ALBUM REVIEW | Solilians - Shin

a1760897817_16ARTIST: Solilians 

RELEASE: Shin

RELEASE DATE: November 18th 2016

RECORD COMPANY: Goodbye Better Records

'Solilians' are a Merrick, NY space rock ensemble that mix Hebrew vocals, ambient dub, and even shoegaze. They sound unlike anything I’ve heard in recent years, sounding as out there as some of A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s material. That only scratches the surface, because they throw in klezmer and horns too. To quote the press kit: ‘Solilians space drone dreams are the interstellar journeys of mystic seekers, mantra minimalism for the next generation. Benjamin Malkin's slow motion ambient dub prisms of klezmer melody refract Sharon Malkin's Mediterranean Hebrew beauty; while Gabriel Walsh's psychedelic sci-fi edge dances with Neptune Sweet's otherworldly cosmic majesty, all coming together on Shin, the four-piece's debut full-length (Think Stereolab slowed down to Stars Of The Lid).

The band got their start via the 7-inch soundtrack of The Binah Comics, a super-powers tale without violence that describes a woman sick of all the insanity and nuclear posturing surround­ing her homeland. A collaboration between Benjamin's writing and the great illustrator Ian Densford, The Binah Com­ics proved successful and Malkin put together his dream team of some of today’s best space rock minds to create ambient reflections of the comics. Starting off, there is 'Hine Ma Tov (Merc Yes Mix)' with horns, slow jam beats, and a droning aspect to it that invites and keeps the listener engaged. 'Hatikvah The Next Generation' retains the same mysterious elements, and it’s all about the emotion elicited, so the lyrics matter less than the music, at least for me. Its center is a drone and numerous voices move in and through the mix, leaving the listener feeling a bit unsettled. 'Lamedvavniks' exceeds eight minutes and is an interstellar journey into the heart of space. Vocals emanate from the creepy fringes of an event horizon, and immerse your ears in cosmic dream pop. This is music to be enjoyed over a great set of headphones and infinite time to let your mind expand and take it all in.

'Rev’s Gold' is much shorter and offers listeners a trippy sonic tapestry mingled with subdued vocals. It is music that takes you out of yourself, drawing you into a daydream. 'Hine Ma Tov' makes another appearance in the form of the Space Drone Dream Mix and this time it’s 13 minutes long! Prepare to float away into the ether. 'I Have Been, And Always Shall Be, Your Friend' takes its title from a Spock quote, and many hued layers of sound propel you straight in and you wish it would never end. Pulsating synths burgeon and grow in volume before it all comes to a dead stop. 'Planet Binah' may well be the centerpiece of this album, named as it is for The Binah Comics. It is another 13 plus minute journey, demanding that you stay present and experience its pulsating presence. The singer’s voice is submerged with synthesizers taking center stage. It all comes to a close with 'Post-Rev’s Reprise', a somewhat disquieting drone that winds down quickly. In short, this is album unlike anything you’ve heard this year, or any year for that matter. It is a fascinating and demanding work, but one that will reward you with repeated listens. Well worth seeking out for fans of international space rock laced with ambient dream pop.

4/5

LINKS:

Solilians.bandcamp.com

goodbyebetter.com

solilians.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

elizabeth

Music has always been a driving force for Elizabeth Klisiewicz, which she days "continues to define my existence". At present, she writes for The Big Takeover Magazine and The Active Listener Blog, and 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.


ALBUM REVIEW | Belle Mare - Heaven Forget

a1597040533_16ARTIST: Belle Mare

RELEASE: Heaven Forget

RELEASE DATE: 30th September 2016

RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned

Brooklyn dream poppers Belle Mare have recently self-released their confident and really wonderful debut album Heaven Forget. They inhabit the same dreamy electronic spaces as bands like New Order, The Cure, and Cocteau Twins, to name just a few.

Opening track 'Georgia' uses moody synth along with Amelia Bushell’s reverb speckled vocals to great effect. Imagine if The Cure had a female singer and you are only getting started. The follow up tune 'Cicada' is extended and gorgeous, containing equal parts Beach House and Radiohead in its soaring textures. Just lovely! 'Every Night' is conversational and intimate, with a bright, jazzy buzz to propel it along. 'How Much Longer' proudly trots out its New Order influence, with synths and metronomic percussion front and center. Amelia’s voice floats over it all like a skein of silk, through which you can view the wonders of the world.

'Dark of My Evening' is entrancing with warm washes of organ that slowly builds in intensity. It is stuffed full of catchy riffs and Amelia sounds particularly fine here. 'Ghostly' is another stunner, and all sonic elements mesh together effortlessly. Amelia’s ethereal vocals are woven into the melodic fabric, and it all works in perfect synchronicity. 'Rehearsed Lines' runs along the same introspective, melancholy lines as Lotte Kestner, while 'All This Time' dials up the energy a bit and bursts through your head in trippy bursts of color. Amelia hums on parts of this, and it’s a fun trip. 'Feel You Against My Heart' dwells in darker spaces populated with chilly synths, only alleviated slightly by Amelia’s airy vocals. 'In the Fall' is the lengthy coda to this bright, elegant, and beautiful record. Recommended for anyone who enjoys savory dream pop with touches of psych and even jazz to sweeten the pot.

4/5

'Heaven Forget' is available to buy/download right now from: bellemare.bandcamp.com

LINKS:

bellemare.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/bellemaremusic

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

elizabeth

Music has always been a driving force for Elizabeth Klisiewicz, which she days "continues to define my existence".  At present, she writes for The Big Takeover Magazine and The Active Listener Blog, and 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 | 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.


ALBUM REVIEW | SPC ECO - Anomalies (Saint Marie Records).

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ARTIST: SPC ECO

RELEASE: Anomalies

RELEASE DATE: 19/08/16

RECORD COMPANY: Saint Marie Records

Wow, another release from the prolific SPC ECO, the father-daughter duo consisting of Dean Garcia (Curve) and his daughter Rose Berlin. Let’s get one thing out of the way, OK? The band can’t help but remind listeners of Curve; it’s in Dean’s bones, he’s never really escaped from his musical past. And that’s cool, because 'Curve' was an amalgamation of shoegaze with psychedelic-drenched dance beats, and nobody else did it better. So now we have the current project, and it contains less of the hard edges you’d expect from this team, and more of the softly blurred dream pop that they do so well. And thankfully, not a voice synthesizer in sight. I have to mention that, because they erred in messing with Rose’s beautiful voice on last year’s Dark Matter.

So what do we have here? Another solid, darkly inflected release of dreamy trip hop. “Out of My System” is an obvious single, with its catchy melodies and spacey sonic backdrop. It’s the most like their earlier material, which means total ear candy, but it’s not a big step forward. Whereas “Incomplete” is richly layered melodic architecture, slow and sultry as Rose’s breathy vocals roll over the musical waves. It’s quiet and slightly sinister, and ever so beautiful. “Bare To Lie” is bleak dark wave, yet at its core it’s a stunning piece of work. I could totally see this used as a film score, it has that noirish feel I love so well. “Your Own Way” is gorgeous, gauzy dream pop, another killer tune that you need to hear immediately. This is yet another example of how perfectly suited this pair would be for film scoring. “Silent Maybe” reminds me of vintage Curve, and please know that is the highest compliment from me. It’s all about the heavenly vocals and the nearly symphonic landscape that Dean paints around Rose’s voice.

“Think Twice” is icy, slow burning and could be the soundtrack for your favorite spy flick. The lyrics are empty and sad, and leave you wondering what it’s all about. “Revived” is alive with bubbling synths and an upbeat feel, despite the feeling that it’s about the aftermath of a break-up. “All In Time” is heavier synth pop under a starry sky, bits of light sprinkled against velvety darkness. “Lost In a Crowd” closes out this set of songs, and it’s much quieter than the other songs, a great showcase for Rose’s lovely vocals. It’s all rather solemn and almost like a chant. So, what you can expect is another really good album from this duo with a variety of tones, beats, and moods.

'Anomalies' will be available to buy/download on the 19th August 2016 via: saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com

4/5

LINKS:

spceco.com

facebook.com/Spc.Eco

twitter.com/SPCECO

spceco.bandcamp.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

elizabeth

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.


ALBUM REVIEW | SPC ECO - Dark Matter

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ARTIST: SPC ECO

RELEASE: Dark Matter

RELEASE DATE: 03/05/15

RECORD COMPANY: kaboommusic / Saintmarierecords

This release came out about a month ago to no fanfare. Reviews of Dark Matter have been impossible to find online, so with nothing to go on, I have to wing this one. Oh, wait, there are some nice words from fans on the band’s Bandcamp page, so there you go. Dean Garcia and his daughter Rose are frighteningly prolific, often releasing two albums of new material per year. For a time, they tried changing their name, but that thankfully didn’t pan out. Their work is something you can rely on, and I don’t mean that it’s pedestrian. Rather, they continue laying down this engrossing sonic architecture of darkwave and electronica laced with dream pop. Dean is a master of studio trickery and plays a zillion instruments, and Rose has the voice of a dark angel. But they are not creatures of light, not really.

And let’s get the Curve comparisons out of the way - “The Whole World Shines” is hands down my favourite song here, and it stylistically resembles vintage Curve, but Rose sounds nothing like Toni Halliday. So there you have it. Cool tune, with its retro beats and darkly ominous bassline. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves as I have jumped forward to the bottom of the playlist. 'Creep in the Shadows' opens the album, and is marred by the voice synthesiser on Rose’s vocals. It is a pretty song, and I love the other spacey elements, but I can’t get past these synthetic enhancements. “Different Kind” continues this unfortunate trend; I would have much preferred to hear Rose humming over the hypnotic backdrop. “Let it Be Always” is the perfect soundtrack to your nightmare, with that creepy, slow backbeat, and then it shifts into lightness unexpectedly. It reminds me of the sort of sinister electronica that used to dominate TV shows like La Femme Nikita back in the 90s.

“Playing Games” is a gem, floating along with found voices deep in the mix to bolster Rose’s gorgeous vocals, and Dean has woven a mesmerizing sonic tapestry. More like this, please! “I Won’t Be Heard” should be a single, and is equally beautiful. “Meteor” veers toward somber dream pop and also appears on their brand new SPC and Time - Vol 2 compilation. I can see myself hitting repeat often on this song. “Down Low” has interesting electronic elements and I really like when the guitar kicks in. “Breathe” dials it back to simpler patterns, letting the music speak for itself without too many complicated layers. “Under My Skin” (also on the aforementioned compilation) is gauzy and magnificent dream pop, and is a fitting end to this release. 

 

Recommended for fans of dream pop, Curve, and chilled out dark wave.

LINKS:

kaboommusic.com

saintmarierecords.com

spceco.com

Facebook.com/Spc.Eco

twitter.com/SPCECO

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

elizabeth

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.


ALBUM REVIEW: Clustersun - Out Of Your Ego

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ARTIST: Clustersun

RELEASE: Out Of Your Ego

RELEASE DATE: 28/04/14

RECORD COMPANY: Seahorse Recordings

Italian dreamgazers Clustersun have flitted at the periphery of my consciousness for awhile now, but after reading a positive review of their work in Big Takeover Magazine and hearing them on the now defunct Flyweight show on college station WZBC, I knew I had to check them out. They also appeared on a compilation I reviewed recently called “Revolution - The Shoegaze Revival”, where they trotted out their trippy band of post punk on a song that also opens this album called “Hipgnosis”.

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=2070568991 size=large bgcol=333333 linkcol=e32c14 tracklist=false artwork=small]

 

The opening bars of "Hipgnosis" wouldn’t be out of place on an early Pink Floyd album, though the vocals are uniquely Clustersun’s. “Meteors” starts off with an almost trademark ominous bass line (which I dig), but that cold wave feeling is quickly nixed by Marco Chisari’s upbeat vocals. “Be Vegetal” is a fine piece of post punk that could have been released anytime in the past 30 years, betrayed only by modern production methods. “Planar I” (is anyone sensing a space theme here?) is a long, spacey song punctuated by trippy electronics and swirling psychedelia. By the 5:30 mark, it transforms into something else altogether, a veritable sonic feast with many layers. The excellent “Nebula” sounds a lot like the great English band, Sad Lovers and Giants, at least vocally. Maybe it’s a question of mood too, as the band brandishes melancholia freely. “Floating” is also in this vein, with some very nice atmospheric guitar work. Then we have “Planar II”, which also has that English post punk vibe, guitar work sliding into Chameleons territory. The song is short but dense, and sweet in the way that good music always is. The band closes the album with the self-titled “Clustersun”, a simmering space rock instrumental. I could actually see them opening a show with this!

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In any case, this album has been out for a year and the band sings solely in English and they go well beyond the sometimes limited realms of shoegaze. It’s a really cool record from a promising young band who just finished up their US tour. Let’s hope they come see us again!

LINKS:

facebook.com/Clustersun
twitter.com/Clustersun
soundcloud.com/Clustersun
clustersun.bandcamp.com
reverbnation.com/clustersun
youtube.com/Clustersun
vimeo.com/Clustersun

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

elizabeth

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.


ALBUM REVIEW: Wire - Wire (Pink Flag Records)

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ARTIST: Wire

RELEASE: Wire

RELEASE DATE: 21/04/15

RECORD COMPANY: Pink Flag Records

Three quarters of the original lineup (Newman, Lewis, Gotobed) comes together for their thirteenth album, along with guitarist Matthew Simms (It Hugs Back). The band has been throwing down excellent albums for quite awhile, and this new eponymous release is no exception.

They sound dynamic and revitalized, and their delicious combination of highly melodic post-punk with tinges of psychedelia (“Swallow”, “Split Your Ends”) is unique and instantly memorable. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve played this new record, and how indelible some of the songs are, such as the treatise on social media (“Blogging”), or the incredible “Octopus” which sounds carved straight out of Chairs Missing territory. This is dance in the aisles, head bopping music, and so much fun to hear for this long time fan. And what an intense song the 8 minute plus “Harpooned” is, a song that has become a staple of their live set. Its wall of guitars pierced through with Colin Newman’s always intelligent vocals is definitely a set piece!

The lyrics are thought provoking and not just tossed into the mix like word scraps, they are obviously given a lot of care by bassist Graham Lewis, who contributed most of the lyrics here. And oh, the music, wow is it good. I know of few other bands that have persisted this long and can trot out the goods every time. There are a number of potential singles, such as the aforementioned “Split Your Ends” that really kicks out the jams about two thirds of the way through. Or maybe the tremendous “Octopus” that has that classic Wire vibe that grabs me by the throat. The gentle “Swallow” builds slowly and comes to a crescendo before retreating back to the pretty wafting melody that started it. “Joust Jostle” is classic, hip shaking Wire, and I bet it kicks live. “Sleep Walking” has that ominous haze that overshadows “Harpooned”, but also offers up classic melodies.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9h4Ur4hagMY&w=640&h=360]

In summary, this is an excellent addition to the band’s long history, and is well worth picking up for existing fans as well as post-punk fans who like their music shaken, stirred, and delivered as a vanilla milkshake laced with sonic razor blades. Absolutely essential!

LINKS:

pinkflag.com

facebook.com/WIRE.pinkflag

twitter.com/WireHQ

youtube.com/user/wirehq

Pink Flag Mail Order

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

elizabeth

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.


ALBUM REVIEW | Shoegazin’ Your Waves (Italian Shoegaze Compilation)

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ARTIST: Shoegazin' Your Waves Magazine

RELEASE: Shoegazin’ Your Waves - Italian Shoegaze Compilation

RELEASE DATE: 15/03/15

There seems to be a real hotbed of musical activity coming out of Italy these days, especially in the genre of shoegaze. Bands like Clustersun, Stella Diana, and Klam keep crossing my path, and now we have yet another superb shoegaze compilation put out by Shoegazin’ Your Waves magazine (all in Italian). And not everyone is riding the MBV vein either, judging from the selections here. In fact, I hear Joy Division and The Cure as often as I hear the usual musical influences you expect from shoegazers.

For example, the aforementioned Klam give us “Depression Ridin’ Cowboys”, which would have slotted nicely on any Joy Division record. For that matter, I also hear a strong Chameleons influence in the guitar work. Give it a whirl to see what I mean.

 

Clustersun may have the highest profile here, and they’re coming to the US at the end of April. They also sing in English, which may make them a bit more accessible to some. “Planar I II Live” is reverb drenched with the requisite intensity, and leans more toward heavy psychedelia than shoegaze.

 

The Gluts could be in bed with Band of Susans on “The Thing”, throwing down those heavy riffs with aplomb. They must be loud bordering on insane in a live setting.

 

86 Sandals dials it back on “If” with watery guitar and a repeating woman’s voice. It is minimalist shoegaze, for want of a better description.

 

Allie’s Dope brings “Misread When Overthought” to the table, and it’s a pleasant, low key sort of affair.

 

Rev Rev Rev on “Rip the Veil” also sing in English, and have mastered the MBV playbook. They have the messed up guitar over vocals buried deep, and it works well for them.

 

“Smell of Rain” is a lovely but subdued instrumental from Good Morning Finch

 

Kimono Lights offer the pretty “Aurora”, though it sounds like they are playing very far away from the listener.

 

Novanta brings their shimmering sound front and center with “Worthless Whirls”, and they have a killer bass line to underscore its excellence.

 

Add into the mix  Grass On The Sun - The Corner, In Her Eye - Chameleon & My Invisible Friend  - Eyes  and we have a serious combination of great tracks.

 

Stella Diana close out the collection with “Navarre”, a song that flits easily between delicate passages and heavier sound waves. They employ voice recordings in one place, marking this as fairly different from the other songs.

 

All in all, this is a very nice collection of tunes from a talented list of bands.

LINKS:

facebook.com/shoegazinyourwaves

soundcloud.com/shoegazin-your-waves

clustersun.bandcamp.com/

stelladiana.bandcamp.com/

novanta.bandcamp.com/album/novanta-2

kimonolights.bandcamp.com/releases

grassonthesun.bandcamp.com/

inhereye.bandcamp.com/album/borderline

goodmorningfinch.bandcamp.com/

revrevrev.bandcamp.com/

alliesdope.bandcamp.com/releases

band86sandals.bandcamp.com/album/e-u-n-o-t-o

thegluts.bandcamp.com/

klam.bandcamp.com/album/bleak

myinvisiblefriend.bandcamp.com/releases

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

elizabeth

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.