ARTIST: Magic Wands
RELEASE DATE: 13th July 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Etxe Records
Los Angeles-based duo 'Magic Wands' unleashed a dazzling new eleven track entitled 'Abrakadabra' via the good folks over at Los Angeles and Washington DC based independent record label 'Etxe Records' back on July 13th 2018. What’s it like? It's like… a time machine whizzing back to a time when shoegaze and dream-pop was more than just about writing a shitty melody or riff and layering as many FX on it as you can. A time when, if you stripped away the studio tricks and FX manipulation, you were still left with a catchy and/or well written pop or rock song. 'Magic Wands' seem to spend as much time writing the music as they do manipulating it into the ethers of distortion, layering and reverb… which makes 'Abrakadabra' well worth the time and the listen. The album was recorded at Voltiv Studios in Los Angeles, produced by Phil Galloni and the band themselves and mastered by Tim Young (The Smiths, My Bloody Valentine). 'Abrakadabra' available to buy/download right now via magic-wands.bandcamp.com (Digitally) & etxerecords.com (Vinyl) respectively.
Abrakadabra [Etxe Records, 2018] by Magic Wands
Following on from the humble but slight opener ‘Bashmuuu’, Abrakadabra opens with the slow pop tones of ‘Nocturnal’, which features layers of feedback guitar and the slow rumble of beats/drums. On top lies the hazy, reverbed vocals which vary from hush and whisper all the way to fully and beautifully spoken. The song screams dream-pop, but the slower and deeper FX and song writing structure allow the song to come off as an intelligent and enjoyable listen. Things turn somewhat more standard with the following song ‘Houdini’, which features that recognizable dream-pop styled guitar tone and a more upbeat feel. Showcasing the bands post-punk influence, ‘Houdini’ compliments the previous tracks more darker sound and is notable for its neat FX laced-sequencer noises. ‘DNA’ is an album highlight and delves deeper into the crossroads between dream-pop and post-punk music (exercised neatly through the drum beat). The aforementioned dream-pop elements shine through in several facets, the vocal performance is dazzling and the general pop-ness shines through to make the song worth the effort. The following track ‘Realms’ seems somewhat more of a step back into cruise control. Beyond the almost darkwave production and synth sounds, the lyrics seem somewhat awkward and almost throw away. The melding of darker elements with the softness of the singer’s voice seems to show off an enjoyable side of the band, but beyond that, ‘Realms’ feels like more of an album filler.
Things thankfully turn back to the more interesting dance/dream-pop of the albums opener. ‘Loveline’ is an enjoyable dance track, laced with neat keyboard production and a danceable beat that highlights the bands strong points. The chorus in particular shows how simplicity can do so much for a song…. There’s some great bass playing as well. ‘New Device’ follows the form of ‘Bashmuuu’, a slower style beat that allows the FX heavy instrumentation to mix in beautifully together. And then things return to the dance floor. ‘Chains and Fur’ features a slick rhythm section with the undertones of a dream-pop guitar and vocals that sound as though they have been dunked in neon; another album highlight for me! ‘Diamond Road’ slows things right back and offers up a hazier, almost psychedelic tempo equipped with soft and more helmed back production. With all the stripped back instrumentation, the vocals shine through, which leads me to the songs main criticism: the lyrics. While at times the lyrics adequately capture the feel of the music, a large portion of them come off awkwardly and, more importantly, cliched. The following track ‘Julie Ann Gray’ is a fantastic post-punk thriller, filtered through Magic Wands dream-pop sensibilities; thankfully, here the vocals and lyrics are in fact one of the songs highlights. ‘Julie Ann Gray’ summarises much of what the band has been projecting over the course of Abrakadabra: the danceable passages, the post-punk underlays and the dream-pop tones that all beautifully meld together sonically and instrumental. ‘Big Life’ features a slow melding beat that sounds like a slower version of trap music: the hi-hats hit rumble slowly, followed by a heavy snare. The vocals float softly and enjoyably over the instrumentation. Bonus track ‘Puzzle of Love’ is also worth noting; especially if you enjoyed the danceable, retro sound of the some of the aforementioned dance-y songs on the album.
All in all Abrakadabra is well-worth the time: refreshingly well written song structures make way for sonic exploration through FX… but not too much FX. The only criticisms I have of the album are, quite admittedly, the same I have for many albums of a similar genre. Firstly, the sheer quantity of music on Abrakadabra is at times difficult to engage with. Song after song that thematically maintain similar ‘feels’ to each other mean that, after over ten tracks worth of music, the album can seem a little strained. The other criticism is the lyrics. While generally fitting of the both the music and instrumentation, sometimes the lyrics seem as though they were thrown in purely because they had to be thrown in… At times generic, at times cliched, and at times quite awkward and only semi-written. Beyond these two elements, Magic Wands have created a thoroughly enjoyable listen. The instrumentation fits very well, and the dynamic range between dance track and softer, slower almost balladery stylings makes things all the more interesting. The band comfortably put their foot down, showcasing their talent in the realms of performance, production 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
RELEASE DATE: 28th March 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Spirit Goth Records
'Castlebeat' is that weird moment between nostalgia, unnerving contemplation and the dizziness that comes with hazy afternoons, setting suns and retrospection. This reviewer was impressed with their 2016 self-titled album, which arrived at a time before Mac Demarco had entered what could be scholastically deemed ‘post-celebrity’. A time when chorus pedals and slower tempos were beginning to be umbrellaed and confused with terms like ‘copycat’ and ‘influential’. I speak of this time only in reference to the fact that when the debut album 'Castlebeat' was released, a certain demographic, a certain underground and a certain discussion base were carrying them around on pedestals in the same way Demarco and other dream pop/jangle pop/synth bands were being. A similar thing happened around that time with the NY-based Porches and their debut album 'Pool'. Everything was about the aesthetic, the nostalgia… The internet was recovering and re-convening from vapourwave and all the associated facets of it. The moral of the story is, if Castlebeat arrived at a time it made sense in, (while simultaneously being a great album, musically) what happens when times move on? And what does the next album (the aptly named VHS) sound like? Brilliant apparently… And its all a great trick of the light, because not so much has altered for Castlebeat and their music, even if the times have.
VHS by CASTLEBEAT
'VHS' opens with the instrumental ‘Research’, which showcases plucked, bright guitars and a programmed post-punk drum beat. Behind the music, sequencers swirl and pulse with samples and the occasional soundscape that floats back: a welcome introduction to the album. The much more retrospective ‘Tennis’ follows with a darker sound. The vocals, which ooze in after a short guitar introduction, appear in a considered reverb way. On ‘Tennis’ the band do what they do best: combine that kind of goth nostalgia feeling with danceable rhythm sections and extremely catchy guitar riffs, and you have a terrific album highlight. Returning to the sound of album opener, ‘Here’ continues the similar, colour-distorted beach feeling of ‘Tennis’. Of note is the extremely catchy chorus, that finds the vocals dancing in the background of a great texturing of guitar, bass and drums. Easily the greatest intro to any song on the album, ‘Wasting Time’ features a memorable post-punk riff put through several reverb, echo and chorus pedals into the context of the band. The track seems somewhat more darker and distorted than other songs on 'VHS', which gives it a brilliant edge that makes it a true stand out on the release.
‘Town’ turns the tempo up but retains a similar feel to previous song. The lyrics seem somewhat lazy compared to others but these are made up for with a brilliantly sounding chorus and refrain and the instruments meld together in a beautifully harmonious way. ‘I Follow’ has one of the catchiest sounds on the album and lives up to Castlebeats self-classification of ‘goth pop’. Another album highlight is the minimal ‘Zephyr’ which relies on the fantastic bass player. The chorus passages reveal a kind of meditative smoothness that makes images conjure to mind even more swiftly. On the Bandcamp page, many listeners who have brought the album speak highly of the second half of 'VHS' and in particular ‘These Days’. I can understand why this would be considered by some to be the best track on the album; it captures (especially through the lyrics) a particular thoughtfulness of regret, retrospect and dreaminess that I think most can in some sort of equivocally way emotionally relate to. Its anthemic, slow and just the right length to support its memorable qualities. ‘Heart Still Beats’ takes 'VHS' full circle, bringing the music back to a danceable and brighter quality of beauty and approachability. Of particular note is the songs fantastic second half, which captures something playful yet emotionally challenging and bring it forth through the music. An additional song, ‘Video Tape’ wraps things up accordingly, in Castlebeat and aesthetically drenched stylings.
'VHS' takes the impetus of 'Castlebeat' and pushes it towards something more post-punk and guitar driven. This push certainly gives the album a faster paced, more danceable feel, and I can understand if fans of Castlebeat find something more approachable and fuller with the sounds found on VHS. The album can be comfortably played as a listening experience, background music, or something you can throw on at a party to get people on the dancefloor. The real intelligence though (and the reason for the rating below) is that underneath each of the ‘goth pop’ sounds and effects of the songs, underneath the beach sounding, aesthetic driven riffs, is a real sense of nostalgia and retrospect. When vapourwave was done well it achieved a similar result, but even that tended toward sounding artificial and distant… VHS maintains the authenticity and reminds the listener that this was handcrafted with love. Many will comfortably ride VHS off as a lesson in how simplicity can critically triumph over intentionally and presentably complex and intellectual music… Little do they know that the band has coated the latter in the former… Do you follow? Before I continuously acclaim VHS, I think it is worth noting that the album wont be without its critics. Many of the songs maintain a similar feeling (which is why it makes for great background music) and you have to pay attention to notice the differences and techniques used from song to song. This goes hand in hand for any similar sounding ‘aesthetic’ laced music. The moral of the story is, however, that Castlebeat have backed a great album up with an even better one… a release that captures so much while presenting something so simple, achieved through textured and mellow 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 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.
ARTIST: Soft Wounds
RELEASE: The Last EP
RELEASE DATE: 9th March 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
'Soft Wounds' are a Toronto-based shoegaze/alt-rock duo who base their influence's off 90's era shoegaze and dream-pop; creating noise/filtered textures and filters that lay softly over the structure of linear alt-rock tracks. 'The Last EP' captures a colourful mixture of downtrodden and emotive alt-rock tunes which generally centre around a style of vocalization that sounds almost as if it is floating. Accompanying this are catchy guitar riffs and a melodic rhythm section that precisely captures the emotive state of the sounds at the forefront of the music. The band are made up of Charlie Berger and Matt Rimon. 'The Last EP' was officially released back on March 9th 2018 and is available to buy/download right now via softwounds.bandcamp.com
The Last EP by Soft Wounds
‘Story’ opens up proceedings on the EP, wherein the bands texturing is put on full display as the noise-laden backing to the music is covered by reverb soaked guitars and the rhythmic backdrop of drums. The guitars also feature the kind of heavy FX and audio manipulation found on some of the most seminal shoegaze releases of the past. If one were to pair back the guitar FX and un-dampen some of the background sounds, the song would present a more classic post-punk feeling; structurally it also echoes this frame. ‘Her Ghost’ takes the emotive soundscapes further, and slows down the tempo for an almost ballad like setting. Much like on ‘Story’ the riffs that weave in and around the rest of the instrumentation become the catchy centrepiece for the sound to float around upon. Of special note is the second half of the track and the soft sounds of the pre-outro where the tweaking pick of the guitar melds beautifully with the rhythm section. ‘Wide Open’ may be the best song on the EP: the riffs and layering of the sound offers a great line in the sand between all out FX guitar driven washdown and restrained and a more conservative guitar practice. The band gel together on ‘Wide Open’ perhaps most strongly than on any other song; somehow making the song sound strongly rehearsed but also slightly jam-oriented at the same time?
‘On The Fence’ sounds closer t0 a kind of dark dream-pop than it does to shoegaze or heavy alt-rock, however, its instrumentation remains the same as on previous track. In the context of the EP, as well as the strength of the previous songs, ‘On the Fence’ would potentially be the least interesting and engaging track on the EP. Why? It seems like elements of previous songs are re-used, which is fine, but they are disused in a uninteresting and unoriginal way, making it sound as though its features the weakest elements of the EP. Interestingly enough, ‘Watch You’, which follows on is one of the EP's greatest triumphs, introducing dynamic musical elements as well as the shimmering guitar sounds we all associate with shoegaze. ‘Finally’ is in some senses, Soft Wounds culmination of previously explored musical elements into one lengthy practice. The inclusion of beautiful background humming synths in the intros truly capture the beauty that seems to flow from the song.
On this EP 'Soft Wounds' truly hone their craft and capture, utilize and present their own sound for the listener. Their own sound, it should be noted, is in a sense a collective channel of influential bands in and around the genres of shoegaze, dream-pop, alt-rock and more. Where many bands utilize this influence, it is generally abused in a derivate sense more so than a transformation from something done into something original. My main criticism of the EP is by far the vocals. Whether it’s the production or mixing, or whether it’s the vocals themselves I’m not entirely sure; all there is to say is that they become overly whingy and at points present themselves so holy angelic and clean sounding that it is almost a distraction from the music itself. Also on some points the mixing makes things, specifically sounds in the background and the drums, murky and damp to the listener. Beyond that the EP is engaging and strong; most specifically through production and sound.
ARTIST: the Autumn Sighs
RELEASE DATE: 10th February 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Dreams Never End Records
Immense German-based trio 'The Autumn Sighs' have returned with a stunning brand new five track release entitled 'Green' the follow up to their mesmerising 2016 released EP 'Branches'. With a sound that meanders gracefully through melodious and dreamy swathes of blissful dream-pop infused shoegaze coupled with soaring chorus progressions, thunderous drum patterns and addictively hazy instrumentation, 'The Autumn Sighs' have released what is quite possibly one of our favourite EP's of 2018 so far. The band are made up of Katha - guitars/vocals, Ulrik - guitars/effects/ebow, Denis - drums and Florian Malicke appearing on bass for this release. The 'Green' EP was officially released back on February 10th 2018 via 'Dreams Never End Records' and is available to buy/download on various formats including lovely 12' vinyl right now from both dreamsneverend.bandcamp.com & theautumnsighs.bandcamp.com respectively.
green by The Autumn Sighs
In a swirling haze of instrumental drones, hushed progressions and layered reverberations the dreamy opening tones of ‘Intro’ wash shimmering frequencies out into the sonic ether. This wall of blissful noise accommodates haunting vocalisations that swoop and arc throughout as repetitive progressions of guitar billow and swirl at will. Up next, ‘Green’ twinkles and purrs as it’s jangling guitars pull beautifully entrancing progressions out into audible range. ‘The Autumn Sighs’ channel their inner Slowdive here as those immense vocal lines ride the waves of pulsing reverb and that instantaneous injection of noisier guitars. Rumbling percussion bubbles up from below the mix as the throb of enticing bass frequencies lull you into a blissfully hazy dream state and you guided into that huge wall of beautiful noise. ‘Green’ is absolutely entrancing and probably one of the best tracks that I think I’ve heard so far this year. It’s a monumental highlight for me on this entire release.
There’s a subtle air of post punk emanating from the opening bars of ‘She’s His’ that is instantly addictive. The hypnotic pull of the intricate guitar structures accompanied by dancing lines of lead and the throb of cascading bass progressions are collectively fantastic. Haunting lines of vocal meander and tease us as they float in and out of catchy chord structures, leading us gracefully by the hand until we eventually fall headlong into massive swathes of noisy reverberations only get dumped out the back end into tremulous layers of golden sonic frequencies. Up next, the EP’s penultimate piece floats into the ether held fast in a sullen kind of atmosphere. ‘Adorable’ sways gently on a slow moving metronomic tap as the jangle of guitars echo and swirl through heady clouds of reverb. Resonating frequencies wrap themselves around that beautiful vocal and cling to it as it tumbles into shimmering pools of exquisite production. We’re guided effortlessly through a melancholic sonic haze as if watching someone’s dreams get played out in front of us until eventually we drop into an angry sonic attack and the whole feel of the track changes. Distorted guitars soar skywards, that addictive bass line rises and falls just below a noisy percussive assault and we’re dragged into a raging sonic behemoth, churned around it’s insides until eventually we’re pulled into the tracks gentler finale. ‘Adorable’ is a stunning melding of sounds reminiscent at times to Slowdive & The Cranes or the downright rebellious nature of JAMC all wrapped up into one almighty sonic monolith. Its a triumph and a definite highlight on this release.
The EP closes out as it began. Swooning gracefully on beautiful instrumentation and the guiding reverberations of that immense guitar sound. Slow moving hi-hats tremble as jangling guitar strums usher in waves of instrumental drones and another impressive vocal performance. ‘Three’ is absolutely gorgeous and it welcomes you into it’s inner core with open arms and tells you a story. It makes you sit and listen to every single hushed word, makes you feel every twist and whirl of that soaring drone and lifts you up with it as you glide through the sonic ether and pulse through layers of ethereal joy. It's a brilliant book end to a completely entrancing EP.
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.
RELEASE: Medistation EP
RELEASE DATE: April 20th 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club Records
Eric Strand is no stranger to Stockholm's burgeoning underground psych scene. Having already established himself in The Orange Revival (hands down one of the best neo-psych outfits out there today) Eric has just announced the self-titled debut EP release for one of his other musical projects, the mesmerising 'Medistation'. Hailing from Stockholm, Sweden, 'Medistation' create a visceral sonic palate filled with fizzing, alternative led, noise-pop drenched in swathes of shuddering reverb and swirling feedback. It collectively spotlights that truly epic early 1990's melodic neo-psychedelic sound, a sound that can sometimes get lost within this modern underground scene. The EP is a collaborative effort, with guest vocals from Jake Garcia (The Black Angels), percussion from Cobian Modeste (The Buttertones) and grand piano from Max Groundstroem (Samling/Valp). It gets it's official release on April 20th 2018 via those London-based purveyors of all things meaningful 'Fuzz Club Records' with pre-orders now available on various formats via fuzz club.com
Medistation by Medistation
The EP opens up trapped in an air of fizzing atmospherics as that fuzzy guitar progression pulls throbbing bass frequencies, hypnotic stabs of melodic lead and swirling electronics into the mix collectively enveloping an always impressive vocal courtesy of Jake Garcia (The Black Angels). 'Pool Of Blood' is absolutely sublime and is at times reminiscent of Ian Astbury's stint with UK-based 'UNKLE'. A marvellous opening salvo indeed. Up next, 'I Never Knew' undulates into earshot strapped to a slowly moving blues-fed guitar line underpinned with deeply hypnotic acoustic frequencies. Meticulous percussion shimmers just below the mix as humming bass frequencies meander and pulse through melodic vocal lines before we float away on swirling waves of resonating lead & slide guitar allowing the sickly sweet tinge of reverberation to evoke musical reminiscences such as Spiritualized, JAMC and the ever brilliant Lupine Howl.
'The World Is Weeping' explodes into the ether on a screeching feedback laden wave that quickly melds with repetitive guitars and addictive shakers. Lead lines whip and cajole the piece to within an inch of it's life as a throbbing bass line bounces alongside a giddy percussive assault, enveloping a brilliantly executed vocal line and those distinctly addictive neo-psych sounds loop and arc throughout. The EP's penultimate piece entitled 'Anything For You' floats effortlessly on a cloud of repetitive guitars and the soft pulse of bass. Twinkling synth and beautifully entrancing electronics dance and flutter alongside another impressive vocal performance as it's woozy effects disappear in amongst golden hued acoustics and that ever present injection of fuzz. 'Anything For You' is beautiful and a definite highlight for me on this release. 'Medistation' closes out with 'The End'. Steeped in reverb, the hypnotic pull of strings and that repetitive guitar signature melds brilliantly with swirling electronics, melodic synth and the strengthening air of atmosphere. Slide guitar meanders in and out of those pulsing frequencies as this brilliant instrumental builds into a melody strewn finale. A fantastic end to a rather interesting EP.
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 was 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.
Judder by jellyskin
Whilst perusing this track you'd be checking the web address right now to see if you'd landed on the right music blog but don't fret as this is Primal Music and NO! ..... we haven't gone full dubstep on you all. The latest single from Leeds-based noisy duo 'Jellyskin' has arrived and they've decided to side step away from their usual sonic fare to bring us something undisputedly experimental. 'Judder' melds slow moving dubstep with noisy industrial tinged electronics, intricate guitar progressions and gritty but abrasive production whilst dispensing with the dreamier psychedelic side of this bands impressive sonic arsenal. Marking it as a change of direction, 'Jellyskin' have completely turned their sound on it's head whilst endeavouring to keep it very, very interesting indeed.
Formed in 2016, 'Jellyskin' are made up of Will & Zia and they exploded onto the underground psych/gaze scene with four consecutive single releases, each one absolutely sublime. Their self-titled EP, a correlation of the aforementioned singles, was released back on the 28th June 2017 and appeared in Primal Music's 2017 year end round up of best releases. This latest single 'Judder' was officially released on April 6th 2018 and is available to buy/download right now via jellyskin.bandcamp.com
ARTIST: Wild Meadows
RELEASE: Wild Meadows
RELEASE DATE: 2nd March 2018
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.
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:
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.