NEW VIDEO - The Altered Hours - Over The Void - Featured Image - (650x651)

NEW VIDEO | The Altered Hours - Over The Void

Irish-based experimental psych aficionados 'The Altered Hours' have unleashed a mesmerising new video to accompany 'Over The Void', the second single to be cherry picked from their forthcoming & highly anticipated brand new four track EP 'On My Tongue', penned in for release on March 9th 2018 via Art For The Blind Records/Penske Recordings respectively. The video for 'Over The Void' was directed by Helio Leon with cinematography by Izabela Szczutkowska & Helio Leon and it was edited by Afghaniscan (Robert Watson)'On My Tongue' is available to pre-order right now on various formats via thealteredhours.bandcamp.com with a UK and European tour beginning February 2018.

'Over The Void' drives a noisy wedge into the sonic ether as a rumbling percussive assault attacks the senses allowing those melodic vocalisations to swirl and meld with angry guitars and the pulse of sullen bass frequencies. This track signals a change in direction for the band musically as they step away from their usual experimental fair and dive headlong into angrier sonic permutations. 'Over The Void' does not disappoint however and that only bodes well for the full EP.

Recommended!

LINKS:

thealteredhours.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/thealteredhours

twitter.com/TheAlteredHours

soundcloud.com/alteredhours


ALBUM REVIEW - Barlow - In A Strangers Car - Featured Image - (700x700)

ALBUM REVIEW | Barlow - In A Stranger's Car

ARTIST: Barlow

RELEASE: In A Stranger's Car 

RELEASE DATE: 25th July 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned

Shoegaze is usually a genre that is defined by its sound. Or more accurately, its purity of sounds, of sound that creates pictures, that creates images, that forges soundscapes and that adds depth to the whole picture of a song. Think of how critics, how writers, describe the emotional landscpes of shoegaze; often they congratulate it on its richness and sculpting. All of this could be said, in a weird, backwards way, about 'In A Stranger's Car' by Barlow, a Pittsburgh based lo-fi/shoegaze/alt-rock band. When I mention the words backwards it is because In 'A Stranger's Car' is the opposing side of lushness; its dirty, lo-fi, recorded on tape sound brings forth a different kind of angle on Shoegaze. And that’s exactly why I thought, immediately after hearing the opener ‘Tirebiter’, this is something notable…. Perhaps very much so. I don’t hand out 5/5 all that often; it has to be something different, something original and (most importantly) something interesting… And I’m pretty sure this album ticks all those boxes. The band are made up of Ethan Oliva - guitars/vocals/drums/bass/keys/piano/tamborine, Andrew Yadeski - drums/guitars/bass, Jake Nowoczynski - bass & Mitch Delong - keys.  'In A Strangers Car' was originally self-released back in July 2017 and is now getting a rather special re-release treatment (on limited cassette format with added material that includes demos etc) through Crafted Sounds. You can get your hands on it right now on various formats via Crafted Sounds and Barlow respectfully.

As previously mentioned, ‘Tirebiter’ opens proceedings, with its noisy lo-fi based dream rock sound. Voices are hushed and dirty, instruments are crunching and pushed to the front. Emotionally, the song brings more to the table than a lot of ‘normal’ shoegaze music does. One should also mention that ‘Tirebiter’ is a definite album highlight. The sense of atmosphere (in a lo-fi way) continues on the brilliant ‘You Have To See It’, which continues things in a similar way to the album opener. The much darker and stripped back ‘East Commons’ presents a stark and more experimental song structure than previous. The vocals are more present (although fuzzy), the occasional dissonant chord or off-key scream and the crescendo like second half makes the song another album highlight. ‘False Eye’ takes things much more upbeat, and is stylistically similar to the opener, the vocals are exceptionally distant, and beside dream-pop, the song sounds like a psychedelic type of soft rock? The shoegaze tone of the guitars and the intricate bass performance also ties things together in a more alternative light. The underlying experimental tone of previous songs comes to the forefront of ‘Accosted’, somehow mixing the dirty, out of time feedback in the background of the music and the bright, jangle pop of the song mix together beautifully.

‘The Messengers’ rags along at a steady punk rate, throwing around words under distorted guitar tones… The second half, however, is where the true gold lies. Going from the aforementioned punk tune, Barlow jump straight off a preverbal cliff as the song shifts into a bizarre, noise laden sound collage soundscape. ‘In His Attic’ may be the most pleasant song on the album; the enjoyable temperature of the jangle pop sound eases slowly through the song. But yet again the second half leaps into a bizarre experimental soundscape, bouncing around with fuzz and distortion for the listener. ‘Disarming Rebels’ takes things guitar-centric, creating a layered and enjoyable alternative/garage rock feel that fits neatly as a kind of interlude on the release. ‘Highway’ sounds similar to ‘Accosted’ but even more beautifully subtle; every instrument does their best to create a textured yet enjoyably simple sound for the listener. Simiarliy is the beautiful ‘Throwing Star’ in which three or so guitars meld together to create a neat interlude like song. ‘c.o.l’ sounds like some sort of 90’s garage rock song that could have gone big if the vocals weren’t so drowned out… But maybe that’s exactly why I find it so interesting. The moments in the song where the guitars and feedback wash over the song are truly beguiling; the emotional depth of this song is fantastic. Another brilliantly weird song is the outsider/freak folk, acoustic guitar lead ballad of ‘Go For It’ which sounds inspiring and introverted all at the same time. The all out punk/noise riot that is ‘Time Man’ eventually sequences into lo-fi guitar contemplation, as if Barlow have finally began to calm down. But this jaunt into placid guitar tunes jumps straight back into the noisy lo-fi rock into the songs second half. Brilliant.

'In a Strangers Car' is essentially a group of experimental, lo-fi snapshots of ideas, thoughts and structures for songs… Although in a normal context this would be a criticism, here it is in fact a massive positive. The imaginative experimentation of noise laden passages of music mixed with linear jangle and enjoyably bubblegum-ish pop music makes the album extremely original. Couple this with the bands desire to present everything in the grainy, lo-fi sound that it appears, and you have something that lands somewhere between shoegaze and experimental psych. The performances are rough, the textures are beauty, but there is something truly beautiful about this sound.

5/5

LINKS:

barlow.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/barlow99/

soundcloud.com/barlow-2

craftedsounds.bandcamp.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Cam Phillips - Contributing Writer

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.


NEW SINGLE PREMIERE | Bleach Bath - Galaxie 420

Ontario based heavy shoegaze three piece 'Bleach Bath' have unleashed a brand new single entitled 'Galaxie 420', a follow up to their April 2017 debut three track demo 'It'll Get Worse If You Let It' . Their sound shimmers in a haze of fuzzy layered reverberations & ghostly vocalisations collectively underpinned at times by heavier passages of driving alt-rock formulated to allow their sound to soar into the ether, riding a senses pummelling percussive swagger that doesn't give up! 'Galaxy 420' is available to buy/download right now via bleachbathto.bandcamp.com

'Galaxie 420' tumbles into earshot swirling in an angry cyclonic vortex thats filled with tremulous guitars, pounding drums, throbbing bass frequencies and swathes of glorious reverb enveloping a hazy almost ethereal vocal line. Growling lead guitar intertwines perfectly with ghostly murmurings to drive a massive wall of blissed out reverberation forwards on a predestined sonic flight path.

Recommended! 

LINKS:

bleachbathto.bandcamp.com


Alter - Pendulum (700x700) Featured Image

ALBUM REVIEW | Alter - Pendulum

Alter - Pendulum (300x300) Post imageARTIST: Alter

RELEASE: Pendulum 

RELEASE DATE: 28th April 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Grimoire Records

From Baltimore in the USA comes the deep humming roar of Alter, whose core sound consists of the delicate layering of everything cold and aesthetically pleasing: alt-rock, post-rock, ambient music, shoegaze and even some sort of wild and loud dream pop thrown in there for good measure. Pendulum consists of six dense and spacious tracks laced with reverberating echo and drowned out vocals; offering the sound of envelopment to listeners in the form of some kind of snow drenched village off in the middle of nowhere. For some it will be a sluggish slog through the at times thick and murky waters of alternatively loud guitar music that Alter push forth from their instruments; for others the flood of noise and the hushed echoes of the vocals will provide some kind of beauty through the snowstorm of sound; for your sakes I hope it’s the latter. 'Pendulum' was released via the Baltimore based independent record label 'Grimoire Records' back on the 28th April 2017 and it is available to buy/download right now from grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com

'Pendulum' opens with ‘False Mirror’ a brilliantly heavy track with subtle hints of post-punk in there for good measure. The beginning of the song makes one immediately think of the quiet, slight post-rock music that they’re about to hear; that is until the churning, loud guitars and cymbal heavy drums arrive into the mix. From there the most intriguing element of the song comes in; the vocals… sporting the aforementioned touch of post-punk. The vocals remain deeply layered under the walls of noise, but unlike the much rehashed shoegaze production technique that many of us are already familiar with, Alter’s vocals sit in a higher register; offering up an almost contrast to the music and the sound on the song. ‘False Mirror’ pans out into a cymbal lead breakdown before turning full circle back within itself. ‘Momentary’ offers up a similar slow beat that concluded ‘False Mirror’ except with a more obvious touch of post-rock evident in both the song writing and the mixing. The dynamics alter awkwardly throughout ‘Momentary’, especially the galloping drums on the second half of the track, but it seems to be the most 'by the book' that the band play it; although it still holds the same beauty as the other tracks around it.

Following on, the band turn in one of the EP’s best and most moving songs; its title track. The slow, drum and guitar combination roll slowly in the background of a fantastically harmonious vocal performances; even when the song moves back into borderline noise-gaze anthemic guitar, the catchy and dark alt-rock stlye chord progression stays along; forming the song into a complete package of heavy and emotive beauty. Special love and interest should be given to the songs second half, after the slight silent break, where the bands and instrumentation becomes even more extensive than before. ‘Inner Eclipse’, while at the start sounding like the heaviest the band will go, turns out actually to be a brilliantly weird, almost math rock based charge of cymbals and thick reverbed guitars. Bouncing back and forth between walls of sound lead by the bass and guitar, and the more groove orientated riffs that lead into the songs heavier sections, the vocals hold everything together again… Except this time they are much clearer. All these elements mix together to create a fantastic blend of post-rock/shoegaze amplification.

‘The Storm’ is also a definite EP highlight; its downtrodden and icy sound connects the sounds and styles of the title track with the previous and more formless ‘Inner Eclipse’ to create a piece more melodic and drawn out. Of all the heavy, weighty tracks on the EP, ‘Lost Instinct’ offers up the substantial size of feedback laden reverb and soundscapes for the listener to hear. It begins with borderline droning guitars and drums, backed up by the soundscaped noises of guitar feedback and, eventually, the wavering and floating vocals that have played such a pivotal role on other tracks throughout the EP. The wild, open feedback ridden landscapes of Pendulum make it difficult to say whether everybody would be a fan. But for those who appreciate the kind of melodic heaviness that can only really fit comfortably with post-rock and ambient texturings; then the EP is for you. Alter shine greatly when they display their strengths wisely; those being their attitude toward filling up the entire canvas with noise, the dynamics of sound in context with the instrumentation, the smart mixing and production, and perhaps most importantly; the vocals. Thankfully for almost the entire EP, the band do in fact display their strengths wisely offering a sonic piece of noise meditation, created through production, performance and sound.

4/5

LINKS: 

grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/aaalterrr

facebook.com/GrimoireRecords

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.


ZRN - Swim

EP REVIEW | ZRN - Swim

ARTIST: ZRN

RELEASE: Swim EP

RELEASE DATE: 28th April 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Across The Floor Records

Aarhus based noisy duo 'ZRN' have released their latest five track behemoth entitled 'Swim' to the masses back at the end of April 2017. 'ZRN' are a side project of monstrous Danish psych rockers 'Tales Of Murder And Dust' and their sound has gone from meandering, atmospheric almost slowcore/shoegaze leanings on their 2015 full-length release 'Animous' into a more of a menacing experimental/noise rock orientation on these new tracks. The EP was officially released back on the 28th April 2017 via and it is available to buy/download right now from zrnband.bandcamp.com

In a spiralling drone and accompanied by sequenced production theatrics the opening salvos of  'Across' sweep into earshot dragged by the fizz of undulating synth and the hypnotic call of dark malevolent atmosphere. Chalking in at a full twelve minutes long this track circumnavigates a stunning array of sound waves as it's gravitational pull buffers and pivots sequenced bleeps and whirrs with stunning effect. It groans and creeks in parts as it's soaring synth lines cut deep sonic throughs through delayed reverberations, rippling magnificent swathes of ambient & lo-fi permutations out into the ether. 'Across' is an absolutely magnificent opening track. Up next, the EP's lead single staggers into audible range. 'Deep End' is immensely infectious! It undulates and snakes on layers of dark, noisy bass frequencies supplemented with repetitive lead lines, shimmering tambourine shakes and a heavy sense of sonic foreboding. It's vocal lines glide and snake in and out of the instrumentation, under constant bombardment from whirring lead guitar lines and addictively atmospheric production.

'Diving Off' stalks metronomically into the ether pulling with it those deep dark plods of menacing piano that seem to echo and billow as they fall. Haunting vocalisations accompanied by swirling synth swells swim in dark reverberation as growling guitar & undulating fret noise envelope the entire track in ink black atmosphere. Absolutely immense, 'Diving Off' is probably my favourite track on the entire release. Up next the album deftly unfurls it's penultimate piece. The shuddering twang of overdriven guitar held fast in a regimental flight path builds and shudders through layers of resonating frequencies. 'Slow Affection' has mantra like qualities that whip and curl brilliantly around the inner psyche. It's vocal lines are distant, almost demon like as they ride turbulent instrumentation mixed with intermittent sequenced theatrics to blistering effect. The EP closes out with a dark slab of experimental noise. 'Dry' is an intoxicating affair filled with infectious vocalisations, sequenced electronics and dark, jittering synth swells that are collectively drenched in massive swathes of reverb. It pulses wave after wave of dark atmospherics as it traverses three minutes plus of immense production. A brilliant ending to a very interesting EP.

4/5

LINKS: 

facebook.com/zeroinemusic/

zeroine.net/

soundcloud.com/zrndenmark

zrnband.bandcamp.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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.


EP REVIEW | Bleach Bath - It'll Get Worse If You Let It (Demo)

ARTIST: Bleach Bath

RELEASE: It'll Get Worse If You Let It.

RELEASE DATE: 9th April 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned

Formed earlier this year, Ontario based heavy shoegaze three piece 'Bleach Bath' have unleashed a stunning three track demo entitled 'It'll Get Worse If You Let It', an immense prelude to what these guys can create going forward. Their sound shimmers in a haze of fuzzy layered reverberations & ghostly vocalisations collectively underpinned at times by heavier passages of driving alt-rock formulated to allow their sound to soar into the ether, riding a senses pummelling percussive swagger that doesn't give up! 'It'll Get Worse If You Let it' is available to buy/download right now from bleachbathto.bandcamp.com

The demo opens up trapped in a shimmering translucent wall of guitars as 'Sick Of Me' pulls up it's sleeves and digs in to it's sonic surroundings. Noisy guitar squall echoes and squeals as this track winds itself up into a jittering sonic ball and unleashes a wave of throbbing bass frequencies and driving percussion. The arrival of ghost like vocal lines lay a veil of atmosphere over proceedings as the chorus progressions explode into a cacophony of noise and fuzz leading us into a swirling finale of droning guitars and steadying instrumentation. Up next, 'Worse' charges into the arena ploughing a deep furrow and dragging noisy guitars, humming bass lines and explosive drum patterns into audible range. Soaring lead lines add weight as 'Worse' moves through it's fuzz laden gears with ease and is reminiscent at times to early shoegaze pioneers 'Swervedriver' in it's production arrangement and overall approach.

The EP closes out with 'Shampoo', a soaring behemoth that resonates and reverberates through walls of noisy guitars, steadying percussion and probably the best vocal performance on the entire release. It lifts brilliantly through it's chorus parts injecting some refreshing alt-rock permutations into the mix as it shifts again and streams back into a melodious verse progressions. Reminiscent at times to early 'Dinosaur Jr' or any of those early nineties underground noise-rock outfits, 'Shampoo' is probably my favourite track on the release and it's a fitting ending to wonderfully addictive demo. I can't wait to hear what comes next.

4/5

LINKS:

bleachbathto.bandcamp.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

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.


Sunset Images - Obscure Daze (Gravy Records)

ALBUM REVIEW | Sunset Images - Obscure Daze (Gravy Records)

ARTIST: Sunset Images

RELEASE: Obscure Daze

RELEASE DATE: 7th April 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Gravy Records / Cintas

Mexico based experimental psych-gaze duo ‘Sunset Images’ released their brand new six track sophomore entitled ‘Obscure Daze’ to the masses back on the 7th April 2017 via Gravy Records/Cintas Records. The band are made up of Samuel Osorio - guitar/bass/vocals & Alejandro Zúñiga - drums and their collective sound on this latest release swims in a dark sea of intense experimentation with layers of frequential noise, fuzz, pounding percussion and massive swathes of reverberation carefully buffering effected vocalisations (appearing here for the first time as the band take a brilliantly executed step away from their usual ‘instrumental only’ sonic compositions). ‘Obscure Days’ follows on from their very impressive five track EP 'Hajime', released back in 2015 and is available on very limited edition transparent vinyl from Gravy Records, on cassette via Cintas Records & digitally from sunsetimages.bandcamp.com

An atmospherically dark, swirling repetitious drone drenched in rumbling bass frequencies and crackling guitar squall undulates into audible range as the opening track ‘Obscure Days’ works through all one minute thirty nine seconds of it’s sonic permutations graced in a wonderfully cinematic hue. It’s closely followed by a reverberating sonic behemoth in the form of the charging ‘1969’. This psych induced monster drives into the ether on a thunderous percussive pattern, is absolutely peppered with oppressive bass frequencies and squealing lead lines whilst carefully directing a wavering vocal line to its final destination. It erupts into a fuzzy wall of explosive noise before fading out into feedback laden obscurity.

Metronomic percussion underscored by a growling bass progression enters the arena as ‘No Hay Lugar’ shuffles into ear shot on a wave of scrawling fret noise before dragging soaring lead guitar lines out into the open to ride this tumbling repetitious beast. Sporadic haunting vocal lines join in with the maelstrom of resonating frequencies, building rapidly in intensity as layer after layer of reverb is added to the already bulging wall of noise that eventually morphs into the immense ‘Basilica’, a pounding one minute forty nine seconds of senses pummelling noise filled with explosive drum patterns, grumbling bass lines and angrily distorted guitars. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable six minutes of music.

The albums penultimate piece is a repetitious slab of resonating noise with swathes of modern psych intent underscored at times with a slight nod to garage psych. ‘Death’ shakes and rolls violently on a fuzzy cascading bass line as it’s accompanying percussive swagger rises and falls in and out of a deep dark sonic trench intertwined with subtle atmospheric passages of squealing lo-fi majesty. Glutinous raging howls add intense darkness as this track pulses and tumbles into a magnificent ending making it my favourite track on the entire release. The album closes out with ‘Roads’. Swathes of reverberation coupled with carefully placed production trickery announces it’s arrival as ‘Sunset Images’ pulse post-punk connotations into the mix. It’s rolling drum pattern holds throbbing bass frequencies and reverberating guitar lines in it’s wake, building with each impressive progressive cycle before breaking into a magnificently peaceful final break filled with huge swathes of reverb drenched instrumentation. A fitting ending to a marvellous album.

4/5

LINKS:

sunsetimages.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/sunsetimagesband

twitter.com/sunsetimages

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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.


NEW VIDEO PREMIERE | Laedj - Carpal Tunnel

One of our favourite bands right now, the brilliant Melbourne based 'Laedj' have unleashed a riotous new video to accompany their latest single 'Carpal Tunnel', the follow up to their recently released debut single 'Pacific', both of which are taken from their forthcoming debut EP penned in for release over the coming months. The band include members of Melbourne based outfits such as 'Inventions, Yachtburner, Breve, Singing For Humans' & 'Hotel on Mayfair' and their sound is distinctly fuzzy with shimmering shoegaze connotations underscored at times by soaring slivers of psych & noise. 'Carpal Tunnel' is available to buy/download right now from laedj.bandcamp.com

'Carpal Tunnel' drives into the ether lashed tightly to a busy percussive attack and straddled by throbbing bass lines & hazy production. Its guitar progressions swirl and arc throughout the piece, whipping up a sonic frenzy, sending out layer after layer of delicious reverb that collectively circumnavigates those impressive vocalisations.

The video was produced, edited and directed by Liam Jemmeson.

Recommended!

LINKS:

laedj.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/laedjband

twitter.com/laedjband


EP REVIEW | Cherry Crush - Turning

ARTIST: Cherry Crush

RELEASE: Turning EP

RELEASE DATE: 6th January 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned

Kentucky based 'Cherry Crush' have brewed up sweet and sour shoegaze concoction with their EP 'Turning' which came out earlier this year. Following on from their March 2016 debut single 'Lights Out' , these six tracks fuzz in all the right places. The 'Turning' EP  is available to buy/download right now from thecherrycrush.bandcamp.com

'How it Goes' opens with a ripping riff and rolls along at quite a lick. Ride's vapour trails are in evidence in 'Fine', with its vocal harmonies and chiming guitar melodies. There's a bit of bite to 'Made in America'. It's minor chords sharp lyrics and sprawling squall of a middle eight hint that all might not be rosy in Cherry Crush's world. The darker feel continues with 'No Control', one of the highlights of the record. Opening with a crash, 'I can't stop the world from spinning' goes the refrain - the frustration palpable. Surely, we all know where they're coming from? Title track 'Turning' is a beacon. The reverb lights up the song, letting the layered melodies twinkle. With 'Judy' the record seems to come full circle. The snarl of the guitars is slighter at first, but that's just the the prelude to an eruption of feedback and then .... silence!

4/5

LINKS:

thecherrycrush.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/WhiteShells

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.


ALBUM REVIEW | Snowball II - Flashes Of Quincy (Doughnut Records)

ARTIST: Snowball II 

RELEASE: Flashes Of Quincy

RELEASE DATE: 10th February 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Doughnut Records

Songs about breaking your ankle on halfpipes, drinking chai tea and heartbreak; must be the nineties!? Or is it 'Flashes of Quincy' by Long Beach based power pop band Snowball II? An album that combines the more rock-influenced shoegaze sounds of bands like Ride and the heavy strum and meddling of a genre one can only identify as a specific type of garage power pop. Throw into these musical nods to a by-gone era the lyrical recipes that shot many alternative bands to the top of charts around the world; such as skating, girls and being generally awkward about things. It’s a smart and satisfying album because it injects an originality into a time period and sound (power pop) that make it sound as fresh as ever; you can see the influence, but it’s mostly covered by originality and creatively diverse songs, ideas and sounds.

'Flashes of Quincy' begins with the album highlight ‘Anais & Me’ which centres around the whimsically contemplative vocals and the lyrics within. The protagonist of the song (presumably the ‘me’ in the title) reflects on the decisions and actions of the titular Anais; who drives to parties, dodges curfew and smokes. Snowball II use the vocals to enhance the lyrical message as they take on an awkward, self-conscious tone that sounds like it’s coming straight from the mouth of the main character. The instrumental qualities of the song touch more on alternative rock than power pop or shoegaze; although the vocals sound distinctly lower in the mix in a semi-Ride styling. As for its appeal; the song boils down to a simple case of being super enjoyable. That, really, is the crux of almost the entire album; there is always some sort of simple and minute form of enjoyment running through almost every song. ‘Groan’s’ is a more power pop centred song that showcases the undercurrents of indie music in the band’s sound. The song begins as a neat guitar riff plays through until the end of the verses where it dips into what sounds to be an out of time guitar section in a different key? This small piece of experimentation adds another dimension to the already fantastic song writing; the chorus rolls along and showcases the best elements of pop music; being superbly catchy and playful. All the while the vocals maintain the same kind of awkward bystander mentality as before; receiving significant help within the realms of ‘dorky charm’ by the lyrics, especially the chorus lyrics ‘It might be your birthday/But I made a cake for you’ to be precise. Snowball II turn things downtempo and perhaps even more shoegaze with ‘Sear ‘Em!’ that sounds much less playful than the previous two tracks. A fantastic drum beat maintains a heavier guitar sound; while a downtempo guitar plays under the mix to add contextual weight to the vocals.

‘CR-VUC’ starts with a weird kind of acoustic guitar and the slow churn of an organ in the background of the song that folds out into the alternative rock of previous songs. It sounds like a more fleshed out song; featuring a memorable chorus but perhaps even a memorable verse structure also. The small elements, like acoustic guitar, organ and an active drum section, make the song even more beautiful and showcase a diversity in the bands song writing. ‘Resident Of The United States’ is another album highlight; a brilliant guitar riff guides itself through a stop and start verse and chorus that builds around fantastic alternative rock melding’s and styles. ‘Your Occasion’ embodies the quirky, slow, freak-folk like elements of the band’s sound. This song is brilliant; it’s acoustic guitar driven verses drive it through to a much heavier, muted power pop kind of alternative musings. The instrumentation showcases what seems like a more ‘mature’ form of arrangement (that’s not to say the other songs are ‘immature’) and the vocals ooze a kind of nostalgic quality that does wonders for its mixing with the instruments and performance; truly fantastic. Reggae and dancehall blend with a kind of indie sensibility on ‘Appositive Stream’ a masterfully slight pop tune that features all the warmth that hipster-cum-indie bands often skip over. It’s a simple little song that is guaranteed to make you smile and think about the beach, or something.

‘Meet Yr Dad’ is the most comedic that Snowball II ever reach. It’s a racy spoken word folk-rock/alt-rock tune about everything related to relationships and that awkward past time of meeting the girls father. Similar to ‘Appositive Stream’, the song goes for less than three minutes; packing all of its wit and humour into a crafty, neat package that’s just as narratively absorbing as a seven-minute epic, or the five minute ballad like rock sounds at the start of the album. ‘I Exist’ sees the band embrace a psych pop sound and the off-kilter guitar sound that appeared ‘Groan’s’. It’s the lengthiest song on the second side of the album; I believe it to be the least interesting of all the songs on the album; taking on a fuller sound that begins to shine the light away from the bands stronger qualities; like performance and simple but adroit guitar riffs. ‘Is All’ is the furthest Snowball II stride from the sweltering, sunny quirks of their power pop sound; turning in a mesmerisingly beautiful ballad, influenced by soft rock, dream pop and a downtempo style of shoegaze. Built around a simple sequenced electronic pattern, the song builds upon the gentle strum of a guitar and the distant and hushed vocals. Altogether it sees the sun going down after a long day of beach dwelling; a kind of conceptual scenario the listener creates for themselves over the course of the album.

Flashes Of Quincy’s rating and conclusion of criticism could be boiled down to one simple, overriding fact; it is immensely enjoyable. It’s pure fun. And even when it’s downtrodden or darker lyrics or sounds seep into the music, it is still as invigorating to watch and listen to a band who create so much with such simple and straight forward sounds. Altogether, I feel as though the bands origin in Long Beach speaks some kinds of contextual volumes about the content in the songs; the visions of the ocean and the beach, of the pizza restaurant or the movie theatre you take the girl to on an awkward first date. Flashes Of Quincy, in this regard, at times sounds like a concept album of sorts; less of a story but more of a feeling or a place.
The band themselves turn in a magnificent performance across the entire album. The mixing and the production injects nothing but strength into the music; relaying and clearly presenting all the aforementioned opinions and emotions. It’s a solid and thoughtful group of ballads and power pop tunes, wrapped in the warm embrace of shoegaze and alternative rock that reminds us all of sometime in the past; way back when. The band step above where many other rock based groups would drift away or remain clichéd, they do so through the avenues of performance, song writing and sound.

4.5/5

LINKS:

snowballii.bandcamp.com/

facebook.com/snowballiiband/

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 the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.