EP REVIEW | New Horror - Fruitless Search

a2499263253_16ARTIST: New Horror

RELEASE: Fruitless Search

RELEASE DATE: 27th August 2016

RECORD COMPANY: Soft Verse

Dirty, wild, echoing and beautiful… These are all words one would use to describe the EP Fruitless Search by lo-fi post-punk band New Horror. Their sound is one of untamed uniqueness, nestled somewhere near the punk-violence/garage sound of a band like 'Pigeon Religion' and the warped but dazzlingly emotive riffs of a band like 'Codeine' (but louder). Indeed, Fruitless Search will not be everybody’s cup of tea but, perhaps, this is an indication of the kind of alternative brilliance that can be heard on this EP. Slowcore, garage rock, noise, lo-fi, post-punk, dream rock and alternative rock are just SOME of the genres that get tossed around, from song to song and sound to sound. Funnily enough, most will mute the noise frequency of the band, complain about how distanced the vocals are or beg to know why the guitars are so *expletive word* loud; But honestly these songs and sounds are refreshing… In a technological age where everybody thinks their sound and image are their own, a band like this don’t even try to mount the task of being ‘original’, rather they stick to what they know, churn out rattling song after song after song and defy genres in the process.

The ghostly, dark and garage infused post-punk song ‘Like a Child’ opens the EP with the bands noise-riddled guitars and drumming reminiscent of classic 80’s style post-punk. The vocals echo heavily in the distance; they sit at such a volume that many can hardly hear them amidst the churning fuzz of the guitar. But before you jump to the conclusion that it’s just a pile of wild fuzz proclaimed to be ‘noise music’ the band showcase their song writing abilities to the absolute maximum when they include an emotive guitar riff over the top of the aforementioned noise. This allows the song to rise from pure noise rock into the realms of dense lo-fi post-punk, with touches of the French orientated Coldwave and other dream rock elements thrown in for good measure. Up next, 'In The Night' growls into earshot with driving guitars, throbbing bass and a repetitious drum pattern before ‘Everything Feels Like a Stab in the Heart’ ambles into frame featuring what sounds like an authentic eighties drum machine keeping the tempo high and fast, as the band show off a more alternative rock related sound. The song still yields post-punk elements underneath the wall of noise and guitars; rising higher than previous tracks, the vocals on ‘Everything Feels Like a Stab in the Heart’ sound more accessible, albeit still in a deeply alternative way.

While these two fantastically well-written songs sound as though the band have put their best foot forward first, this is all thrown out the window when ‘Through You’ begins to play. An absolutely brilliant, first class, downtrodden song of shoegaze proportions, the noisy but dreamy ‘Through You’ showcases an almost slowcore style of sound that the band present to the listener, wrapped in a second hand, dirty, style of wrapping paper. ‘Through You’ runs for six minutes and is built around the slow but intelligent drums that keep the tempo rolling and dreamy; over the top sit the bands noisy and humming guitars… But the added feature that ties the whole song together majestically is a dark and loud synth which sounds like the good-looking cousin of a train engine. Praise should also be given wholly to the fantastic bass riff that’s featured on ‘Through You’, which at times may be hard to hear, but is in fact the musical backbone of the song. Together the instruments manage to bring across a totally wild but completely exalted piece of music; fantastic.

‘White Walls’, a type of interlude, follows on and features a nice, toned down and less noise based sound. The song actually features acoustic guitar, strummed along to a dreamy bass tone and backed eerily with noise-filtered but distanced guitar and a bright soundscape. As the song picks and strums away, it leads into the bands ultimate beast; a ten minute epic called ‘Mirror’. ‘Mirror’ is a monstrous track of immensely beautiful sounds, all melded together and once again stationed around the reverb and hard sound of drums in the background that, beside the occasional fill, maintains the same pounding rhythm for the whole song. The song, in all its musical layering, is actually perhaps more upbeat than most others on the EP. What begins as the bands core (guitars, bass, drums, voice and a few other bits and pieces) playing along eventually exceeds into many sounds, instruments and soundscapes, flooding the listeners ears. ‘Mirror’ is hard to define and outline, but it stands as a brilliant piece of music recorded and presented by a group of song writing virtuosos. Much like all diverse and epic songs, I can’t really do ‘Mirror’ any justice with simple, bland and rhetorical words. You might have to just listen to it.

And there it is, Fruitless Search, an EP heavy and soft, deep but surfaced and loud but almost always beautiful. The production and mixing reflects the sounds that are evident on the release; scratchy and loud, but maintained and done so with a degree of professionalism that appears too simple to be successful. With this very thought in mind, the entire EP, the entire aesthetic of the group may be completely evident on the EPs cover; featuring a bland, awkward photograph of somebody simply standing there. This photo defies the songs that feature no real conceptual basis (in a good way) and the entire sound of the band; simple but deeply brilliant. As mentioned before the song writing is of a majestic and utterly talented quality, as are the performances and the additional sounds and synths that feature throughout.

Fruitless Search is kind of a reinforcement of the idea that there are still warriors out there producing almost completely original music; borrowed and influenced by others but always reshaped and restyled to be their own. And what, I quietly hear you ask, is that supposed to mean? All I’m saying is that many bands throw albums and EP's out, tell you how amazingly original they are and how they smell like critical acclaim when in actual fact they are bland, boring, un-educated and incorrectly referential to the music they supposedly play and are influenced by. Here, with Fruitless Search, the concept of originality in non-professional bands appears and reminds us all what can be achieved when you are actually talented. So I suppose you should probably listen to this EP… As I stated before though, this may not be for everybody, and not everybody may understand it or even try to understand it… And if you don’t, please feel free to *expletive word* off and listen to some self-proclaimed geniuses generic music. This EP is for those who appreciate song writing, context and quality of performance and sound.

4.5/5

Fruitless Search is available to buy/download right now on various formats from softverse.bigcartel.com & newhorror.bandcamp.com respectively.

LINKS:

newhorror.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/anewhorror

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

bio-pic

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.


EP REVIEW | The Autumn Sighs - Branches

a3314965095_16ARTIST: The Autumn Sighs

RELEASE: Branches

RELEASE DATE: 21st August 2016

RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned

German based indie shoegaze trio 'The Autumn Sighs' have returned with a brand new five track release entitled 'Branches', the follow up to 2015's impressive 'Sprig' EP. Their sound meanders gracefully through melodious and dreamy swathes of blissful dream pop infused shoegaze coupled with soaring chorus progressions, thunderous drum patterns and addictively hazy instrumentation. The band are made up of Katha - guitars/vocals), Ulrik - guitars/effects/ebow & Denis - drums with bass guitar duties on all songs for this recording going to Florian Malicke. The EP is available to buy/download on various formats right now from theautumnsighs.bandcamp.com

The EP opens up with 'The Autumn Sighs', a beautifully constructed slice of dreamy shoegaze. Glorious frequencies greet the listener as the guitars jangle and sway, held firmly within the metronomic swing of the hypnotic drum pattern. The vocals float in on a wave of beautifully enticing reverb, swirling blissfuly in unison with the instrumentation until the chorus progressions explode into a maelstrom of beautiful frequential noise. As opening tracks go, this is monumental. Up next, 'Thirsty' takes its foot off of the noisy reverb pedal as a melodious vocal line meanders and undulates gracefully, intertwined with a brilliantly constructed guitar progression and another impressive drum pattern. The track builds as it shifts through it's sonic gears and finishes with a flurry of golden hued sounds.

Track three, 'Tonight' initially confuses me. At first, it leans into indie pop territory as its opening chord progressions coupled with another blissful vocal line unfurls. That notion however is quickly shattered as the track unleashes a whirlwind of soaring reverb induced guitar squall coupled with driving instrumentation and an explosive percussive attack to bring what is now my favourite track on this entire release. What tweaks my attention about the 'The Autumn Sighs' is that they have the ability to surprise their listeners as each track works through its progressions. Something that is unfortunately lacking in most modern shoegaze bands these days.

The EP's penultimate track entitled 'Flat', woozily enters earshot on a tremulous guitar line, throbbing bass frequencies and an accompanying percussive pattern. Its dreamy vocal lines enter the fray and instantaneously lifts the entire track to new heights allowing it to glide and arc all over the soundscape thus bringing a serine calmness to proceedings until its finale. The EP's closing piece entitled 'Sway' gently flows as its crawling instrumentation acts a s bedrock for another impressive vocal performance. Its chorus parts build momentum on waves on glorious reverberation coupled with ethereal vocal lines and steadying percussion. Bass frequencies throb as the track meanders along its chosen predesigned course culminating on swirling fuzzy drone. A beautiful & fitting ending to a marvellously executed EP.  Recommended listening!

4/5

LINKS:

theautumnsighs.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/TheAutumnSighs

youtube.com/user/theautumnsighs

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Del Chaney has spent the last four years not only fronting popular experimental Irish Electronic duo Analogue Wave but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion. His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has hepled 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.


EP REVIEW | Dead Sea Apes - SOY DIOS

a3288375533_16ARTIST: Dead Sea Apes

RELEASE: SOY DIOS

RELEASE DATE: 5th September 2016

RECORD COMPANY: SKY LANTERN RECORDS / CARDINAL FUZZ

Manchester based underground psych experimentalists 'Dead Sea Apes' have had their stunning debut single 'SOY DIOS' repackaged and re-released on vinyl via Cardinal Fuzz (Sky Lantern Records in the US). It contains a reworking of the original track, released back in 2010 on a then run of 100 CDR's. 'Dead Sea Apes' create massive sonic soundscapes and have the ability to switch from wonderfully picturesque sun-scorched psychedelia to dust laden desert rock and on into hypnotically charged & motorik driven drone rock improvisation with marvellous aplomb! The album is available to buy/download on various formats from cful.bandcamp.com & skylanternrecords.bandcamp.com. You can also purchase the vinyl right now from cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com

The opening salvo's of 'Soy Dios I' are hauntingly good. Aggravated fret noise and spacious atmospherics open proceedings as 'Dead Sea Apes' bring their post-rock credentials to the fore. Melodious guitar progressions add tension as sparse percussive hits enter the fray and we push off on a magical journey of sonic experimentation, stepping into a world of expansive musical understanding and distorted sonic hallucinations. Its not long before a swell of explosive instrumentation takes over and the metronomic swing of the drum pattern brings on a giddying state of hypnotic abandonment. Guitar lines meander menacingly throughout the piece, every so often allowed to soar into the ether as if chasing some unknown prey, before arriving back to terra firma and slotting into its assigned progression to continue on with its pre-designed course. Truly magical in its entirety!

If 'Soy Dios I' was the doorway into the world of 'Dead Sea Apes' then Part II  is the hallway ....  a wide expansive room filled with oppressive atmosphere, droning swells and spiralling guitar squall. 'Soy Dios II' is a pleasure craft bobbing up and down in a dark tremulous ink like sea, constantly being hit by a wave after wave of shuddering reverberation. The percussion builds as throbbing bass lines hold court before the track lurches forward and explodes into a cacophony of wonderful noise and warbling repetitious progressions.

'Soy Dios III' achingly drones into existence, its burgeoning weight swirling & snarling as it enters earshot, shattering the perilous ideology of the previous soundscape as it circumnavigates its own self. It builds in momentum allowing it to plough a deep furrow into the sonic template, eagerly trying to gain enough updraft to lift itself into the ether. Intermittent fret noise doused in reverb adds atmosphere to the piece as the arrival of much welcomed guitar squall builds intensity ....  and we're up and soaring into the ether on waves of golden frequencies inlayed with swathes of reverberation. 'Soy Dios III' is a true masterpiece of modern day psychedelic exploration.

The closing piece on the momentous release brushes aside the previous three tracks from the off. 'Soy Dios IV' is the stunning finale to an expansive collection of experimental musicianship. The culmination of a trip through massive passages of sonic floatation and distorted but oppressive melody driven hallucinations, into a gargantuan cyclonic whirlwind. 'Dead Sea Apes' bring the curtain down completely on this impressive release riding a maelstrom of senses pummelling distorted noise. A fitting end to a marvellous sonic journey. Recommended listening!

4/5

LINKS:

facebook.com/deadseaapes

skylanternrecords.bandcamp.com

cful.bandcamp.com

twitter.com/deadseaapes

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Del Chaney has spent the last four years not only fronting popular experimental Irish Electronic duo Analogue Wave but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion. His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has hepled 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.


EP REVIEW | SPC ECO - Favourite Colour EP

a1492745680_16ARTIST: SPC ECO

RELEASE: Favourite Colour EP

RELEASE DATE: 12/08/16

RECORD COMPANY: Saint Marie Records

SPC ECO just dropped a brand new album 'Anomalies' on August 12th, then on the same day, they also released this excellent new EP. There is no song overlap, but the songs do seem like they’re part of an ongoing theme or series. Dean Garcia and his daughter Rose Berlin are surfing some gorgeous dark wave here, filigreed with gossamer vocal strands and icy cold synths. Ominous bass bubbles up from a deep well and Rose’s light, airy vocals float to the surface.

This is especially true of the opening track, 'Out Of Your Control'. And wow, the second track 'Favourite Colour' is even more stunning, with its slow burn and ultra trippy vocal layers. It is a complete mind gasm, spinning its web and ensnaring the listener, holding tight and never letting go! It is one of the best tracks I’ve heard in this genre this year, and one I hope the band continues to explore. 'In Doubt' is a moody miniature soundtrack for a noirish spy flick or murder mystery, red fingers of blood spreading from a dead body, a moment stopped in time even as civilization rushes by at breakneck speed. My head is bobbing and weaving as I type up this review, and this EP continues to be a great listen as I work my way through it. 'Trouble' is dark and mesmerizing, a mesh of dreamy trip hop and glacial beats that drags you along in its wake.

'Whisper' is a witch’s cauldron overflowing with noxious sounds, edgy and hallucinogenic while it builds slowly in intensity, unfurling like a deadly nightbloom until it lulls you into submission. Truly, I do like hearing the band explore its darker side with this smoldering short collection of mostly extended jams. Highly recommended for all fans who enjoy their dark wave with a lot of dense layers and glimmers of light threaded throughout a sonic tapestry.

Pick up a copy of this EP over at spceco.bandcamp.com  And check out the band’s many other releases while you’re at it.

LINKS:

spceco.bandcamp.com

spceco.com

facebook.com/Spc.Eco

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Music has always been a driving force for Elizabeth Klisiewicz, which she days "continues to define my existence". During and after her college years, she ran a weekly radio show at WMUA FM Radio and also at a community station in Springfield, MA, in addition to writing music and concert reviews for the college newspaper. At present, she writes for The Big Takeover Magazine and The Active Listener Blog, and recently began producing a semi-regular Mixcloud-based show called The Kitchen Sink. In the real world, when not writing technical manuals, she gets her thrills from reading mysteries, birdwatching, and can always be found with a camera and a maxed-out storage card full of music.


EP REVIEW | The Baltic - Archipelago EP (Misra Records).

a1537319641_16ARTIST: The Baltic

RELEASE: Archipelago

RELEASE DATE: 20/06/16

RECORD COMPANY: Misra Records 

Colorado based psychedelically charged four piece 'The Baltic' released their latest EP entitled 'Archipelago' to the masses back on the 20th June 2016 via Misra Records (under Sub Pop's umbrella). Their sound expertly shimmies through experimental reverberating tones, laced with dream pop swirls, psychedelic sonic highs & melodious guitar progressions that seem to hang suspended within a blissfully ethereal musical bubble. The band are made up of Graham Epstein - drums/vocals, Adam Dankowski - guitars, Josh Kaplan - bass & Ari Kononov - guitars.

'Archipelago' is available to buy/download right now from: thebaltic.bandcamp.com/album/archipelago


Luscious ethereal tones float into earshot as the opening salvo's of the 'Archipelago' EP are unfurled. Opening track 'Turquoise' permeates through an acid blotted landscape with its 60's psychedelic edge as the hazy vocals are carefully added to the musical ether, accompanied by throbbing bass frequencies & a skittish percussive pattern. (As a side note; a musical doff of the cap has to go to the 'Beatles' on this opening track, as the verse progressions (which drag up way too many of their song titles to name off hand) are curiously reminiscent to the aforementioned band & although that may seem like a good comparison to some, for me, it kinda takes the shine off of those brilliantly executed shoegaze inspired chorus parts that make this opening track a tale of two halves as far as I'm concerned!) Up next, 'Bloom' breathes a more psych rock tinge to proceedings. It's jam packed with experimental psychedelic twirls, faultless instrumentation and those vocalisations are stacked with melody.

'San Francisco' pulses beautifully arranged reverb drenched guitar lines, steadying drum patterns and addictively harmonious bass progressions with another impressive vocal performance that collectively produces what is the most dream pop orientated track on this entire release! Gone are the sonic experimentations & the 60's revivalist tones, and whats left is a beautifully arranged track that is wholeheartedly relevant in todays revived dreampop/shoegaze scene.

The EP's penultimate track entitled 'Fortitude' screams into the ether on a wave of glorious frequency laden noise as 'The Baltic' bring their shoegaze tendencies to bare for all to hear. It's opening bars are layered with fuzzy reverberating guitars, throbbing baselines, shimmering tambourines and melodious vocals, reminiscent to those early UK based shoegaze stalwart's 'Ride'. It took a while but 'The Baltic' are finally allowing us to hear their gauzy side. This is my favourite track on the whole release and a solid recommendation from me. The albums closing piece is called '72 Hours'. Shimmering tremulous guitar lines float into earshot and gracefully sweep you up, bringing you with them on a stunning hallucinogenic psych-gaze trip that expertly loops and arc's through blissful layers of beautifully golden sonic frequencies, carefully following the throb of the infectious bass progressions & the hypnotic percussion as you meander through the musical ether. A fitting explosive ending to a slow burning but thoroughly enjoyable EP.

4/5

LINKS:

thebaltic.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/thebaltic/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

10801829_910434145642940_2344009609374998645_n

Del Chaney has spent the last four years not only fronting popular experimental Irish Electronic duo Analogue Wave but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion. His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has hepled 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.


EP REVIEW | Sidechick - Home Recordings.

a2745983861_16ARTIST: Sidechick

RELEASE: Home Recordings

RELEASE DATE: 13/05/16

RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned

Released to the masses back on the 13th May 2016, ‘Home Recordings’ are the tentative first steps by a band who create stunning musical soundscapes that are heavily steeped in melodically astute, fuzzy alt-gaze promise. ‘Sidechick’ are a Texas based trio made up of Stephen McElwee - Guitar & Vocals, Austin Yates - Drums & Kelvin Givens - Bass and their debut three track release is available to buy/download right now from: sidechick.bandcamp.com

READ ON -

‘Home Recordings’ unfurls with excellent ‘Prisms’, a two minute plus instrumental masterpiece thats filled with golden hued guitar lines, steadying percussion and throbbing bass frequencies. The band give very little away on this opening piece as the tension builds, forcing glorious reverberating swirls into the sonic ether and pulsing fuzzy layered guitar squall through shimmering hazy frequencies. ‘Prisms’ soon burns out and courses headlong into track two, the blistering ‘Dimensions’, and its not long before we’re introduced to a droning guitar line that drags the listener into the impending explosive drum patterns, heavily tracked by fuzzy throbbing bass lines and screaming feedback laden guitars. The vocals here are sublime and they sit on top of the instrumentation like some sonic demigod vying for populous attention. ‘Dimensions’ is probably my favourite track on this entire release and worthy of your attention!

The EP’s closing track is a brilliantly melodious affair. ‘Mercury’ rocks on a thoroughly addictive lead lick that explodes through the chorus breaks whilst carefully balancing on a bedrock of pounding drums and hypnotically layered reverberating guitars. Another stunning vocal track adds atmosphere as it pierces the protective reverb induced bubble and soars into the sonic ether with aplomb. A fitting end to an interesting first outing from ‘Sidechick’.

Ones to watch!

3/5

LINKS:

sidechick.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/sidechickband

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

10801829_910434145642940_2344009609374998645_n

Del Chaney has spent the last four years not only fronting popular Irish Electronic duo Analogue Wave but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the Unsigned or Small Independent Label based Shoegaze, DreamPop, PostPunk, PostRock & PsychRock genre’s of music from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion. His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has hepled 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.


EP REVIEW | Maheekats - Songs From The Woods.

a1636825973_16ARTIST: Maheekats

RELEASE: Songs From The Woods

RELEASE DATE: 26/05/16

RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned

What do you get when you mix smooth soundscapes with rock’n’roll, hush with loudness or hypnosis with high flying vocals? 'Songs from the Woods' is what you get. This mini album/EP from dream rock duo The Maheekats seeks to remind the listener of the past, while evoking originality and something altogether interesting…  And it does so over the course of six dream inspired, folk-impinged rock and pop tracks.

READ ON -

The EP begins with the song ‘Lady in Space’, that begins with ethereal alternative guitars and the comfortable tap of the drums in the background, until the fantastic and hypnotic vocals enter the mix, giving the song a distant folk sound that mixes in brilliantly with the dream rock fused bass, thick and heavy. The song seeps 'The Stone Roses', in lyrical quality (see ‘Waterfall’) and with a similar production technique (except Maheekats production sounds much fuller). The chorus, which backs off on the instrumentation to allow for the catchy lyrics, is a warm and enjoyable creation. However, with the immense lyrical quality of some songs, ‘Lady in Space’ wavers between interesting and boring each listen. Its chorus and simple instrumentation (beside the fantastic bass) don’t allow it to stand out from 90’s alternative rock radio hits with the exact same style of writing, and ultimately the song sounds timid and tiresome. This song is followed by the refreshing and dreamy ‘Shotgun’ which sounds influenced by the Kate Bush styled art-pop that Maheekats blend together with greater and more experimental instrumentation. The vocals featured in the chorus are phenomenal, especially when they reach and grab the trance-evoking high notes that are underpinned with a brilliant array of horns. The song then introduces a breezy, shoegaze filtered synth line which finally mixes into the songs brilliant collage of horns, vocals, drum, bass, guitar, keyboards and more. ‘Shotgun’ displays all the greatest elements of Maheekats diverse and layered song writing skills, along with lyrics and a denser production style that allow the song to project itself beautifully. 

‘Starry Ocean’ is a fantastic post-rock, piano centred interlude… Simple, soothing, imagery evoking brilliance. The genius touches of smaller sounds (pads, strings) allow the piano to serve as both a background and foreground instrument for the listener, rather than an average and stock standard interlude or instrumental album fillers. The Pretenders influenced ‘Without Horizons’ acts as the EP’s biggest step into straight-forward alternative rock, not that’s a bad thing. The riffs featured on the song once again highlight the wide and talented vocals of Maheekats and the quality of the production (and mixing) are of a fantastic quality. The greatest element of ‘Without Horizons’ is that it features some of the EP’s most well-written lyrics. These lyrics read as poetry and arise as the songs ultimate feature after each listen. Musically it sounds like a seventies inspired heavy rock song but practices a subtle hint of nineties era alternative/garage musical expansion which propels it to be greater after reading (or in this case listening) into it.

The epic ‘Eureka’ follows, constructed at around seven minutes and featuring all the musical adventures that the band has embarked on across 'Songs from the Woods'. ‘Eureka’ begins entrancingly intelligent, with soft sung vocals and basic instrumentation that feeds the listener the dreamy, poetic lyrics on a golden plate. The song then eases into a bizarre exercise in drum bashing and the lyrics roll out into ‘The weight of the world is in hand’ sung over and over… The brilliant guitars follow, but the lyrics don’t… Instead turning into a tongue in cheek Celtic influenced folk-dance underpinned with… Um, animal noises? Or something? I don’t know. Then the song continues with an interesting bassline which is slowly drowned out with cymbal rape (is there a reason we can only hear cymbals?) before the guitars and other instruments return to evolve the song into an interesting and engaging piece of music. The outro to ‘Eureka’ finally does the entrancing vocals justice, and uses them as an instrument rather than another mere feature. In fact, on the outro to the song, the Maheekats manage to mix all the instruments together to create a soothing and interesting piece of music, reminiscent but much more epic than on ‘Shotgun’ which saves the song and reminds the listener of the high quality of song writing they are listening to.

After listening to 'Songs from the Woods' I was confused, with what opinion? On one hand, elements of the EP shone through brilliantly and tied everything together to create a musical beast worth listening to over and over. But on the other hand I wondered, sincerely, about a few features on the album. For one, ‘Lady in Space’ became more and more generic after listening to the EPs other tracks, displaying the professional and engaging level of song writing on the other tracks but in turn doing the band (and ‘Lady in Space’) no favours. The instrumental interlude ‘Starry Ocean’ was fantastic… So fantastic that it was more enjoyable than ‘Without Horizons’ (which has its own merits), which somehow (while being enjoyable in its own right) bought the level of song writing back to near the same area as ‘Lady in Space’. And while ‘Eureka’ eventually highlighted and presented an extravagant piece of song writing and music, the middle section was completely baffling with its instrumentation, mixing and interpretation.

Let’s get one thing straight…  'Songs from the Woods' features next to no post-punk, dream pop, shoegaze or hugely experimental music and at times the EP even seems far from the bands self-dubbed dream rock status. There is nothing wrong with that, however listeners seeking out these things should instead know that 'Songs from the Woods' is fluent with art pop, folk rock and even underpinned with large amounts of Celtic and Irish music in some songs. Altogether the band resemble Kate Bush more than any other artist; occasionally they dabble their toes in heavier rock, but ultimately the vocals direct the music into a style most reminiscent of Bush’s. And much like (but superior to) Kate Bush’s bizarre 00’s albums, 'Songs from the Woods' seems like a representation of a band obtusely seeking effort and thus creating something unchallenging, in patches greatly uninteresting and generic.

But this mini album is also greatly enjoyable, features brilliant performances and production and ultimately attributes top quality song writing within. On tracks like the outro to ‘Eureka’, ‘Shotgun’, the post-rock inspired ‘Starry Ocean’ and the riffs on ‘Without Horizons’ the band highlight beautiful and engaging soundscapes and construction, achieved through mixing, production, performance and sound.

3.5 / 5

LINKS:

maheekats.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/maheekats

twitter.com/maheekats

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bio Pic

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.


EP REVIEW | Teen Brains - Translucent EP.

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ARTIST: Teen Brains

RELEASE: Translucent EP

RELEASE DATE: 12/09/16

RECORD COMPANY: Witchgirl Recordings (UK) / Citrus City Records (US).

Teen Brains eponymous 2015 EP was one of the most wondrous releases of the year. Steeped in a nostalgic beauty, it was endearingly fragile and at times uncertain. This year’s follow up 'Translucent' sees them in an altogether more confident frame of mind. There’s a strong psych sensibility throughout which gives the record more focus, although there are still plenty of pleasing whooshing noises.

READ ON -

 

'In a Haze' sets off on a phaser-fuelled psych journey. It meanders, but only just. Someone, somewhere has this all planned out. Glorious reverb ushers in 'Isolation' which is the kind of jangly jaunt that is earning Diiv many plaudits at present. The lush melodies are a marvel. There’s a hint of a darker 80's edge on 'Wash Away' with its flanged guitars and intricate guitar lines. The psych influences come out strongly in the rhythm section, adding an insistence to the track. Its big chorus surely means it will shortly usurp Tame Impala from mainstream radio playlists soon?

Closing track 'Translucent' is more contemplative in pace. Its woozy wahs and undercurrent of fuzz and delay create a hazy feel, but this is definitely at the more muscular end of the gaze spectrum. The chart countdown sample maybe gives a hint of where Teen Brains hope to head – straight to the top of the charts. They certainly feel like a band with a plan.

'Translucent' is out on 12th September via Witchgirl Recordings in the UK and Citrus City in the US.

4/5

LINKS:

facebook.com/teenbrainsuk

twitter.com/teenbrainsband

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

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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.


EP REVIEW | hideanyway - If You Were Here I Wouldn’t Be Miserable.

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ARTIST: hideanyway

RELEASE: If You Were Here I Wouldn’t Be Miserable

RELEASE DATE: 08/07/16

RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned

 

Screeching feedback plunges us into Ferret, the opening track of this EP by Denver four piece Hideanyway. It’s a short squall that’s fuzzy and ferocious, like its namesake. The pure gaze of 悲しい アロハ has added texture from the acoustic guitar that strums along. Free Fall is the centrepiece of the collection, full of melancholy melody and multi-layered distortions. Return again melds acoustic guitar with a track of feedback and mournful vocals. The band, who describe themselves as emo/ grunge/ shoegaze/ dreampunk, have already released an album in 2016 - Grieve Quickly. That’s pretty prolific for a self-confessed ‘sad band’. If You Were Here I Wouldn’t Be Miserable teases the imagination, and never over-indulges.

3/5

LINKS:

hideanyway.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/hideanyway

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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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.


EP REVIEW | My Invisible Friend - S/T.

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ARTIST: My Invisible Friend

RELEASE: S/T

RELEASE DATE: 19/09/16

RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club Records

I don’t throw the grand rating of 5/5 around so easy. The album/EP has to be of top quality; has to be of a level of thought provocation and originality that goes that one step further than other bands and artists in that particular genre. It has to be a piece of music that one can revisit with as much reinvested interest as before… A piece of music smart enough to set itself apart from mediocrity or blandness. And this band, the Italian fuzz/noise/shoegaze masters 'My Invisible Friend' have done all of this on their three track self-titled EP; which somehow excels further, with more interesting and brilliant aspects as many full length albums have. What is this EP? It’s a noise-riddled adventure, a passionate and tasteful throwback drowned in originality that defies genre and musical blandness to echo in your ears with an EP sound worthy of a 5/5 rating… What else is there to say?

'My Invisible Friend' are an Italian noise-gaze band who practice in the art of shoegaze/noise rock and pop/darkened Krautrock and even a tad of drone music thrown in there for good measure. Throughout the EP the band blast away with noise-orientated feedback over catchy and diverse shoegaze riffs and a powerful and echoed sound that is contrasted with barely audible vocals, evoking some sort of dream pop element into the mix. The self-titled EP begins with the hazy, over six minute fuzz/crunch of ‘Eyes’ which starts like a garage-rock song, rattling the listeners ears heavily, before introducing the airy and tiny vocals. Eventually, at around the one minute mark, the listener is introduced to a fantastic, Kraut-ish riff that suits the drum machine-sounding drums. The song builds and builds, occasionally sinking into mesmerisingly beautiful patches of dream-inspired shoegaze murmurings before perhaps the greatest riff on the whole EP fills the listeners ears. After this, the true mixture of shoegaze and noise rock begins to show, creating an absolutely brilliant track.

The following track ‘Endless’ creates a thicker and much heavier atmosphere than its predecessor with a much more layered and eerie track, this time exceeding nine minutes, making it a mini-epic of a track. ‘Endless’ is filled with Whirr influenced instrumental ear piercing by the guitar and is helped subtly by the rat-tat-tat of a slow, drone style drum machine in the background. The vocals that inhabit the track seem softer than on ‘Eyes’ and the opening half of the song has it pitched as almost a dream pop tune, until it transforms into a much more thorough version of itself. This seems like the sort of song that would project a wall of sound-style presentation at live shows… A spectacle of true and utter genius. Around the four minute mark the track becomes an atmospheric monster, with all matter of layering, reverb, echo and noise drowning out the breathy and alluring vocals. After each listen ‘Endless’ becomes more accomplished and dreamy than the riff-centred ‘Eyes’, which seems minuscule after each listen when compared to the wild beast that is ‘Endless’. In essence, ‘Eyes’ is the beautiful, mesmerizing and shimmering shallow end of the pool, while the much deeper and heavier ‘Endless’ presides in the deep end, where beauty is evident, but there is so much more water.

The EP’s final track is one that will no doubt circulate most predominantly in discussion about this EP. It will probably receive the most airplay and critical and commercial narration out of any track, and will easily be the most listened to song on the entire EP… Maybe even more so than the entire EP itself. As any listener may think, I believed that ‘Endless’ would be the most large-scale track on this whole EP… Taking into consideration its size and layering… But then the band threw in ‘Sleepless’ at the very end.  ‘Sleepless’ is an almost 18 minute epic, layered in the bands token sound they have expressed on the former two tracks. Its towering and heavy characteristics make it difficult to feature in words, and thus, in this very review. The few things I will say about ‘Sleepless’ is that its editing/mixing and layering are of an exceptional quality, as it maintains its vast and echoed momentum for the entire song. The very writing skill required to write such a song is also immensely evident, as the band express feelings and evoke images through nothing but pure sound. The dream-pad sound that is eventually drowned out by droning noise sees the band at their most shoegaze passage of music… It is an absolute must listen.

This EP is a 5/5 for a number of reasons ! One of them though is that I was not bored at any point during the EP, meaning that 'My Invisible Friend' jumped the preverbal shark that so many other shoegazers tend to wade in the same pool as. Another is that it surmounts genre in the sense that it blends noise with reverb, dream with drone and low strung vocals with feedback laden guitars. There are many more reasons… But I urge you to make your own by listening to one of the most interesting, original and brilliant Shoegaze releases in the past while… Ultimately, it exceeds many albums by so called professionals, collaborations or supergroups, by sticking to its own, injecting some influence and beautifully crafting its sound.

5/5

'My Invisible Friend' will release this latest self titled three track EP on the 19th September 2016 via the indomitable purveyors of all things fuzz, the London based 'Fuzz Club Records'. Head over to www.fuzzclub.com for pre-order details.

LINKS:

fuzzclub.com

facebook.com/MYINVFRIEND/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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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.