ARTIST: Magic Wands
RELEASE DATE: 13th July 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Etxe Records
Los Angeles-based duo 'Magic Wands' unleashed a dazzling new eleven track entitled 'Abrakadabra' via the good folks over at Los Angeles and Washington DC based independent record label 'Etxe Records' back on July 13th 2018. What’s it like? It's like… a time machine whizzing back to a time when shoegaze and dream-pop was more than just about writing a shitty melody or riff and layering as many FX on it as you can. A time when, if you stripped away the studio tricks and FX manipulation, you were still left with a catchy and/or well written pop or rock song. 'Magic Wands' seem to spend as much time writing the music as they do manipulating it into the ethers of distortion, layering and reverb… which makes 'Abrakadabra' well worth the time and the listen. The album was recorded at Voltiv Studios in Los Angeles, produced by Phil Galloni and the band themselves and mastered by Tim Young (The Smiths, My Bloody Valentine). 'Abrakadabra' available to buy/download right now via magic-wands.bandcamp.com (Digitally) & etxerecords.com (Vinyl) respectively.
Abrakadabra [Etxe Records, 2018] by Magic Wands
Following on from the humble but slight opener ‘Bashmuuu’, Abrakadabra opens with the slow pop tones of ‘Nocturnal’, which features layers of feedback guitar and the slow rumble of beats/drums. On top lies the hazy, reverbed vocals which vary from hush and whisper all the way to fully and beautifully spoken. The song screams dream-pop, but the slower and deeper FX and song writing structure allow the song to come off as an intelligent and enjoyable listen. Things turn somewhat more standard with the following song ‘Houdini’, which features that recognizable dream-pop styled guitar tone and a more upbeat feel. Showcasing the bands post-punk influence, ‘Houdini’ compliments the previous tracks more darker sound and is notable for its neat FX laced-sequencer noises. ‘DNA’ is an album highlight and delves deeper into the crossroads between dream-pop and post-punk music (exercised neatly through the drum beat). The aforementioned dream-pop elements shine through in several facets, the vocal performance is dazzling and the general pop-ness shines through to make the song worth the effort. The following track ‘Realms’ seems somewhat more of a step back into cruise control. Beyond the almost darkwave production and synth sounds, the lyrics seem somewhat awkward and almost throw away. The melding of darker elements with the softness of the singer’s voice seems to show off an enjoyable side of the band, but beyond that, ‘Realms’ feels like more of an album filler.
Things thankfully turn back to the more interesting dance/dream-pop of the albums opener. ‘Loveline’ is an enjoyable dance track, laced with neat keyboard production and a danceable beat that highlights the bands strong points. The chorus in particular shows how simplicity can do so much for a song…. There’s some great bass playing as well. ‘New Device’ follows the form of ‘Bashmuuu’, a slower style beat that allows the FX heavy instrumentation to mix in beautifully together. And then things return to the dance floor. ‘Chains and Fur’ features a slick rhythm section with the undertones of a dream-pop guitar and vocals that sound as though they have been dunked in neon; another album highlight for me! ‘Diamond Road’ slows things right back and offers up a hazier, almost psychedelic tempo equipped with soft and more helmed back production. With all the stripped back instrumentation, the vocals shine through, which leads me to the songs main criticism: the lyrics. While at times the lyrics adequately capture the feel of the music, a large portion of them come off awkwardly and, more importantly, cliched. The following track ‘Julie Ann Gray’ is a fantastic post-punk thriller, filtered through Magic Wands dream-pop sensibilities; thankfully, here the vocals and lyrics are in fact one of the songs highlights. ‘Julie Ann Gray’ summarises much of what the band has been projecting over the course of Abrakadabra: the danceable passages, the post-punk underlays and the dream-pop tones that all beautifully meld together sonically and instrumental. ‘Big Life’ features a slow melding beat that sounds like a slower version of trap music: the hi-hats hit rumble slowly, followed by a heavy snare. The vocals float softly and enjoyably over the instrumentation. Bonus track ‘Puzzle of Love’ is also worth noting; especially if you enjoyed the danceable, retro sound of the some of the aforementioned dance-y songs on the album.
All in all Abrakadabra is well-worth the time: refreshingly well written song structures make way for sonic exploration through FX… but not too much FX. The only criticisms I have of the album are, quite admittedly, the same I have for many albums of a similar genre. Firstly, the sheer quantity of music on Abrakadabra is at times difficult to engage with. Song after song that thematically maintain similar ‘feels’ to each other mean that, after over ten tracks worth of music, the album can seem a little strained. The other criticism is the lyrics. While generally fitting of the both the music and instrumentation, sometimes the lyrics seem as though they were thrown in purely because they had to be thrown in… At times generic, at times cliched, and at times quite awkward and only semi-written. Beyond these two elements, Magic Wands have created a thoroughly enjoyable listen. The instrumentation fits very well, and the dynamic range between dance track and softer, slower almost balladery stylings makes things all the more interesting. The band comfortably put their foot down, showcasing their talent in the realms of 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
RELEASE DATE: 14th April 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Originally released back on the 14th April 2018, the self-titled debut EP from Washington-based quartet 'Reveries' initially eluded us lot here at Primal Music. Their overall sound swims effortlessly in a simmering sonic sea filled with melancholic flourishes of shoegaze, post-rock, ambience and alt-rock all expertly drenched in a reverb tinged magnificence. The band are made up of Jonathan, Jesse, Ryan & Jose and you can buy/download their self-produced debut EP in full right now via reveriespnw.bandcamp.com
Reveries by Reveries
The opening drones of 'Hits My Eyes' swirl ever so slowly around a melodic guitar progression as those hook laden chord structures glide through layers of glitchy reverberation. Momentary pauses filled with chilling sonic ambience instil atmosphere as deep booming bass frequencies arrive pulling explosive percussion, yearning vocalisations and huge chorus progressions that absolutely soar skywards. There are elements of post-rock here too simmering in amongst bubbling slow-core and heavier passages of shoegaze that ebb and flow through much quieter moments of sonic reflection. The song structuring or transition from surging instrumentation into lulling ambience works really well making this a very interesting opening salvo indeed. Up next, 'Reveries' unleash my favourite track on the entire EP. 'Existential Anxiety' explodes into a kaleidoscope of sonic waves as driving percussion and the throb of cascading bass carries swirling layers of guitar and brilliantly executed vocalisations out into the ether. This track is magnificent, a solid shoegaze anthem and quite possibly my favourite track of 2018 so far.
'When Your Dreams' hovers into audible range trapped in a hazy cloud of reverb as it's rumbling percussion and soaring lines of guitar envelope another impressive vocal performance. Again, those spacious instrumental pauses add some great atmospherics before we're led into a raging wall of bass heavy noise and on into that massive finale whilst 'Still' trembles into life glistening within an instrumental drone filled with melodic swells of instrumentation, brilliant production techniques and subtle lines of guitar. Drenched in blissful reverb, this ambient hued soundscape is absolutely immense. The EP's penultimate track comes in the guise of 'Here With You'. Huge walls of raging sonic frequencies surge brilliantly as this explosive track takes flight and we pulse through layers of angry guitars, pounding percussion and that ever present boom of deep penetrating bass. Swells of effects laden guitars bubble just below the mix as those vocals soar and 'Reveries' dip their toe into some alternative led noise-rock. This repetitive pattern breaks off towards the end of the track as we glide back down to terra firma, cushioned carefully within cloud of shimmering ambience. The EP closes out with the blissful 'Passing'. Hovering layers of guitar dance and weave their way through clouds of melody as we rise and fall through those glistening pools of atmospheric reverb. 'Passing' is a wonderful ending to a magnificent debut EP.
Del Chaney has spent the last five years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream-pop, postpunk & 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 genres 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.
RELEASE: Venn EP
RELEASE DATE: 22nd February 2017
Washington based noisy shoegaze quartet 'Venn' have unleashed their debut four track self-titled EP to the masses via their bandcamp page. Its taken the band almost two years to perfect a sound that fits into what they love about shoegaze & dream pop and it's not hard to hear their many influences streaming through their core ascetic. The band are made up of Jon Fetahaj, Gabe Earle, Julian Earle & Holden Cihelka and you can buy/download their debut EP right now via: venn-dc.bandcamp.com
Venn EP by Venn
The EP opens up with it's lead single, the brilliantly executed 'Surreal'. This Track is mesmerisingly explosive, full on and it takes no prisoners as it soars into the ether on wings of sublime reverberation and punchy instrumentation. It's fragile vocals swirl and undulate on a bedrock of humming bass frequencies and shimmering guitar lines as it's percussive swagger explodes into glorious sonic shards. Up next 'Weekday' trembles into earshot on a thunderous drum pattern, shuddering baseline and soaring guitars as the track loops and arcs all over the sonic canvass dragging with it those sublime vocalisations. Collectively the bands sound on this track tumbles into the ether draped in shimmering swathes of reverberation and fuzzy guitar squall leaving sonic trails of dreamy fuzzed out bliss in it's wake. The EP's penultimate track entitled 'Maybe I'm A Liar' enters earshot swirling in a kind of semi ambient haze that is supplemented with metronomic percussive theatrics and brilliant production before a massive guitar line wakes up this sleeping sonic giant, drags it by the scruff of the neck and dumps it into a massive pool of silver hued reverb. It is jammed full of absent minded melancholy that comes across superbly in its sublime vocalisations that seem to slot into the instrumental maelstrom with relative ease. 'Maybe I'm A Liar' is a beautiful slice of modern day dream pop deftly infused with layer after layer of hazy shoegaze and it's probably my favourite track on this entire release.
If there was ever a modern track out there today that harks back brilliantly to those early nineties shoegaze pioneers it has to be the closing piece on this EP. 'Someone Else' bounds into the sonic arena on a huge pulsating drum pattern guided by soaring lead guitars and intense production. It's throbbing bass frequencies hold court diligently keeping everything together and acting like a kind of sonic glue. The track meanders through huge walls of layered sound only falling back on itself as the verse vocals arrive instilling a serine calmness in the process. It then builds menacingly into a raging torrent of glorious noise, twisting and turning through clouds of pulsating reverberation before fading out into finality leaving this listener in no doubt whatsoever that 'Venn' are the real deal .... and this is blissful music!
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.
Surreal (Single) by Venn
Washington based noisy shoegaze quartet 'Venn' have unleashed a marvellous new track entitled 'Surreal' lifted off their forthcoming debut EP penned in for release later in the year. Its taken the band almost two years to perfect a sound that fits into what they love about shoegaze & dream pop and we think this new single is absolutely sublime! The band are made up of Jon Fetahaj, Gabe Earle, Julian Earle & Holden Cihelka and you can buy/download this new single right now via: venn-dc.bandcamp.com
'Surreal' is mesmerisingly explosive! It's full on and it takes no prisoners as it soars into the ether on wings of sublime reverberation and punchy instrumentation. It's fragile vocals swirl and undulate on a bedrock of humming bass frequencies and shimmering guitar lines as it's percussive swagger explodes into glorious sonic shards. Absolutely stunning and definitely ones to watch throughout 2017.