RELEASE DATE: 6th October 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Saint Marie Records
The debut album from 'Miniatures' is a dense and lush affair. Its textures are tightly woven to create velvety soundscapes that envelope and endear. Formed in 2012 and currently based in Melbourne, the trio seem to be a further example of the strength of the Southern hemisphere's creative scene right now – especially when it comes to the dreamier side of the spectrum. The band worked with renowned Melbourne based producer Matthew Hosking to fine tweak the sounds on this album and the finished product is spectacular. 'Jessamines' floats and flickers. It gets it's full release on the 6th October 2017 via the ever reliable Saint Marie Records and you can pre-order it right now on various formats from saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com
The opening track is an immersion in the soft swirls that are found throughout this record. 'Try' is wispy and bright, but a few sharp edges reflect the light. 'Jessamine' – the title track – is a fuzzy force, not quite an iron fist in a velvet glove, but thinking about it. You can hear the Cocteau's influence in 'To The Lake'. The chorus shimmers on top, like a heat haze on the surface of the titular water. 'Form Into Soft And Wild' is beautiful whilst the guitars trill and jangle in 'Dust', setting the scene for single 'Without Saying'. A speeding journey through a large sonic landscape, there's much for students of shoegaze to savour here, from the 80s-tinged guitar sound to the vast chorus.
'Honey' is big and bright. 'What You Want' is a real highlight, driving and a touch dark. The rich vocals ride along on a fuzzy wave so gracefully and dive deep into the chorus. An eerie whirr introduces 'Silent Tide' and the colours change. Slow's spacious opening soon spills over with sounds, layered and layered. The album ends with 'Standstill' which slowly swaggers towards the exit, each step cushioned by clouds of fuzz. It's a grand end to an album with ambition.
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.
by Primal Music
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Eulogies is a beautiful offering from Kolibrí, an artist who started out in Limerick, is Berlin bound but currently operates in Brighton. The name means 'hummingbird' and like its namesake, there is lots of energy and a clear taste for sweetness throughout this EP.
Eulogies E.P. by Kolibrí
The luscious textures of the three tracks give the record a aural cohesion, a tasty thread of red liquorice that ties the whole bundle together. Dream Theatre simmers sumptuously with waves and washes of wonderful sound. The vocal teeters on the right side of sadness. Eulogies soars high, with crackles and sparks flying and a chorus the size of the sky. The closing track Headcase opens in a rush of rumbles and powers along, its swirl of sounds ever-expanding. Delicious.
ARTIST: Moon Gravity
RELEASE DATE: 27th February 2107
RECORD COMPANY: Silber Records
The cool sounds of ice particles floating in the air has been captured in sonic form by Stockholm's 'Moon Gravity'. The three track release, Antarctica, glides in glacial beauty. It was officially released back on the 27th February via Silber Records and is available to buy/download right now from moongravity.bandcamp.com
Antarctica by Moon Gravity
Iridescent layers spiral round the eardrum in Nightfall. A faint drone ebbs and flows in Snowstorm, before sharp shards of guitar build into something substantial. A dusting of vocal adds to the atmosphere and it gets truly deep and dark when the bass kicks in. The cosmic rays of Purpling spread out into the wintry sky like the Northern Lights.
RELEASE DATE: 14th December 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Lavender Sweep Records
I am riding a wave of nostalgia – it’s 1994 day on 6 Music and impossible not to think back with fondness. So when I open the email from the esteemed editor and find that it’s a re-release of a lost EP from 1993, the timing could not be better. According to their Bandcamp page, Ozean formed in California in the early 90s after a flyer was handed out at a shoegaze show. They soon recorded their first demos on a Fostex Model 80, straight to tape. No unlimited takes in those days, and definitely no plug-ins! They made some cassette tapes, and split soon after.
Ozean by Ozean
Twenty-odd years on, those original recordings have been uncovered, and thanks to the wonder of the internet, Ozean’s dreaminess is making it out to a whole new audience. The timing is good – the shoegaze resurgence is well underway, with many of the genre’s big-hitters releasing new music this year. Ozean’s self-titled three track demo is a perfect parcel of the loveliness you’d expect of a band formed after a Ride and Lush gig. The fluttering guitars and wistful vocals transport the listener, overwhelmed and sentimental, back to those heady days. As well as their stated influences, I can hear The Sundays in Scenic. Fall floats like a feather, with flanged bass anchoring those big guitars. The closing track Porcelain drifts with no particular place to go. Ah, the possibilities.......
The EP was re-released via Lavender Sweep Records over in Wales on a limited edition c30 which has already sold out but you can get your hands on it digitally via the bands own bandcamp page: ozean.bandcamp.com
ARTIST: 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:
ARTIST: Cherry Crush
RELEASE: Turning EP
RELEASE DATE: 6th January 2017
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
Turning EP by Cherry Crush
'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!
RELEASE: Park Lane 3333
RELEASE DATE: 13th January 3017
'Park Lane 3333' is the latest release from Purepleaser (LA-based Bryan Newruck), coming hot on the heels of a full length album entitled 'Den Mothers' released last September.
Park Lane 3333 ep by Purepleaser
The record opens in a confusion of brass and nursery rhyme all as warped as Alice in Wonderland. Dark melodies beckon from Sway & Sway, but there’s a glimmer in amongst the crash and growl. Light and air flood in for One Day, a slowdance with a difference. Closing track Film Score 1 (John Hughes Where Are You?) moves from foreboding to psychedelic ballad complete with backward vocals samples and shimmering keyboards - beautiful and definitely too weird to feature in any of the movies that may have inspired it.
'Park Lane 3333' is out now at purepleaser.bandcamp.com
RELEASE DATE: 16th December 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Hidden Bay Records
Detroit-based Andrew Younker's created a dreamy collection for what seems to be his debut EP. Out on Toulouse's Hidden Bay Records, Younker self-recorded the five songs in his dorm room. Skillfully fusing acoustic guitar, beats and reverby layers, it's warm and soft like a dreampop duvet. But, that's not all, Younker's got an interesting approach with structure and arrangements that at first seem simple, but closer listening reveals a greater complexity.
Brainchild by Andrew Younker
The record opens with acoustic guitar providing melody and propulsion, but soon Pink Slip blooms with synth bass, phased drums and some beatiful ambient swells. The song seems to breath in and out. The warbly delay of Being Stuck wraps this wee track up in a warm cosy glow, ahead of the arrival of Brainchild. The EP's title track has a bit more muscle than what we've heard so far. The bass pushes the track along, dropping back and building to a furious finish.
Acoustic guitars layer upon sparkly layer on Dunning-Kruger Effect, and Younker's voice glides along on top. 'I need a melancholy ending', he sings. They Were Only Pictures is a hypnotic beauty, with layers of chiming accoustic guitar weaving woozy melodies, so simple and sixties. A glitchy beat kicks in and brings us bang up to date.
An intriguing start to 2017. Brainchild is available now on tape and download.
ARTIST: Tender Age
RELEASE: Disappear Here
RELEASE DATE: 9th March 2016
RECORD COMPANY: SINIS Recordings
Tender Age’s Disappear Here EP is a self-proclaimed attempt at stripping off the polish. So the recording, while far from rough and ready, is definitely at the ragged end of the spectrum. This is a refreshing relief from the tendency to smooth away all the rough edges in the genre. The Portland based band have also gone to the trouble of adding some extras for those fans who go to the trouble of getting themselves a hard copy, which is a nice touch. Their debut album is on the way later in the year, and there’s plenty here to keep your ears engaged until that drops.
Disappear Here EP by Tender Age
Opener 'Lowers' cuts like broken glass with jagged distortion and detuning, but the dreamy vocal glides along, cool and clean. Delirium‘s chopped up in bits, with tremulous guitars and crunchy electro-drums. Like a wonky music box, NO swoops and sways with sinister undertones. ‘Oh, I’m underwhelmed’, sings Elaina Tardif. And the fractured guitar creeps on. The record concludes with two covers, the first is a heavenly melding of the Mary Chain meets Phil Spectre for Dream Lover. The next, I Love How You Love Me, is a howling hurricane.
Disappear Here is shoegaze without the sheen. It’s eerie and engaging and not an easy ride. But who’d ever want one of those?
ARTIST: Soft Wounds
RELEASE: Soft Wounds
RELEASE DATE: 31st January 2016
Toronto based alt-gazers ‘Soft Wounds’ bumped up the release date of their debut self titled album from its original January 31st date obviously to ride on the buzz created from the release of their debut single. Their brand of fuzzy alt rock strewn soundscapes with hints of impressive shoegaze & dream pop has been making waves within the underground gazing community ever since they sprung their impressive debut 5 track ‘Demo’ (Nov 2015) & their subsequent debut single entitled ‘Baby Blue’ back at the beginning of January. The band are made up of Andrew Peach – Bass, Charlie Berger – Vocals/Guitar, Matt Rimon – Guitar/Vocals & Jimmy Fitzgerald – Drums. ‘Soft Wounds’ is available to buy/download right now via the bands bandcamp page: www.softwounds.bandcamp.com
Soft Wounds by Soft Wounds
My 2016 North American odyssey continues with Soft Wounds, another Toronto-based gaze gang. Their eponymous debut album came out in January, to some impressive reviews. Its cavernous reverb sounds are augmented by some scuzzy noise rock influences too which come through in a well-placed squally guitar line, or a vocal melody like those in You Can’t Stay Here or See the Sun.
Opener Honora kicks in with purpose. A track of warbly delay lays down the shoegazey bedrock of the sound and built on top is a loose alt-rock structure that tends toward the anthemic. This big vision continues in Baby Blue, an affecting ode to girls gone by and one of the highlights of the record. ‘There’s a voice inside my head’ runs the refrain from Voices, but it must be a benevolent presence because the song tumbles along with an easy rhythm. Bright and Early opens with a blistering guitar line and settles into a dark sashay.It’s back into high gear with You Can’t Stay Here, equal parts jangly and grungy guitars and Dive In is gritted up with another cracking, crackly guitar solo. Forty Winks is warm and woozy, like being wrapped in a huge fuzzy duvet, before we are jolted back to consciousness with the sing-a-long See the Sun. The opening strains of Stray settle into a rolling but somehow melancholy groove while the guitars chime prettily along.
Soft Wounds debut is a record that seems to benefit from influences beyond the usual suspects. And could it hint at aspirations to head somewhere grander in the future? Only the voices in their head will know the answer.