ARTIST: Lunar Twin
RELEASE: Night Tides
RELEASE DATE: 17th March 2107
RECORD COMPANY: Moon Sounds Records
The word Hawaii… What does it bring to your mind? A few palm trees? Margaritas? Some tropical birds? Some surfing? Gigantic waves? The wallowing baritone mysticism of Lunar Twin? Blue ocean? Blue sky? The heat? The electronic representation of a film that’s as beautiful as it is dark? What about the surf rock? With the eye catching tag of ‘Hawaii’ on their Bandcamp genre tags list, the LA/Hawaiian based band Lunar Twin’ latest mini album/EP Night Tides was a confusing piece of art from the start. I thought, judging by the glisteningly and pretty cover, the track names and the geographical elements of the band, that the music was to be ‘dancehall’ or a kind of a chillwave outing… But it wasn’t. It turned out to be much more interesting, so interesting, actually, that it garners the esteem of a 5/5 rating. It’s a bamboozling listen; electronica gets thrown in a whirl pool of dark synthwave, lounge music, down tempo hip-hop like instrumentation, dream pop and a dash of experimental rock/art rock music just for good taste. Imagine a baritone cowboy balladeer teams up with a man who knows his way round a keyboard/FX station, they both get really drunk in Southeast Asia and start making lounge music, and then get booked to play a poolside party at some movie stars place in Beverly Hills in the middle of the 80’s… Wild.
Night Tides by Lunar Twin
Night Tides opens with the beautiful tropical, downtempo, electronic vibes of ‘Waves’, which is built around a vibraphone lead percussion section that sits at the back of a contemplative and ‘downtown’ style synth progression. A guitar melds itself into the mix occasionally; forging lighter musical imagery to the context of the synth and piano. The standout, however, is the vocals. Where any old dream pop maverick or uninventive electronic producer would have guaranteed a higher, shimmering voice to sit alongside the instrumentation, Lunar Twin instead throw in the rumble and grit of a deep baritone-lead vocal performance. Thus, instead of two contrasting sounds bouncing off each other in the ‘light’ of the vocals and the guitar and the ‘dark’ of the rest of the instrumentation, the duo instead throw in so many different contrasting sounds that you’re left trying to figure out if you’re on a river boat cruise or lost in the backstreets of Poland in the cold. Its brilliant. ‘Blood Moon’ could very well be the soundtrack to a film noir movie. A nifty drum beat rolls the music along in a similar fashion to the strumming guitar that keeps everything together; built into the foreground of the song, however, is a bonkers genius kind of flamenco guitar picking, the sounds of a subtle string section, and a sequenced synth noise that bounces around in an echo-like fashion. Here the vocals are much more hushed and wicked; locking in magnificently with the lyrics of the song and projecting a much less tropical, more lounge music inspired sound.
‘Coral Sea’ turns things almost completely in a synthwave fashion, it opens with pulsated beat sequencing, the ease of a synth choir, a fantastic drum beat and the deep pipes of the vocals. Again, it’s a kind of film soundtrack, this time to some sort of drive into a city in the dark. The chorus’s beautiful orchestral/synth backing is truly delightful and eventually, as the song goes on, one can tell how the song relates to its title. The second half especially, has the aforementioned flavour of what some would call a ‘dark paradise’ where the sky is far from blue, but the scenery still plays a key role in the mood and feel of the place. ‘Birds of Paradise’ turns fully synth orientated, built around the dancing plucks of synths and further sequencing; showcasing the technical wizardry going on behind the scenes on the release. ‘Prayers of Smoke’ is a similar sound to the synth-laced ‘Birds of Paradise’, although the chorus returns to the duos visual projection of a tropical island or beach. A slow drum beat and wavering guitar tones highlight a swish of spaghetti-western guitar playing that overlaps more sequenced synth ques. The song at times, in a good way, sounds like its quivering and spinning into art-style noise pop, but always regains its focus and rhythm in enough time and effort to saviour itself from complete experimentation. Of all the one-track captures of a kind of mystic-tropical beauty on the release, the title track succeeds wholly in its obtuse, morphing beauty the most. I’m going to try and describe it (and that probably still won’t do it complete justice.) A synth and vocal performance open the song, which tells of a train trip and mentions oceanic imagery in a highly poetic form, then, another synth floats by, coupled with what I can only assume is a sample of some kind of Asian harp or guitar instrument. Throw into the mix an uncanny wave kind of vocal sample that sounds like its in an echo chamber. And while your floating on the dazingly metaphorical ocean of sound and allure thinking just how amazingly nostalgic the whole thing is, you notice that the synth chord progression that glues the song together isn’t actually that sweet and golden; it’s actually kind of dark. Then you think ‘f#ck, those wind chime noises aren’t actually that aesthetically pleasing either’ and then you look around yourself and admit that Lunar Twin have somehow made you re-think your imaginary surroundings. Within the context; the mental imagery of the song, you put the puzzle pieces together and feel very confused, almost in wonderment of the kind of sound they have morphed and thrown together. The moral of the story is, is that the whole thing is ridiculously experimental. So experimental in fact, that you just have to sit back and commend the fact that the band show their skills and pure smarts, their kind of own inventiveness or genius on the song.
Night Tides is, in retrospect, a musical interpretation of its title. Between the sunny visions of the tropical ocean and the islands around the place is the scent of experimental waves and a genius, kind of obtuse serenity. It’s a truly beautiful EP, and to summarise all these words and descriptions, I would have to say its major triumph is its originality and creativeness. Said originality and creativeness is achieved through the tight, kind of stripped back production and the great mixing on the release; that really highlights a lot of different sounds on a lot of different tracks. With that said, the actual song writing on the release is at the crux of this praise. Between the wild genre mixing, which includes synth-wave, easy listening, lounge music, dream pop, electronic, oriental music and art rock among others, to the fantastically simple meld between the vocals and the instruments, the duo show their skills in a subtle way from song to song. Sometimes, bands say things like ‘this is a soundtrack to a dissimulated movie’ or something, in an attempt to give a ‘nudge-nudge’ to try and get you to imagine them in a film soundtrack context. In the case of Lunar Twin, you instead make your own connection; and even if that isn’t the connections or thoughts that I had, it is easy to be rewarded from the imagery and thoughts that this music creates. With that all said, it might not be everybody’s cup of tea; the artistic and technical experimentation for the most part is skilfully subtle, but at other times you might need a second listen to focus on every sound on the release. This element is one that I thought was brilliant, but some may believe it is too non-linear. Similarly, appreciate the music for what it is; that’s a piece of experimental mastery, achieved through performance, writing, 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
ARTIST: Painted Mirror
RELEASE: Painted Mirror EP
RELEASE DATE: 3rd March 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Baltimore, MD-based Painted Mirror have just issued their self-released and self-titled 6-song debut, a statement made all the more impressive by the fact that its release signals the band's first anniversary. Vocalist/keyboardist Sam Morgan, bassist Brian Fee, drummer John Theuerkauf, and guitarist Jake Smith formed the band in March of 2016, with a mission statement to create pop songs with an undercurrent and atmosphere of post punk and darkwave music. To that end, their sound is very much rooted in the darker alternative sounds of the mid- to late-80s, complete with keyboards playing a prominent role, as opposed to taking their inspiration from the more guitar-centric bands of the early 90s as many of their contemporaries do. The EP can be purchased via paintedmirror.bandcamp.com
Painted Mirror by Painted Mirror
The lead track on the EP, "Hearts", begins with a shimmering, cascading guitar line and icy stabs of synth strings, supported by a strong bass tone and the steady percussion of drummer John Theuerkauf. The song immediately harkens back to those dark, 1980s dream pop ballads we slow-danced to while clinging to our cherished sweethearts in a dimly-lit middle school gym; wanting so much to be loved and understood, but fearing that this time will be exactly the same as all the others. Sam Morgan's voice here bring to mind the emotive vocals of Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon, particularly in the impassioned pleas of the chorus. The complexities of relationships and the longing for connection are the focus here, and this song ends with the lyric "hearts aren't always on display / we buried the truth in the dark". Sometimes the dark is the only place left to leave our feelings when it all goes wrong. "Crystal Clear" unfolds layers of '80s New Wave, its loping drum pattern and funky, throbbing bass line recalling the New Romantic-era, while Smith's guitar shimmers in reverberating bell tones and Sam Morgan's Gahan-esque vocals flourishes round things out nicely. "Inside Out" brings the band's post-punk influences to the fore, featuring a very prominent bass line and harder-driving drum beat than the band had thus far utilized. Jake Smith's guitar work creates a hazy-gazey atmosphere that snakes its way around Morgan's lofty vocalizations, which again harken back to their roots in 1980s alternative music, when nearly everyone on both sides of the Atlantic seemed to have adopted an English accent.
The second half of the EP opens with "Rumors", a song that dials back the forward-driving momentum of the previous track and creates a softer, sensual atmosphere thanks to some very emotive guitar dynamics from Smith. The tone of the song is the perfect support for Morgan's vocals full of heartache and lyrics that explore the pain of a love that is falling apart. "The Fix" again brings Duran Duran to my mind, particularly their 1982 single "Save a Prayer". The rhythm section lays down a dancefloor-friendly framework, while exotic keyboard flourishes and a straight-from-the-'80s guitar tone create an otherworldly quality that might be the high-point of the EP for this reviewer. The closing track, "Tell Me Maybe", is pure dream pop slow burn. The longest track on the EP, it starts off languid and dreamy and in its final moments builds into a wall of sound powerhouse that any modern shoegaze band would be proud of, all feedback squall and driving, post-rock rhythms.
With its darkly personal exploration of love lost and love gone wrong, Painted Mirror's self-titled EP is a very impressive debut from a band barely a year into their career. I look forward to hearing where the next year will take them.
Marc Dooley is a Nashville-based writer, musician, visual artist, freelance video editor, indie comic book collector, film buff and lifelong music connoisseur with an ever-expanding music library of nearly 6,000 CDs, 250 vinyl records and over a TB worth of music in digital formats, in a multitude of genres ranging from alt- and classic country to underground hip-hop and electronica, shoegaze and classic indie/alternative rock, 1960's and '70s psychedelia & pop (domestic and international), post-rock and metal to classic jazz, blues, soul, funk, reggae and afrobeat.
RELEASE: Sooner EP
RELEASE DATE: TBA
Brooklyn based alt-shoegaze quartet 'Sooner' have announced their debut self-titled EP to the masses over on their bandcamp page. Their sound hovers somewhere between hazy shoegaze & driving alt-rock with a splattering of beautifully intense dream pop courtesy of it's stunning vocalisations. The band are made up of Federica Tassano - vocals, John Farris - guitar, Tom Wolfson - drums, Ehren Brenner - bass and although the EP isn't available to buy/download just yet there are tracks available to listen to over at soonermusic.bandcamp.com
Full EP out soon by Sooner
Jangling guitars drenched in shimmering reverberation announce the opening salvos of ‘Evil To Me’, track one on this impressive release from Brooklyn based alt-shoegaze quartet ‘Sooner’. The arrival of cascading bass frequencies hugging lazy percussion add depth as beautifully melodic vocalisations courtesy of Federica Tassano float into the ether and cling effortlessly to the collective instrumentation. ‘Sooner’ inject soaring hooks into their chorus progressions that catch this listener off guard as they sweep me up before floating away into gloriously hazy sound waves. Up next, ‘Shadower’ begins in a haze of swooning guitars before exploding into a blissful conduit for another impressive vocal performance. This track meanders through it’s verse parts with ease before unleashing a stunning chorus progression that drives into the atmosphere held fast in a cyclical ball of golden instrumentation that deftly circumnavigates that beautifully intense vocal.
‘Juniper’ is beautiful in it’s simplicity with its stripped back acoustics allowing the vocals to take centre stage, underscored by subtle droning lead lines that meld effortlessly with the twang of acoustic guitar whilst ‘About The Blue’, the EP’s penultimate piece, has shimmering dream pop tendencies intertwined at times with fuzzy summery vibes and intermittent layered shoegaze highs. The EP closes out with ‘Dust’ and it begins with a blissed out jangling guitar progression riding a busy drum pattern that’s underpinned by reverberating swells of hazy production and throbbing bass frequencies. Lead guitar lines whip up a frenzy at times as the track changes tempo but its the collective instrumentation as a whole that acts like a sonic chariot purposefully created to carry those blissed out melodically charged vocal lines. A great ending to a rather interesting EP.
Del Chaney has spent the last four years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
ARTIST: Moon Gravity
RELEASE DATE: 27th February 2107
RECORD COMPANY: Silber Records
The cool sounds of ice particles floating in the air has been captured in sonic form by Stockholm's 'Moon Gravity'. The three track release, Antarctica, glides in glacial beauty. It was officially released back on the 27th February via Silber Records and is available to buy/download right now from moongravity.bandcamp.com
Antarctica by Moon Gravity
Iridescent layers spiral round the eardrum in Nightfall. A faint drone ebbs and flows in Snowstorm, before sharp shards of guitar build into something substantial. A dusting of vocal adds to the atmosphere and it gets truly deep and dark when the bass kicks in. The cosmic rays of Purpling spread out into the wintry sky like the Northern Lights.
In her time, Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr has attended raves and rock clubs. She enjoys pedals, pizza and spy dramas. Sarah also plays guitar in Edinburgh-based noisemakers Wozniak and is co-founder of Morningside Young Team who put on gigs and put out records for discerning audiences who enjoy fuzz and confusion.
ARTIST: Rancho Relaxo
RELEASE DATE: 10th May 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Wrong Way Records
One of our favourite bands here at Primal Music, Norwegian based 'Rancho Relaxo' have announced a brand new five track EP entitled 'Polarized', penned in for release on May 10th 2017 via the ever reliable 'Wrong Way Records'. 'Polarized' is the bands eight release & it again epitomises their unique talent of sonic experimentation by creating whirlwinds of intense electronically charged psych intertwined at times with subtle spaced out kraut rock tones. The album has the pleasure of being touched by the bands brand new 60's rhythm ace drum machine which completely turns their overall sound on it's head thus creating a sublime collection of tracks that are worthy of your ears. It is being exclusively released as part of 'Wrong Way Records' Blacklist 100 Series and is available to pre-order right now on lovely 12' hand numbered black vinyl via wrongwayrecords.bandcamp.com
Rancho Relaxo - POLARIZED - Blacklist 100 by Rancho Relaxo
‘Spooky Satisfaction At A Distance’ arrives into the ether held fast in a repetitious percussive swagger as its soaring synth swells echo and drone meticulously as if held in a continuous sonic stasis. Angry guitars growl and belch out distorted atmospherics whilst its haunting vocalisations swirl through swathes of gratifying reverberation. It is a sublime opening track filled with intensely hypnotic instrumentation that streams effortlessly through layers of blissed out electronically charged modern psychedelia. ‘Augen Zu’ drones and swirls into audible range strapped to sequenced electronic percussion and a deeply repetitive guitar progression. This track builds through each chord change brilliantly as underlying synth swells buffer and harass those hypnotically charged vocal lines with stunning aplomb. The arrival shimmering tambourine hits and undulating shakers add instant atmosphere as those cascading synth lines loop and arc through clouds of reverb like some sort of sonic hallucinogen. ‘Augen Zu’ is sublimely addictive and is probably my favourite track on this entire release.
Up next, ‘Life & Death’ billows effortlessly through infectious guitar progressions, gyrating organ lines and distant vocalisations that collectively ripple and surge through spiralling production and woozy denouements whilst swirling frequency laden sonic tendrils reach out to wrap themselves around sequenced electronic drum patterns as ‘Tell Me Something’ enters earshot draped in a hazy veil of droning instrumentation that melds effortlessly with atmospheric swells of synth & guitar. The arrival of distant reverb drenched vocalisations add depth to the track as it’s snaking percussive thrills dance and skip on a bedrock of iridescent bass frequencies and vibrating mechanical sound waves. The EP’s closing piece growls and fizzes into earshot on a wave of punishing feedback driven guitar squall. ‘My Girl (Spoken)’ shudders precariously on a kind of metronomic percussive precipice as throbbing bass frequencies hold court underlined by electronic beeps and whirrs that accompany an up front vocal line. Noisy guitars circumnavigate the entire piece emitting a menacing atmospheric hue to proceedings as the track rises and falls hypnotically through stunning vocal samples and swirling clouds of reverberation. A fitting end to a bloody marvellous EP.
RELEASE DATE: 1st March 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Gravy Train Recordings
Noisy Bristol based trio 'Jesuits' have just released a brand new six track EP entitled 'Cloudhead' via the UK based independent record label 'Gravy Train Recordings'. The band are made up of Arthur Jay - Vox/Guitar, Lily Cook - Bass & Miles Hastings - Drums and their sound is peppered with wide ranging influences such as post-punk, shoegaze, psych & no-wave. 'Cloudhead' is available to buy/download right now from jesuits.bandcamp.com
Cloudhead by Jesuits
In a turbulent cloud of repetitious feedback whipped by swirls of reverberation the delicious opening salvos of ‘Hardware Store’ swirl into the ether. This menacing reproach is quickly swept away by whirring winds of melody driven instrumentation, those instantly addictive vocalisations and the constant thrum of metronomic percussion. This track vibrates and throbs through layer after layer of stunning production, is peppered with noisy moments of screaming feedback and blissfully lurches from chord change to chord change without breaking sweat. A magnificent opening track indeed. Up next, Jesuits inject some swagger into proceedings as ‘Masturbation Clerk’ drives headlong into a raging whirlwind of explosive drum patterns, throbbing bass frequencies and noisy guitars that collectively circumnavigate those impressively melodious vocal lines. Lead lines whip and lick the entire piece to within an inch of its life before we’re led into the tracks final death throws.
‘Pescatori’ builds from the off, morphing monstrously into a gyrating repetitious behemoth filled with pulsating instrumentation and unrepentant reverberation whilst the EP’s title track ‘Cloudhead’ does exactly as it says on the tin and it’s droning (one minute thirty seven second) assault on the senses is well received. The EP’s penultimate piece is a seething ball of sonic energy. ‘Radio Bunnies’ bounces into the sonic ether pinned fast to a steadying drum pattern and cascading guitar progressions. It’s vocal lines are sublime and they ride a wave of overdriven noise that spirals deliciously through swathes of screaming lead guitar licks that are underscored by throbbing bass lines and layered production theatrics. The EP’s closes out surging through a tempestuous stream of explosive instrumentation that is reminiscent at times to early Creation Records era ‘Swervedriver’. ‘Hexx’ is deliriously malicious, it takes no fucking prisoners and is probably my favourite track on this entire release. It’s a marvellous end to a brilliantly executed EP.
RELEASE DATE: 14th December 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Lavender Sweep Records
I am riding a wave of nostalgia – it’s 1994 day on 6 Music and impossible not to think back with fondness. So when I open the email from the esteemed editor and find that it’s a re-release of a lost EP from 1993, the timing could not be better. According to their Bandcamp page, Ozean formed in California in the early 90s after a flyer was handed out at a shoegaze show. They soon recorded their first demos on a Fostex Model 80, straight to tape. No unlimited takes in those days, and definitely no plug-ins! They made some cassette tapes, and split soon after.
Ozean by Ozean
Twenty-odd years on, those original recordings have been uncovered, and thanks to the wonder of the internet, Ozean’s dreaminess is making it out to a whole new audience. The timing is good – the shoegaze resurgence is well underway, with many of the genre’s big-hitters releasing new music this year. Ozean’s self-titled three track demo is a perfect parcel of the loveliness you’d expect of a band formed after a Ride and Lush gig. The fluttering guitars and wistful vocals transport the listener, overwhelmed and sentimental, back to those heady days. As well as their stated influences, I can hear The Sundays in Scenic. Fall floats like a feather, with flanged bass anchoring those big guitars. The closing track Porcelain drifts with no particular place to go. Ah, the possibilities.......
The EP was re-released via Lavender Sweep Records over in Wales on a limited edition c30 which has already sold out but you can get your hands on it digitally via the bands own bandcamp page: ozean.bandcamp.com
ARTIST: Seventeen Years
RELEASE DATE: 14th February 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Spirit Goth Records
What do you get when you cross the ethos and contextual background and instrumentation of old school post-punk with a fresh, modern form of dream pop? Well it’s something like 2004 by Kansas based Seventeen Years, an EP that appears not in waves of noise or walls of sounds, but in a slight, dreamy way… With a tinge of punk thrown in for a wild flavour. At times the release can be so subtle that the vocals fade into the music; creating one big pool of sounds, thoughts and noises that form a song. 2004 is by no means a step forward in the genre; nor is it wildly different, it’s just a simple little EP… With a bit of this, and a bit of that. The album was released back on the 14th February 2017 via the ever prolific 'Spirit Goth Records' and you can buy/download it right now from spiritgothrecords.bandcamp.com
2004 by Seventeen Years
2004 opens with ‘Strain’ . It features a clean, crisp FX guitar sound and the churn of a tight bass guitar riff that sounds like it could have come straight out of a 1980’s coldwave/post-punk song. In a similar way, the drums smash away in a double tap snare mentality that accompanies the bass guitar smoothly; creating a tight, well performed and well produced rhythm section. However, of all the songs instrumental and production elements, it is the skilfully drowned out vocals that give the song a radiant, almost slowcore, dark mentality. After a few listens, one can really appreciate ‘Strain’ for what it is; and that is a dark, wallowing piece of contemplation. Where many dream pop artists turn to the bright, sparkling cliffs of blue oceans and shorelines for metaphors and onamattapea to create a warm feeling of nostalgia or hazy coloured contemplation, Seventeen Years turn the opposite direction and carve up something different altogether, while at the same time maintaining that aforementioned air of nostalgia or yearning. ‘Worthless’ begins with the same guitar picking as on ‘Strain’ and dives further into the musical style explored on the opening track. The vocals remain drowned; a major highlight of the song is a passage where the vocal performance and guitar interlock in a solo section where one tries to dampen out the other: brilliant. Although the greatest moment in the song is the fantastic guitar solo/outro in the second half of the song; speaking so many words without singing any of them.
‘VGS’ begins with a programmed beat before introducing guitar and then a few bright soundscape pieces of noise that link back into themes associated with rear-view mirror gazing. It may be the EP’s best song, fit with an obtuse kind of artificial sound in the drum machine that is contrasted with a heartfelt vocal and guitar performance, all the while underpinned by the bright sounds and samples that dance around in the mix. ‘Bury’ turns the mood into a lighter, brighter feeling. Credit to the fantastic riffs explored on the song that really highlight the bands skill and talent. A song that sounds different again is the follower ‘Moonhome’, which seems to see the music shining brighter while the lyrics going the opposite direction. There is further exploration made with the guitar, and a great sense of musical blending and textualizing with the bass and guitar sounds. Toward the second half of the song, the band enter into a dreamy, hazy, jam like section of music that sounds truly marvellous, underpinned by the upper fret pickings of a FX’d guitar. ‘Ascend’ begins with a warm wavering pad of soundscaped pop synth that progresses all the way through the song; eventually accompanied by percussive electronics and some buzzing and whizzing noises that sound like a computer being started up or something like that. ‘Ascend’, in context with the EP, is like some sort of outro or later album interlude; providing beautifully dreamy instrumental sounds.
Funnily enough, 2004 sounds like some sort of concept album when you think about it. It’s concept being the sound and instrumentation of the music; beginning in a dark and hushed way before slowly turning light as the EP goes on. Perhaps Seventeen Years meant to do this, maybe they did not, either way 2004 is a great piece of music that really makes use of the things it has. There isn’t eighty million synths all humming away in a cacophony of sound, there’s no ethereal samples or tricky sequencing; it’s just a band, a few tricks here and there and then some added sounds and noises that add to the whole thing and ties it together nicely. As mentioned before, the performances highlight what the undercurrent of dream pop practice really concerns… That is the belief that music can morph into imagery, and that imagery can be as emotive as the music itself. Seventeen Years accomplish that here, through mixing, performance, production and sounds.
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 the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
ARTIST: Hanford Reach
RELEASE: Canyons EP
RELEASE DATE: 10th March 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Medium Lavender
Brooklyn based psych/shoegaze outfit 'Hanford Reach' formed back in 2016 following the dissolution of a previous incarnation called 'Sky Picnic'. Consisting of Chris Sherman and Leah Cinnamon the band's sonic tendrils reach primarily into the realms of jangling shoegaze hued pop but with a subtle undercurrent of driving post-punk, reminiscent at times to seminal US based post-punk connoisseurs 'For Against', Boston based shoegaze outfit 'Swirlies' or more recently 'The Marbles Jackson'. 'Hanford Reach' originally started as a solo project for the duo to create new material but they are now currently working behind the scenes to take this EP on tour with live shows promised throughout 2017. Their debut four track EP 'Canyons' gets it's full release on March 10th via their own record label 'Medium Lavender'. You can however pre-order it right now digitally from hanfordreach.bandcamp.com
The EP opens with 'Shifting Patterns'. A shimmering almost effervescent like guitar strum awakens a psychedelic behemoth before tumbling skittishly into reverb laced soundscape filled with impressive instrumental breaks, luscious lead guitar lines, thunderous percussion and that incredibly addictive vocal line. What is instantly apparent as this EP unwraps itself is that 'Hanford Reach' are intellectually astute musicians who can inject a serious amount of melody into every single facet of their songwriting without losing any of that old school 90's charm that has been previously written about them. 'Shifting Patterns' surges and heaves through magical percussive breaks & intricate lead lines that wrap themselves around the vocals adding depth and weight to their overall sound. A brilliant opening track indeed. Up next, 'Muted Edge' swirls into the ether on a menacing instrumental drone and a steady drum pattern. Jangling guitars take over, draped in swathes of reverberating frequencies and subtle synth swells. Another impressive vocal lines sits atop an undulating wave hypnotic instrumentation firmly fixed to a bedrock of throbbing bass lines and tumbling percussion.
The EP's penultimate piece entitled 'Theatre Of Shadows' opens with a turbulent jazz tinged drum pattern intertwined with cascading bass frequencies and swirling psych tinged guitar lines before it's sublime vocalisations enter the fray, looping and arcing effortlessly in unison with the metronomic swing of the collective instrumentation, as if being locked in a kind of sonic gravitational pull. Theatre Of Shadows has the songwriting prowess of 'For Against' with its soaring shoegaze highs coupled with driving post-punk lows but there's also a brilliantly intoxicating modern twist to this track that's very hard to shake off. 'Canyons' closes out with 'Daydream Hues', an impressive slice of psych tinged shoegaze filled with steading drums, throbbing bass progressions and subtle synth swells that are overlaid by jangling guitar lines and explosive passages of swirling reverb laced instrumentation, vocal samples and shimmering tambourine shakes. A brilliant ending to an impressive debut EP.
'Hanford Reach' have an old school sound. Their musicianship & songwriting abilities are faultless. This EP is not experimental at all so it's not going to create new sub-genres in this ever evolving scene. But what it does do is; it gives an honest doff of the proverbial cap to those shoegaze/psych/post-punk pioneers who created these genres originally and thats what makes this EP something really, really special.
ARTIST: Andrew Younker
RELEASE DATE: 2nd February 2017
While many of us were in a turkey coma over the festive season, Andrew Younker appears to have experienced a bout of intense productivity. He's created an impressive 6 track EP that builds on the woozy sonic foundations of 'Brainchild' (released November 2016). Andrew's voice and approach somehow make me think of Sufjan Stevens, it's probably more my perception than reality, but sometimes that's how it goes. The aesthetic is familiar, with washes of beautiful noise given direction mainly through the insistent bass. There's a strong electro feel, but plenty of organic noises too. 'Microchasm' is available to buy/download right now from andrewyounker.bandcamp.com
Microchasm by Andrew Younker
The resolute rhythm of Electric Chair sets the pace for the EP, the bassline pushing the song along pleasingly, while the guitars swirl about somewhere up above. Totaled Ambulance's post punk feel with its reverby snare sound and, of course, that bass bowling along in its icy beauty, nods to the 80s. Multi-layered melodies shine through Eyes Turn Blue. The gritty but glorious guitars glow with restrained power, as does Andrew's voice. There's a change of feel with Down The Stairs which in contrast to the immaculate construction of earlier tracks seems freer, with an almost psychedelic guitar line.
A monotone robotic voice sings plaintively in Sophisticated, which soon merges in into Pretend Therapist. Again the 80's influences are clear, but Younker's tastes are impeccable, every sound carefully selected and placed perfectly. Microchasm is an interesting step in Younker's musical development, exuding a cultivated chilliness. Can't wait to hear where he goes next.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: