ARTIST: Living Hour
RELEASE: Living Hour
RELEASE DATE: 19th February 2016
RECORD COMPANY: LEFSE Records (Portland)
I know that its probably too early to be discussing the dreaded ‘Best Of 2016’ albums list? And that it’s also probably way too early in the year to waxing lyrical about the best singles but I’m so happy that I had the chance to hear & then to write about this debut self titled 8 track release from Winnipeg based dreamy 4 piece Living Hour as I believe that this release will feature heavily on the year end lists for 2016 especially within the dream pop & shoegazing fraternities when the time comes around. The band initially peaked my attention before, way back in 2014 when they were known as their previous incarnation ‘The Hours’ and even back then I had fallen head over heels in love with their reverb induced & luscious single – ‘Steady Glazed Eyes’. The band released this self titled full length debut album worldwide through LEFSE Records (Portland) on February 19th, 2016.
Living Hour by Living Hour
In a haze of shimmering reverberating brilliance the opening bars of ‘Summer Smog’ grace this listeners ears and I’m instantly floating in a world of melodic tone & shape where addictive dreamy vocals are king and where the crackling jangling effected guitar lines stand guard for what will be one of the best releases of 2016 come years end. I am in no doubt of that. There’s a sort of unplanned understanding between the vocals & guitars on this track as they vie for space within the wide expanses of the reverb laden production. It works really well and helps to catapult Livinghour to somewhere special within the dream gazing world as we know it. A jangling guitar line greets us as we wait for track two ‘Seagull’ to break free and let fly. The chorus soars and there’s a brilliant crescendo of sound before it breaks back into the verse parts again. The vocal lines are divine and allowed to stray within the layers of reverb laden guitar whilst the drum pattern keeps the whole affair firmly fixed to solid ground. A triumphant track full of expressive soaring hints of shoegaze & interspersed with heavenly dream pop flair.
The atmospheric awakenings of track 3 ‘This Is The Place’ shatters the sound sphere as yet another reverb laden jangling guitar track ambles into the musical ether. There’s a definite psychedelic feel to this unlike the previous 2 tracks. It sounds like a cross between ‘Spacemen 3’ & early ‘Creation Records’ era 'Telescopes' that have been melded together with Melbourne based underground psych gazing stalwarts ‘Fire Behaving As Air’. Truly remarkable. Im transfixed as the track shuffles through its sonic algorithms. Again, it’s the floating almost whispering vocal track that grabs my attention and I swoon within its grasp. Track 4 is a slice of shoegazing brilliance. Originally appearing at the back end of 2014 and into early 2015 when the band were known as ‘The Hours’, ‘Steady Glazed Eyes’ is a dream gazing phenomenon. Swirling, layered guitars & strong percussion form a droning wall of sound that’s purposely built to envelope & caress that immense vocal track. This is three minutes and fifty four seconds of pure gazing indulgence. A masterful track that deserves plaudits for its song writing structure & production. We’ve comfortably landed from our previous flight and settled back into proceedings as track 5 ‘There Is No Substance Between’ arrives into the arena. A slow menacing affair that’s full of dark & light sonic shading but also expertly buffered by duel vocal lines, shimmering guitars & pounding drums. This light & dark theme is carried right through to that singular rock n’ roll break, 5 minutes into the track, when Living Hour buck the trend and give us a glimpse of a subtle ‘baggy’ manchester vibe!
‘Mind Goodbyes’ is reminiscent of Philadelphia based dream gazers ‘The Morelings’. It swims in reverb soaked guitars as melodic tremolo & delay intertwine with that glorious vocal and we’re treated to a two minute display of dreamy percussion-less melodic dream pop. The track then explodes into a droning mesmerising piece of emotive shoegaze. Sure to be a favourite of the underground dream gazing fraternity on its release. There’s a psychedelic droning entrance for the next track on the immense release before we’re again treated to a masterful melodic chord structure. ‘Miss Emerald Green’ floats along on its reverberating sonic axis as shimmering guitars and dreamy vocals again occupy centre stage. But there is an alt-rock tinge to proceedings as the the track progresses & as tempo’s change but this just showcases the bands ability to switch it up when needed.
The closing track on the magnificent 8 track release is nothing short of brilliant. I expected it to be if I’m honest. A swirling, droning maelstrom of sound heralds in that stunning vocal as ‘Feel Shy’, the albums longest track at 6.51, cranks up and brings with it images of dreamy Cocteau Twins, the droning abilities of The Cranes & the more modern dream pop sounds of Welsh based Golden Fable. You simply have to listen to this track via headphones. Trust me, it will blow your mind. A truly remarkable track to finish off a wonderful album.
Bravo, Livinghour & welcome back.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last four years not only fronting popular experimental Irish based electronic duo Analogue Wave but also 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. 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.
by Primal Music
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?
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: Sounds Of Sputnik
RELEASE: New Born feat Ummagma
RELEASE DATE: 16th May 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Moon Sounds Records
When I first heard that two powerhouses of the underground post-rock, electronic shoegazing & dream-pop scene were collaborating on an album I wasn’t in the least bit surprised. In fact, I was overjoyed! After all it is a musical match made in heaven in my opinion. I was surprised, though, to read that it was going to be Sound Of Sputnik’s debut album because I’d been listening to Sound Of Sputnik for a long time, playing them on Primal Radio and up until now foolishly thinking that they had a back catalogue of albums to peruse at my leisure. Boy was I wrong! Moscow-based Sounds Of Sputnik is the brain child of Roma Kalitkin, a close collaborator of UMMAGMA, influenced by My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Ride & Sonic Youth but with a style closer to Mogwai or Air Formation. What I had been listening to were stunning soundscapes written as a group of tracks but never actually released as an album! I’m talking about electronic, post-gazing soundscapes like: Astronomical Summer, Adaptation, The Mission & Motoroller!
New Born by Sounds of Sputnik
It was then that I had one of those ‘light bulb lighting up over head moments’. I got giddy & I simply had to hear what these two bands could conjure up together musically! So when I received my copy of the album to review what I found was a musical masterpiece! Yes the trademark Sounds Of Sputnik post-rock & shoegazing soundscapes are still there but there is an added injection of something rather special. You see to me I’m amazed at how a collection of musicians fixed on the same trajectory with the same drive & abilities can create brilliant musical ideas and get the best results imaginable in the most harshest of atmospheres! You see ‘New Born’ is groundbreaking on many levels musically but it’s the fact that Roma Kalitkin, Alexx Kretov & Shauna McLarnon managed not only to initiate this project but co-write & record it under what must be a whirlwind of unpredictable political turmoil in Kretov’s home country of Ukraine thats the most amazing thing! And collectively they don’t disappoint!
Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the past twelve months you would have read or heard about Ummagma, the Canadian / Ukrainian electronic, dream-pop duo of Shauna McLarnon & Alexx Kretov and their stunning albums UMMAGMA, Antigravity & Lama Remixes LP on which Sounds Of Sputnik created a remix of Lama, another epic Ummagma track and their latest Moon Sounds Records released ‘Frequency EP’. What Ummagma bring to this collaboration is the vision of vocalist, producer/musician Alexx Kretov and the absolutely stunningly beautiful vocal abilities of Shauna McLarnon. Mixing melodic dream-pop with electronic shoegaze, they add their life’s blood to this record and you can hear it in every track that they feature on! From the blistering lead track ‘New Born’ with Shauna McLarnon on vocals through to the brilliant dream-pop/shoegaze laden ‘Light Scheme’ featuring Kretov & McLarnon on duel vocals and on into the epic Sounds Of Sputnik’s post-rock, gaze heavy ‘Blizzard’ & ‘Shades Of The Cosmos’ this album plays effortlessly from track to track! Add into the sonic melting pot the pulsating, thundering ‘Overdrive’ featuring none other than Graham Bonnar (Ex Swervedriver/Brian Jonestown Massacre ) on drums & McLarnon on vocals & what we have is a must have album for anyone who adores everything thats good within the electronic, post-rock, dream-pop & shoegazing genre’s without the frills!
‘New Born’ also feature’s remixes of both ‘New Born’ & ‘Light Scheme’ by Malcom Holmes of legendary Synthpop group OMD, Oleg Mezherovsky & Morozov, Roma Kalitkin himself & Brazil’s Mind Movies!
The album was released on May 16th through the Texas based independent label ‘Moon Sounds Records’ and is also available on various formats through: soundsofsputnik.bandcamp.com/album/new-born
ARTIST: Jack Reid & The Black Whip
RELEASE DATE: 7th May 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Manchester based alternative psych-gazers ‘Jack Reid & The Black Whip’ released their latest three track EP entitled ‘Attica!’ back on the 7th May 2016. With a sound that traverses the very outer fringes of post-punk and gives a nod to wholesome ambient induced soundings whilst swerving through krautrock, electronica, rock n’ roll and driving alternative psych-gaze ‘Jack Reid & The Black Whip’ bring something interestingly different to the modern day musical table. ‘Attica!’ follows on from 2014’s ‘Congress Vampires’ and is available to buy/download right now from: www.jackreidandtheblackwhip.bandcamp.com
Attica! by Jack Reid & The Black Whip
The opening salvo’s of this three track EP swirl within a melee of screeching guitar squall, deep regressive reverb and that impressive repetitive guitar line. The vocal production on ‘Do You Love Life, Sweetheart?’ is fantastic and it add’s serious bloody weight to proceedings and I cant help but hear some subtly brilliant ‘Echo And The Bunnymen’ styled connotations streaming through their inner core (We’re big fans of ‘The Bunnymen’ here at Primal Music!). The track loops and arc’s throughout the sonic spectrum as a maelstrom of layered & fuzzy reverberating joy pummels this listeners audible senses all the way to the tracks finality! An absolutely stunning opening track. Bravo! The title track is an stunning psychedelic journey through swathes of golden hued synth swells and beautiful atmospheric piano stabs that seem to hang in suspended animation as a massive cyclonic whirlwind of huge reverb laden drones plough a sonic furrow through the musical ether. ‘Attica’ is blissful track and definitely worthy of a listen through headphones!
The EP’s closing piece entitled ‘Down By My Wings’ floats into earshot on a reverberating melodic guitar line that circumnavigates another impressive vocal performance. Glitchy fret noise glides throughout, as the track begins to build thus announcing its heavy percussive hits and a change of melody as it bursts into a charging chorus progression with aplomb. Coming in at fifteen minutes plus ‘Down By My Wings’ demands your attention as it meanders through its sonic gears and on into its immense explosive frequency bending finale! A fitting end to a rather interesting three track EP.
RELEASE: Fever Dreams
RELEASE DATE: 18th November 2016
Toronto based noisy shoegaze duo 'Tonemirror' have unleashed their six track debut EP 'Fever Dreams' to the masses via their bandcamp page. The band exploded onto the underground scene back in June 2016 with their debut single & Primal Radio fav 'Supermoon' and pretty soon caught the attention of a fair few online radio Dj's with their no nonsense, hard hitting blend of noisy shoegaze underscored with post-hardcore tendencies and coupled vocally with subtle dream-pop sensibilities! The band are made up of Jake Lehman - guitar/vocals & Robby Sedran - drums and the 'Fever Dreams' EP is available to buy/download right to from:tonemirror.bandcamp.com
Fever Dreams EP by Tonemirror
Jangling guitars and echoing reverberation announces the arrival of 'Lost' and it's gloriously evident to me that these guys love brash & fuzzy frequencies. The drums erupt as those swirling guitar progressions wrap themselves around a brilliantly executed vocal and drag this track through walls of noise & crashing cymbal splashes. Up next, 'Smile' swirls woozily into earshot on a wave of almost ethereal sounding guitar and above all I'm instantly hooked with just how live the drum track sounds! It's impressively explosive and injects atmosphere into the entire track as it's vocal track arrives, held fast within an addictive slacker vibe that is brilliantly reminiscent at times to early 90's shoegaze stalwarts 'Swervedriver'. Track three has captivated me ever since I first heard it back in June. 'Supermoon' builds & creeps like a stalking animal as those guitars weave a shimmering sonic web of reverberation and instil a blissful edge to proceedings. They spread out and envelope the hi-hat heavy percussive attack with ease allowing the vocal line to bleed into every facet of the tracks instrumentation. A stunning track and possibly my favourite on this entire release.
'Drag Me' announces itself on a tremulous frequential cloud as those jazz like percussive hits skittishly arrive coupled with another impressive vocal track. It's not long before the track explodes and pulls you into its soaring chorus, filled with lead licks, psychedelic swirls, mind bending reverberation and driving guitar drones. The EP's penultimate piece is growling, noisy beast! 'XYZ' drives and pulses angry guitars steadied by explosive percussion and wailing vocals that collectively creates a massive wall of highly addictive fuzzy noise. Absolutely immense! 'Fever Dreams' closes out out with 'Asomnia', a skulking forlorn passage filled with dark, atmospheric instrumentation and wailing vocalisations courtesy of Jake Lehman. A fitting ending to a rather impressive debut EP.
ARTIST: The Telescopes
RELEASE: Hidden Fields
RELEASE DATE: 7th August 2015
RECORD COMPANY: Tapete Records
Far from the introspective ears of the mainstream media whores & hidden deep within a swirling mass of droning guitars and reverb laced vocals lies the ingenious mind of seminal experimental psychedelic explorer / founder & sole remaining member of legendary UK based band ‘The Telescopes’ AKA Mr. Stephen Lawrie! Founded in 1987 ‘The Telescopes’ have been creating a seriously addictive brand of psychedelically infused noisy space rock, intertwined at times with a shimmering intense melodic brilliance that transcends even this modern day spaced out shoegazing rebirth thus continually giving them the ability to transport the listener back to a world where musical experimentation is king & floating in a suspended reverberating whirlwind is common place. To most musical commentators they were the underdogs of the 80’s /90’s but to me they were the dogs bollox and are more relevant today, in my opinion, than any of the recently reformed musical bandwagon riders.
As you can probably gather I am & have always been a Telescopes fan. Back in the early days when my friends were following the exploits of Slowdive & Ride or trying without hope to understand the inner confines of ‘Creation Records’ own – ‘My Bloody Valentine’ I was more interested in what ‘The Telescopes’ were experimenting with musically. It was Spacemen 3, The Telescopes, The Velvet Underground & Jesus And Mary Chain that soundtracked my early pre-adult life. I began listening to them in school after I was handed a DIY home recorded copied cassette of their very first release entitled ‘Taste’ & was instantly hooked on the brilliant single ‘The Perfect Needle’. But it wasn’t until their follow up, the epic self titled monolith (or if your new fan of the band the aptly named reissued version – ‘Untitled Second’ ) that I really began to sit up & take note of just what this band could create collectively! It was a sonic awakening! A full on rollercoaster ride of shimmering brilliance with tracks such as Flying, High On Fire, Ocean Drive & the stunning Sleepwalk leading the charge. Did they go all baggy around this time? Probably! But I tend to see it as a natural experimental progression on the road to musical martyrdom.
‘The Telescopes’ called it a day in 1992 but after a 8 year hiatus they underwent a sonic resurrection to rave live reviews (within the ever circling music press) but with a revolving door policy when it came to band members! They regrouped & returned to their foundation sound of melodic white noise, drone & space rock. Throughout this resurrection there was one continuous shining beacon of light in the guise of the ever present Stephen Lawrie! The band, in various forms, went on to release a plethora of immense albums including the brilliantly intense ‘Third Wave (2002)‘ followed by the experimental ‘Number 4 (2005)’ & then ‘Hungry Audio Tapes ( 2006)’, ‘Infinite Suns (2008)’, ‘HARM (2013)’, various compilations & live albums, split 7’ & 10’ singles with various bands including ‘A Place To Bury Strangers’ & ‘Deadly Cradle Death’. The list goes on!
Stephen Lawrie teamed up brilliant Glasgow based noise rockers ‘St Deluxe’ to release a brand new 5 track album entitled ‘Hidden Fields’ (out on the 7th August 15) via ‘Tapete Records’. This release continues his love of experimental droning space rock & dreamy infectious mind bending soundscapes.
The EP opens up with the dark menacing overtones of ‘You Know The Way’. A howling white knuckle ride through layers of feedback, throbbing bass lines & addictive drum patterns that somehow seem to sit perfectly on a two chord guitar progression of melodic brilliance reminiscent in parts to early Sub-Pop era ‘Mudhoney’ or ‘Sonic Youth’. Add into the mix that soul wrenching vocal line & that ever present screaming guitar and we have our favourite track right here! Simply Immense! Next up we’re into early ‘Spaceman 3’ territory with the droning melodic overtones of ‘Absence’. This for me is music made for coming down to (all be it via headphones!) ‘In Every Sense’ screams ‘The Velvet Underground meets Jesus And Mary Chain’ but with a heavier droning maelstrom of sound more commonly found within the modern day droning genre with bands such as Scottish based outfit 'The Cherry Wave’ or UK based ’93 Million Miles From The Sun’ leading the charge. Next up, track 4 – ‘Don’t Bring Me Round’ is a swirling whirlwind of dark oppressive brilliance intertwined with screaming guitars, hypnotic drums & a demonic vocal line that somehow seems to dig itself out of the overall sound & hug a melodic undertone of shimmering intensity. Highly addictive in parts but with a musical brilliance that will leave you gobsmacked. The closing track on ‘Hidden Fields’ should have a post code all of its own! Coming in at 15 minutes plus ‘The Living Things’ is a chaotic collision of swirling guitars, droning noisy sounds & shuffling drums that somehow all intertwine into musical logic! Put simply it makes musical sense! This track belongs on a short film outlining one mans decent into suspended reverberation. It's the ‘TRON’ of the musical world – a bloody masterpiece!
‘Hidden Fields’ is a musical rollercoaster ride through multifaceted layers of sonic goodness. Not for the faint hearted, this oppressive collection of tracks needs continuous listens to peel back the dark overpowering sense of foreboding that swirls around its inner being. But once you hear its shimmering melodic core it will have you hooked on its internal beauty. A truly magnificent adventure to a world of sonic abandonment & one that I will return to again & again.
ARTIST: LSD And The Search For God
RELEASE: Heaven Is A Place
RELEASE DATE: 15th January 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Deep Space Recordings
Back in January 2007, San Francisco based psychedelic wonders ‘LSD And The Search For God’ unleashed a beautifully melodic, hazy & down right fuzzy collection of five tracks on their self titled debut EP that blew me away from my very first listen! Steeped in glorious reverb & musically reminiscent of Spacemen 3, The Telescopes & early ‘Creation Records’ drone practitioners My Bloody Valentine, ‘LSD And The Search For God’ told sonic tales brimming with dreamy duel boy/girl vocals, straddling beautifully fuzzy space rock jams. Fast forward nine years to 2016 and the band are back with another astonishing collection of 5 psychedelic stories glistening with the same spaced out ingredients that blew my mind way back in 2007. The ‘Heaven Is A Place’ EP is real, it’s not a figment of my imagination & it follows on from copious amounts of touring, collaborations with UK based psych gazing stalwarts ‘The Telescopes’, the addition of new members & building up a massive cult following throughout those nine years, all the while deliberately teasing us with the promise of a new release! This is a full on fuzzed out confession told through the medium of sound and picks right up where the bands debut left off. ‘LSD And The Search For God’ are made up of Chris Fifield – Guitar, Sofia Campbell – Vocals, Ryan Lescure – Bass, Ricky Maymi – Drums & Andy Liszt – Guitars / Vocals and this latest release was unleashed via the brilliant ‘Deep Space Recordings’.
Heaven Is a Place by LSD and the Search for God
The EP opens up with the immense ‘Heaven’, a swirling, droning maelstrom of layered reverberating sound straddling a thundering drum beat and that blissful vocal arrangement courtesy of Campbell & Liszt. This is a sonically charged slice of euphoric brilliance. Up next, ‘(I Don’t Think That We Should) Take It Slow’ is a melodically fuzzed up psych behemoth dipped in shimmering reverb and trapped within a whirlwind of hazy simmering sound-waves. Probably my favourite track on the whole release is ‘Outer Space (Long Way Home)’. This track slowly shuffles into the sonic ether with ease & I’m mesmerised with it’s addictive guitars & fuzzy droning undercurrent. Andy Liszt adds a lazy vocal to proceedings but its only when the sublime duel vocal hits and everything gets subsumed within the swirling guitars, throbbing bass & pounding drums that we are treated to something truly wonderful.
‘Elizabeth’ starts slowly with a melodic guitar line intertwined with that now trademark psychedelic droning swirl until the drums start & again we’re treated to another immense vocal arrangement. There is a definite ‘Creation Records’ sound here (although do I hate lumping modern day bands into the “Creation Records” category!) & it does swirl around the overall ascetic of this EP but ‘LSD And The Search For God’ have added something special to proceedings and thus have taken it to a whole new modern level. The EP’s closing track ‘Without You’, the longest track on the EP , is an immensely euphoric chunk of expressively edgy psych-gaze that erupts after 5 minutes, unleashing a monstrous swirling sonic wall of noise. Vocally brilliant in its entirety ‘Without You’ will leave you wanting to hear more.
‘LSD And The Search For God’ have released something really special in my opinion (Not that my opinion really matters in the grand scheme of things) but none the less, ‘Heaven Is A Place’ has instantly catapulted itself into my top 10 releases of this year and it will take something really, really special to remove it.
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.
RELEASE: Strange Weather
RELEASE DATE: 25th March 2016
RECORD COMPANY: St Marie Records
Experimental, cinematic post-gazers ‘deardarkhead’ formed in Atlantic City, New Jersey, back in 1988. The band have released five recordings on their own label ‘Fertile Crescent Records’ & released the sensational ‘Strange Weather’ , their latest 6 track instrumental, via the wonderful ‘Saint Marie Records’ on March 25th 2016. The band consists of Kevin Harrington on Guitars, Robert Weiss – Drums & bassist Kevin McCauley, who came on board in late 2010 after the departure of longtime singer/bassist Michael Amper! Influenced by Cocteau Twins, The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Chameleons, Joy Division, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Church, The Psychedelic Furs & The Beatles, to name but a few, the overall ‘deardarkhead’ sound can be described as a stunning mixture of old school melodic post-punk, intrinsically intertwined with driving moody psychedelic shoegaze & edged with a beautiful euphoric dream pop swirl. Although completely instrumental, ‘Strange Weather’ oozes style & structure. It soars in just the right places & sulks like a scorned love sick teenager when required.
‘Strange Weather’ opens up with the impressive ‘Falling Upward’. A swirling drone precedes a monstrous build as we’re treated to a post-punk masterclass. Immense drums & throbbing bass lines lead the charge as shimmering reverberating guitar progressions loop and arc all over the musical canvass. Up next, a steadying drum beat that ushers in the jangling early 90’s sounding ‘Sunshine Through The Rain’. This track is packed full of stunning melodic guitar lines that swirl & coil around that impressive drum & bass progression with ease. Although instrumental throughout, you can actually hear in your head just where the vocal parts should be & for me this lets my imagination run wild and adds to the overall expectancy. Track three ‘Juxta Mare’ explodes onto the musical ether with stunning effect. Musically reminiscent at times to the heavier soundscapes created by ‘Lush, Bleach’ or ‘For Against’, ‘Juxta Mare’ swerves through heady shoegaze inspired peaked crescendos & no nonsense hard hitting post-punk lows. A thundering drum pattern firmly fixed to the earth but holding firm to layered, soaring guitars heralds the arrival of ‘March Hares’, track four on this impressive release whilst track five ‘Ice Age’ has soaring atmospheric flair & hints of experimental ambient post-rock coursing through its inner core. The albums closer ‘Thinking Back’ harkens back to the early 1990’s with its sweet, shimmering guitar lines & cymbal heavy drum progressions. Again you can hear the ‘apparitional vocal line’ quite clearly through the intense but insanely beautiful production.
‘deardarkhead’ collectively create beautiful, hazy, experimental soundscapes. The band have previously mentioned on various social media sites their desire to employ a vocalist again at some stage in the future. Im not too sure they need to? For me, I just loved imagining the vocal melody as the music looped and soared through every single chord progression & I personally think that instrumentally they have something really special going on.
‘Strange Weather’ was officially released on 25th March 2016 & is available right now from ‘Saint Marie Records’ – www.saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com
Chain of Pink by Lazy Legs
Our favourite Chicago based shoegaze trio 'Lazy Legs' have unleashed an explosive new track entitled 'Chain Of Pink', lifted off their forthcoming brand new EP of the same name and penned in for release on December 16th via the Chicago based micro label Wild Patterns Records.
'Chain Of Pink' swirls into earshot on a repetitive drone as the track builds in delicious intensity adding percussion, throbbing bass frequencies and that explosive layered wall of effected guitars that effortlessly envelopes the hazy duel vocal attack. This is an absolutely enthralling track that will have you floating out into the musical ether with ease.