ARTIST: Living Hour
RELEASE: Living Hour
RELEASE DATE: 19th February 2016
RECORD COMPANY: LEFSE Records (Portland)
I know that its probably too early to be discussing the dreaded ‘Best Of 2016’ albums list? And that it’s also probably way too early in the year to waxing lyrical about the best singles but I’m so happy that I had the chance to hear & then to write about this debut self titled 8 track release from Winnipeg based dreamy 4 piece Living Hour as I believe that this release will feature heavily on the year end lists for 2016 especially within the dream pop & shoegazing fraternities when the time comes around. The band initially peaked my attention before, way back in 2014 when they were known as their previous incarnation ‘The Hours’ and even back then I had fallen head over heels in love with their reverb induced & luscious single – ‘Steady Glazed Eyes’. The band released this self titled full length debut album worldwide through LEFSE Records (Portland) on February 19th, 2016.
In a haze of shimmering reverberating brilliance the opening bars of ‘Summer Smog’ grace this listeners ears and I’m instantly floating in a world of melodic tone & shape where addictive dreamy vocals are king and where the crackling jangling effected guitar lines stand guard for what will be one of the best releases of 2016 come years end. I am in no doubt of that. There’s a sort of unplanned understanding between the vocals & guitars on this track as they vie for space within the wide expanses of the reverb laden production. It works really well and helps to catapult Livinghour to somewhere special within the dream gazing world as we know it. A jangling guitar line greets us as we wait for track two ‘Seagull’ to break free and let fly. The chorus soars and there’s a brilliant crescendo of sound before it breaks back into the verse parts again. The vocal lines are divine and allowed to stray within the layers of reverb laden guitar whilst the drum pattern keeps the whole affair firmly fixed to solid ground. A triumphant track full of expressive soaring hints of shoegaze & interspersed with heavenly dream pop flair.
The atmospheric awakenings of track 3 ‘This Is The Place’ shatters the sound sphere as yet another reverb laden jangling guitar track ambles into the musical ether. There’s a definite psychedelic feel to this unlike the previous 2 tracks. It sounds like a cross between ‘Spacemen 3’ & early ‘Creation Records’ era ‘Telescopes’ that have been melded together with Melbourne based underground psych gazing stalwarts ‘Fire Behaving As Air’. Truly remarkable. Im transfixed as the track shuffles through its sonic algorithms. Again, it’s the floating almost whispering vocal track that grabs my attention and I swoon within its grasp. Track 4 is a slice of shoegazing brilliance. Originally appearing at the back end of 2014 and into early 2015 when the band were known as ‘The Hours’, ‘Steady Glazed Eyes’ is a dream gazing phenomenon. Swirling, layered guitars & strong percussion form a droning wall of sound that’s purposely built to envelope & caress that immense vocal track. This is three minutes and fifty four seconds of pure gazing indulgence. A masterful track that deserves plaudits for its song writing structure & production. We’ve comfortably landed from our previous flight and settled back into proceedings as track 5 ‘There Is No Substance Between’ arrives into the arena. A slow menacing affair that’s full of dark & light sonic shading but also expertly buffered by duel vocal lines, shimmering guitars & pounding drums. This light & dark theme is carried right through to that singular rock n’ roll break, 5 minutes into the track, when Living Hour buck the trend and give us a glimpse of a subtle ‘baggy’ manchester vibe!
‘Mind Goodbyes’ is reminiscent of Philadelphia based dream gazers ‘The Morelings’. It swims in reverb soaked guitars as melodic tremolo & delay intertwine with that glorious vocal and we’re treated to a two minute display of dreamy percussion-less melodic dream pop. The track then explodes into a droning mesmerising piece of emotive shoegaze. Sure to be a favourite of the underground dream gazing fraternity on its release. There’s a psychedelic droning entrance for the next track on the immense release before we’re again treated to a masterful melodic chord structure. ‘Miss Emerald Green’ floats along on its reverberating sonic axis as shimmering guitars and dreamy vocals again occupy centre stage. But there is an alt-rock tinge to proceedings as the the track progresses & as tempo’s change but this just showcases the bands ability to switch it up when needed.
The closing track on the magnificent 8 track release is nothing short of brilliant. I expected it to be if I’m honest. A swirling, droning maelstrom of sound heralds in that stunning vocal as ‘Feel Shy’, the albums longest track at 6.51, cranks up and brings with it images of dreamy Cocteau Twins, the droning abilities of The Cranes & the more modern dream pop sounds of Welsh based Golden Fable. You simply have to listen to this track via headphones. Trust me, it will blow your mind. A truly remarkable track to finish off a wonderful album.
Bravo, Livinghour & welcome back.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last four years not only fronting popular experimental Irish based electronic duo Analogue Wave but also 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. 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.