RELEASE: Maybe Sometime Soon
RELEASE DATE: 9th August 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Sydney-based sonic aficionados 'Trillion' was originally formed by two best friends during the heady days of the first shoegaze genesis, before disbanding to focus on the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Now, after over a decade of hibernation their swirling brand of alternative led shoegaze with subtle dream-pop tendencies has become increasingly relevant, this time with an added injection of modern musical influences and far superior advancements in recording techniques. Their fantastic new seven track EP entitled 'Maybe Sometime Soon' was initially recorded as a duo although they have recently expanded to a five piece with an eye on live shows and more expansive recording. 'Maybe Sometime Soon' was officially self-released back on the 9th August 2018 and is available right now to buy/download via trillion1.bandcamp.com
Maybe Sometime Soon by Trillion
The EP opens up trembling on woozy guitar progression drenched in sizzling reverb. 'Alone' dives headlong into a melodic sonic stew as fizzing layers of guitar ride steady lines of percussion and the deep boom of delicious bass frequencies hover alongside, delicately complimented by the cutting tone of the vocals. Intricate lines of lead guitar intertwine with catchy chord sequences allowing space for the reverb to breathe and lift the higher guitar tones out into the ether. Deeply melancholic, 'Alone' transports the listener back to those heady early 90's sounds as it floats effortlessly on the sonic ether. Up next, the bellowing collectiveness of heavy bass and charging guitars announces the arrival of 'Drive Away' and we're bowled over as that thunderous percussive attack leads the charge and we crash into a wall of tingling instrumental melody. There are hints of the melodic side of seminal shoegaze stalwarts Ride and sheer fuzzed out mayhem of Swervedriver coursing through the veins of this track that are very hard to shake. The arrival of the vocal, pulled back into the mix, adds intense depth and brilliant atmospherics as those swirling clouds of frequency laden reverb ebb and flow through passages of driving instrumentation and huge cavernous breaks. 'Drive Away' is absolutely brilliant and a definite highlight for me on this release.
'Maybe Sometime Soon' begins like a modern dream-pop track until it explodes into a riot of colour and fuzz. It's off tempo percussion is slightly disorientating at first and it takes a while to figure out just whats going on, but my god, when everything comes into focus instrumentally this track is powerful. The duel vocal works well here and I love how those those huge walls of fuzzed out guitars sit on top of the cascading bass line as meandering lead guitar sews everything together. Up next, 'So Serene' does exactly as it says on the tin. Ethereal instrumentation highlights the bands subtle dream-pop leanings as swirling layers of reverb bounce on top of that mesmerising bass line and the steady pitter patter of percussion carries a distinctly post-punk hued vocal line into a charging MBV styled break. Its another mesmerising highlight and a serious recommendation from me. 'Stars In The Sky' screams JAMC and those dizzying line of percussion are reminiscent of early creation era Primal Scream but it's the production on this track that catches the ear. Again the vocal lines seem to keep everything grounded here as just below the mix as the overruling influences of MBV are evident in those screaming lines of guitar.
'Hold On', the EP's penultimate piece, swirls into audible range trapped in a shimmering cloud of golden frequencies as the swoosh of tambourine and the jangle of guitar bubble on top of a cascading bass progression. The arrival of the percussion sets us off at marching speed as the vocals arrive, pushed back into the mix and we float into that soaring tambourine filled break. Catchy chord changes filled with fuzzier moments of sonic reflection shatter the quieter verse perspective as that ever present boom of bass caught up in those thunderous drum rolls continue to captivate this listener. The EP finally closes out with 'Desert Song' and we're swept up on lines of woozy guitars and slow moving drum patterns. Another brilliant bass progression bouncing just below the mix lifts everything up superbly as swirling waves of guitar and deep pools of diminished reverb drench the collective instrumentation. Subtle highlights of melodic guitar and undulating synth add to the overall atmospherics as we lurch through soaring shoegaze peaks and on into booming troughs of alternative led production. It's a fitting ending to a marvellously melancholic EP.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last five years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream-pop, post-punk & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting genres of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
ARTIST: Parrot Dream
RELEASE: Light Goes
RELEASE DATE: August 24th 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Good Eye Records
'Light Goes' is the debut LP from Brooklyn-based dream-pop/psych-pop outfit Parrot Dream. It’s a neat combination of old school alternative bands (such as the Cocteau Twins) and newer, sleeker sounding dream-pop bands like Beach House and Memory House. Everything is sort of here: the breathy female vocals, the wizzingly bright synths, the reverb guitar, the drum machine-esque beats and, finally, that weird place between nostalgia and retrospective abandonment that only dream-pop can capture. With this in mind however, Parrot Dream don't really ride the genre in a new and wholly original direction. They use what’s already lying around to create their collective sound; albeit with a nifty talent for song writing and production. The band on this release is made up of Christina Hansen Appel (Kiki) - vocals/keys, Gonzalo Guerrero - guitar, Matt Sklar - bass & Agustin Faundez Rojas - drums/ percussion. 'Light Goes' had it's official release back on the 24th August 2018 via Good Eye Records and is available to buy/download right now on various formats from parrotdream.bandcamp.com
The opener and titular track starts things off brilliantly; guitar and keyboards weave over a simplistic drum beat that rolls tiredly along. The vocals add to this already catchy and soft texture. Here the band are accurately playing upon the ‘pop’ side of dream-pop; the song provides an enjoyably laidback introduction into the album. ‘Follow Me’ takes a more ballad-like approach, the vocals are breathy and whispered and the tempo has been laid back even more. However, this song lacks the catchiness of opener ‘Light Goes’ and seems to pale in comparison somewhat. Unfortunately, this type of slow-burn songwriting continues on ‘1740’, which doesn’t really go anywhere beyond the point of a collection of instruments playing an unconnected tune. Thankfully, the following track pulls the show back together; ‘Paradise and Prey’ features a calming backing synth and the occasional guitar plucking to forge a calming image in the listeners mind. The sound captures a band in unison, with the vocals sounding more connected to the rest of the instrumentation as a whole. ‘Julio’ is an album highlight: the intricate drum beats, weaving throughout a slow synth line and the usual guitar plucking create a different approach to the type of textures previously explored throughout the album. The vocals shine (perhaps the most interesting vocal performance on the album) in a manner similar to the aforementioned melding of Memory House.
‘By Your Side’ continues this, its opening showcasing the power of a dream pop-based soundscape. Following this, the contemplative side of dream-pop happily follows as the band perform with a deeper and more concentrated sound. ‘Fall Forward’ is a neat, post-punk hued tune which envelops into a more beautiful, whimsical place as the song rolls on. The instrumentation here, mixed with the high vocals, makes for a beautifully rich and engaging sound. ‘Cloudchaser’ seems to be the pinnacle of the previous group of songs: it collects the best elements of Parrot Dream into one song, projecting something both enjoyable and well written. Here the performances finally connect perfectly with the production and mixing, creating a credible album highlight. The darker and challenging ‘Ode to Octavia’ is just as interesting, collecting up all the previously mentioned elements of dream-pop and twisting them to sound more like a question than a thought. ‘Helium’ proves to be one of the best songs on the album, lasting longer than other tracks and combining thoughts and sketches into long winded instrumental passages. The second half especially sounds like somewhat of a homage to shoegaze; guitars climb, drums smash and vocals soar.
'Light Goes', as previously mentioned, is not exactly a wholly new, original take on the dream-pop genre. Its cards are placed with a historical retrospective and a familiarity that the band actually plays to its strength throughout. And often Parrot Dream and their use of dream-pop practices is actually quite refreshing because it relies on nothing more than quality song writing and performance rather than explorative elements. At times, of course, this is a hinderance. Most predominantly on the first half of the album, songs seem like album fillers or slight re-hashes of other music you’ve heard before. Thankfully the second half of 'Light Goes' seems to recover and realise the correct direction that songs and tracks should be taken in. Interestingly enough, I often find myself weighing up the amount of songs on albums by particular bands, seen here in a sort of contemplative footnote in the second half of the review. Without going too deeply into critical points, I believe that 'Light Goes' may have too many songs on it. Much like many of the releases I’ve heard lately through this blog, the extent of track listings are stretched to ten or more tracks, with no hugely variant elements found from track to track, making the album seem like more of a forced odyssey than an interesting adventure. Parrot Dream are almost an exception though, as the second half seems to pick up the pace and set things a little more ‘on course’. Compliments to the performances and production, the album cover (a fantastic picture that truly captures the songs on the album) and the overall 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: Lo! Peninsula
RELEASE: AKA Lo! Peninsula
RELEASE DATE: 18th August 2018
Channelling upheavals or life changing experiences into musical soundscapes convincingly doesn't happen to very many artists. In fact, wearing your heart on your sleeve honestly whilst writing and recording a debut release without it all sounding very bloody boring is a difficult feat to accomplish. Now insert brilliant India-based psych-gaze trio 'Lo! Peninsula' into the narrative who explain brilliantly that this debut EP release "is a catharsis of the existential crisis that we have been facing since the band was formed", and you'll find something so self explanatory, so mesmerisingly good that you can hear every single hard yard that the band have had to travel through just to get to this finished point. Comprising of Nitin, Jyotin & Avinash, 'Lo! Peninsula' have this uncanny knack of producing awe inspiring soundscapes that skip brilliantly through swirling passages of shoegaze with an undercurrent of modern psychedelia and a splattering of soaring post-rock just for good measure. Their immense debut six track EP entitled 'AKA Lo! Peninsula' was released back on the 18th August 2018, is a serious recommendation from us lot here in Primal Music and is available to buy/download right now via lopeninsula.bandcamp.com
AKA Lo Peninsula by Lo! Peninsula
The EP begins caught up in a momentary sample, as we’re introduced to it’s opening salvo ‘Another Divine Joke’ and we dive headlong into it’s sparkling guitar progressions and the hypnotic pull of reverberating fuzz. A sharp percussive attack lurches forwards, dragging a driving bass signature with it as we sail magnificently through bellowing layers of production used primarily to carry that addictive vocal as it streams into audible range. Slight lines of backing vocal come and go as catchy chord progressions switch from heavier indentations into mellower passages of music with relative ease. There are classic shoegaze moments spread out along this tracks hardened spine, permeated at times by lysergic themes sharpened impressively with a modern psych twist. ‘Another Divine Joke’ is absolutely immense and a brilliant opening salvo indeed. Up next, ‘Sleight Of Hand’ flicks into motion strapped to a stunning fuzzed up bass line as a steady drum track announces glittering lead lines drenched in oodles of reverb. Distinctly sixties tinged vocalisations tipped with simmering vocal highlights swirl into view as as those lines of lead guitar whip and cajole the track to within an inch of it’s life! ‘Sleight Of Hand’ loops and arcs throughout, driving through walls of reverb as it drags the listener with it into another impressive finale.
‘Flashback Kid’ takes centre stage next, floating on instrumental drones and jangling guitars before the deep throb of bass cascades through slow moving percussion and brilliantly executed chord structures. This track is absolutely beautiful, has definite post-rock connotations and melds shoegaze with ambient swells of blissed out instrumentation very easily making it one of the standout tracks for me on this entire release. Up next, ‘Quicksand (Nuffin)’ fizzes into life swirling through chittering production theatrics before a repetitive instrumental progression riding a well executed drum pattern arrives pulling another impressive vocal performance with it out into the sonic ether. Catchy hook-laden progressions accompanying immense chord structures rise and fall with each line of vocal sending ripples of reverb out to crash into twinkling electronic samples. It’s another sonic triumph, showcasing what is a very impressive release. ‘Evil Flavours’, the EP’s penultimate piece, opens up with sampled rain drops before that addictive guitar progression catches hold and we float into melodic waves of slow moving percussion, pulling melody strewn lines of vocal with us as we dive into massive pools of reverb. This track builds ever so subtly introducing heavier moments filled with fuzzy guitar progressions at different stages topped off with twinkling lines of lead and mountains of melody. ‘AKA Lo! Peninsula’ closes out with ‘Final Roar’, and where normally I would be groaning about now due to the overuse of samples to begin tracks with I think the musicianship and song structuring on this EP far outweigh my grizzled rumblings. This closing track continues with the trend of instilling tons of melody into both the instrumentation and the vocalisations whilst giving careful consideration to production values/techniques to end proceedings on a high. If you have to buy one EP this week I recommend this one. It's absolutely sublime!
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, postpunk & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting genres of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
ARTIST: Tombstones In Their Eyes
RELEASE: Nothing Here
RELEASE DATE: 24th August 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Send Me Your Head Records
There’s something tantalizingly interesting in a band/album description wherein genres cross from somewhat oppositional points. Its like saying ‘I’m in a J-Pop band, our sound is a mixture of Perfume and… Napalm Death’. Immediately you’re interested, you’re captivated, because, due to your years of musical socialization, you find the mixture of those two bands to be somewhat amazing. You also find that mixture of bands to be like mixing ice cream with sausage… it may taste like trash, but it sure is interesting. In my book, creditability can be found and served happily to those who are willing to push the boundaries, to experiment… Even if things turn out like trash, there is a kind of theatre of the absurd quality that makes it more important than some bunch of musicians who stuck to the rules in the proverbial book. Speaking of the proverbial book, turns out LA-based group 'Tombstones In Their Eyes' didn’t read it. Their latest release, a tight three track EP entitled 'Nothing Here', melds the shoegaze explorations of bands like MBV and even a tinge of bands like Asteroid 4 with the dirty, sludge/psych guitar music of stoner bands like Kyuss and a kind of watered down Monster Magnet… This should be interesting.
Nothing Here by Tombstones In Their Eyes
Desert rock guitar begins the EP opener ‘Silhouette’ which winds along slowly on a mixture of heavy guitars and drums. The vocals, muttered through various FX, float atop the instrumentation which eventually turns into layers and layers of guitars and the immovable fixture that is the drums. Interestingly enough (yet not to discredit the song) I actually found this the least engaging/interesting song on the whole of 'Nothing Here'. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good, well-written song… It just seems deficit of the memorable tinge of the other tracks. ‘Take Me Away’ features a fantastically catchy vocal performance which bolsters the almost-anthemic chorus. Just like on the previous track, walls of guitar filter through the mix, to the point where if you stop and listen, you’re not really sure how many are playing. This guitar wash-out, much like the actual riffs of the song, owe much to the drowned out guitar of MBV. Yet, Tombstones seem to bring it into their own stylings to create something both original and enjoyable. The title track that follows collects the best elements of the previous track and pushes them to the forefront. The vocals here sound more shoegaze orientated, while the backing instrumentation rocks steadily along with a more groovier sound. Again, beyond the guitars and the heavy drums, there is a real catchiness to be found in the music of 'Tombstones In Their Eyes'. The guitar solo, which walks above walls and walls of guitar thrashing, in the second half of the song is an album highlight… as is the refrain towards the tracks end, where guitars are feedback atop the slow tap of the drums.
More often than not bands pump out ten plus song albums that tend to fade into each other in a super un-original way. I give credit to 'Tombstones In Their Eyes' for producing here a tight, compacted and catchy three song EP. I also credit them with their modest song lengths; typically peers of the genre like to chuck a few nine-minute attempts at a magnum opus in there just to piss off/please the listener. I also approve of the less than brutal instrumentation that would sometimes find itself on a heavy release like this. And similarly, I enjoy the fact that the band didn’t push the guitars the way some shoegaze bands like to. But having said all this, I actually kind of wish the band had done all of those aforementioned things. Here there is a catchy collections of songs that meld genres together in beautiful and interesting way, yet there is room for lengither, heavier and more experimental elements of music to be explored. Of course, this comes down to artistic choice, but the band have all the elements to create a five or six song album that really melds the line between experimentation and catchiness… Just a thought. And with that thought aside, I urge you to give this EP a listen; I’m sure you’ll agree when I say there is some kind of relief, of interest, in the bands enjoyable and well written sound. 'Nothing Here' was officially released back on August 24th 2018 and is available to buy/download right now via tombstonesintheireyes.bandcamp.com
ARTIST: Alien Mustangs
RELEASE DATE: May 15th 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Sound Effects Records
Thessaloniki natives 'Alien Mustangs' are something of a modern day enigma. Through their highly energetic and psychedelically infectious live shows coupled with a DIY release ethos and their anti-social media stance they have managed to thrive exponentially and create a debut album worth shouting about without the need for massive PR campaigns or an online presence. Their collective sound is the result of an inherent need to not follow the sonic norms and instead focus on breaking boundaries or pushing new sonic frontiers. Their brand of modern psych/space rock is deeply rooted in sixties garage whist pulling into the mix some modern influences such as Spacemen 3, Loop and The 13th Floor Elevators. 'Alien Mustangs' back catalogue consists of the 'Pause/Red Tambourine' 7 inch released in March 2013, the 'River' 10 inch EP released in May 2014 and 'The Tape Sessions' two-track, released exclusively on cassette in November 2015. This long overdue full length release brilliantly titled 'Alienation' was officially unleashed back on the 15th May 2018 via Sound Effect Records and is available to buy/download right now from alienmustangs.bandcamp.com
Alien Mustangs - Alienation by Alien Mustangs
The album opens up swirling inside an undulating drone as 'Holy Motors' unboxes it's malevolent side, pulling slow moving percussion, fuzzed out guitars and cascading bass into the mix collectively suffocated in glorious reverberations. Haunting vocalisations float into view tumbling through luscious lines of lead guitar, twisting and intertwining with that hypnotic psychedelic swing. 'Holy Motors' is totally infectious and a mesmerising opening salvo. Up next, 'Going Nowhere' slides into the sonic ether swirling around a calming neo-psych vibe. Acoustic frequencies meld with a simple percussive assault and deep booming lines of bass as subtle swells of addictive organ vie for space just below the mix. The vocals arrive riding undulating waves of reverb as they sit perfectively on top the collective instrumentation instantly catapulting this listener into a world of colourful transcendental hypnotics. The blissful opening bars of 'Forest' are sublime. Acoustic guitars merge with woozy lines of organ catch your ear as those 60's tinged vocalisations ebb and flow in unison. Theres a definite 60's psych vibe swirling around this track reminiscent of 13th Floor Elevators, Ogden's era 'Faces' or early 'Pink Floyd'. It's a beautiful track filled with passages of lysergic abandonment and definite album highlight for me.
'Follow Me' has a subtle garage feel to it's opening bars as it's guitars keep that repetitive chord structure buzzing just below the mix and the swirl of organ catches the ear. Slow moving percussion again keeps a metronomic tempo as backing vocals rise and fall and the pull of bass is overpowering. Melodically brilliant, 'Follow Me' builds and builds with each sonic revolution, bringing sporadic squalls of feedback in and out of the mix until eventually the overdrive arrives, the tempo quickens and it explodes into a righteous colour of reverberating frequencies. It's another triumph on an album that continues to amaze me. Up next, the albums penultimate piece arrives drenched in a kind of 'Velvet Underground' hued cloud. 'Sleep' crawls ever so slowly, tumbling around a beautiful guitar progression, twinkling tambourine shakes and those punchy tom tom hits as it's immense vocalisations ride the repetitive sonic wave. The album closes out with 'Lsd', an angry 60's garage banger that rocks magnificently on lines of tumbling bass, charging percussion and wailing lines of lead guitar. Swirling vocalisations intertwine with reverb, delay and production theatrics to bring this album to a thunderous finale. It's a fitting end to a marvellous debut long player.
RELEASE DATE: 4th August 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Saint Marie Records
'Vampires' is the latest four track release from German-based dream-pop (or dream-punk as they would like it known) musical project Seasurfer; the moniker which sole member Dirk Knight creates and collaborates under. Landing somewhere between their obvious influences of Cocteau Twins and the heavy new-age trap-like electronic sound of bands like Salem, Seasurfer present a small collection of well written and beautifully structured songs, dipped in a steaming vat of FX and left to dry out in the cold (or should I say Coldwave?). Knights instrumentation leaves enough room for a pair of female vocal talents (Änni Bird and Apolonia) and a bassist (Steven Burrows) to join the sonic wave that is 'Vampires', creating something emotionally deep while simultaneously dance-ably enjoyable. The EP had it's official release back on August 4th 2018 via the good folks over at Saint Marie Records and is available to buy/download right now on various formats from saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com
Vampires by Seasurfer
Vampires opens with perhaps the EPs strongest and most off the cuff track ‘Into Dust’ which begins with waves of synth and Burrows subtle but strong bass playing. The vocal track moves beautifully over these instruments before it morphs into something wholly anthemic. Immediately, the touch of the Cocteau Twins is evident; the sounds of the programmed drum machines sound eerily identical to the drums used on Treasure by Guthrie and Co. The vocals are presented in a very similar way. That’s not the reason that ‘Into Dust’ is an EP highlight though, its something much stranger. Lovers of the electronic genre 'witch-house' would be both confused and intrigued by this writers mention (and comparison) to the band Salem, but truth be told, ‘Into Dust’ features the same kind of underpinned weirdness that runs rampart on Salem’s brilliant debut EP - 'Yes I Smoke Crack'. Whether it be the heavy washing of FX or the chord progression of the music, ‘Into Dust’ holds some sort point of difference to other dream-pop tracks, one which draws the aforementioned comparisons to Salem and their equally bizarre electronic song writing tactics. It is this strangeness mixed with the catchy and beautiful vocals that make the song sound so great. ‘Sad Song’ has less of a catchy and memorable presentation; this time the band turn the tempo up and present much of the tracks first half in the cold depths of post-punk. In the second half the tempo is lifted, and the tracks intelligent inner structuring show at an interlude like refrain in the tracks second half.
The heavy beat-orientated sounds of post 90's shoegaze present themselves immediately on the slow burning track ‘The Calling’. A slow hi-hat lead drum track plays at the backbone of many layering’s of synth swells and textured soundscapes, over which the vocals float and sway. Somewhat comparable to recent releases by North Carolina-based shoegaze legends 'The Veldt' (especially their recent 'Thanks to the Moth and Areanna Rose') who have totally embraced the wizardry of electronic music, ‘The Calling’ utilizes layering (something that is, strangely, overlooked by shoegaze bands at various times) to achieve a textured array of sounds over which a song slowly but beautifully forms. The Cocteau Twins sound returns for ‘Bring Me His Head’, which offer up a less involved sonic palette. Lyrically the song is the most daring that Seasurfer practice on 'Vampires', showcasing the power of having tangible lyrics in sound heavy genres (such as shoegaze or dream pop). ‘Bring Me His Head’ is just as emotionally bizarre as ‘Into Dust’, but well into the second half of the song, one cant help but feel somewhat touched by the mixture of narrative, sound and vocal that are offered to the listener on the track.
Perhaps the greatest thing about 'Vampires' is both the directness and in-directness it takes emotionally and musically. There are no eight minute epics, no winding intros and fuzz driven solos and, perhaps most importantly, a well-suited amount of tracks. Similarly, the songs are deep and at times (positively) formless listens; in the space of four or so minutes, Seasurfer present deep, FX induced passages of what sounds like four or five synthesisers, guitars, bass and a structurally sound programmed drum for good measure. This mixture of explorative, journey-like songs that don’t delve into indulgent, over the top presentation makes 'Vampires' all the more powerful. Perhaps the only criticisms this writer would highlight are firstly, ‘Sad Song’, which is as close to a filler that 'Vampires' comes. It seems somewhat out of place, and while a good song, doesn’t stand as tall as the other tracks on the EP. The second criticism is that sometimes the line between influence and copying is blurred in regard to Seasurfer's sound. The at first obvious influence of the Cocteau Twins eventually evolves into the occasional passage that sounds as though the band are trying to replicate their sound. The drum patterns, the vocals, the sonic melding of sounds at times sounds like Knight and Co are alluding to more than fan-based influence and more into the realm of artistic un-originality. But this criticism is almost completely revoked when one re-listens to 'Vampires' a couple of times, for the truth is, Seasurfer's embrace of more modern electronic production and mixing techniques elevate them from a copy-like comparison to the Cocteau Twins. 'Vampires' is a great display of what this author would coin ‘contained exploration’ and presents a band pushing the formula of dream-pop into somewhere different and beautiful through great performances, production and sound.
RELEASE: Silent Animals
RELEASE DATE: 29th June 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club
Rome-based psych/kraut trio 'Crimen' have been delicately enticing their fanbase with their long-overdue debut full length release for well over a decade. Steeped in modern psych with an infusion of hyperactive krautrock, 'Crimen' have developed a sound that at times dips it's sonic tendrils into subtle shoegaze and lurching post-punk creating a fizzing lysergic brew that they have self-titled 'Kraut-Punk'. Formed in the Centocelle district of Rome back in 2007 by Simone Greco - bass/vocals/sound engineering and Patrizio Strippoli - guitars/voice, it took another six years before the band enlisted Giuseppe Trezza - drums/electronics. After a collection of successful EP's and two years hibernating to record 'Silent Animals', Crimen officially unleashed the album to the masses back on June 29th 2018, joining forces with the good folks over at 'Fuzz Club Records'. 'Silent Animals' is available to buy/download right now on various formats via fuzzclub.bandcamp.com & fuzzclub.com respectively.
Silent Animals by Crimen
The dizzying throb of bass frequencies accompany the metronomic thud of kick drum as the opening track ‘Above The Trees (Rockets)’ manoeuvres itself into audible range. It builds maliciously before exploding into a raging sonic tempest filled with punishing percussion, cyclonic guitars and fascinating electronics all swirling angrily around that beacon like vocalisation. This track moves brilliantly, has deep permeating breaks that lead the listener into a false sense of security before soaring into the ether with relative ease. Up next, 'Batida' begins twisting inside a raging feedback storm before slow moving percussion and bouncing bass frequencies pull angry guitars and tormenting vocalisations into the mix and we're dumped headlong into a sonic storm whilst 'Flahzz' arrives wobbling woozily on a chittering bass line as sparse percussion and oodles of reverb hover and dance brilliantly allowing mellow lines of vocal to cling to effortless layers of reverb at those jangling lines of guitar add intense atmosphere. We're pulled into psychedelically entrancing breaks where we levitate above swirling layers of reverberation and dragged into bass heavy passages of sonic brilliance where tumbling drum patterns merge with angry guitars. 'Flahzz' is simply sublime and a definite album highlight for me.
The opening bars of 'From My Bed' are deeply atmospheric. Repetitive bass signatures merge with singular notes of guitar and the ever present pitter patter of sequenced percussion as the vocalisations arrive managing to stay just below the mix as different percussive changes twist and turn and sporadic electronic samples loop and arc at will. The track erupts, albeit slowly at first, as those heavy bass notes and jangling guitar progressions pull explosive drum patterns into audible range and injections of melody catch this listeners ear. The instrumentation pulses through layers of reverb, spiralling through different sonic refractions as we tumble into a magnificent feedback laden finale. 'Six Weeks' unfurls its's fuzzy sonic tendrils strapped to a repetitive synth as those fuzzy electronics and the charging percussion take hold allowing a teeth shattering bass progression to drive headlong into the sonic ether. There's a touch of garage psych coursing through this tracks veins but it melds brilliantly with neo-psych and subtle post-punk to create something altogether wonderful sounding. It's a triumph and definitely my favourite track on the album. 'Left Behind' is a modern psych gem. Fizzing guitars and sullen electronics open proceedings as almost anthemic like stylings elevate the overall sound into something heavenly. Again, the bass progressions are immense and the pull everything together brilliantly as rolling percussion bubbles underfoot and distorted frequencies swirl around hard hitting vocalisations. Explosive cymbal's crash, instilling an alternative kind of swagger in amongst those psychedelically attuned atmospherics but watch out for the ear shattering lead break that pierces the mind and shakes the life out of you and also that magnificent pause that comes at just the right time to instil a brilliant kind of sonic calmness.
The breathy beginnings of 'Supermarket', the albums penultimate piece, lead the listener in to a false sense of security as we're led into something altogether different. There are essence's of experimental funk, jazz, dub, kraut, psych and alternative soundings swirling around this track that are both infectious and addictive. Explosive percussion, melodically intricate lines of guitar and cascading bass progressions lead the listener through magnificent progressions of music until we're eventually funnelled into that absolutely immense finale. The album closes out with 'Hit Mania Death', a charging repetitively led, dance floor filler. Sequenced lines of percussion lead the merry dance as it's repetitive lines of bass and malicious synths carry angry vocalisations through massive walls of reverb-laden electronic theatrics. It's a hard hitting finale to a wonderful debut album.
ARTIST: Magic Wands
RELEASE DATE: 13th July 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Etxe Records
Los Angeles-based duo 'Magic Wands' unleashed a dazzling new eleven track entitled 'Abrakadabra' via the good folks over at Los Angeles and Washington DC based independent record label 'Etxe Records' back on July 13th 2018. What’s it like? It's like… a time machine whizzing back to a time when shoegaze and dream-pop was more than just about writing a shitty melody or riff and layering as many FX on it as you can. A time when, if you stripped away the studio tricks and FX manipulation, you were still left with a catchy and/or well written pop or rock song. 'Magic Wands' seem to spend as much time writing the music as they do manipulating it into the ethers of distortion, layering and reverb… which makes 'Abrakadabra' well worth the time and the listen. The album was recorded at Voltiv Studios in Los Angeles, produced by Phil Galloni and the band themselves and mastered by Tim Young (The Smiths, My Bloody Valentine). 'Abrakadabra' available to buy/download right now via magic-wands.bandcamp.com (Digitally) & etxerecords.com (Vinyl) respectively.
Abrakadabra [Etxe Records, 2018] by Magic Wands
Following on from the humble but slight opener ‘Bashmuuu’, Abrakadabra opens with the slow pop tones of ‘Nocturnal’, which features layers of feedback guitar and the slow rumble of beats/drums. On top lies the hazy, reverbed vocals which vary from hush and whisper all the way to fully and beautifully spoken. The song screams dream-pop, but the slower and deeper FX and song writing structure allow the song to come off as an intelligent and enjoyable listen. Things turn somewhat more standard with the following song ‘Houdini’, which features that recognizable dream-pop styled guitar tone and a more upbeat feel. Showcasing the bands post-punk influence, ‘Houdini’ compliments the previous tracks more darker sound and is notable for its neat FX laced-sequencer noises. ‘DNA’ is an album highlight and delves deeper into the crossroads between dream-pop and post-punk music (exercised neatly through the drum beat). The aforementioned dream-pop elements shine through in several facets, the vocal performance is dazzling and the general pop-ness shines through to make the song worth the effort. The following track ‘Realms’ seems somewhat more of a step back into cruise control. Beyond the almost darkwave production and synth sounds, the lyrics seem somewhat awkward and almost throw away. The melding of darker elements with the softness of the singer’s voice seems to show off an enjoyable side of the band, but beyond that, ‘Realms’ feels like more of an album filler.
Things thankfully turn back to the more interesting dance/dream-pop of the albums opener. ‘Loveline’ is an enjoyable dance track, laced with neat keyboard production and a danceable beat that highlights the bands strong points. The chorus in particular shows how simplicity can do so much for a song…. There’s some great bass playing as well. ‘New Device’ follows the form of ‘Bashmuuu’, a slower style beat that allows the FX heavy instrumentation to mix in beautifully together. And then things return to the dance floor. ‘Chains and Fur’ features a slick rhythm section with the undertones of a dream-pop guitar and vocals that sound as though they have been dunked in neon; another album highlight for me! ‘Diamond Road’ slows things right back and offers up a hazier, almost psychedelic tempo equipped with soft and more helmed back production. With all the stripped back instrumentation, the vocals shine through, which leads me to the songs main criticism: the lyrics. While at times the lyrics adequately capture the feel of the music, a large portion of them come off awkwardly and, more importantly, cliched. The following track ‘Julie Ann Gray’ is a fantastic post-punk thriller, filtered through Magic Wands dream-pop sensibilities; thankfully, here the vocals and lyrics are in fact one of the songs highlights. ‘Julie Ann Gray’ summarises much of what the band has been projecting over the course of Abrakadabra: the danceable passages, the post-punk underlays and the dream-pop tones that all beautifully meld together sonically and instrumental. ‘Big Life’ features a slow melding beat that sounds like a slower version of trap music: the hi-hats hit rumble slowly, followed by a heavy snare. The vocals float softly and enjoyably over the instrumentation. Bonus track ‘Puzzle of Love’ is also worth noting; especially if you enjoyed the danceable, retro sound of the some of the aforementioned dance-y songs on the album.
All in all Abrakadabra is well-worth the time: refreshingly well written song structures make way for sonic exploration through FX… but not too much FX. The only criticisms I have of the album are, quite admittedly, the same I have for many albums of a similar genre. Firstly, the sheer quantity of music on Abrakadabra is at times difficult to engage with. Song after song that thematically maintain similar ‘feels’ to each other mean that, after over ten tracks worth of music, the album can seem a little strained. The other criticism is the lyrics. While generally fitting of the both the music and instrumentation, sometimes the lyrics seem as though they were thrown in purely because they had to be thrown in… At times generic, at times cliched, and at times quite awkward and only semi-written. Beyond these two elements, Magic Wands have created a thoroughly enjoyable listen. The instrumentation fits very well, and the dynamic range between dance track and softer, slower almost balladery stylings makes things all the more interesting. The band comfortably put their foot down, showcasing their talent in the realms of performance, production and sound.
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on Baeble Music and Culture (USA), Sounds and Colours Magazine (Latin America, London), Easterndaze (Latvia) and the Australian based heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
ARTIST: Prana Crafter
RELEASE: Enter The Stream
RELEASE DATE: 31st July 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Sunrise Ocean Bender
William Sol aka 'Prana Crafter' has released some mesmerising experimental psych & acid folk through a plethora of underground labels throughout the years from his home base on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Through labels like Beyond Beyond is Beyond, Eiderdown, Deep Water Acres, and Reverb Worship his soundscapes have permeated the sonic ether, flowing down through various levels of consciousness to paint a sonic tapestry so rich in colour that listening to his work is genuinely more akin to a intensely spiritual journey of sonic discovery. Now Sol has returned with what could be the best album of 2018 so far? A blistering new long player entitled 'Enter The Stream', a collection of eight tracks that skip effortlessly through ambient tinged psych folk, acid folk and kosmische styled psych rock all steeped in a kind of esoteric brilliance. 'Enter The Stream' is officially released on July 31st 2018 jointly via the good folks over at Sunrise Ocean Bender Records and Cardinal Fuzz Records and is also available to pre-order right now through pranacrafterabode.bandcamp.com
Enter the Stream by Prana Crafter
'Enter The Stream' begins meditatively, oozing an eerie kind of calmness that completely envelopes this listener in blissful sonic tones as those swirling acoustics tumble through layers of reverberation, carefully cushioning refrained vocalisations and the lulling tap of guitar strings. It's a beautiful opening salvo steeped in highly personal themes but wonderfully refreshing in the way it settles the listener from the off with its hypnotic almost metronomic swing that gently leads us into the ambient strewn wilderness that is 'Moon Through Fern Lattice'. This track opens up shimmering on layers of cyclonic drones and effervescent instrumentation accompanied by the addictive pull of lead guitar as we buffer on ambient themed waves of psychedelically attuned instrumentation. Up next, 'Mycorhizzal Brainstrom' floats into the sonic ether on waves of beautiful frequencies accompanied by progressions of guitar and the fizz of electronics. Melodic lines of lead guitar dance and swing with ease, dipping in and out of translucent waves of reverb and the constant pitter patter of ambient synth. 'Mycorhizzal Brainstrom' is a triumph, a lysergic sonic adventure and an album highlight for me. 'The Spell' jangles into existence strapped to an acoustic progression whipped by the occasional line of distorted lead guitar overlaid with a kind of spaghetti western brilliance. Sol's vocalisations control the tempo here and they sit brilliantly inside the groove, eventually leading us into a lead break that momentarily shatters the air of serenity surrounding this track before we're back inside that swinging groove and pulled into it's final death throws.
'Old North Wind' bellows into life, moving on melodic tentacles of acoustic guitar draped in reverb and an instant hit of melancholy. Beautiful lines of vocal swirl around entrancing instrumental progressions joined sporadically by subtle highlights of lead guitar and slow moving percussion. A magical lead break unfurls it's sonic tendrils and intertwines with the melee of sounds adding blissful atmosphere as we flutter along in it's wake, pondering life and love and everything else in between whist up next, 'Kosmic Eko' does exactly as it says on the tin. Ambient stylings coalesce alongside angry pulses of distortion as tumbling lines of lead guitar plunge into pools of reverb allowing those swirling atmospherics to hold court as the track tries to build momentum from far below the mix. There's a hesitancy here, this listener wants the track to take flight and soar skywards but Sol has other ideas and allows it to tantalisingly hang in a cloud of frequencies until eventually it teeters out into marvellous oblivion. This is absolutely sublime songwriting craftsmanship and only goes to showcase just how good this album really is. The albums penultimate piece entitled 'Pillow Moss Absorption' begins with an acoustic progression that eventually leads into something altogether eclectic. Beautifully entrancing lines of guitar drenched in wah wah theatrics and underpinned with swells of organ and fizzing synths take centre stage as we're whisked off into an esoteric world filled with sonic wonderment. The instrumentation erupts again as progressions of acoustic guitar return and meld with waves of reverb, changing tempo with each sweep, tumbling and splashing through waves of brilliant production until we're swept headlong into the albums closing piece. 'At The Dawn' caps off a truly stunning collection of songs. This track feels like a bookend of sorts and whereas 'Pillow Moss Absorption' was loose and more free form in its approach, 'At The Dawn' is more structured and settled in its own skin. It's a beautiful ending to a truly marvellous album.
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, postpunk & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He also was a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting genres of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
RELEASE DATE: 28th March 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Spirit Goth Records
'Castlebeat' is that weird moment between nostalgia, unnerving contemplation and the dizziness that comes with hazy afternoons, setting suns and retrospection. This reviewer was impressed with their 2016 self-titled album, which arrived at a time before Mac Demarco had entered what could be scholastically deemed ‘post-celebrity’. A time when chorus pedals and slower tempos were beginning to be umbrellaed and confused with terms like ‘copycat’ and ‘influential’. I speak of this time only in reference to the fact that when the debut album 'Castlebeat' was released, a certain demographic, a certain underground and a certain discussion base were carrying them around on pedestals in the same way Demarco and other dream pop/jangle pop/synth bands were being. A similar thing happened around that time with the NY-based Porches and their debut album 'Pool'. Everything was about the aesthetic, the nostalgia… The internet was recovering and re-convening from vapourwave and all the associated facets of it. The moral of the story is, if Castlebeat arrived at a time it made sense in, (while simultaneously being a great album, musically) what happens when times move on? And what does the next album (the aptly named VHS) sound like? Brilliant apparently… And its all a great trick of the light, because not so much has altered for Castlebeat and their music, even if the times have.
VHS by CASTLEBEAT
'VHS' opens with the instrumental ‘Research’, which showcases plucked, bright guitars and a programmed post-punk drum beat. Behind the music, sequencers swirl and pulse with samples and the occasional soundscape that floats back: a welcome introduction to the album. The much more retrospective ‘Tennis’ follows with a darker sound. The vocals, which ooze in after a short guitar introduction, appear in a considered reverb way. On ‘Tennis’ the band do what they do best: combine that kind of goth nostalgia feeling with danceable rhythm sections and extremely catchy guitar riffs, and you have a terrific album highlight. Returning to the sound of album opener, ‘Here’ continues the similar, colour-distorted beach feeling of ‘Tennis’. Of note is the extremely catchy chorus, that finds the vocals dancing in the background of a great texturing of guitar, bass and drums. Easily the greatest intro to any song on the album, ‘Wasting Time’ features a memorable post-punk riff put through several reverb, echo and chorus pedals into the context of the band. The track seems somewhat more darker and distorted than other songs on 'VHS', which gives it a brilliant edge that makes it a true stand out on the release.
‘Town’ turns the tempo up but retains a similar feel to previous song. The lyrics seem somewhat lazy compared to others but these are made up for with a brilliantly sounding chorus and refrain and the instruments meld together in a beautifully harmonious way. ‘I Follow’ has one of the catchiest sounds on the album and lives up to Castlebeats self-classification of ‘goth pop’. Another album highlight is the minimal ‘Zephyr’ which relies on the fantastic bass player. The chorus passages reveal a kind of meditative smoothness that makes images conjure to mind even more swiftly. On the Bandcamp page, many listeners who have brought the album speak highly of the second half of 'VHS' and in particular ‘These Days’. I can understand why this would be considered by some to be the best track on the album; it captures (especially through the lyrics) a particular thoughtfulness of regret, retrospect and dreaminess that I think most can in some sort of equivocally way emotionally relate to. Its anthemic, slow and just the right length to support its memorable qualities. ‘Heart Still Beats’ takes 'VHS' full circle, bringing the music back to a danceable and brighter quality of beauty and approachability. Of particular note is the songs fantastic second half, which captures something playful yet emotionally challenging and bring it forth through the music. An additional song, ‘Video Tape’ wraps things up accordingly, in Castlebeat and aesthetically drenched stylings.
'VHS' takes the impetus of 'Castlebeat' and pushes it towards something more post-punk and guitar driven. This push certainly gives the album a faster paced, more danceable feel, and I can understand if fans of Castlebeat find something more approachable and fuller with the sounds found on VHS. The album can be comfortably played as a listening experience, background music, or something you can throw on at a party to get people on the dancefloor. The real intelligence though (and the reason for the rating below) is that underneath each of the ‘goth pop’ sounds and effects of the songs, underneath the beach sounding, aesthetic driven riffs, is a real sense of nostalgia and retrospect. When vapourwave was done well it achieved a similar result, but even that tended toward sounding artificial and distant… VHS maintains the authenticity and reminds the listener that this was handcrafted with love. Many will comfortably ride VHS off as a lesson in how simplicity can critically triumph over intentionally and presentably complex and intellectual music… Little do they know that the band has coated the latter in the former… Do you follow? Before I continuously acclaim VHS, I think it is worth noting that the album wont be without its critics. Many of the songs maintain a similar feeling (which is why it makes for great background music) and you have to pay attention to notice the differences and techniques used from song to song. This goes hand in hand for any similar sounding ‘aesthetic’ laced music. The moral of the story is, however, that Castlebeat have backed a great album up with an even better one… a release that captures so much while presenting something so simple, achieved through textured and mellow sound.