ARTIST: A Thousand Hours
RELEASE: Endless Grey
RELEASE DATE: 17th March 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
It was way back, way way back, in the early days that the slow but powerful shift of alternative music began to sweep the underground, from four chord punk, coming from either side of the Atlantic, to the somewhat alien sounds of what would later be determined as ‘post-punk’. Of these early post-punk bands, there was a much darker and ‘heavier’ sound. Songs consisted of baritone moans and screeching guitars, drum beats that many amateurs could play and thick bass lines. Funnily enough, skip forward a good forty years or so, and this is the sort of stuff you’re hearing on 'Endless Grey' by Alaskan based 'A Thousand Hours'. Dark, somewhat challenging but always tactically engaging, A Thousand Hours round up many of music histories greatest tricks and turn them into their own creation; churning out a heavy, tight and unique sound in the process. 'Endless Grey' is available to buy/download right now from onethousandhours.bandcamp.com
Endless Grey by A Thousand Hours
The album begins with the title track; a slow, yearning and distant piece of alt-rock/post-punk. The vocals remain husky for the songs duration, reaching a beautiful tone that syncs with a dizzying guitar on the chorus. The drums beat slowly to keep things going and a fantastically subtle piano is played deep underneath the music; just enough to sound as important as everything else in the mix of the tracks. ‘B’ follows in a darker tone, opening with the rustle of industrial sounds and what sounds to be the pluck of a harp, before the sound of French coldwave pours in; a great riff that hums through to the listener and the somewhat down trodden drumming accompanies muddy, challenging vocals in a collage of veiled beauty. Again, A Thousand Hours use the high keys on a sharp piano underneath everything. After several listens ‘B’ stands as a true album highlight; capturing everything so grand about what can be created with post-punk music. ‘Ship’ opens with an overtly post-punk bass tone, followed by the slow rattle of the drums. The vocals on ‘Ship’ are much more present than previous tracks; an element I think doesn’t pack as much of a punch for the band. The chorus still soars though, and one can feel an undercurrent of dream pop within the instruments, especially the guitar. ‘Moments’, a mesmerising soundscape filled wave of genuinely fantastic music creation furthers this touch of dream pop and adds another layer to it by again utilizing the wonders of slight, simple piano playing.
‘Tender’ returns again to the desolate, stripped back post-punk sound explored on the opening part of the album. It’s simple guitar strums drown out the FX’d vocals over and over again and the chorus passage of music showcases the lead vocals by flying them higher in the mix to again accompany the guitars. The almost minimal musicality in the song fits perfectly with the lyrics, that seem distant, dreamy and confusing all at the one time. An interlude follows, entitled ‘Hold’ before unleashing the next track ‘Down’, which also shines brightly as an album highlight; its soothing sounds drift again into the realms of dream pop. The slow strum of an acoustic guitar backs up a glowing synth like sound and the much more present but rewarding vocal tones. Its place as an album highlight is due to how wonderfully all the instruments are melded and linked together. ‘Flood’ is another great song, that slows thing down again; touching on points that showcased the bands talent in the first half of the album.
‘The Desolate Hour’ is one of the most stripped back songs on the entire release, but it again deploys many tropes associated with dark, alternative post-punk music to form into another stellar gathering of music. The entire song lives up to its title; the music never truly reaches out of the conceptual sludge it has decided to sink itself within; capturing the sound of drowning through a musical language that’s both engaging and wretched. Perhaps the deepest depths of the dark, claustrophobic post-punk caverns that A Thousand Hours dwell in is the almighty ‘Rainy Days’ that centres around a deep, heavy vocal lead and slow, thick, sludgy music that at the same time somehow sounds thin and slight at the same time. It’s weary and deep sound captures a movement that the band seemed to be taking slowly over the course of Endless Grey, as the title would suggest. ‘Closure’ is a guitar-lead instrumental track that churns out an almost danceable tune to counteract the tracks before it, but it remains within the stylistic elements of the album and its sound.
'Endless Grey' is as close to its title as it can get; darkness and a heel dragging tempo carries many of the songs around, dragging them behind on a metal chain of slow, heavy sounds and passages. There are the occasional tracks where the band take their foot off the accelerator and present a brighter, more upbeat dream pop influenced song. But for the most part, they remain within the parameters of classic coldwave; especially on the albums second half through the string of songs like ‘The Desolate Hour’, ‘Rainy Days’ and ‘Flood’. For this reason, some won’t fancy setting off through the journey of Endless Grey, and others may find it’s 11 track haul a lengthy one. But I ask you to indulge in it. It’s brilliance shines in its stylistic choices and its tense, yet loose performances. Altogether it is an immensely rewarding listen from a band who know exactly what they want. Where many bands in this area of alternative music tend to release five or more song releases with tracks that sound completely different from one another, A Thousand Hours stick to their conceptual guns and showcase 11 songs that stick together but remain fresh for the listener over the course of the album. Post-punk is in good hands, I suppose, is the moral of the story… And those hands have been used wisely here; to create a piece of music that shines in almost every aspect; especially song writing, performance, production and sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on Baeble Music and Culture (USA), Sounds and Colours Magazine (Latin America, London), Easterndaze (Latvia) and the Australian based heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
by Primal Music
Fever Dreams by Mirror Mirror
Washington based psych/no-wave outfit 'Mirror Mirror' have released a brand new track entitled 'Fever Dreams' via the bands bandcamp page. Jason Campbell's distinctive brand of swirling psych infused soundscapes are peppered with swirls of no-wave simplicity underscored by driving post punk flourishes that collectively meld into a brilliantly melodic ball of dark sonic energy. 'Fever Dreams' was released on the 5th March 2017 and you can buy/download it right now from mirrormirror.bandcamp.com
ARTIST: Fools Ferguson
RELEASE: Dead Lines
RELEASE DATE: 27th January 2017
The real, meaty, heavy side of dreampop/shoegaze music is shown; teeth-baring, wild and beautifully sludge-filled on the album 'Dead Lines' by Fools Ferguson. But even the heaviness and wall-of-sound like musical qualities are contrasted on the release by dreamy, wavering passages of music; strung together with FX, keys and a unique vocal style. Together these elements mix in with touches of post-punk revival and alternative rock to create quite an original group of sounds, genres and thoughts in the shape of music.
Dead Lines by Fools Ferguson
The album opens with the lengthy, over eight minute epic ‘Altered States’. It’s beginning showcases the aforementioned heavy side of alternative, dreamy music; guitars and drums link together to create a wide and tall sound and the use of the subtle sound of keys underneath the mix stir together to create a truly memorable intro to the song. The vocals are, unlike many dream pop/shoegaze bands, fully visible in the mix of the music. This allows for an interesting contrast and connection between the vocals and the synths/keys across the course of the song. A pounding drum machine manages to keep the song rolling along at a steady and patient pace, and occasionally a piece of technical wizardry or synth swirl will accompany the sounds on the song even further. It is true that the greatest parts of ‘Altered States’ are the creatively engaging instrumental pieces; built to convey images and emotions through chords and contrast. Turning things completely over in sound is the much more upbeat and shiny ‘Room and Roses’, which takes on a more pysch-rock influence while maintaining enough of an air of dream pop to remain slightly familiar. ‘Room and Roses’ is in fact a ridiculously catchy, well-written and brilliantly performed song. That’s about all I have to say about that. ‘Room and Roses’ is followed by the brilliant, post-punk revival sound of ‘Crystal Castles’ as much of an album highlight as ‘Room and Roses’, the song sees the band turn to the crux of classic post-punk music; equipped with thick bass lines, the double tap snare and hi-hat dance sound of the percussion, and the intricate, weaving sounds of guitar. It’s an enjoyable and interesting song that seeps more and more into a darker sound as it goes on; culminating in a heaviness of a different kind to the albums opening.
‘The House of Love’ slows everything down into a more pop orientated sound that even features an acoustic guitar! The verses seem to be a weird combination of synthpop (where keyboard lines bounce around on the riff) and alternative rock, making parts of the song seem uneven or perhaps even under written. The chorus is fantastic; featuring a great but simple riff that captures the essence of dream pop music in only a few notes/chords. Another album highlight is the epic, seven minute piece of dream music ‘Wild Sides’ which blends together dark, timid soundscapes with the previously explored structural elements of post-punk music. For most of the song, the music churns and churns in a kind of minimalist way, underpinned by the slow synth movements underneath the song. The vocals are more akin to traditional dream pop/shoegaze music; drowned and FX’d above the music; soaring and drifting in a kind of contemplative manner. ‘The Black Star…’ turns thing back to a more ‘Room and Roses’ kind of sound; although it appears less upbeat and catchy in its performance and style. The chorus really highlights a swift kind of ‘neat and tidy’ aesthetic the band have been hinting and playing at through the course of the release. By ‘neat and tidy’ I mean that the guitars and rhythm section all stay together tightly and neatly in a kind of package wrapped in FX, sounds and noise, rather than presenting a full frontal, wild and unformulated kind of noise or drone. ‘Something Outside’ ties in with other epic songs on the album in its length, height and even its weight. There is a fantastic bass guitar riff that guides a majority of the song, punctuated by the occasional free-jazz inspired drum tapping, but overall the entire thing sort of seems like a thrown together-distant piece of music that shows an occasionally interesting passage of sound or thought. ‘The Alohama Lakes’ turns things around yet again, creating a slow and yearning piece of heavy dream pop music. It’s an album highlight and one of the most prominent songs on the album that sounds fully developed and rehearsed by the band themselves. In fact, ‘The Alohama Lakes’ is a fantastic example of the kinds of songs and sounds the band create at their greatest and most inspired points of the album.
'Dead Lines' is certainly an interesting album from a talented and equally engaging band that seems to borrow elements across all sorts of genres of alternative music. But that can’t blend out the fact that this release seems uneven and fluctuating in its sincerity. There a few fantastic, brilliant tracks where the band show they’re skill in song writing and crafting, tied together even more so by brilliant performances. But even these said tracks vary so much in stylistic and conceptual elements that you wonder at times if you are listening to the same band as before. I stated before how there are some elements that carry from song to song, such as tones, distinct playing and kinds of sounds, but for most of the album these elements are not strong enough to resonate throughout the entire release. There were even times while listening to this where I thought how much powerful the songs would be if they were completely instrumental and there were other times where I wondered about where the song had wandered off to in context with the album. All these elements amount to what is referred to as ‘uneven’ or ‘muddled up’. But all this is not to say the band is without immense talent or skill. As stand alone tracks, a majority of the album sounds interesting and well produced. Furthermore, the bands skill is shown throughout the entire release through the avenue of performance; each instrument and sound melding fantastically together. This goes further to reflect the mixing in itself; brilliant, wild, subtle and amazing. I think this is very interesting and well-written music that you should here, but I also hope that Fools Ferguson reconvenes to consider how an album can flaunt their talents and skills as a complete package. They already have the talent and skill; it’s just about how you use it. Besides that, there is the many feature highlights, especially in the realms of 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.
ARTIST: Hanford Reach
RELEASE: Canyons EP
RELEASE DATE: 10th March 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Medium Lavender
Brooklyn based psych/shoegaze outfit 'Hanford Reach' formed back in 2016 following the dissolution of a previous incarnation called 'Sky Picnic'. Consisting of Chris Sherman and Leah Cinnamon the band's sonic tendrils reach primarily into the realms of jangling shoegaze hued pop but with a subtle undercurrent of driving post-punk, reminiscent at times to seminal US based post-punk connoisseurs 'For Against', Boston based shoegaze outfit 'Swirlies' or more recently 'The Marbles Jackson'. 'Hanford Reach' originally started as a solo project for the duo to create new material but they are now currently working behind the scenes to take this EP on tour with live shows promised throughout 2017. Their debut four track EP 'Canyons' gets it's full release on March 10th via their own record label 'Medium Lavender'. You can however pre-order it right now digitally from hanfordreach.bandcamp.com
The EP opens with 'Shifting Patterns'. A shimmering almost effervescent like guitar strum awakens a psychedelic behemoth before tumbling skittishly into reverb laced soundscape filled with impressive instrumental breaks, luscious lead guitar lines, thunderous percussion and that incredibly addictive vocal line. What is instantly apparent as this EP unwraps itself is that 'Hanford Reach' are intellectually astute musicians who can inject a serious amount of melody into every single facet of their songwriting without losing any of that old school 90's charm that has been previously written about them. 'Shifting Patterns' surges and heaves through magical percussive breaks & intricate lead lines that wrap themselves around the vocals adding depth and weight to their overall sound. A brilliant opening track indeed. Up next, 'Muted Edge' swirls into the ether on a menacing instrumental drone and a steady drum pattern. Jangling guitars take over, draped in swathes of reverberating frequencies and subtle synth swells. Another impressive vocal lines sits atop an undulating wave hypnotic instrumentation firmly fixed to a bedrock of throbbing bass lines and tumbling percussion.
The EP's penultimate piece entitled 'Theatre Of Shadows' opens with a turbulent jazz tinged drum pattern intertwined with cascading bass frequencies and swirling psych tinged guitar lines before it's sublime vocalisations enter the fray, looping and arcing effortlessly in unison with the metronomic swing of the collective instrumentation, as if being locked in a kind of sonic gravitational pull. Theatre Of Shadows has the songwriting prowess of 'For Against' with its soaring shoegaze highs coupled with driving post-punk lows but there's also a brilliantly intoxicating modern twist to this track that's very hard to shake off. 'Canyons' closes out with 'Daydream Hues', an impressive slice of psych tinged shoegaze filled with steading drums, throbbing bass progressions and subtle synth swells that are overlaid by jangling guitar lines and explosive passages of swirling reverb laced instrumentation, vocal samples and shimmering tambourine shakes. A brilliant ending to an impressive debut EP.
'Hanford Reach' have an old school sound. Their musicianship & songwriting abilities are faultless. This EP is not experimental at all so it's not going to create new sub-genres in this ever evolving scene. But what it does do is; it gives an honest doff of the proverbial cap to those shoegaze/psych/post-punk pioneers who created these genres originally and thats what makes this EP something really, really special.
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: Andrew Younker
RELEASE DATE: 2nd February 2017
While many of us were in a turkey coma over the festive season, Andrew Younker appears to have experienced a bout of intense productivity. He's created an impressive 6 track EP that builds on the woozy sonic foundations of 'Brainchild' (released November 2016). Andrew's voice and approach somehow make me think of Sufjan Stevens, it's probably more my perception than reality, but sometimes that's how it goes. The aesthetic is familiar, with washes of beautiful noise given direction mainly through the insistent bass. There's a strong electro feel, but plenty of organic noises too. 'Microchasm' is available to buy/download right now from andrewyounker.bandcamp.com
Microchasm by Andrew Younker
The resolute rhythm of Electric Chair sets the pace for the EP, the bassline pushing the song along pleasingly, while the guitars swirl about somewhere up above. Totaled Ambulance's post punk feel with its reverby snare sound and, of course, that bass bowling along in its icy beauty, nods to the 80s. Multi-layered melodies shine through Eyes Turn Blue. The gritty but glorious guitars glow with restrained power, as does Andrew's voice. There's a change of feel with Down The Stairs which in contrast to the immaculate construction of earlier tracks seems freer, with an almost psychedelic guitar line.
A monotone robotic voice sings plaintively in Sophisticated, which soon merges in into Pretend Therapist. Again the 80's influences are clear, but Younker's tastes are impeccable, every sound carefully selected and placed perfectly. Microchasm is an interesting step in Younker's musical development, exuding a cultivated chilliness. Can't wait to hear where he goes next.
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: By Night With Spear
RELEASE: Seeing In The Dark
RELEASE DATE: 13th January 2017
Just as its cover art, the musical contents of 'Seeing In The Dark' by New York based shoegaze/dream pop band 'By Night With Spear' is vividly beautiful and colorful in a contemplative and distant style. Spread over the course of an album, 'By Night With Spear' explore every corner of dream pop and shoegaze music; generally guided by the beautiful and talented vocal performances and singing that adds another dimension to the sound in context with the genre. In a weird way its almost a light version of blackgaze; where guitars and drums remain steadfast in creating wall of sounds for the vocals to hover over. However, in this case, the guitars are less heavy and the drums never break into a blast beat; but the music remains strong and full frontal, creating a wall of sound of melody and musical colors that deserve both praise and recognition.
Seeing in the Dark by By Night With Spear
‘Starlight’ opens with the surge of light, fluffy, dream pop inspired guitars and the slow rattle and roll of the drumming. The vocals slowly seep into the mix; high and wavering in a pitch a kin to musical warmth and brightness. It displays a beautiful, well-written chorus that’s an album highlight. ‘Starlight’ follows into 'Twenty Nights’ that slows things down slightly and introduces more shoegaze elements into the bands sound with feedback inspired guitar backings and heavier/pounding drums in the back of the mix. The outro section, where the vocals rise even higher, adds more emphasis on the musical blending that occurs through the production. ‘Blue Rider’ is another slow, sensual and emotive piece of music making. Perhaps more so than previous tracks, it showcases By Night With Spear’s ability to create music of pure beauty and adoration. Between the rolling drums that set the scene, to the blue-sky feel of the guitars, the song captures a moment of complete bliss and categorizers the band as one whose music conjures images of beaches, of the cool, colorful sand and water as the sun dips to the horizon; it’s something only truly fantastic dream pop bands can do. Impressive.
‘Moving Projections’ turns the mood post-punk with double tap snare and a heavier atmosphere. The guitars take a step deeper and the whole song turns somewhat darker than the previous tracks. Meanwhile, the vocals remain at their great heights; creating a mesmerizing and interesting counterpoint to the tone of the music and instrumentation of the song. The album highlight, in my opinion, is ‘Martyr’, which builds upon the aforementioned powers and elements of ‘Blue Rider’ to create a visionary piece of dreamy shoegaze music that attends to all the essential things that dream pop music should make you feel: contemplative, wandering and a deep sense of yearning for the past. ‘Given’ combines the elements of alternative dream pop music with the darker touch of ‘Moving Projections’ style post-punk, and rounds it off with a flavor akin to indie pop music. The drums bounce around, while the guitars play in accompaniment to the once-again beautiful vocals. The instrument and vocal performances are outstanding, especially the vocals, as is the production and the overall mixing.
Dream pop is a difficult genre to get right in the modern age of the Internet and connectivity. In it’s humble origins of the 80’s, many bands were praised for their unique musical style and techniques within the genre. With the emergence of the Internet and a worldwide musical grand interest in dream pop music, so many bands try hard to create something unique or interesting to step out from the crowd of mediocrity. By Night With Spear, much like the fantastically reflective guitar tones of Pastel Coast, succeed in this leap from the crowd; creating a kind of dream pop album that utilizes beauty and reminiscence in place of fancy FX and wild production techniques that amount to boredom and self-indulgence. But simultaneously, 'Seeing In The Dark' is far from being over-intellectualized or avant-garde in the contextual elements of its genre, and it could easily be an introduction to dream pop and a more refined shoegaze for a listener who hasn’t been listening to it all the while. It’s an engaging listen, primarily created through the grand avenues of performance, mixing, production and sound.
ARTIST: Electric Floor
RELEASE DATE: 6th March 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Vipchoyo Sound Factory Records
Cosenza based new wave/synth-gaze trio 'Electric Floor' have announced their highly anticipated new EP 'Fader' released via the ever prolific Italian based independent record label 'Vipchoyo Sound Factory'. With a sound that echoes the experimental side of post-punk melded together with the darker side of new wave and underpinned by a modern electronic edge 'Electric Floor' have the ability to push the sonic envelope with their music. The band were formed in 2009 and are made up of Emanuele Chiarelli - vocals/guitar, Simone Costantino De Luca - programming/keys & Fabio Cosentino - bass. 'Fader' gets its full release on the 6th March 2017 and is available to pre-order on various formats right now from vipchoyo-sound-factory.bandcamp.com
Electric Floor -FADER- by electric floor
The EP opens up with it's lead single 'Bluedive'. It charges into the sonic ether on a bedrock of driving bass frequencies and sequenced percussion as the bleep and whirr of synth squall echoes deep within a bubble of reverberation. It's vocals are placed meticulously to the fore as all around them swirl in a kind of sonic gravitational pull, looping and arcing through waves of shimmering synth swells and subliminal guitar lines. 'Bluedive' is a feast of melodious frequencies that are guaranteed to thrill. Up next, 'Sullen Dress' shimmers and swirls in a haze of jittering synth draped with a modern dream pop twist. Beautiful guitar lines dance and shimmy along sequenced percussion deftly cushioning that impressive vocal line, underscored at times by duel backing vocals and soaring instrumentation. 'Borderline' pulses and fizzes along turbulent synth swells, the throbbing hum of bass frequencies and undulating sequenced percussion. It builds in momentum, swinging into massive swathes of reverberation and dragging distinctly passionate piano stabs and another brilliantly executed vocal with it as it jumps off into the ether. Stunning production underscores some impressive instrumentation here as it weaves and bobs along its predestined melancholic course, skimmed at times by soaring guitar lines.
Up next, the EP unleashes it's penultimate piece and probably my favourite track on the entire release. 'M31' surges into audible range on cascading baselines, sequenced bleeps and whirrs and steadying percussion. It's vocal lines sweep in, catching this listeners attention before scooping him off his feet only to then soar into the ether accompanied by soaring waves of instrumental laced reverb and raging guitars. 'Electric Floor' have a unique ability to squeeze so many different genres into one complete sound and it is really evident on 'M31'.There are hints new wave, dream pop, subtle layers shoegaze and driving post-punk coursing through this tracks inner core that make it the stand out track for me. The EP then closes out with 'Nosedive'. It's probably the most modern sounding electronic track on the EP if I'm honest but it does have some incredible bass lines running through its central spine and it finishes in spectacular fashion, as all of it's separate components amalgamate into one driving sonic maelstrom. A decent ending to a rather interesting EP.
Pulsing shimmering melody & effortless melancholy into raging torrents of intermittent fuzzy noise isn't something to be taken lightly. It's a difficult process to get right and takes somebody with serious song writing & production skills to it pull off. That being said, Irish based noisy post-gaze trio 'Easy Tide' have managed to do it in spades on their latest single aptly titled 'Denim On Denim'. The band are made up of Aaron Dunphy, Steven Rafferty & Mark Carolan and they collectively create beautifully honest soundscapes that meander through swathes of reverberation and intense fragility that at times hangs on a very fine sonic thread before exploding into bouts of blissful frequential noise. 'Denim On Denim' is the bands first outing of 2017, the track follows from the release of their 2016 debut LP 'Ennui' and the following singles ‘Tea Party’ and ‘Mind Your Head’.
'Denim On Denim' leaves you with no place to hide. It pulls on your heart strings with it's deeply intense melancholic vocalisations straddling jangling guitar progressions and the constant hum of bass frequencies. It's rickety percussive swagger swings menacingly as the track builds and ebbs through passages of noisy instrumentation before exploding into it's grand sonic finale.
Fuzz Club Records mainstays and Berlin (via Manchester) based dark psych/post-punk outfit 'The Underground Youth' have unleashed the second single entitled 'Amerika' from their highly anticipated eight studio album brilliantly titled 'What Kind Of Dystopian Hellhole Is This?'. The album is penned in for a February 15th launch date with various formats officially going up for pre-order via www.fuzzclub.com. The band have also announced a European tour to celebrate it's release starting this month and you can check out their full tour schedule by heading over to facebook.com/TheUndergroundYouth.
'Amerika' drones into earshot accompanied by twinkling instrumentation, whirring feedback and the hollow thrum of sequenced percussion. It stalks and skulks in a densely oppressive sonic fog as Craig Dyer's addictive vocals swirl menacingly in the sonic ether. This is a triumphant slice of psychedelically charged post-punk that's sure to to attract new and old fans alike.
ARTIST: Mirror Days
RELEASE: No Hope For Getting Better
RELEASE DATE: 31st October 2016
Soft, dreamy and influenced by a myriad of different sounds, LA based dream pop/shoegaze/soft rock recording project Mirror Days go into complete introspection and release a beautiful album which sounds like a kind of matured re-structuring of music featured on their EPs from the past. No Hope For Getting Better presents itself in a kind of meditative subtleness; never trying to sound too full or dense but instead creating a mesmerizing deep sound that resonates and plays out with a different kind of heaviness. Part- laid back beach inspired hipster dream, part introverted reconciliation, part directed self-expression, the album comes off as a kind of dazzling diamond of a piece of music; so beautiful and clean, but at times so shiny you can’t totally see into it… In a good way, of course.
No Hope For Getting Better by Mirror Days
The album opens with the breezy but aforementioned type of heavy ‘In Focus’ which is built around a calm and contemplative vocal FX and the slow roll of soft rock instrumentation, until the pounding drums enter into the background which turns the song into a more dream pop key. Lyrically the song takes the shape of the projects name as the vocals send their time questioning, wondering and humbly musing in a kind of reflective manner. The more shoegaze but utterly brilliant ‘Endless’ follows, featuring a more drowned vocal performance; adding a kind of post-punk element to the music. All the instruments join in an imaginative sound to step above vocals; making them sound heavier and deeper. The whole song, however, forms around the beautiful and rich instrumentation that makes it a step above what it could have been. ‘Left to Wander’ features more of a similar kind of instrumentation to previous tracks but adds another layer with a more poppy sound. It also seems to build upon the aforementioned dash of post-punk by incorporating more a coldwave sounding guitar and post-punk inspired bass riff. What makes it one of the albums highlights is again its tone and distinctive sound; the vocals and lyrics seem even more studious in content, again evoking the undercurrent and thematic elements of a more dream pop sound. This track is followed by ‘Time Won’t Heal You’, a shoegaze heavy song which begins with a shoegaze melody coupled with the dream pop aesthetic explored previously on the album. Impressive and well produced and mixed drumming holds the sound together while the guitars snake their way through the soundscape texture of the song. All the while the vocals extend into phrases that follow the instruments around and create interesting contrasts for the listener.
‘Low’ is an enjoyable and noteworthy interlude that features in just the right place for the album to flow and continue in the desired way. ‘Old Beginnings’ is a good, straightforward song but only continues the sound and tracks that have featured on the album before it, making it less impressive. That’s, of course, not to say it’s not a well written song, but it is definitely not one of the best on the album. Driving guitar opens the song ‘Spinning’. Its more melodic heavy sound gives it a hypnotising quality; couple this with the distant lyrics and moody air of the track and you have a song that is far away from the soft rock-beach aesthetic at the beginning of the album. ‘Spinning’ dives straight into the ocean, now dark and deep, to move away from its past while keeping one eye firmly in its preverbal rear-view mirror. ‘Rest Assured’ seems like the character or voice within the previous songs has finally made a decision of sorts. What kind of decision? What is the decision about? I have no idea. But as the most colourful and ‘least heavy’ song on the second side of the album it seems that the core tone has altered back into a more relaxed sound; slow and inward in a different form. These elements all join together to create a picture and ultimately to make the listener revaluate all the previous songs; to consider them in a different kind of light. No Hope For Getting Better thus presents itself together with this loose yet interesting concept involving regret and pondering of the past. And just as the album soothes with its opening chords and notes of a soft rock style sound, the complexion of the music swells into a whirl pool of darkness, depth and heaviness throughout the second half; ultimately culminating with the more considerate ‘Rest Assured’, bringing the entire album into a kind of full circle. A fantastic and engaging element of the music is that said content doesn’t only appear as a lyrical feature. In fact, the music and instrumentation pushes this kind of concept and emotive experience more so than the lyrics on a lot of moments on this album, and when it’s not just the music, it’s the music combining and contrasting the lyrics in a beautiful way.
Overall almost all the songs themselves remain enjoyable without featuring in between other songs on the album. Mirror Days talent of combining genres such as dream pop/shoegaze/soft rock/post-punk and alternative rock showcases the projects tight and impressive performance and song writing skills. It was mentioned in the PR kit for this release that the album features no electronic instruments; an extremely noteworthy feature as many bands program this and that to achieve sounds in a synthetic manner. Rather, like the music and the lyrics, the instruments come pure for the listening experience. An experience which is assisted with brilliant low key production and a type of mixing that saves the heavier drums from drowning out other instruments in a song. The projects actually talent with playing said instruments is also immensely impressive and can be heard through the magnificent production and sound.