Sooner / Paris by Soft Science
Hailing from Sacramento Valley, 'Soft Science' flirt beautifully with a heady blend of shimmering pop orientated song structures deftly infused with 90's era shoegaze sensibilities, melodic dream-pop and a subtle understated tinge of 60's era guitar bands. The band are made up of Katie Haley - vocals, Matt Levine - guitar, Ross Levine - drums/backing vocals & Mason DeMusey on bass. 'Sooner' is the second single to be lifted from their forthcoming & highly anticipated long player 'Maps' (available to pre-order HERE) penned in for release via the California-based independent label 'Test Pattern Records' on June 1st 2018 and it follows on from the albums brilliant lead track 'Undone' which was officially released back in April 2018.
'Sooner' soars into the ether on cyclonic waves of simmering synth, humming bass and jangling guitars that all meld effortlessly with those dreamy vocalisations courtesy of Katie Haley. Catchy chorus changes reminiscent of seminal era Lush are intensely captivating here also as are those twinkling tambourine shakes that arrive sporadically to ride that steady percussive swagger. The B-side to this single is a cover version of Northern Picture Library’s 1994 track ‘Paris’ originally released on another one of those covers compilations from TBTCI Records. As cover versions don't really float our boat here at Primal Music we'll leave it up to you to decide on this tracks viability.
'Sooner/Paris' is available to buy/download right now via testpatternrecords.bandcamp.com
Zine Days by FAWNS OF LOVE
California based dream-gazers 'Fawns of Love' have just unleashed the second single entitled 'Something Stupid' to be lifted from their brilliant brand new double a-sided 7' release 'Zine Days'. The band are made up of husband and wife team Jenny & Joseph Andreotti and their collective sound is a blissful sonic affair, filled to the brim with ethereal clouds of simmering reverberation, all delicately wrapped around gorgeous, melody strewn vocal lines and that punchy undercurrent of melodic guitar. 'Zine Days' is out now and is available to buy/download on various formats via fawnsoflove.bandcamp.com
'Something Stupid' bounds into audible range trembling blissfully on a tremulous guitar signature, deftly underscored with glistening lines of synth and the consistent pitter patter of sequenced percussion. Swirling vocal lines hug subtle bass frequencies as layers of reverb are pulled in and out of the piece by beautiful lead lines and that overpowering sense of dreaminess.
by Primal Music
California based dream-gazers 'Fawns of Love' have just announced a brand new double a-sided single entitled 'Zine Days' b/w 'Something Stupid'. The tracks are penned in for official release on March 2nd 2018. 'Fawns of Love' are a husband and wife team comprising of Jenny & Joseph Andreotti. They released a mesmerising debut eight track album in the guise of 'Who Cares About Tomorrow' back in March 2017 and their collective sound is a blissful thrill ride through layers of dreamy, lo-fi, shoegaze laden dream-pop that on first listen harks back to genre pioneers such as Cocteau Twins & Slowdive but with the occasional noisy nod to MBV & Jesus And Mary Chain. 'Zine Days' gets its official release this coming March and is available to pre-order with it's lead track downloadable right now via fawnsoflove.bandcamp.com
'Zine Days' glides through a glistening reverb filled fog to shudder and dance on top of sequenced percussion and swirling lead lines. Cascading bass frequencies hum and throb as synth laden clouds lift stunningly ethereal vocal lines skywards allowing this track to ebb and flow through layers of blissed out beautiful noise.
RELEASE: Without EP
RELEASE DATE: 28th September 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Solip's 'Without' EP is a brutal beast of doom-laden gaze. It's a powerful thing, dark and oppressive. Self-released, it follows on from 2016's 2 track 'Dissociation' and takes a similarly dim view of life, the universe and everything. The EP was released back on the 28th September 2017 and is available to buy/download right now via solip.bandcamp.com
Without by Solip
Adaptation's deliberate droning sets the scene for a record with very little light. The double-time drumming is completely suffocating and massively impressive. 'Held In Place' is like a shuddering death march. It's so slow and crushingly heavy at first. The fear just seeps out of 'The Burning Car'. It's unsettling opening notes explode into a chorus of abrasive guitar sounds, and it feels like being buried alive with those pummelling drums, driving us deeper down. The EP closes with 'No Gomorrah', with its enveloping walls of wild guitar squall. And those drums, pounding the nails into all our coffins.
Hailing from Oakland, California, the four piece have created a record with the heft and gravity required for late 2017, when all seems pretty much lost. Embrace the dark, it's all we have.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
In her time, Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr has attended raves and rock clubs. She enjoys pedals, pizza and spy dramas. Sarah also plays guitar in Edinburgh-based noisemakers Wozniak and is co-founder of Morningside Young Team who put on gigs and put out records for discerning audiences who enjoy fuzz and confusion.
ARTIST: Deer Park Ranger
RELEASE DATE: 17th august 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Fluttery Records
'Moderation' is the second EP by Oakland based post-rock/ambient project 'Deer Park Ranger'. It’s a neat little release that puts aside assumption and pretentious musicology while still being as interesting as a full length album. It's a warm and fuzzy six track that’s as enjoyable as it is simple, smart as it is showy. Across the track listing 'Deer Park Ranger' mixes a Radiohead-esque approach to electronic instrumentation and programming, while underpinning the sound with post-rock progressions that flesh the whole thing out in an audibly enjoyable way. While some may pertain it to be ‘slight’ or simply background music, I feel a comfort in 'Moderation' that seems to be somewhat absent from much music that comes around under the banner of post-rock… and it is both refreshing and absorbing for just those reasons. The album was officially released back on August 17th 2017 via the good people over at Fluttery Records and it is available to buy/download right now from both fluttery records.com and deer-park-ranger.bandcamp.com respectively.
Moderation by Deer Park Ranger
'Moderation' begins with ‘Shipwreck’ and a bellowing, rumbling wall-of-sound style strum that slowly introduces background guitar melding. Where many of the other songs on Moderation project a happier, more enjoyable and perhaps bright-minimalist sound, ‘Shipwreck’ opens things in a much more downtrodden way. Beautiful piano guides the song into its second half, while the beat of a drum and what sounds to be a synth play calmly in the background. This is melodic ambient music at its best. ‘Another World, Another Time’ delves more cinematically, albeit with the same stripped back sounds of ‘Shipwreck’. The inclusion of what sounds to be a layer of brass instrumentation also adds a deeper dimension to the sound and song as a whole: an EP highlight. Even the small interlude ‘Old City’ is an impressively simplistic track in terms of the EP, and functions as a well rounded song despite its length and standing on the EP.
‘Time And Distance’ is perhaps the most post-rock that Deer Park Ranger goes: the opening threads picking lines of guitar together to make fantastic soundscapes and ambient textures. The eventual guitar-based tricks that Deer Park Ranger use to build and conjure mood also come across beautifully, especially when contrasted with the backing piano. A shorter song (around the same length as ‘Old City’) utilizes a post-punk drum beat, skeletal but well layered guitars and piano to create another fantastic track that builds up before pandering off slowly and carefully. In terms of beauty: through texturing, colour and layers, there is no greater track on 'Moderation' than ‘Seeing All The Shelves’: it’s a crescendo of instruments and soundscapes into a mesmerizingly mini-epic sound. Again, the greatest element of this sound is the tinkering piano that guides along the other instruments with power and subtletly that makes it less of a slog than you’re average prog-rock song.
Usually when somebody releases a post-rock or progressive rock album, we all spend our time listening and then stepping back, having had enough of one giant slog through sound as it was. Funnily enough, I feel like when I finished listening to 'Moderation' that I only wanted more. Its been a while since I’ve listened to something so soothing yet simple, so smart yet so stripped back, and so comforting while being slightly challenging. The production, much like the mixing, is of a top quality standard and it a brilliant and relaxing accompaniment to the flow of the 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.
RELEASE DATE: 14th December 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Lavender Sweep Records
I am riding a wave of nostalgia – it’s 1994 day on 6 Music and impossible not to think back with fondness. So when I open the email from the esteemed editor and find that it’s a re-release of a lost EP from 1993, the timing could not be better. According to their Bandcamp page, Ozean formed in California in the early 90s after a flyer was handed out at a shoegaze show. They soon recorded their first demos on a Fostex Model 80, straight to tape. No unlimited takes in those days, and definitely no plug-ins! They made some cassette tapes, and split soon after.
Ozean by Ozean
Twenty-odd years on, those original recordings have been uncovered, and thanks to the wonder of the internet, Ozean’s dreaminess is making it out to a whole new audience. The timing is good – the shoegaze resurgence is well underway, with many of the genre’s big-hitters releasing new music this year. Ozean’s self-titled three track demo is a perfect parcel of the loveliness you’d expect of a band formed after a Ride and Lush gig. The fluttering guitars and wistful vocals transport the listener, overwhelmed and sentimental, back to those heady days. As well as their stated influences, I can hear The Sundays in Scenic. Fall floats like a feather, with flanged bass anchoring those big guitars. The closing track Porcelain drifts with no particular place to go. Ah, the possibilities.......
The EP was re-released via Lavender Sweep Records over in Wales on a limited edition c30 which has already sold out but you can get your hands on it digitally via the bands own bandcamp page: ozean.bandcamp.com
ARTIST: Fawns Of Love
RELEASE: Who Cares About Tomorrow
RELEASE DATE: 3rd March 2017
Californian based husband and wife team of Jenny & Joseph Andreotti aka 'Fawns Of Love' have released a mesmerising debut eight track album in the guise of 'Who Cares About Tomorrow', a blissful thrill ride through layers of dreamy lo-fi shoegaze laden dream pop that on first listen harks back to genre pioneers such as Cocteau Twins & Slowdive but with the occasional nod to MBV & Jesus And Mary Chain. 'Who Cares About Tomorrow' is out now and is available to buy/download via fawnsoflove.bandcamp.com
Who Cares About Tomorrow by FAWNS OF LOVE
In a haze of blissful reverberation and swirling sonic frequencies ‘Silly Boy’ swoons into the ether held fast within a whirlwind of tremulous guitars and repetitive sequenced percussion. Add into the mix the dreamy vocalisations of Jenny Andreotti and what we have is a shimmering wall of translucent dream pop underscored by a flurry of shoegaze impressions, impressive instrumentation and some fantastic production. Up next, ‘Thats What We Do’ sparks my fascination with it’s cascading bass lines, layers of synth & soaring reverb drenched guitars. The metronomic thud of distant sequenced electronics keeps this listener focused as the whole piece acts like a sonic conduit for those effortless vocalisations.
‘His Face’ soars into earshot tumbling cyclonically in a whirring ball of shimmering reverb and subtle synth swells whilst ‘How We Live’ echoes Disintegration era Cure melded with a splattering of the fantastic Cocteau Twins. ‘Names Names Names’ tumbles into audible range tangled up in a turbulent wave of percussion before unfurling it’s sonic tendrils and unleashing a beautiful array of hazy synth swells, throbbing bass frequencies, repetitive percussion and soaring guitars that collectively circumnavigate those fragile vocals with ease. The arrival of sequenced electronics seems to breathe some new life into the piece but ultimately it’s the transfixing almost ethereal like vocalisations of Jenny Andreotti that steal the show.
Up next, ‘Miranda’ shimmers and gyrates as it floats into the ether coupled with blissful instrumentation, haunting vocalisations and those brilliantly executed lead guitar lines whilst the albums penultimate piece billows and spirals through swathes of dark atmosphere. ‘Girls’ hovers in an undulating cloud of electronic percussion, jangling guitars and subtle synth swells as it ripples layer after layer of stunning reverberation out into the ether, gently protecting those ethereal vocalisations with aplomb. ‘Girls’ is a marvellous track and probably my favourite on the entire album. ‘Who Cares About Tomorrow’ closes out with ‘Scattered Pieces’. A melancholic affair that tumbles through soaring synth swells, repetitive electronic percussion and resonating guitar progressions that collectively envelope another impressive vocal. It’s a fitting end to a rather interesting debut album.
Del Chaney has spent the last four years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
ARTIST: The Gentle Cycle
RELEASE: The Gentle Cycle
RELEASE DATE: 24th January 2017
Swirling San Jose based psych aficionados 'The Gentle Cycle' have just unleashed their debut self-titled full album to the masses. The band are made up of Derek See - guitar/vocals, Maxwell Borkenhagen - guitar/mellotron, Todd Flanagan - bass and Craig Heitkam - drums and they have a unique talent of creating infectiously addictive psychedelic soundscapes by utilising vintage gear and bygone recording methods to birth a swirling, grooving style of rock 'n' roll that's both timeless and relevant. The overall outcome is mesmerising! 'The Gentle Cycle' is available to buy/download on various formats right now from thegentlecycle.bandcamp.com
The Gentle Cycle by The Gentle Cycle
The album begins with the jangling opening salvo’s of ‘Follow Light’, a swirling tremulous affair, filled with blistering 60’s psych connotations massively underscored by thunderous drums and impressive instrumentation. Vocally sublime, ‘Follow Light’ is a well received opening assault on the senses. Up next, ‘Shells And Spells’ meanders gracefully on an undulating wave of fuzzy reverberation and skittish percussion whilst it’s 60’s garage orientated vocal lines shimmer in and out of cascading guitar lines and snaking bass progressions with glorious aplomb. Track three, ‘You Line’, explodes into earshot held fast within a flurry of shimmering hi-hat & cymbal vibrations whilst the off kilter drum pattern keeps a skittish metronomic beat. It’s woozy guitar progressions deftly envelope another impressive vocal performance while that ever present and deeply menacing organ line adds some seriously dark atmospherics.
‘Love Is The Plan’ slows proceedings down a tad but it’s catchy guitar riff’s and steadying drum pattern’s keep this listener interested whilst ‘Way To Decay’ adds a very welcoming (and highly infectious) psych/folk acoustic swagger to the album thus tapping into another brilliant and previously unknown sonic variation that The Gentle Cycle can swerve into when needed. The album starts to grow on me a bit more as we move into the opening drones of ‘Memory Day’, which soon unfurls into trembling guitar squall and on into the tracks subtle prog-rock leanings. Thunderous percussion, throbbing bass lines and wailing guitars circumnavigate that reverb hued vocal line as the track opens up into an explosive wah-wah fuelled lead break and on into it’s grand finale. A pretty impressive track by my reckoning.
‘Far Beyond’ drives effortlessly through a wave of impulsively melodious instrumentation, filled with luscious breaks, duel lead guitar lines, angry cyclonic drones and undulating reverberation. The albums penultimate track however, entitled ‘She Came This Way’, leans brilliantly into 60’s psych/blues with its woozy bass progressions, melancholic vocal lines, busy drum patterns and punchy guitar stabs. It explodes into a fuzzy maelstrom of immense frequential noise as the lead guitar soars into the ether, looping and arcing through an angry reverb induced sky before eventually coming to an abrupt stop. ‘She Came This Way’ is my favourite track on this entire album and a recommendation from me. Do yourselves a solid and pop on some headphones for this one! You will thank me for it. The albums closing piece is a fitting book end to this collection of tracks. ‘New Day’ brings an air of serenity to proceedings as we float on acoustic atmospherics draped beautifully with harmonious instrumental swells and gloriously addictive vocal tones. A fitting end to a marvellous album.
RELEASE DATE: November 18th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Cleopatra Records
Programmed drums, dream pop guitars and the deep contextual influence of 80’s post-punk and ethereal wave combine with absolutely brilliant song writing on the debut album of Californian shoegaze/darkwave/post-punk band Echolust. 'Veldisa' is a sprawling, dark yet beautiful musical journey through moods and places, sounds and lyrics and contrastingly vivid soundscapes. Upon almost every track the band exercise some sort of gaze back into the past; but this act surpasses nostalgia and more offers commentary on thought and pondering. It’s beautiful and dream pop inspired guitar riffs support the slow and swinging music to fantastic degrees; expressing emotion through music with some wild sort of ease.
Veldisa by Echolust
‘1799’ opens the album with a dreamy guitar riff and a drum machine inspired by the double tap of the French coldwave and the early 80’s programmed beats of post-punk bands. Mixed within the song is the screech of a slow and winding synthesizer that seeps out when the soaring and wide chorus opens; offering a neat a song writing counterpoint to the language and sounds used within the verse of the song. The track retains a slow and winding quality which somehow never gets boring; an indication of a well written and instrumented song. ‘Cherry Dancer’ showcases the bands more shoegaze tendencies with its largely reverbed opening. The echoes of dream pop still linger however, so much so that ‘Cherry Dancer’ seems like a next door neighbour or companion piece to the more up tempo ‘1799’. From there the band leaps forward into a fantastically disco-darkwave inspired track titled ‘Dark Hair Girl’. The backing of the song sounds similar to an EDM/Dance style track; which contextually mixes well with the more alternative rock aspects that the song holds. The vocals remain deep and full of FX, which makes the singing sound like a direct instrument in the landscape of all of the instrumentation. ‘Dark Hair Girl’s best moments are when the vocals go higher and the band follow, showing off their talent of creating soaring style dream pop.
One of the greatest tracks on the entire album ‘Decor Blonde’ displays the band in full shoegaze swing; reverb drenched guitars and a slower and darker tempo. I believe it to be one of the greatest on the album simply for its fantastic wall of sound styled production; a form and style that adds a whole other dimension to shoegaze music. The lyrics also practice exactly what I mentioned before accompanied by the fantastic guitars and bass, they add an emotive element to the music and sound of the song. Praise also to the fantastic outro on the song, which takes on a whole brilliant sound of its own. ‘Doublespeak’ returns to a more post-punk formula but retains elements of the shoegaze sound explored on ‘Decor Blonde’. This song also takes the disco beats explored on ‘Dark Hair Girl’ a step further with a tight bass and drums section that sounds exactly like a R’n’B inspired track. ‘Doublespeak’ also relies more heavily upon the gradual tap of the programmed drums in the back of the mix. Perhaps the weakest song on the album is the darkwave heavy ‘Electric’; a lengthy and indulgent track with lyrics that seem like they were written by a completely different band than the previous tracks.
‘For Least Resistance’ brings things back into the bands sphere; featuring a synthwave drum and soundscape style of tone with the fancy shoegaze styles of the dream pop guitar. The track even features an experimental-trap influenced style drum machine beat throughout the song which melds into the music in an interesting and engaging way. The strange lo-fi/alt-rock genius of ‘This Blurry Kill’ shows another side of the bands talent of song-writing; tied off magically with the experimental soundscape stationed in the mix. The title track is another contender for the albums weakest song. It sounds somewhere between a B-side and a draft; featuring comedically confusing drum patterns and boring mid-tone vocals. Thankfully the band turn everything around with the fantastic ‘Velvet Holiday’ which rehashes all of the bands fantastic post-punk songs into a dark, more straight forward and heavy song. It’s almost as though Echolust wanted to connect the more synth and darkwave influenced side of their album with the more post-punk side and speaking of which, the atmospheric ‘Zombie Birds’ connects both sides together in sound with the dance influenced drum machine beats and the shoegaze styled bass, guitars and synth. Together this mixture creates something that sounds almost on the borderline of industrial music, something I suppose the band have constantly toyed with on the entire album. ‘Zombie Birds’ features a fantastic and mesmerizing intro that leads into the lyrically diverse verse and chorus in which the fantastic backing soundscapes and sneaky production sneak back into the song.
A few songs into Veldisa I wondered why the band wasn’t going pro; the songs were well-written, thoroughly beautiful, experimental and original pieces of brilliant music. After the opening few songs I was a little less mesmerized and by the second half I showed little-interest to the music, but the second half of the second half managed to turn it around and recapture some of the magic of the beginning. And that, in essence, is how Veldisa could be summed up. The album as a whole drags on and on and on (there are too many songs) and with less engaging songs in the middle, the listener just becomes more bored as the album plays through. In said mid-album area, the songs begin to sound more and more like clichéd and distant dance tracks thrown together to fill album space… But Veldisa doesn’t need album fillers. The band should have stuck to their guns and produced a more compact album with the same sharp and fantastic song writing skills displayed at the albums opening. For that reason Veldisa as a whole seems tiresome in structure, even when a lot of the songs are so well written.
The production is good, the mixing is great and the performances should also receive praise. Together these elements carry the album in its more paint-drying moments and prove that, although not throughout the total album, Echolust can produce a fantastic quality of song writing. I believe the opening few tracks are so good they almost carry the albums more weaker points and for that reason one should definitely listen intently to Echolust’s fantastic skills. These are achieved through mixing, production, performance 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 the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
RELEASE: Songs From The Woods
RELEASE DATE: 26/05/16
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 -
Songs from the Woods by maheekats
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