018. The band are made up of Sasha - vox/guitar, Stepa - bass/scream, Dima - drums & Pasha - guitar feedbacks and their debut releases is available to buy/download right now via saatxband.bandcamp.com
SAAT by SAAT
The EP opens up with 'Raindrops', a fluttering sonic web of busy percussion, throbbing bass, intricate lead lines and jangling guitars echo through layers of luscious reverberation as stunning vocalisations swirl and ebb through every single chord structure. This track builds like a steam train, adding distortion and sporadic duel vocal lines to the mix before tumbling into it's noisy & resonating finale. Reminiscent at times to Australian-based noise merchants 'Hideous Towns', 'Raindrops' is a magnificent opening salvo indeed.
'Falling' opens with a military styled percussive pattern and the progressive pull of a guitar progression as instrumental feedback swells from deep below to cushion the slow moving tempo. 'SAAT' deploy their alt-rock leanings here as the slow chug of distorted guitars keeps pace allowing those soaring vocal lines to pulse through layers of reverb. A quick change of tempo and we explode into an atmospherically charged finale with thundering drums, throbbing bass lines and raging lines of guitar dipping more into noise-rock than punk. It's a noisy ending to a very interesting debut release.
ARTIST: Melody Fields
RELEASE: Melody Fields
RELEASE DATE: February 26th 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Kommun 2/Soundeffect Records/Beluga Records
Hailing from Gothenburg on Sweden's west coast and armed with a sound that resonates effortlessly through lysergic tinged waves of 60's Californian psychedelics, psych-pop and the poppier side of shoegaze, 'Melody Fields' are a breath of fresh air in the overly-populated melting pot that is the modern underground psych world. With three part harmonies, jangling guitars, deeply spiritual song structures and an ounce of respect for the pioneering forefathers of the sound, 'Melody Fields' have unleashed a self-titled album filled to the brim with precise instrumentation, intense melody and sweet sonic delight. The music was recorded at Studio Parkeringshuset where Hills, GOAT and The Movements have made their albums and the band are made up of David Henriksson, Ramo Spatalovic, Thomas Widholm, Henrik Bäckström & Sebastian Jannesson with guest musicians on this release courtesy of The Holy Wave’s - Dustin Zozaya on mellotron and Nils Börén on saxophone. 'Melody Fields' was released back on February 26th 2018 and is available to buy/download right now on various formats via melodyfields.bandcamp.com
Melody Fields by Melody Fields
Tumbling blissfully within a swirling instrumental drone, 'Morning Sun' pulls rumbling drum patterns and repetitive bass frequencies out into the sonic ether accompanied by meandering guitar progressions and addictive hook laden lead lines. Magnificent vocalisations intertwine with layers of resonating reverberations as hypnotic lines of saxophone jockey and vie for space in amongst the glorious melee. 'Morning Sun' is an instantaneous kaleidoscope of sonic hallucinogenics and an immense opening salvo indeed. Up next, 'Liberty' bounds into audible range bouncing brilliantly on a deep permeating bass progression and the jangle of intricate guitars. Again, those absolutely lovely vocal lines captivate this listener as they weave and bob through layers of reverb and repetitive hits of tambourine. There are beautiful chord changes here, luscious percussive skips, cascading bass signatures and soaring lines of lead guitar that meld effortlessly with their surroundings, collectively painting a lysergic themed picture as we traverse these stunning soundscapes. 'Run' injects a heavier gear into proceedings as roaring lead guitars ride steadying drum patterns and subtle acoustic frequencies before dimming down to allow those vocal lines to flow though their verse parts with ease. There are brilliant chord changes dotted here and there permeated at times by lead guitar and deep booming bass progressions that keep everything moving as we fall in and out of spacious instrumental breaks and swirling reverberations and dive headlong into a mesmerising sonic assault filled with soaring progressions of lead guitar. 'Run' is captivating and a definite highlight for me on the entire release.
'Rain Man' is steeped in 60's neo-psychedelia. Woozy, resonating guitars meld with jangling instrumentation before the pull of addictive bass and a busy percussive attack completely envelopes a stunning vocal track. Swooning reverberation and sticky delay add atmosphere but the star of the show is that brilliantly executed and deeply melodious vocal. 'Rain Man' is very catchy, filled with brilliant instrumental structures and another highlight for me. Up next, 'Fire' jangles on an acoustic guitar as closely orbiting progressions of lead, hypnotic shakes of tambourine and intense walls of melody evoke those sonic pioneers of old. There's an air of positive accomplishment here swimming in-amongst the layers of brilliant instrumentation and expert production that is very hard to shake off and those harmonious vocals are an absolute triumph. 'Trädgränsen', The albums penultimate piece, meanders into earshot trembling slightly on a shaky guitar progression lightly washed in luscious reverb. Twinkling percussive hits ripple just below the mix adding an expectant kind of atmosphere to proceedings as sporadic pulls of bass and swirling reverberations arrive dragging a light rumble of tom tom drums with them into the slowly building sonic behemoth. It's vocal harmonies arrive, floating blissfully on the collective instrumentation and pulsing through layers of reverb with relative ease. 'Trädgränsen' is all consuming, it ebbs and it flows, it falls into deep cavernous lakes of reverb and soars skywards when required and it's a monumental triumph. It's my favourite track on this entire release.
The album closes out with 'Morning Sun (revisited)'. From it's opening salvos we instantaneously fall into a glorious melding of eastern themed esoteric psych and flourishes of psych-folk that swirl and flow through hazy hallucinogenic clouds of reverb and intoxicating percussive patterns with ease. It's brilliantly executed vocal lines are sublime and they're carefully buffered by brilliant song structures and intense production. It's a fitting ending to what is one of my favourite releases of this year.
ARTIST: The Altered Hours
RELEASE: On My Tongue
RELEASE DATE: 9th March 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Art for Blind/Penske Recordings
After a year's worth of touring in support of their stunning debut album 'In Heat Not Sorry', Irish-based noise merchants 'The Altered Hours' decamped to Dublin's Bow Lane Studios to record their highly anticipated brand new four track EP entitled 'On My Tongue' . With a sound that typically tumbles through swathes of experimental psych, swirling fuzz and is at times peppered with layers of noisy shoegaze, the band decided to take a slight sojourn on this latest release by swerving into the noisier side of rock & roll thus giving us a little glimpse of what's to come on their forthcoming full length sophomore release. 'On My Tongue' was officially released on March 9th 2018 via Art For The Blind Records/Penske Recordings and is available to buy/download right now on various formats from thealteredhours.bandcamp.com
On My Tongue by The Altered Hours
A fuzzy guitar progression generously harassed by menacing feedback, fret noise and jittering reverberation announces the arrival 'On My Tongue', the EP's opening salvo. It's rumbling percussion arrives from deep below the mix, building meticulously as it pulls a skittish beat and that repetitive bass signature with it into audible range to carefully circumnavigate an impressive opening vocal line. This track explodes into a cacophony of angry noise and it's filled to the brim with a repetitive injection of fuzz, pounding drums, throbbing bass lines and that addictive pulse of feedback laden guitars. Up next, 'Open Wide' shuffles into earshot swirling brilliantly through heady layers of moody atmospherics and sticky reverberation as the slow tempo of drums undulate and move like a well oiled pendulum allowing the hum of that luscious bass progression and the accompanying repetitive guitar line wash over the listener completely. Sporadic lines of lead guitar meander in and out of the mix as another impressive vocal performance hovers in close proximity, shadowed at times by haunting lines of backing vocals and those turbulent swells of resonating instrumentation.
'Over The Void', the EP's penultimate piece, drives a noisy wedge into the sonic ether as a rumbling percussive assault attacks the senses allowing those melodic vocalisations to swirl and meld with angry guitars and the pulse of sullen bass frequencies. This track is triumph, a bloody masterpiece and a definite highlight for me on the entire release. The EP closes out spiralling into the ether stuck fast to a repetitive beat and the glistening sound of tambourine, jangling stabs of guitar and acoustic frequencies. 'Hey No Way' is thoroughly addictive and is interspersed at times with passages of experimental psych, neo-psych and fuzzed out rock and roll. Brilliantly executed vocal lines ride turbulent layers of instrumentation that collectively soar into the ether, increasing in tempo with each cyclonic circumference, before plateauing into a huge sonic behemoth and nose diving into it's sullen finale. It's a huge ending to a marvellous EP.
'The Altered Hours' have twisted and reshaped their normal sonic attack into something altogether new and mesmerising with 'On My Tongue'. It has subtle highlights of post-punk, psych, neo-psych, shoegaze and riotous rock & roll all bundled up into one almighty white knuckle sonic thrill ride.
ARTIST: Lost Echoes
RELEASE: No Tomorrow
RELEASE DATE: March 5th 2018
Portland based space-gazers 'Lost Echoes' self-released their debut three track EP entitled 'No Tomorrow' to the masses back on March 5th 2018. Their collective sound swims in a heady sonic brew filled with driving reverb laden instrumentation overlaid with a deeply atmospheric hue. The band are made up of David Gross - guitar/vocals/production, Joel Cox - bass, Marcus Knauer - drums/production & Michael Lynch - guitar with the three track EP available to buy/download right now via lostechoes.bandcamp.com/album/no-tomorrow
No Tomorrow by Lost Echoes
The EP's title track growls into life driving comfortably on a steady percussive pattern and a woozy bass line as feedback laden atmospherics squeal and dance just below the mix. 'No Tomorrow' pulls vocal lines into the mix completely enveloped in resonating guitars and lashings of hypnotic reverberation as brilliantly executed guitar progressions lead us into a wonderful chorus break before we dive headlong into passages of billowing distortion. Up next, 'So Tired' ambles into audible range rocking slowly on a metronomic tempo as swells of guitar and booming bass frequencies step into luscious lines of jangling guitar and beautiful entrancing reverberation. This track swoons as the beat picks up tip tapping through time signatures at will allowing the ear to fall onto those shimmering guitars. as instrumental pieces go, 'So Tired' is a triumph and worthy of your ears.
The EP closes out with a Marcus Knauer Redux of the title track 'No Tomorrow'. It does exactly as it says on the tin and fans of these kind of remixes will enjoy the finished article. All in all 'No Tomorrow' is a very interesting EP indeed filled with brilliantly executed song writing and deft instrumentation making 'Lost Echoes' ones to watch throughout 2018.
ARTIST: Close Encounter
RELEASE: Lost Time
RECORD COMPANY: Look Up Records
Bit of emotive jangle-pop, a bit of synth laced melody and a dash of reverb soaked guitar is an accurate summary of 'Lost Time' by Seattle-based 'Close Encounter', a neat and playful album that bounces between sun-soaked dream-pop and darker, thought provoking shoegaze with hints of unruly psych bubbling beneath the mix. Their previous release, an EP entitled 'First Light', was successfully reviewed by Primal Music, exploring similar territory that is traversed here, on 'Lost Time'. The band are made up of Bill Darksoft, Bobby Sydney & Cameron Lambert and the album had it's official release back on the 9th March 2018. You can buy/download it in full right now via closeencounterband.bandcamp.com
Lost Time by Close Encounter
The album opens with the title track, a neatly packaged introduction to the album and its core sounds: laid back guitar riffs, loose instrumentation and the soaring yet slightly filtered vocals. ‘Never By My Side’ repeats this in a similar fashion but in a more spectacular way: its one of the albums top tracks: things are slowed down and a more dense production is added to the mix, including synth. The sound of the song is that of tightly and well thought out jangle-pop, a genre that of late seems to be getting done over and over again. ‘New Era’ is also a fantastic song, but the mood seems a tad more downtrodden. The riffs are again both enjoyable and thought provoking, the drums keep the pace nicely, the bass and guitar meld together neatly, and the keyboard adds a beautiful background layering. ‘Dark Times’ continues this synth-pop sound, with a catchy sequenced-bass based chorus and one of the nicest vocal productions on the album.
‘Wonder Why’ aims for more of an alt-rock or post-punk feeling, and achieves it; especially with its guitar tone and drum beat. This switch up offers a nice break from the previous songs that have all retained a similar sound but still maintains the main elements of the band production and mixing wise. ‘Indefinite Hours’ returns to the laid back jangle-pop of previous songs, this time, however, things are mixed together so well that the band somehow manage to make it one of the albums best songs. ‘Thinking of You’ hints at the laziest set of lyrics on the album, and musically nothing much new is really going on since the previous tracks. And that’s the thing, from here on in, with a few exceptions, things begin to sound very very similar: some songs sound like previous tracks with different tempos or effects. This very fact makes the second half of the album feel like more of a slog than a laid back , enjoyable listen. ‘How Long?’ is perhaps the highlight of the second half: the keyboard lead chorus is catchy and enjoyable and the instrumentation and production make the whole thing even more interesting. ‘Cold Call’ begins interestingly, and credit should certainly be given to the drum track and detuned guitars, but overall, after a while, you’re left wondering what you’re listening to. ‘Echo’, while sounding more present and dense than a few of the previous tracks is also one that, with different tones and mixing could sound very similar to the first few tracks. ‘Transmissions’ fits well in the context of intermission based tracks, but never really adds anything substantial to the album as a whole.
'Close Encounter' are the sort of band that succeed in a few different ways: theres the live aspect, which, although I haven’t seen them live, I can imagine as being an enjoyable, laid back experience. Another way is the format of EP: a few songs that hold a type of sound: not too long, not too dense, and just an enjoyable amount of jangle-pop. The third way is putting them on in the background, and while I’m not going to get into the philosophy and credibility of ‘background’ music, I’ll say this: there is a kind of art form for being ‘good’ background music. 'Lost Time', therefore, is a good album… But it become a slightly tiring listen: the band does what they do well., but they do it a bit too much. That’s not too say this album is a bad listen, its perhaps just to say that in the format of a full length album, 'Close Encounter' slightly over stretch themselves. The song writing on the most notable songs is of a top notch, and in regards to the genre of jangle-pop, they are truly original. Similiarly, the performances, the mixing and the production are equally as fantastic, together on the best parts of the album, these elements combine to make a noteworthy statement through laidback sound.
ARTIST: Flower Crown
RELEASE DATE: 20th October 2017
Looking for something that can simultaneously relax you into a summer daze and make you think and appreciate what you’re hearing? You’ve found it in 'GLOW' by Pittsburgh based duo 'Flower Crown', a release that takes it's dream pop from layers of deep crunch and the fuzz of borderline noise right back into a comforting, dreamy, sun-drenched breath of fresh air that evokes the same kind of moods as French based dream pop genius - 'Pastel Coast'. And much like Pastel Coasts various EP's, Flower Crowns album 'GLOW' triumphs because it doesn’t attempt to traverse new ground, rather, it sticks to what it knows… And sticks to it very well. Originally released back in October 2017, 'GLOW' is available to buy/download right now via flowercrownmusic.bandcamp.com
GLOW by Flower Crown
The album begins with the slow turn of ‘True Blue’; a mixture of dream pop guitar tones and slowly delicate percussion. Among the mix, the keyboard plays comfortably with the guitars and the vocals, which bounce around; propelled by reverb. ‘Web’ maintains a similar feel, although the tones and textures seem a tad deeper and perhaps also a tad darker. The song sounds like it could have comfortably come off either of the aforementioned Pastel Coast EPs, with its light but dense guitar playing and background hum. ‘Web’ stands as an album highlight; the chorus shines strongly among the waves of sound the band push out, patiently, comfortably and ultimately beautifully. ‘Bloodshade’ offers another fantastic chorus, as well as the continuation of the catchiness heard on previous tracks. The song also manages to balance a nice mixture of dream pop and an FX’d soaked alternative rock feel.
‘Moon Water’, from its opening ambience and single guitar plucking, also stands as an album highlight even if it is simply an intermission/interlude track; of note, the textured, light soundscape in the background succeeds in its subtleness and delicacy. The most introspective and nostalgic the band get can be found on the track ‘Frame and Frame’ which just so happens to also be one of the best tracks on the entire album. The songs beginning rolls around, evoking images of beaches, the tide washing in, and a clear blue sky, before dipping into a more alt-rock sound. The waves of echo and reverb can be heard on the brilliant ‘Pls’, which shows the bands excellent guitar playing in full stride, as well as a memorably patient yet downtrodden vocal performance; capturing the songs essence and the bands sound in a compelling and dreamy way. The ultra slow and dream-soaked ‘Rearview’ brings the tempo down to an almost slowcore level. The track utilizes dense background noise and ambience to remind the listener of the depth of both of the song itself and the sound around it. ‘Lady of the Lake’ continues this kind of laidback tempo, with the guitars plucking and strumming in perfect harmony with the slow beat of the drums. Altogether, the song stands as a kind of symbol for the rest of the album; slow, thoughtful, nostalgic and most importantly, sonically rewarding.
'Flower Crown' have released a successful dream pop album, crossing the lines between lazy yet comforting background music and intrinsically, provocatively picturesque listening. The performances, while slight, offer a rewarding and understandly dreamy listen. Fans of the genre will be impressed, and those who aren’t… will still be impressed. They’ll mostly be impressed by the mixing, the production, and perhaps most obviously, the clever and enjoyable sound.