Pia Fraus- Field Ceremony - Featured Image - (700x700)

ALBUM REVIEW | Pia Fraus - Field Ceremony

ARTIST: Pia Fraus 

RELEASE: Field Ceremony 

RELEASE DATE: 16th October 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Seksound Records (EU) Shelflife (US) Vinyl Junkie (JPN)

Estonian dream-poppers 'Pia Fraus' formed in 1998 and released four studio albums and a handful of EP's on various record labels worldwide. Their collective sound is a sublime mixture of dream-pop, subtle shoegaze and beautiful electronica all topped off blissfully with shimmering layered vocalisations. The band are made up of Eve Komp - vocals/synths/metallophone, Kärt Ojavee - synths, Rein Fuks - guitars/vocals/percussion, Reijo Tagapere - bass and Margus Voolpriit - drums and after a ten year hiatus they have returned with a brand new album entitled 'Field Ceremony', to be released on October 16th 2017 via Seksound Records (EU) Shelflife (US) &  Vinyl Junkie (JPN)  with former member Kristel Eplik returning to record backing vocals and former drummer Joosep Volk also returning to direct the video for 'That’s Not All'. The full album is available to pre-order right now on various formats from the aforementioned record companies.

Entrancing sound waves swirl and meld effortlessly with the uplifting sweep of fizzing synth and woozy pull of reverberating guitars as ‘It’s Over Now’ unfurls it’s sonic tendrils and wraps itself around steady percussion and the throb of luscious bass frequencies. The repetitive vocal line floats effortlessly alongside sweeping electronics and the buzz of fret noise that steadily builds into a majestic crescendo of noise accompanied by the ghostly refrain of undulating reverb. ‘Never Again Land’ moves brilliantly through catchy chord changes and hazy instrumentation as a busy percussive pattern pulses through a pre-ordained flight path. The glorious duel vocal attack is simply mesmerising and it glides on waves of swirling synth, the hum of bass and those resonating guitar lines before collectively pausing for breath, held fast in a sticky lysergic hued instrumental break anxiously awaiting ejection into a grand finale. Up next, ‘Autumn Winds’ howls into audible range heckled by a screaming synth line before exploding into a colourful cacophony of sound. It charges headlong into a catchy melody driven fog filled with swirling almost incantational reverberations. Steady percussion, soaring synth and pulsing bass lines allow addictive guitar progressions to wrap themselves around another impressive vocal performance that loops and arcs brilliantly throughout the sonic ether.

‘Mountain Trip Guide’ rattles into existence on a lazy drum pattern as pulsating bass frequencies, fizzing electronics and surging synth swells glide in close proximity. Beautiful vocalisations swirl through catchy hook laden guitar progressions whipped by reverberating lead lines and addictiveness of effected slide guitar. ‘No Filters’ floats effortlessly on the up draft of impressive synth swells, the metronomic thud of percussion and the swirl of reverb as ‘Pia Fraus’ deploy a modern dream-pop gem. Shimmering guitars accompanied by the whirl of organ push the tempo on as the track builds momentarily before pulling back and gently descending to a final stop whilst ‘Endless Clouds’ lurches into a organ filled whirlwind peppered by the thrill of tremulous guitars and explosive drum patterns. Intense melody accompanies those gorgeous vocalisations as pulsating bass progressions wind their way through cascading synth and the pull of luscious reverb. Up next, the opening bars of 'Sugar High Of The Year' erupt into an fuzzy sonic behemoth filled with explosive percussion, raging guitars and soaring synth swells. The track echoes through quieter moments of instrumentation allowing the vocals to move through those impressive verse patterns before exploding into a mesmerising display of blissed out noise.

‘Don’t Tell Me How’ is simply divine and it shimmers and glides through undulating waves of instrumentation that glisten with graceful lustre, drenching melancholic vocalisations in scintillating reverberation that echoes and lingers with every single note, chord change or plucked string. It’s deeply infectious and beautifully constructed making it an album highlight for me. The albums penultimate piece entitled ‘Brutal Truth Of The World’ opens up pulsing atmospherically through massive walls of hazy reverb hued guitars. Slow moving percussion, circumnavigated by the constant sweep of synth and the undulating rumble of bass accompany another impressive duel vocal performance laced with stunning melody that collectively leads the listener through pretty impressive instrumental passages of sonic light and shade right up until its finale. The album closes out with ‘That’s Not All’, a turbulent sonic whirlwind filled with woozy guitars, charging drum patterns, the plink of synth and the throb of bass frequencies all wrapped around those stunning melody driven vocalisations. A fitting ending to an absolutely marvellous album.

4/5

LINKS:

piafraus.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/PiaFraus

seksound.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Del Chaney - (Author Photo)

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 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.


Ruins Ruins - Mammock - Featured Image - (700x700)

ALBUM REVIEW | Ruins! Ruins! - Mammock

ARTIST: Ruins! Ruins!

RELEASE: Mammock 

RELEASE DATE: 10th August 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Fluttery Records

The rumbling sound of a deep but somewhat cinematic cello, backed by the rumbling march-beat of a drum and the occasional strum of a guitar opens up the wondrously bizarre carnival of music and sounds created by Russian natives Ruins! Ruins! A band who dwell somewhere in the Siberian forest. To accompany this contextual imagery of forests and the wild where the band reside is their own free form, dirty, heavy and dissonant brand of post-rock. I wish to clarify that when I say post-rock, I mean the furthest thing away from the ambient tinkerings and soundscape-backed light drone music that has come to represent the genre. Rather, Ruins! Ruins! project sludgy, progressive rock style ‘big’ riffs that are contrasted with passages of cello based, string music and playing of the utmost beauty. Together, these elements make their album Mammock a truly engaging deep dive into what can achieved in post-rock music with a bit of grit, distortion and experimentation.

‘Serene’ opens the album with the cello/drum/guitar sound that I begun the review with, operating as a neat intro to the heaviness and raw-rock sound of the album. ‘Hurricane’ captures the essence of the whole album: large, crunching and dirty, with several shifts in tempo and style to create balance along the way. Around the three minute mark, the music notably slows down to a fantastic chug of guitars and cello interlocked together before diving back into a wide scale of the songs origins. ‘Distress’ turns things even heavy and features some of the greatest textural blending on the whole release, especially towards the end of the song. ‘Grab’ opens with the feedback echo of a guitar and a drum beat that welcomes in a catchy bass line. Just as you think Ruins! Ruins! are going to turn it up again and go full on, crunch-down with their drums and guitars, they instead slow down and turn the song into a tight display of rhythm. ‘Arch’ sways on for over twelve minutes, and what first sounds interesting and appealing slowly turns into a slog through the preverbal mud. There are indeed interesting and perhaps even beautiful moments on the song, but its lengthy and overblown running time becomes exceptionally tiresome, especially with a middle section that is built around already explored territory. A brief dance with the china symbol just before the ten minute mark makes the last section the most enjoyably fascinating over the course of the entire song.

‘Kurta’ proves to be one of the albums highlights: its textural cresecendos are made all the more rewarding when the vast and wide prog breakdowns are backed by more ambient, sound scaped guitars. The drumming (as well as the other instruments) are of a strong and rewarding quality also. Chucking another over eleven minute song onto an already lengthy album is ridiculously game, but thankfully ‘Szorstki’ is a different beast altogether. Opening quietly and with a slow-burn progression into a much louder and more full sound, the song captures the essence of what fantastic progressive rock should be: tight, loose and a step-by-step journey into engaging sounds. ‘Collumns’ is the opposite: over six minutes of throughouly monotous down-strumming ‘hard’ rock. ‘Polynya’, however, is another fantastic track and definitely yet another album highlight. The border line black metal-esque opening receeds into long, slow, and downtrodden guitar scapes that build up again with the assistant of tight and melodic drumming.

'Mammock' is an interesting mixed bag of sounds. Sometimes its bordering on feats of alternative and prog-metal, other times it shows the listener nothing more than beautiful cello and tight yet simplistic drumming. The underlying genre of the whole release, however, is that chuggy-chug-chug-chug prog rock sound… Which becomes tedious as easily as it becomes interesting. The first half of this album is a fascinating exercise in dirty, open ended prog and post-rock musings, but by the time the second half of 'Mammock' rolls around, things start to feel a bit on the tiresome side. I completely have nothing against lengthy songs or lengthy albums, but where fantastically original bands such as WTCHS and My Invisible Friend triumph in their extended adventures through sound, Ruins! Ruins! don’t alter things quite enough to keep themselves in the ball game. Similiarly, they don’t keep it avant-garde or experimental enough to justify their song writing choices. Of course, there are redeeming features throughout the album: almost the entire first half is enjoyable and engaging and select songs thorugh the second half retain this neat and original flavour. Also the performances are of a fantastically strong quality, balancing the enjoyable production with a heavy yet melodic sound.

3.5/5

LINKS:

ruin-ruins.bandcamp.com

www.flutteryrecords.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Cam Phillips - Contributing Writer

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.


Miniatures - Jessamines - Featured Image - (700x700)

ALBUM REVIEW | Miniatures - Jessamines

ARTIST: Miniatures

RELEASE: Jessamines 

RELEASE DATE: 6th October 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Saint Marie Records

The debut album from 'Miniatures' is a dense and lush affair. Its textures are tightly woven to create velvety soundscapes that envelope and endear. Formed in 2012 and currently based in Melbourne, the trio seem to be a further example of the strength of the Southern hemisphere's creative scene right now – especially when it comes to the dreamier side of the spectrum. The band worked with renowned Melbourne based producer Matthew Hosking to fine tweak the sounds on this album and the finished product is spectacular. 'Jessamines' floats and flickers. It gets it's full release on the 6th October 2017 via the ever reliable Saint Marie Records and you can pre-order it right now on various formats from saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com

The opening track is an immersion in the soft swirls that are found throughout this record. 'Try' is wispy and bright, but a few sharp edges reflect the light. 'Jessamine' – the title track – is a fuzzy force, not quite an iron fist in a velvet glove, but thinking about it. You can hear the Cocteau's influence in 'To The Lake'. The chorus shimmers on top, like a heat haze on the surface of the titular water. 'Form Into Soft And Wild' is beautiful whilst the guitars trill and jangle in 'Dust', setting the scene for single 'Without Saying'. A speeding journey through a large sonic landscape, there's much for students of shoegaze to savour here, from the 80s-tinged guitar sound to the vast chorus.

'Honey' is big and bright. 'What You Want' is a real highlight, driving and a touch dark. The rich vocals ride along on a fuzzy wave so gracefully and dive deep into the chorus. An eerie whirr introduces 'Silent Tide' and the colours change. Slow's spacious opening soon spills over with sounds, layered and layered. The album ends with 'Standstill' which slowly swaggers towards the exit, each step cushioned by clouds of fuzz. It's a grand end to an album with ambition.

4/5

LINKS:

saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com

miniatures.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/miniaturesband

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 

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.


Shoegazer Sanctuary Records - Dreaming In Sound - VA - Featured Image - (700x700)

ALBUM REVIEW | Shoegazer Sanctuary Records - (V/A) - Dreaming In Sound

Shoegazer Sanctuary Records - Dreaming In Sound - Post Image - (300x300)ARTIST: V/A

RELEASE: Dreaming In Sound 

RELEASE DATE: 15th September 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Shoegazer Sanctuary Records

Our good friends over at 'Shoegazer Sanctuary Records' have compiled yet another no-nonscense, anti-inner sanctum, genre-defining collection of worldwide artists in the guise of their latest compilation release aptly titled 'Dreaming In Sound'. As you are probably all aware we're usually not ones for reviewing compilation releases here at Primal Music as most of the time they do absolutely nothing for the artists involved and we've always found that they're either full of the same old, same old bands & featured artists or it's just another blog, webzine or net label trying their luck by forcing us into another click bait exercise. It's all a very disappointing & mundane exercise to be honest. 'Shoegazer Sanctuary Records' are the exception! They've released three immense compilations so far without fuss or bother. They didn't add the usual heavy hitters from the underground psych/gaze/ethereal/ambient scene just to get Facebook likes or numbers across a blog. They didn't annoyingly force the release into our inbox either by harassing or tagging us in their social media posts. They purposefully & honestly decided on each artist by their sonic individuality (and not by their social standing). We really dig that! Their latest compilation release entitled 'V/A Dreaming In Sound' was released back on September 15th 2017 and it features twenty three artists from the world wide dream pop, dream wave, dream noise & ambient scene and as usual the label have put this out as a 'Name Your Price' tariff via shoegazersanctuaryrecords.bandcamp.com

The album opens up with the fantastic Mississippi based dreamscape duo 'The Starlight Run' and their track 'Lower', lifted off June 2017's 'Let's Float EP'. It glides on shimmering streamlined reverberations deftly underscored with repetitive percussion, soaring synths and hazy vocalisations. A blistering opening salvo indeed. Up next, Alaska's 'A Thousand Hours' bring 'Bleach' to the party. Lifted off their recently released full length album 'Sleep' this track is a simmering cloud of droning instrumentation and jangling reverb hued guitar progressions. Sporadic percussion adds a heavy atmosphere allowing that stunning wall of vocal tracks to penetrate the gloom and drench this listeners ears in glorious sonic joy and that's followed brilliantly by Swedish based dream-gazers 'Weather Island' with their stunning January 2017 released single 'The Eternal'. A massive wall of hazy guitars pound the senses as misty vocalisations swirl in the maelstrom buffered by meandering lead lines and huge chord changes. French based 'Fools Ferguson' appear here supported by 'The Alohama Lakes', a track lifted off their sublime January 2017 released album 'Dead Lines'. This track is a slow and yearning piece of heavy dream-pop whilst California based 'The Fawns Of Love' are up next with their decent track 'Silly Boy' lifted off 2017's 'Who Cares About Tomorrow'. This band are a constant enigma to me as they have seriously great potential but seem to care more about blog, webzine & American based online radio coverage than anything else. Either way 'Silly Boy' swoons into the ether held fast within a whirlwind of tremulous guitars and repetitive sequenced percussion. Add into the mix the dreamy vocalisations of Jenny Andreotti and what we have is a shimmering wall of translucent dream pop underscored by a flurry of shoegaze impressions, impressive instrumentation and some fantastic production.

Nathan Guzman aka 'Southpavv' is a Californian based dream-gaze artist and he is supported on this compilation by his mesmerising track 'Saturday Night 1997' lifted off an EP of the same name released back in June 2017. Luscious walls of swooning guitar & effervescent synth float effortlessly on the serine hum of bass frequencies as sequenced percussion lulls sweetly beneath the intoxicating swirl of reverberation. 'Saturday Night 1997' is a stunning track and a great addition here. Michigan based 'Cesium Swimsuit' appear next and they bring some rather mundane electro-gaze to the mix with their track 'Particles' whilst up next 'Wintermilk' hail from Russia and they fuse blissed out dream-pop and luscious synths together with almost ethereal vocalisations on their track 'Lots Of Light' lifted off their May 2017 released debut album 'Pretty Ugly'Florida based 'Zooey' create stunning blissed out dream-gaze and they are well represented here by a track called 'Never Was' lifted off their debut album entitled 'Bottlerocket', released back in April 2o17. Hazy walls of melodically infused instrumentation languish in pools of intense reverb as shimmering vocalisations float effortlessly throughout the mix firmly tethered to the earth by those impressive drum patterns. This is a beautiful track worthy of your ears. Virginia based 'Distant Creatures' have been wowing the underground shoegaze fraternity ever since the release of their immense two track single entitled 'Escape' back in September 2016. 'Haunted By You' appears here and it's is lifted from their recently released thirteen track opus entitled 'Snares In Safe Harbours'. It's a dreamy slice of reverberating joy permeated by luscious vocalisations, throbbing bass frequencies, surging synth swells and driving guitars. Andy Jossi aka 'The Churchill Garden' has worked with countless vocalists and used them to bring his sonic visualisations to life. Here he has supplied is latest track entitled 'Breath' fronted by Ben Aylward from Australian based outfit 'Swirl'. His vocal moves and undulates in a mesmerising manner capturing moments of melancholic abandonment as it pulses through wave after wave of magical instrumentation whilst up next UK based 'beatastic' appears here with his track 'Always Us', an atmospherically charged synth driven electro-gaze outing lifted off his 2016 released twelve track entitled 'Staticity'.

Texas based dream-gazers 'Blushing' have supplied their track 'Tether' lifted off an EP of the same name released back in January 2107. 'Tether' has gentle guitars that leads the way into a well written melodic structure built around the slow tap of drums, well mixed and comfortable bass and the noisy but ethereal influenced guitars. Special credit to the fantastic and memorable chorus, in which two soaring female vocals meld mesmerizingly with the instrumentation to create a beautiful and original type of sound. Liverpool based dreamy trio 'Cascadia Fault Line' appear here with an alt/indie acoustic track entitled 'Firefly', a run of the mill add reverb for effect sort of thing, lifted off their recently released two track single 'Firefly/Counting Kings On Rainy Days' whilst up next Texas based 'Creature In The Spiral' balance the playing field once again with their sublime dream laden track 'Anodyne', a simmering slice of melodic dream-pop that floats effortlessly on streamlined waves of tingling reverb, subtle synths and stunning vocalisations. Brazilian based post-gaze outfit 'Alles Club' unleash their explosive track 'Eclipse' lifted off their recently released three track remix package of the same name. Melodic guitar lines merge with huge walls of hazy atmospheric reverb, humming bass frequencies, ghostly vocalisations and busy percussion to collectively inject a massive lysergic ball of sonic energy out into the ether. 'Eclipse' is a triumphant addition to this collection of tracks by a band who I will be checking out further. Experimental duo 'Mayu' join forces with the ever reliant 'Tom Lugo' (Panophonic, Stellarscope, Patetico Recordings) to create an atmospherically dreamy ambient hued track entitled 'Mayu-Quiero Despertar', originally released back in November 2016. Danish based 'Keith Canisius' appears next, bringing his brand of spaced out electronica to the fore in the guise of 'We Gotta Get Going', a busy synth laden affair with repetitive sequenced percussion and huge spaced out chorus breaks. The compilation takes some what of a confusing twist here with the addition of two cover versions. The first is a cover of New Order's 'Temptation' by Maryland based 'Soñder' and it's followed by a cover version of The Byrds track 'It Happens Each Day' by 'Daydream Cathedral'. If you are into this sort of thing by all means check them both out but as I'm completely against cover versions appearing on underground releases I'm going to take a step out and move quickly on.

Tennessee based 'HR_Lexy' released her five track EP 'Nature Vs Neon' back on February 21st 2015. Her sound echoes through electronically charged gothic mysticism with dreamy ambient hued overtones and lashings of atmospheric synth, reverb and sequenced percussion. Her track 'You're Not Mine' is lusciously addictive and stands out here as a major positive. The albums penultimate track comes from Melbourne based droning alt-psych aficionados 'Seasloth'. Their latest album 'Somnuiva' was released on the 5th September 2017 and it is represented here with a track entitled 'Scarlet'. Throbbing bass lines bounce into the sonic ether tethered to subtle atmospherically charged drones and intense vocalisations. Brilliantly executed guitar progressions and the occasional instrumental drone wraps itself around cascading bass frequencies as dark malicious sound wave envelopes the entire track. 'Scarlet' is absolutely absorbing making 'Seasloth' a band to check out going forward. 'Dreaming In Sound' closes out with a track called 'Low Valley Low' by Washington based electronic dream-pop du0 'Static Shore'. This track is lifted off their July 2016 released five track EP 'Life & Love In The Hologram' and it's a shimmering synth laden slice of summery electronica with beautifully entrancing and utterly dreamy vocalisations underscored by sublime production. A fitting ending to another fantastic collection of tracks.

4/5

LINKS:

shoegazersanctuaryrecords.bandcamp.com

twitter.com/JShoegazer

facebook.com/groups/shoegazersanctuary/

facebook.com/shoegazersanctuaryrecords/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Del Chaney - (Author Photo)

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 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.


Tús Nua - Horizons - Featured Image - (700x700)

ALBUM REVIEW | Tús Nua - Horizons

Tús Nua - Horizons - Post Image - (300x300)ARTIST: Tús Nua 

RELEASE: Horizons 

RELEASE DATE: 15th September 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned

Every once and a while a brand new band comes along and gets me really excited about their music. Usually this aforementioned band comes straight out of left-field, far away from the usual underground cyclical music fraternity but with music that has the power to grab me by the ears and throw me willingly around a room. Back in July 2016 a little known band from Zagreb by the name of Tús Nua released their debut single 'Matches', then followed it up in July 2017 with their second single, the stunning 'Geysir', and I instantly fell in love with their sound. Collectively it consisted of melodic & atmospheric post-rock peppered at times with impressively hazy shoegaze moments that occasionally leans slightly into alt-rock territory and drags with it stunning vocalisations and impressive production values. This perfect combination of sounds have led the band to release their debut nine track album back on the 15th September 2017 entitled 'Horizons' and with the help of friends and fellow musicians they have put together one of my favourite albums of 2017 so far. The band are made up of  Jordi Ilić – guitar/vocals/synths, Jelena Božić – guitar/vocals/synths & Matea Milevoj – bass guitar/back vocals/synths with guest appearances on various tracks by Sara Ercegović (ŽEN), Goran Grey (###), Lucija Potočnik (Irena Zilic), Eva Badanjak (ŽEN) & vana Picek (π). 'Horizons' is available to buy/download right now from tus-nua.bandcamp.com

Hazy, reverberating sonic reflections intertwined with sullen chord progressions build into an atmospheric crescendo as 'Tendons' winds itself up into a brooding maelstrom of sound. Subtle electronically styled percussive hits add intense depth as the track explodes into life pulsing haunting vocalisations out into the ether. It's luscious guitar progressions swirl in a magnificent undulating sweep through resonating refractions and echoing instrumentation. Up next, 'Matches' washes into audible range trembling on a thread of  brilliantly atmospheric post-gaze. It swoons as its harmonious vocal track floats through the ether on a swirling foundation of addictive lead guitar licks and undulating synth lines. Its steadying percussive attack holds everything in place, gracefully leading the listener into explosive tempestuous finale thats filled to the brim with dreamy post-rock promise. 'There's A Thin Line Between Everything' jangles on a tremulous guitar progression as that haunting vocal track sucks you into the piece and leaves you floating brilliantly on swathes of shimmering reverb. Instrumentally this track ebbs and flows through explosive bass filled passages underpinned by mesmerisingly hazy guitars and stunning effects laden production that is steeped in ethereal atmosphere. 'Postcards With All Sorts Of Phrases' soars into the ether on streamlined guitars and ghostly atmospherics. 'Tús Nua' have this uncanny knack of building tracks slowly, before twisting and morphing them into massive melancholic beasts that teeter nervously on brilliantly executed drum patterns. Their tracks linger on addictive passages of guitar before diving headlong off the edge into mesmerisingly deep pools of shimmering shoegaze orientated instrumentation before climbing out and starting all over again. 'Postcards With All Sorts Of Phrases' is one of those tracks that brings you on a sonic journey from it's opening bars straight through until it's effects laden death throws. Simply stunning!

Up next, 'Geysir' opens up in a haze of jangling guitars, subtle synth swells and noisy atmospherics. Steady percussion keeps a firm bedrock underfoot as throbbing bass frequencies bubble and skip through entrancing verse progressions, deftly enveloping those impressive vocal skills. It soars through it's chorus parts with relative ease, swirling and tumbling through layers of reverberating instrumentation and magical lead lines effortlessly whilst 'Hills' fizzes into life on a 80's post-punk type of vibe before those sequenced synths start up and drag it into the modern age. Sublime vocals lead meandering guitar progressions on a merry dance through electronically charged percussion and subtle swells of synth led bass frequencies as those yearning vocalisations swirl and shimmer majestically. 'Fight!' is an angry brute that barks into life held fast to a punishing guitar progression as that slow moving percussion grinds through the ether on a wave of bass heavy frequencies and cascading lead lines. It builds into a menacing sonic behemoth dragging a vocal line out from somewhere within and drenching it in an interesting mix of post-rock, psych-rock and alt-gaze before 'Obvious' arrives on a lighter note with melodic guitars and blissed out vocals clinging to the throb of bass and a busy drum pattern. Lead guitars meander in and out of the overall mix as heavier passages of instrumentation rise and fall brilliantly, streaming through hazy reverberations and subtle lines of bubbling synth. The album closes out on a post-rock orientated gem. 'Repeat' is steeped in atmosphere and is underpinned from the off by another impressive percussive display that lays down a bedrock for those repetitive lead lines and that amazing vocal take. The hum of bass expertly hovers over deep lying synth as the track slows down to an addictive pace with 'Tús Nua' injecting a sort of lysergic/psychedelic hue into proceedings before fizzing out into a peaceful finale. A masterful end to a wonderful album.

5/5

LINKS: 

tus-nua.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/tusnuaofficial/

twitter.com/tusnuaofficial

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Del Chaney - (Author Photo)

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 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.


Citrus Clouds - Ultra Sound - Featured Image - (700x700)

EP REVIEW | Citrus Clouds - Ultra Sound

ARTIST: Citrus Clouds

RELEASE: Ultra Sound

RELEASE DATE: 22nd September 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Custom Made Music

Phoenix based desert-gaze trio ‘Citrus Clouds’ have announced the highly anticipated follow up to their debut full length album ‘Imagination’ which was released back in November 2016 via Custom Made Music. This new release entitled 'Ultra Sound' has it's official unveiling on the 22nd September 2017 and it consists of seven brand new tracks that swirl effortlessly in a sonic style that only 'Citrus Clouds' can create. The band are made up of Eric Pineda, Stacie Huttleston & Anthony Jarero and collectively they create stunning soundscapes that swim effortlessly through swathes of reverberating shoegaze and addictive, dreamy vocal lines that are impressively underpinned by steadying percussion and sublime instrumentation. 'Ultra Sound' is available to pre-order right now via citrusclouds.bandcamp.com

The repetitive tap of percussion announces the EP's opening track entitled 'Ocean Eyes' and it not long before we're awash in that Citrus Clouds trademark luscious wall of melody. Hazy guitars underpinned by the subtle throb of bass frequencies collectively swirl around that impressive vocal performance. There's a brilliant ethereal vocal highlight that touches each line throughout the chorus parts and that instantly catapults this track into a fantastic dream-pop state and it marks another level in 'Citrus Clouds' continuously evolving sound. Up next, 'You Loved Me First' fizzes into life held fast in an addictive shoegaze orientated cloud. Beautifully melodic duel vocal tracks meander through warbling guitar stabs and humming bass lines as that steady percussive swagger holds perfect time. Catchy chord structures and hook laden instrumental sequences mark this track out as a favourite of mine and let's not forget that impressive lead break and its soaring reverberations. Simply stunning!

'Life Happens' trembles on a quivering bass signature before opening up into a swirling maelstrom of mind numbing reverberations held fast to a punchy percussive swagger and overlaid by majestic vocalisations. A repetitive lead guitar line races in and out of the collective instrumentation casting magical sonic spells throughout the ether whilst 'Happy' (reminiscent at times to early 90's era 'Lemonheads') explodes into a cacophony of hazy sound waves and lazily undulates through laid back vocalisations, catchy chorus lines and sticky instrumentation that seems to linger long after the track ends. Up next is another favourite! 'Is This Real?' echoes in a 4AD kind of way. It's opening salvos sound like thunder before mellowing out into a melody driven slice of blissed out desert gaze. Jangling guitars ride a busy drum pattern deftly delivering that immense vocal take as it's distinct chord changes are permeated by the throb of bass and deep echoes of reverb.

The EP's penultimate piece entitled 'Here Is Where We Are' is drenched in luscious reverb and this helps immensely with it's atmospheric opening bars, instilling a kind of fragility that is both addictive and melancholic all at once. As per the norm for Citrus Clouds this track unfurls it's sonic tendrils and we're absolutely drenched in a collective downpour of melody as lead guitars soar into the ether accompanied by those beautifully intense backing vocals, cascading bass and that steady percussive assault. The EP closes out with what is one of the best pieces of music that I think I've heard this year. 'A Dream Of You' is a meandering wave of jangling desert-gaze. Lazy percussion keeps metronomic time as warbling guitars and a bloody brilliant bass line protects that haunting vocal line. The chord sequences on this track are absolutely fantastic and catch you off guard as they seamlessly connect verse and chorus with a pull of whammy bar and that downward step of heavy bass and as for that stunning instrumental break ...... well you'll have to hear that for yourself ..... THIS IS MUSIC!

As EP's go 'Ultra Sound' is one of the best I've heard this year. It's so exciting to hear a bands development from their early releases until now with each release being a positive step forward. As far as I'm concerned this band have gone from strength to strength and they've worked hard to create a sound all to themselves in a scene that is so bloody diluted right now the hip scensters are fighting over genre tags!

5/5

LINKS:

citrusclouds.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/citrusclouds/

twitter.com/Citrus_Clouds

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Del Chaney - (Author Photo)

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 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.


SPC ECO - Calm - Featured Image - (700x700)

ALBUM REVIEW | SPC ECO - Calm

ARTIST: SPC ECO

RELEASE: Calm

RELEASE DATE: 22nd August 2107

RECORD COMPANY: ELaB Records

It seems like only yesterday I was sitting down to give a listen to the latest release by legendary producer Dean Garcia and his daughter Rose Berlin aka SPC ECO. The release in question was 'Under My Skin' and it was awarded a 5/5 by yours truly; a feat not so easy to come by. Garcia and Berlin had come together to create something as dark as it was beautiful: ethereal vocal performances were combined with shadow-filled synth passages and lyrics, all topped off neatly with drum programming and a crisp clean production. When I heard that the duo were releasing a follow up full length album (entitled Calm) I thought two things: one, it will great to see what SPC ECO have churned out this time, and two, could they keep together over the length of an album? There was only one way to find out, I guess?

'Calm' opens with the MBV shoegaze-influenced fuzz of ‘Out of Sight’: its deep and rumbling walls of static back up Berlin's siren-like calls and humming. Behind the mix, Garcia twists knobs and presses buttons to give the music a focal point, hip-hop like beats guiding the rest of the instrumentation and music along slowly. Although it is a fantastic 90’s-ish track and perhaps even an album highlight, there is something blaringly obvious: this is going to be much denser, louder and wild than 'Under My Skin' (not that that is a bad thing). Somehow Berlin and Garcia follow an album highlight with yet another album highlight: the slower, but still as dense, ‘All the Voices’ utilizes a breathy performance by Berlin, backed up by a borderline industrial soundscape of the instruments behind. All the while as the track plays, brilliant ambiance and drone seeps in through the mix, making things heavier and more beautiful. ‘Rising Up’ stands as another absolutely fantastic track: the guitars again create a wall of technical fuzz and feedback, a drum beat again guides the music, but it's vocals are perhaps the most haunting found on the entire release. Things turn into some sort of wildly dark and exotically evocative dance party: equipped with songs you can dance to and songs you can have a neon-lit knife to at the same time.

‘All I Had’ captures a slower and a somewhat more sensual vocal performance by Berlin; meanwhile Garcia turns things down to a trip hop level, creating a mix of loud, noise filled dream pop-esque music. It's placement on the albums track list is also ace. Perhaps my favourite song on the entire album is the stellar ‘Pearls’ in which the vocals and instruments meet in a beautiful kind of harmonic pairing to create a downtrodden afterthought of dream pop. It’s an emotive mixture of contemplative ponderings and long winded passages of sun covered beaches with the texturally white backing of clouds amongst a blue sky. ‘Who Are You Now?’ is, however, much, much darker… Somewhat evil as well I guess. Its slow trip-hop inspired drum beat is accompanied with a creepy sample of bottles clanging together or something? Ambiance and atmospheric strings also add to the landscape even more thoroughly. ‘Ghosts’ is where things start to taste a little over-done: another slow tempo drum beat with breathy vocals make this song one of the more forgettable on 'Calm'. The more upbeat and soundscape inspired ‘When It Moves’ turns things back around, thankfully, injecting some of the elements that made previous tracks an invigorating , engaging and unique listening experience. ‘Get Lost’ is another album highlight, especially its massive, hi-hat trap inspired chorus, which underpins a sweep of ambiance and sampled noise over another brilliant vocal performance by Rose Berlin. Garcia truly turns up the ambiance on this track, weaving thin and slow instrumental sections with larger and more heavier passages of more colourful sounds.

‘Over’ seems to feature the most heavy percussion on the release: the programming with which the band uses is as thick and heavy as ever before. Behind the beats and vocals lies a bizarrely enjoyable sneaking sound of what could be the introductory music to a British detective series, full of rain, shadows and the occasional dash of neon lights. ‘Hours’ seeps all the atmospheric reverb, noise and ambiance into one melting pot of music; creating a dense and somewhat murky soundscape with which the song plays out. Berlin's voice fits well within the context of this kaleidoscopic tornado of sound, proving her graceful voice is a positive point of originality for SPC ECO.

While some elements of 'Under My Skin' (and perhaps SPC ECO themselves) are evident on 'Calm' (think the atmospheric and somewhat trance-inducing instrumentals, as well as the waveringly beautiful vocals), overall it seems the duo have created something somewhat noisier and denser than ever before. Where 'Under My Skin' relied on the atmosphere of each song (which it did very successfully) 'Calm' instead pulls down any filters that Garcia placed over the music previously; opening a flood gate of wall of sound type feedback, and more intricate and involved instrumentals throughout the album. Because of this, 'Calm' is at times more difficult a listen than 'Under My Skin', and while I champion noise, feedback and wall of sound song writing; I can understand why some listeners just may not connect with the album. Similarly, each tracks basic foundation (with some exceptions) is the same: a slow(ish) programmed drum beat plays over soundscapes while Rose Berlin smoothly dances between her upper register and mid-tone, spoken word style sensual vocal deliveries. Thankfully, I can acknowledge and see where the difference between tracks lies, and furthermore how much skill is required to write such music… I just assume some will not. Garcia and Berlin remain as beautifully beguile as ever: some tracks sound as though they should be on film soundtracks, some tracks sound like they should be played in the most warped and harrowing dance club in the world, others just sound completely and utterly mesmerizing in their beauty. Besides, it all really comes down to the artists and the music: a well seasoned and ridiculously talented producer doing what he does best, accompanied by some of his equally talented and interesting friends… And his daughter, who happens to have the kind of pipes that you can play at a demented carnival or a hypnotic lounge-type dinner party. Together they produce a strong, original and commendable album, achieved through programming, production and sound.

4.5/5

LINKS:

spceco.com

facebook.com/Spc.Eco

twitter.com/SPCECO

spceco.bandcamp.com

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.


A Thousand Hours - Sleep - Featured Image - (700x700)

ALBUM REVIEW | A Thousand Hours - Sleep

A Thousand Hours - Sleep - Post Image - (300x300)ARTIST: A Thousand Hours

RELEASE: Sleep

RELEASE DATE: 22nd July 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Vesper Records

Alaskan based shoegaze/post-punk aficionado Red Collier aka 'A Thousand Hours' released his latest ten track sonic opus entitled 'Sleep' to the waiting public back on the 22nd July 2017. 'Sleep' is the highly anticipated follow up to January 2017's insanely good 'Endless Grey' and was mainly written and composed by Collier himself with the addition of Demi Haynes on a few tracks, backing vocals by Nadi Mack and additional arrangements, synths and drums by Saad Khan. The album was released via Vesper Records and is abvailable to buy/download right now from onethousandhours.bandcamp.com

The album's opening track begins very brightly indeed before quickly nosediving into a mix match of genres. ‘Shipwreck’ is an EMO filled slice of alt-rock, infused sporadically with dreamy garnishes of melodic instrumentation and very precise guitar work; sufficed to say that I can't get my head around bands covering all angles generically and it seems to be the in-thing with most bands in this scene nowadays, a tactic used not only to keep the same circle of inner scenesters happy but more often than not deployed for PR purposes to catch the ears of as many blogs, online radio fanboy podcasts and webzines as is feasibly possible. As opening tracks go however (and I have to be brutally honest here), ‘Shipwreck’ unfortunately doesn't float my boat one bit and reminds me of those god awful mind numbing naughties era bands like ‘Paramore’ or ‘Dashboard Confessional’ although it’s one saving grace is it’s powerful vocal track. Up next ‘Christine’ shimmers on waves of ethereal joy as ‘A Thousand Hours’ redeem themselves ten fold. This track glistens on beautifully intense frequencies as it’s tumbling dual vocal lines swirl beautifully in an effervescent hue. Trembling guitar progressions ebb and flow effortlessly on subtle lines of synth and sequenced percussion, resonating brilliantly through sticky clouds of reverb all the while accompanied by some stellar music production whilst 'A Stillness In The Moment' is a mesmerising snap shot of late 80’s ‘Cocteau Twins’ with it’s post-punk inspired percussive attack and those beautifully intense vocals intertwined with soaring synth swells and the twang of tremulous guitar. Simply breathtaking. ‘Bleach’ ambles into the ether on a simmering cloud of droning instrumentation and jangling reverb hued guitar progressions. Sporadic percussion adds a heavy atmosphere allowing that stunning wall of vocal tracks to penetrate the gloom and drench this listeners ears in glorious sonic joy. ‘Bleach’ is another triumph on an increasingly impressive collection of tracks.

Up next, ‘The Understudy’ is instrumentally reminiscent of those seminal early 90’s stalwarts ‘Cranes’ with it’s experimental piano stabs precariously positioned on soaring lines of synth and echoing reverberation. It’s vocal lines are subdued and melancholic, weighed down by sequenced percussion and it’s dark ambient atmosphere whilst ‘Sleep Of Angels’ screams of ‘Siouxie Sioux’ with it’s breathtaking vocalisations, the thrum of bass and the deep punch of percussion intertwined with cascading synth and those swirling guitars. ‘Clutch’ soars into audible range on hazy lines of synth used primarily to drive those impressive vocals. Sparse experimental percussion clunks and bangs under the mix like some unheard track lifted from the recording sessions of ‘Massive Attacks’ masterpiece ‘Mezzanine’ as those heavy lines of synth loop and arc through catchy hook laden instrumental progressions, collectively streamlined into an impressively dreamy ambient hued behemoth. The albums penultimate piece entitled ‘It’s Rumoured’ is simply divine. Shimmering vocals absolutely drenched in reverb fizz through luscious synth progressions and jangling guitar signatures as those slow metronomic drum patterns keep a well grounded bedrock of frequencies churning underfoot. The addictive sequences of cascading keyboard keep this listener interested as they lead us to the tracks finale and on into a decent cover version of ‘Crushed’ by the fantastic ‘Cocteau Twins’. I'm not one for cover versions appearing on albums so I’ll let this one slide. You can make up your own mind on it though by listening to the album in full.

In closing, ‘Sleep’ will take a few listens before the penny drops and you realise just how good it actually is. It’s god awful beginnings eventually flower into a blossoming procession of impressive tracks that fit neatly into one another and leave a lasting imprint on the listener. Will it be in any ‘end of year’ lists? Only time will tell, but ‘A Thousand Hours’ have definitely placed themselves on the right path sonically. They just have to avoid those 90’s EMO comparisons!

4/5

LINKS:

onethousandhours.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/axthousandxhoursx/

twitter.com/xThousandHours

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Del Chaney - (Author Photo)

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 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.


Retrieval - Sleep Cycle - Featured Image - (700x700)

ALBUM REVIEW | Retrieval - Sleep Cycle

Retrieval - Sleep Cycle - Post image - (300x300)ARTIST: Retrieval

RELEASE: Sleep Cycle

RELEASE DATE: 21st July 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned

Tunisian based shimmering dream-gaze duo 'Retrieval' unleashed their latest album entitled 'Sleep Cycle' to the masses back on the 21st July 2017 and as far as we're concerned this instantly catapulted them into the 'Best Of 2017' category in the process. Their previous incarnation stood firmly in indie rock territory but boy are we glad that they decided to step outside that generic melting pot and turn their attention to pastures new. Their collective sound now swirls effortlessly through hazy 90's era shoegaze but is definitely underscored with modern instrumentation & production techniques that lifts their sonic footprint to new heights. The band are made up of Omar Chouikha - vocals/guitar/drums/ synths & Tima Savchenko - vocals/guitar/bass/synths and 'Sleep Cycle' is available to buy/download right now via retrieval.bandcamp.com

The albums opener bounds into the sonic arena in a rush of percussion and hazy reverberation. ‘Away’ soars through the ether on waves of turbulent guitar and throbbing bass frequencies, deftly circumnavigating impressive dual vocalisations. Up next, my favourite track, ‘Sleep Cycle’ screams into audible range with it’s soaring guitar signatures enveloping fragile vocalisations as it’s steady almost metronomic drum patterns keep everything strapped down. Intricate chord structures make way for catchy hook laden chorus changes allowing haunting vocal tracks to shimmer and undulate through layers of mesmerising production whilst ‘Calling’ floats effortlessly on a slow melodic frequency laden guitar progression accompanied by those stunning vocal tracks and an explosive percussive swagger. ‘Waves’ opening bars tremble on crisp acoustic frequencies before the track explodes into a melee of hazy instrumentation that is absolutely drenched in stunning reverb. Slow and ambling drum patterns guide this soundscape through meandering psychedelic impressions as it’s ghost like vocalisations float along in close proximity, rising and falling with every single chord change wrapped in luscious lines of lead guitar and the constant twang of acoustic vibrations.

‘Costal Life’ swirls into earshot on atmospheric samples, subtle fret noise and wavy instrumentation before ‘Bones’ erupts into a cloud of fuzzy splendour as it’s lumbering vocal tracks cut a v-shaped wedge into a massive wall of beautiful noise. Lead guitars wail as bass frequencies throb, collectively rocking on a bedrock of heady noise, synth and precision drum tracking. Up next, ‘In The Frame’ is a noisy modern day shoegazing beast with powerful guitars and post-metal like vocal tracks whilst ‘Shut Down’ loops and arcs through massive swathes of stunning reverb as it’s wispy vocalisations magically intertwine with bass frequencies, soaring lead guitar, bubbling synth swells and beautifully atmospheric production. The albums penultimate piece entitled ‘Luna’ is steeped in an ambient hue with subtle sonic reflections that swirl momentarily through layers of tumbling psychedelia before noisy guitars, plodding bass progressions and pounding hi-hat heavy percussion take over, dragging the track kicking and screaming into a melding of post-rock or post-metal with a dollop of soaring shoegaze for good measure. It’s all very confusing instrumentally but deeply satisfying all the same. The album closes out with ‘Lessons’, a droning malicious entity filled with noisy guitars and overfed pedal boards. Melodic vocal lines twist themselves around fuzz filled frequencies as hazy production swallows up any chord changes crazy enough to pop their head over the sonic parapet. Again there is a definite post-rock edge to this track as it undulates through the ether on an atmospheric and percussion-less voyage. A fitting end to a rather interesting album.

4/5

LINKS:

facebook.com/Retrievaltn/

retrieval.bandcamp.com

soundcloud.com/retrievaltn

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Del Chaney - (Author Photo)
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 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.

Crash City Saints - Are You Free? - Featured Image - (700x700)

ALBUM REVIEW | Crash City Saints - Are You Free?

Crash City Saints - Are You Free? - Post Image - (300x300)ARTIST: Crash City Saints

RELEASE: Are You Free?

RELEASE DATE: 11th August 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Saint Marie Records 

From the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan (apparently it’s across from Milwaukee, over Lake Michigan) comes 'Crash City Saints' and the interestingly bold and grand concept album they have created, entitled 'Are You Free?'. Released via the ever interesting 'Saint Marie Records' (whose back catalogue includes the impressive SPC ECO, Bloody Knives and The History of Colour TV), 'Are You Free?' tells the story of a boys attempts to mature and bloom in a small town in the 90’s when shoegaze was dense and on rotation in the mainstream and underground of the American music scene. 'Crash City Saints' have obviously utilized said music from the time and adopted it into a mix of shoegaze and alt-rock to tell a story over the course of twelve tracks that hails the significance of influence while also celebrating the freedom of originality in the context of modern music. 'Are You Free?' was released back on the 11th August 2017 and is available right now to buy/download on various formats via saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com

The album opens with ‘Ice Cream’ a nice little jolt of pop-based alternative rock that highlights the hushed MBV style vocalisations and strumming acoustic guitar. There are several fantastic moments, including the churning-downtrodden shoegaze riffs that are touched upon at around the one minute thirty mark, as well as a tasteful string instrument in the background of the music. ‘Spring Lines’ owes more to a soft kind of neo-grunge rather than shoegaze, but nevertheless showcases the instrumentation and weave in-out aesthetic of the guitars. As it is on much of the album, the drumming is tight and impressive; highlighted sufficiently and smoothly in the mix. ‘Weirdos Need Love To’ fits in well as a kind of interlude between the narrative structure of the main songs whilst 'Use Once Then Dispose’ is an absolute album highlight; the post-punk double tap snare and 90’s inspired guitars meld fanatically together to create a rock-inspired atmosphere; the vocals hum away, touching on lyrically much darker themes than have been explored previously on the album. That’s not to say they are not well written, actually it’s quite the opposite. ‘Spirit Photography’ is a smooth, aesthetically enjoyable take on what sounds like 90’s era Brit-pop, while also (eventually) smothering the track in Shoegaze based guitar freak-outs. A very enjoyable experimental track, ‘Spirit Photography’ sheds the skin of the previous songs pop elements; making way for emotive and warped guitar based-psych passages of song writing. I assume ‘Act 2’ is named as such because it brings forth another stage of story and narrative; either way, as a song it feels one of little narrative importance (lyrics are drowned out in a vocal effects) while the whole song takes an almost lo-fi quality (not complaining).

‘Dawn of A Bright New Nothing’ introduces a fantastic Barrett-esque piano line into the mix, making the song one of the most purely enjoyable on the album. Yes, that’s right, this reviewer has significantly enjoyed a song because it sounds, is mixed and feels nice and relaxed. ‘Annabella’ returns to a much more alternative rock sound, the chord progression of the bass and guitar highlighting a progressive rock influence that played an integral role in the development of shoegaze music back in the 90’s. Its outro, featuring a guitar solo over the vocal chant/hum ‘you don’t know my name’ is particularly satisfying. Another interlude follows before one of the longest tracks of the album ‘The Hour Of The Wolf’ opens with a sequencer based EDM style sound. Although this aforementioned beat grows tiring after a while, this doesn’t cease the track from growing into a heavy, loud and colourful collection of sounds and noise, backed by the thrashing of the drums. The outro guitar picking is especially amazing and very much in-context of the seven minute long song. The following dream-pop based ‘Harbour Lights’ remains a sonic (but almost as equally lengthy) contrast to the previous wild melding’s of ‘The Hour Of The Wolf’. In fact, ‘Harbour Lights’ is an album highlight: the guitar tones and overall atmosphere of the song congregate into a dream pop/shoegaze breath of fresh air after the previous songs noise and drenched soundscapes.

Releasing a concept album of any type is a big and daring leap. Will people be able to detail the story (if the concept is narrative)? Will the story get in the way of the music? What about the other way around? 'Crash City Saints' have previously stated there is a narrative kind of concept behind the album, and at times while listening to 'Are You Free?' I was lost as to what (if anything) was actually going on, but then I realized that its concept lies beyond the realm of just a narrative. Over the course of the album the band swiftly (and at times intellectually subtly) incorporate and throw influence and nods to the American music underground of the nineties. There's grunge, dreampop, alt-rock, dance and electronica, shoegaze and many more… This album is a musical exploration in concept rather than a boring ‘he does this, then she does that’ kind of structure that tends to drag down and drown many ‘concept’ albums. The song writing is strong, although at times relies too heavily on formulas used on previous songs, even if it is a kind of throwback. The mixing and production (done so by Elliott Frazier of Ringo Deathstarr) is of course a brilliant, but also (if you listen to a lot of it) a well-rounded and respectful throwback to the music of the 90’s. Listen for an interesting story (accompianed and helped along by interesting lyrics), great instrumentation and playing, and a reminder of the brilliant and nostalgic music of a few decades ago, achieved through production, mixing and sound.

4/5

LINKS:

saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com

twitter.com/crashcitysaints

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.