2017 has been colossal in terms of underground music releases. Nearly all of the bands who we had expected to release new music this year did so and we also had some immense new arrivals to the scene, pushing boundaries and making waves all on their own. With the vast amount of submissions that we get to the blog on a daily basis it was very difficult to review all of them, we tried our best and we endeavoured to condense who we deem top contenders for our best releases of 2017 list down to a reasonable bunch of candidates. End of year lists generate conversations about bands who deserve support from small online publications like ours. So, from the veritable Fuzz Club Records to Edinburgh's 'Morningside Young Team', Sweden's VÅRØ Records to 'Blackspin Records' over in Greece and on into 'Wrong Way Records' over in the UK, Ireland's own Penske Recordings and straight through to the awesome American based Saint Marie Records we've tripped the sonic fantastic with this years 'End Of Year List' bringing you some blistering psych, sublime shoegaze, dreamy dream pop & atmospheric post-rock for your listening pleasure and you didn't even have to vote for one single entry!
Happy Christmas one and all and we'll see you all in 2018 for more fun and frolics!
Primal Music & Radio
Holy Monitor - Holy Monitor
Holy Monitor by Holy Monitor
2017 kicked off with a bang and we were introduced to a band back in January who absolutely blew our minds. Stunning Athens based experimental psych/kraut rock collective 'Holy Monitor' released their debut self-titled full length release filled to the brim with luscious soundscapes that skip through a multiple of different sonic disciplines with blistering aplomb. Released via 'Primitive Music Records' in collaboration with 'Blackspin Records' , this album is a total trip!
Dead Gurus - Acid Bench
ACID BENCH (On Sale 50% Off) by Dead Gurus
Dark and foreboding, menacing and hypnotic, Minnesota based psych aficionados 'Dead Gurus' are no strangers to this modern underground psych scene. The band are made up of Jason Edmonds (Magic Castles), Bennett Johnson, Collin Gorman Weiland (Daughters of the Sun and Dreamweapon) & Ryan Garbes (Wet Hair) and what they collectively create is a no holds barred, deeply entrancing thrill ride through the darker side of the psychedelic spectrum. Their seven track opus entitled 'Acid Bench' was unleashed on February 17th 2017 via the exciting UK based independent record label 'Wrong Way Records'.
Percolator - Sestra
Sestra LP by Percolator
Dublin based three piece 'Percolator' have been creating electronically charged experimental standards drenched in poly-rhythmic kraut rock connotations underscored with subtle flourishes of shoegaze, prog rock & resonating noise since 2012 with the bands core lineup of Ian Chestnutt - guitar/vocal, Eleanor Myler - drums/vocal & John Murphy - bass staying true to the project since its conception. They popped up on our radar back in 2013 with the immense 'Little Demon' EP (which we played tracks from religiously over on our sister radio station Primal Radio) and they returned this year with a staggering collection of eight tracks packaged as 'Sestra', released via Cork based independent record label Penske Recordings.
Wozniak - Courage Reels
Courage Reels by Wozniak
Having wowed us all with their musical presence over previous EP releases, the sonic force that is Edinburgh's noisemakers 'Wozniak' unleashed a stunning collection of tracks in the guise of their highly anticipated debut album deftly titled 'Courage Reels'. This album tumbles through a plethora of immense genres generating enough power through each endearing track to continuously turn industrial strength turbines! Stand out tracks on this release are 'Crush, Shader, Perihelion and Super Panther', but the whole album is immense from start to finish. It was released back in April via the Edinburgh based independent record label 'Morningside Young Team' and worthy of your ears. Recommended!
Todavía - Shyness
Shyness by todavía
Los Angeles based dream pop aficionado Todavía aka self-releasing multi instrumentalist Rhyan Riesgo unleashed a highly anticipated brand new eight track album entitled 'Shyness' via the bands bandcamp page back in April. Todavía's sound is distinctly dreamy, with hushed synth swells, sequenced percussion, swirling guitars and shimmering reverberation that all circumnavigates that almost ethereal vocal tone. This album is luscious, addictive and a very early contender for our year end list.
Has A Shadow - Sorrow Tomorrow
Sorrow Tomorrow by Has A Shadow
Mexico natives 'Has A Shadow' released their sophomore album (their first via Fuzz Club Records) entitled 'Sorrow Tomorrow' back on January 18th 2017. The band create a brand of dark and ritualistic modern day psych gaze that heaves and undulates through swathes of unabashed reverberation and driving instrumentation tinged with menacing gothic tones. This album was so good we gave it 5/5 after just one listen!
Jellyskin - Jellyskin
jellyskin by jellyskin
Leeds based 'Jellyskin' correlated all of their previously released singles, added a splattering of newer material and packaged it all up on what was their very first self-titled physical release. Formed in 2016, 'Jellyskin' exploded onto the underground psych/gaze scene with four consecutive single releases, each one absolutely sublime. Unless you've been hiding under a rock over the past year you would have read about the band on Primal Music's web pages & listened to them over on Primal Radio daily; they are seriously that good. 'Jellyskin' create stunning musical soundscapes that gracefully meander through experimental shoegaze, dream pop, psych rock and it's many, many sub genres. The availability of Jellyskin's singles in one release is a big bonus and we had earmarked these guys very early on as contenders for our best of year end list. Highly recommended!
JuJu - Our Mother Was A Plant
Our Mother Was A Plant by JuJu
JuJu teamed up with one of the best underground independent record labels currently plying it's trade in this ever evolving scene, the immense 'Fuzz Club Records' and announced his sophomore release aptly titled 'Our Mother Was A Plant'. This time around Gioele Valenti dipped his sonic tendrils into a plethora of genres that includes afrobeat, krautrock, glam, post-punk, art rock, shoegaze & drone and it also featured guest appearances from 'Capra Informis', the masked djembe player of Swedish based psych aficionados 'Goat', making this album one of the most anticipated releases of 2017. It got it's full release back in September on 180g vinyl via www.fuzzclub.com and every single one of you needs this album in your collection. It is immense.
Tuath - Things I Don't Know
Things I don't know by Tuath
‘Tuath’ exploded onto the Irish underground scene back in March 2015 with their intensely addictive & deeply experimental debut EP ‘An Taobh Tuath(Ail)’ closely followed by their immense spaced out single ‘Amhairc Thart Ort Fein’ in September of the same year. Last year the band returned with a blistering four track EP entitled ‘Existence Is Futile’ packed full of experimental dreamscapes that skipped from serine psych-rock into blissfully dreamy shoegaze and on into expressive jazz fusion coupled with swirling hypnotically progressive rhythms and sullen space rock hues. Back in January the band created what is their most interesting release to date. 'Things I Don't Know' pulses through four tracks of soaring reverb laced progressions, deeply filled with haunting vocalisations that are collectively underpinned by heavier grunge filled moments, swirling instrumentation and massive swathes of melody. It cemented a place in our minds back then and was always going to appear on our end of year list.
Miniatures - Jessamines
Jessamines by Miniatures
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 had it's full release on the 6th October 2017 via the ever reliable Saint Marie Records.
Helicon - Helicon
Helicon by Helicon
When Glasgow based experimental psych outfit 'Helicon' announced their highly anticipated self-titled debut album we got really excited. With eight EP's under their belts, 'Helicon' have taken the live scene by storm, touring Europe and sharing the stage with some serious heavy hitters including Wooden Shjips, The Warlocks and Dead Skeletons. Helicon's sound is addictive, engagingly dynamic and at times all consuming or otherworldly with melodic eastern tinged psych, swirling drones, mantra like vocalisations and intricately intense guitar work that collectively merges into one almighty sonic attack. Their debut album is officially released on the 8th of December via those good folks over at fuzzclub.com and it is sublime!
Bolywool - From Void To Matter Vol.3
From Void to Matter Volume 3 by Bolywool
Hailing from the wind swept isle of Öland in Sweden, Calle Thor and Oskar Karlström aka 'Bolywool' have been fascinating us lot here at Primal Music for quite some time with their shimmering, cinematic, frost laden soundscapes filled to the brim with flourishes of atmospheric post-rock and scintillating shoegaze collectively underscored by stunning electronic progressions. They started out on a sonic journey back in May 2017 with the first of a planned trilogy of EP's entitled 'From Void To Matter' via VÅRØ Records . Throughout the three EP's 'Bolywool' went from strength to strength culminating in what we think is their best release to date and a worthy entrant to our end of year tally. 'From Void To Matter Vol. 3' was officially released back on December 1st 2017 and is available to buy/download right now via varorecords.bandcamp.com
Holy Monitor : holymonitor.bandcamp.com
Dead Gurus: wrongwayrecords.bandcamp.com
Has A Shadow: fuzzclub.bandcamp.com
by Primal Music
RELEASE: Courage Reels
RELEASE DATE: 21st April 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Morningside Young Team Records
Following on from a handful of well-executed, tight and impressively written EP’s and singles that explored a wide array of genres including traditional shoegaze and much louder feedback ridden noise rock, is the debut full length album 'Courage Reels' from Edinburgh based four piece Wozniak. It’s a heavy, noisy and progressive listen, and one on which the band decides to take full advantage of their instruments, creating several lengthy songs with two or three lines of vocals in it amid riff after riff of sonic noise and what sounds at times to be well-captured jam sessions. Many songs take on this structure; and through it 'Courage Reels' at times sounds anywhere from stoner/sludge metal, progressive rock, shoegaze, dream pop, alt-rock, then throw in a bit of alt-metal and a weird kind of krautrock for good measure and tie them all together in layers of noisy feedback and what you get are tall sprawling arrangements that make Wozniak sound like a ten piece. 'Courage Reels' gets it's full release on April 21st 2017 via 'Morningside Young Team Records' and it is available to pre-order right now in various formats from wozniak.bandcamp.com
'Courage Reels' opens with the instrumental ‘Shader’ that morphs itself around a heavy stoner metal riff and the gentle tapping of the drums in the background. However, after this introductory riff, the band launch into what sounds more like a traditional shoegaze due to the tone of their guitars and the musical melding between the guitar and the drums. ‘Shader’ takes this form for almost the entire song; jumping from a stoner metal riff into more airy shoegaze passages, all the while masking a background of feedback that compliments the music immensely. Much slower and distant is the shoegaze track ‘Ghosting’ whose form takes the shape of ‘Shader’ in that it jumps from heavy fuzzing back to its mellow origins; coming off as less heavy than ‘Shader’ but more intricate. The slowed, winding parts of the song are soothingly beautiful, masking mood and sound over a distinct form of song writing. ‘Ghosting’ also happens to contain vocals; all five lines of them, so drowned out you can hardly hear them, which actually fits in well with the context of the song. ‘Super Panther’ ties both previous songs together and revisits the more shoegaze sides of the bands sound, implementing fuzz bass and a fantastic drum track over the top of the winding and shimmering guitars that play a demented kind of indie rock. This song also sounds strongly influenced by alt-rock, with its more linear structure and ‘traditional’ riff centred form of song writing on display.
Back in March 2017 the band released the first single from 'Courage Reels', and that single was ‘Perihelion’ which crops up as one of the best tracks on the entire release. It’s a beautiful, trance inducing mix of down-trodden guitar strumming that harkens back strongly to the classic shoegaze sound with swirls of a darker kind of dream pop. The vocal performance here is also fantastic and an album highlight, as well as the instrumentation and backing noise to which the song takes it cues and creations from. Although the song goes for several minutes, the band condense the vocal, quieter and more accessible section of the song to its beginning and then launch into a wild and commendable instrumental section that winds out the second half of the song strongly and passionately. In a similar way is ‘Scottish Dancer’ which blows past the eight minute mark in its form, which is distinctly reminiscent of cold shoegaze, to again show the bands strength in song writing. Scottish Dancer’s beginning, featuring another well produced vocal section, sounds better than ‘Perihelion’ in terms of every aspect of the song fitting swiftly together. Another amazing instrumental outro leads the songs second half, in which background feedback is used as a soundscape style to greatly enhance the songs sound. ‘Natsuko’ returns to a more conventional length and sounds more akin to post-punk than anything else the band touch on 'Courage Reels'. Although its beautiful and holds some impressive moments, I did wonder what its significance in context of the album was, and upon a second listen parts of it tended to sound more like an album filler than anything else.
‘Erebus’ is another true album highlight, perhaps due to fantastic contextual balancing by Wozniak in terms of the track listing on the album. After a few lengthy, heavy and layered songs, the band turns things back to the simple and the minimal, placing the listener’s perceptions upon simple guitar based strumming that goes further to highlight a mesmerizing undercurrent of dream pop-like guitar tones and textures in the mix. ‘Crush’ features the best drumming performance on the album, but unlike the few previous tracks avoids stronger shoegaze elements instead focusing upon a kind of alt-rock type sound, driven by a distant but interesting vocal performance. ‘Death Suit’ turns things back up to the lengthy heights of ‘Scottish Dancer’ and ‘Perihelion’ but with much less conviction. It starts strong, with a neat little guitar intro, but seeps into uneven sections of music that seem to be so far removed from the other that it becomes more of a slog than a listen. However, the six to eight minute section is absolutely masterful and deserves praise for being one of the greatest passages of music on the release.
I must fully admit that I’m a fan of Wozniak, whose style and experimentations in guitar-orientated music have shone through in a fantastic and interesting way through past releases. I especially love the song ‘El Maresme’ which is quite an old song from their fantastic EP Pikes Peak. I say all of this simply because 80% of the music on 'Courage Reels' is less like the bands previous studio EPs and singles; the engaging single 'Harker' remains firmly an alternative shoegaze/dream pop song, so does 'Auster' and its more guitar driven sound. For 'Courage Reels' to feature lengthy, heavy, more straight forward rock arrangements that you could almost always classify as alternative-rock, rather than the hazy dream pop or shoegaze-based musings of their previous efforts is somewhat of a challenge for the listener. I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, and we must all congratulate and encourage bands to transform, progress stylistically and traverse new terrain over song writing and performance, but I wonder if 'Courage Reels' is in fact the right kind of progression. It is a fantastic album (as noted by the rating) but ultimately it sounds like a band who are carrying only fragments of their previous skin after shredding it. Personally, as a fan and a listener, I would have loved to have heard more vocals on this instrumentally generous album. Also for some out there, a cover to cover listen would be just too much; the songs are lengthy affairs, the transitions within the songs are at times slightly awkward and the piling of lengthy songs after lengthy songs makes the album feel longer than it is. All of this probably sounds like mad criticism, but that could not be further from the truth. In fact, for all of the criticisms of the music I have, there is equal acclaim and admiration for 'Courage Reels'. It is exquisitely well produced and mixed, and the band shines through on every track to display a commitment and a wild sincerity to the well written songs featured on it. These elements amount to a well rounded and impressive album, bundled up fluently in commitment 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.
Edinburgh based noise manipulators 'Wozniak' have unleashed yet another super sonic cut entitled 'Shader' lifted off their forthcoming & highly anticipated debut album 'Courage Reels', penned in for release on the 21st April 2017 both digitally and on a limited edition CD via Morningside Young Team Records. The band are made up Simon Cuthbert-Kerr - guitar, Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr - guitar/vocals, John Sinclair - drums & James Urquhart - bass and their collective sound swirls deftly in a heavy sonic stew filled with hazy shoegaze, atmospheric post-rock and fuzzed out noise rock.
'Shader' is an angry sonic behemoth that tumbles menacingly in a dark and fuzzy universe filled with repetitious frequencies and layered reverberations that swirl and undulate precariously on top of a trembling bass line and another impressive percussive assault. Highly addictive, the instrumentally brilliant 'Shader' spins through its verse progressions with intense atmospheric rage before using its powerful chorus parts to soar into the ether on utterly sublime shoegaze inspired highs. Thoroughly enjoyable, this track is a stunning prelude to the forthcoming full length release.
Edinburgh based noise merchants 'Wozniak' have announced an immense new single entitled 'Perihelion' lifted off their forthcoming & highly anticipated debut album penned in for release on the 21st April 2017 via Morningside Young Team Records. The band are made up Simon Cuthbert-Kerr - guitar, Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr - guitar/vocals, John Sinclair - drums & James Urquhart - bass and their collective sound swirls deftly in a heavy sonic stew filled with hazy shoegaze, atmospheric post-rock and fuzzed out noise rock. 'Perihelion' gets its full official release on the 3rd March 2017. A limited edition CD includes extra exclusive tracks 'Ground Echo' and 'Portents' and you can pre-order it right now via wozniak.bandcamp.com
'Perihelion' squeals into earshot on a repetitious instrumental drone as jangling guitar progressions spin in close orbit peppering the senses with waves of pulsing reverberation. Ethereal vocalisations hang precariously on the edge of a tightly coiled metronomic beat as the constant hum of bass frequencies hover and cajole the entire piece, looping and arcing menacingly into a turbulent tidal wave of shimmering noise. 'Perihelion' is darkly atmospheric, filled with raging torrents of latent noise and intense production. This is a stunning return to form from a band who can do no wrong! We can't wait for the full album.
Far from the multi-platformed mainstream musical hubs and hidden deep within a scene so overlooked by the big radio corporations that its generally left alone to allow shoegaze fans run a meandering course of blissful musical discovery, sits an online radio station so important that its unhealthy demise due to corporate bureaucracy would be nothing short of a bloody travesty. We've all read about the unhealthy reams of read tape surrounding online broadcasters and their downgrading of broadcast rights due to the changes in US Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) fees and we've seen first hand various online stations being forced to cease all operations indefinitely due to lack of funding to pay these overhyped & inflated broadcasting fees! If it continues we will lose a very important tool that allow's unsigned artists to get their music across to a wider online radio audience. Online stations worldwide, Dj's & their embedded radio shows, focusing on various musical genres are a key promotional resource for todays underground artists. I mean, how many TRUE champions of this modern day underground shoegaze scene can you count on your fingertips at this present moment in time?
READ ON -
Mute Swan by Half / Wozniak
Broadcasting out of Fresno, California, DKFM has been at the forefront of the genre's resurgence since it launched in 2012 but more recently has faced an uncertain future due to changes in US Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) fees. They are an important mainstay in todays scene, helping to sustain and develop many of the movement's best bands. DKFM continue to be a major influence on us here at Primal Music and have been the 'Go To' site for us for all things shoegaze & dream pop since our early radio show days on Radioaktiv back in 2012.
Now, two brilliant UK based musical outfits, the impressive Gateshead based 'Half' & Edinburgh's finest 'Wozniak', have released a stunning collaborative track entitled 'Mute Swan' with the aim of raising much needed funds to help DKFM to stay on the air. The track has been released as a pay-what-you-like download through Bandcamp with all income going to help support DKFM and you can help in the fight by heading over to: herelieshalf.bandcamp.com and pledging as much or as little as you like.
There was an subtle air of anticipation in the Loft venue of Dublin's Grand Social as two of the hottest underground live acts today came together for one epic live experience. There's a well deserved buzz surrounding both bands with electro rockers Makings having recently accrued a distribution deal for their very impressive debut album 'Cognition' & Scottish shoegazers Wozniak on the verge of releasing their second EP and subsequently playing their debut gig in Ireland. The online threads were awash with talk of this gig and there was plenty of music bloggers in the venue on the night waiting anxiously to give their account of how this gig would go down live. These two bands may be on the opposite ends of the musical spectrum with where they sit in their respective genres but they are both equally immense live! This gig had been organised by the brilliant Pinkman PR & Management who I might add are a shining example of how to treat artists / music reviewers & gig goers alike. If there were a few more setups like these guys in the Irish music scene today we'd probably have the best live scene in Europe. Their attention to detail was second to none & its only fair that I mention them in this live review.
With both bands getting an equal share of stage time it was up to Wozniak to open the proceedings. In a haze of reverb laden brilliance the shimmering sounds of this Edinburgh based 4 piece awakened the docile Grand Social crowd with their full on shoegazing experience. Projected cinematic visuals, flashing strobe lights & the thundering opening track 'Columbo's Car' heralded the arrival of a musical behemoth! Simon & Sarah worked their magic on board's of effect pedals to create a psychedelic wall of sound while James hypnotised us with his addictive bass lines & the ever steadying qualities of drummer John Sinclair brought fire & brimstone to the eardrums of the waiting crowd.
The band brought new tracks with them to play tonight alongside their already amazing arsenal of musical soundscapes and these new compositions did not disappoint! Snow Effect, Wings Of Pegasus, Gospel of Infinity & Hester & Zelda are taken from the bands forthcoming & highly anticipated new EP entitled 'Auster' & they are absolutely huge live! Add into the mix Columbo's Car, Kreuzberg & El Maresme (from their debut EP Pikes Peak) & their ever brilliant latest single 'Five Star' and what we have is a band on the verge of something big! Wozniak are truly an immense live musical outfit. Im glad that everyone present tonight In The Grand Social got to experience this fact live and I hope we get to see them again on our shores soon.
Up next were local heroes Makings! With the crowd getting fidgety & the late arrivals pushing to get in to see the band they took to the stage. And after a guitar change we were ready to experience another band on the verge of something big! Makings have an enormous live sound. In fact, its the most complete sound that I think I've ever heard from an underground Irish band to date. Rick Burns ever present vocal is absolutely stunning as usual as they open up with 'Only Time'. Im constantly amazed at how good these guys are as musicians!
Each individual member of the band sings live (A rare occurrence on todays live circuit). Barry Shock & Rick Burn are a musical tour de force on guitars while Raul Marcos skips through his baselines with aplomb. Its in the engine room where this band fascinates me though. Paddy Reynolds on drums is as good a drummer as I have ever heard in Ireland. What he does throughout a Makings gig is nothing short of magical. His drum patterns are second to none and it adds to Makings immense overall sound. It's a well oiled machine with every member of the band knowing exactly where he should be at any given time. They never fail to blow me away with their overall sound & as front men go Rick Burn is ominous as he drags this band kicking and screaming to the ears of every single audience member. Their setlist tonight included tracks from their debut album 'Cognition' & some new tracks including Only Time, Dig, Man On Fire, 46a, The Wool Gatherer, iClone, Mythomania, (Editors note: My Favourite Track) - Heart Attack, Suffocate & Human Nature.
Ive said this before but Makings are a band on the rise. Their next live stop is a gig with Wozniak again but this time in Edinburgh. They have the complete package as far as Im concerned. Go and check out their debut album 'Cognition'. This is a sonic confession from a band who's sound is destined to play in stadiums ..........
Del Chaney - Dublin 2015.
What can we say about Wozniak that hasn't already been said? Signed to the epic 'Morningside Young Team Records' & producing powerful, atmospheric & blissfully emotive soundscapes that sweep through numerous sonic plains depositing high grade shoegaze creations onto the everyday humble folk who follow this band with intent - Wozniak are an immense outfit. After the release of their first single 'MFMB/New Hampshire' back in August 2013, second single 'El Maresme' in June 2014 & then their epic debut EP 'Pikes Peak' also in June 2014 the focus of the underground shoegazing world was set firmly on this 4 piece from Edinburgh, Scotland & they did not disappoint! On 12/11/14 they unleashed their brilliant new single '5 Star' onto the world alongside a remix of the same track by none other than London based noise merchants 'In Violet'. Add into the mix their inclusion in the epic worldwide shoegaze compilation - Revolution - The Shoegaze Revival released jointly by Ear To Ear Records & Gerpfast Kolektif plus an impressive cover version of the classic RIDE track 'Time Machine' for the recently released RIDE covers compilation 'Leave Them All Behind - A Tribute To Ride', from 'The Blog That Celebrates Itself Records', plus their inclusion in the joint EP from Scottish blogs - Scottish Fiction and Almost Predictable & you have a maelstrom of serious expectation's for what will come next from this amazing band. We caught up with them as they prepare to visit Dublin in what will be their debut live show in Ireland & asked them a few questions on playing live, playing with Irish rockers Makings & future plans. Check it out:
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1) TELL US ABOUT YOUR BAND? WHERE ARE YOU FROM? FORMATION? BAND MEMBERS?
Wozniak formed in Edinburgh in 2012 with a vague mission to create a lot of noise and use as many pedals as possible. We are Simon (guitar and chief pedal hoarder), James (bass), John (drums) and Sarah (guitar, vocals, occasional keys). We formed after Simon, John and I had played in a covers band a few times, but we quickly decided that we'd be better off doing our own thing, whatever that might be. We were amazing at a few indie classics though. And, in case you are wondering, we ARE named after Steve Wozniak.
2) DESCRIBE YOUR SOUND?
It's always so tricky to describe the sound, we're a bit of a cocktail of shoegaze, post-rock and noise. I guess there is some good, old-fashioned rock and roll in the mix too. It's loud and densely textured. We are huge fans of the holy trinity of gaze - reverb, distortion and delay - which will be obvious to anyone who's listened to our stuff. Where there are vocals, they're buried in reverb and fuzz too, which is probably a blessing for all involved. It is always surprising to hear the comparisons that other folk make, but someone recently said we reminded them of Band of Susans, which was fine with me.
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3) WHO ARE YOUR INFLUENCES?
We've got a wide range of influences, which is one of the reasons that I think Wozniak works so well. Otherwise all our songs would just be 20 mins of squalling feedback. Obviously, there is a lot of first generation shoegaze in there - MBV and Slowdive, some Sonic Youth, Warpaint, AC/DC, some Queens of the Stone Age. A heady brew of rackets, which uniquely combine to create our own racket.
4) DESCRIBE YOUR LIVE SOUND?
Our live sound can be pretty intense. We like to play loud, with feedback wailing. We are ALWAYS getting told to turn our amps down. Volume, though, is an important part of the Wozniak experience. We want you to leave with your ears ringing and (maybe) your heart soaring. A soundman once said that we were 'brutal, in a good way'.
5) WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT PLAYING LIVE?
Playing live is a lot of fun, but not without its stresses - will all the pedals work, will anyone turn up (you'll note the order of these concerns)... But when people do turn up, well, that's pretty cool. The best thing about playing live is when the audience are really into it. It doesn't have to be a big crowd, but when you can sense they are on your wave length, it's a great feeling. I also love checking out the other bands - we've played with a few of Primal Radio's favourites - Inuit, who got top album in your end-of-year show last year, We Came From The North & In Violet. All very talented, all very ace people. And venues - there are lots of great venues. We loved the Sebright Arms in London, and Bloc in Glasgow is great. In Edinburgh, Sneaky Pete's, the Wee Red Bar and Opium are all worthy of note.
6) BEST LIVE GIG YOU GUYS HAVE PLAYED SO FAR?
I think the best live gig so far has to be our only show so far of 2015 at the Sebright Arms. It was just such a great adventure as we hadn't played in London before. We had the van, and the '100 greatest indie hits ever'. We were playing with In Violet and Degree of Arc who are awesome bands. The show had come about because In Violet and Wozniak got played on the same radio show in May last year and we got in touch over Twitter. They said, come to London, so Goodsoul Promotions got involved and got it sorted out. It was a brilliant venue, great people and a really good crowd. Plus, Mike Goodsoul and his awesome mum Norma made us breakfast. So much breakfast.
I also enjoyed playing at Edinburgh University's Rock and Goth Society - that was ages ago but it sticks in my mind as a good show. I think we were the band with the least amount of tattoos/ eyeliner ever to have played, but they were right into it.
7) ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO PLAYING DUBLIN WITH MAKINGS?
We are amazed to have been asked to Dublin to make noise. I've decided to call it our European Capital Tour. First London, then Dublin, and then who knows where? I don't know a great deal about the Dublin scene, but I have high hopes as I imagine it is party central... Huge thanks are due to you, Del Chaney for making it happen. A few pints will be coming your way as a thank you!
8) WHAT'S NEXT FOR WOZNIAK THIS YEAR?
We've had a pretty busy start to the year, first featuring on the awesome Revolution - The Shoegaze Revival compilation from Ear to Ear Records and Gerpfast Kolektif, then we did a cover of Ride's 'Time Machine' for a tribute album from Brazil's 'The Blog That Celebrates Itself', and we've just featured on a joint EP from Scottish blogs, Scottish Fiction and Almost Predictable. Almost. If you haven't already, you should check all of those out.
Other than that, we've been in the studio a fair bit this year with the plan of making an album. However, that's quite an undertaking and it's going to take us a while to make it happen. So, we've decided that we're going to issue a four track EP in the meantime. It'll be out in June and we'll let you have all the details as soon as we know more ourselves. We've got a few shows lined up in Scotland around that and beyond that, we are open to offers...
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Photos Used With Permission: GabbyStonePhotography.co.uk.
Release: Pikes Peak EP
Release Date: 09/06/14
Record Company: Morningside Young Team Records
From the very first note in the opening track of Wozniak's new EP, Pikes Peak, I knew that i was in for something great!
I'd heard murmurings around the internet, especially up on the Twittersphere, about this band but could never find any music, just constant chatter about a proper Shoegazing band playing Shoegaze the way its meant to be played! Having been around for the end of the first wave of Shoegaze in the late 80's where Cocteau Twins, For Against and Jesus And Mary Chain were a constant on my turntable, to the early 90's assault on my cranium by Loop, My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Ride etc etc, I can safely say that from the very first listen to 'Pikes Peak' I got uber excited about how good it really is. It sucks you in and caresses your ear drums in preparation for the sonic blast that's to come.
'El Maresme', the lead track from the EP, is sheer musical brilliance! Coming in at 6 minutes 59 Seconds this track swoops and soars like an eagle. Layers of lush guitars explode into the atmosphere sitting atop a steady bass and drum pattern that somehow seems to keep the whole show fixed fast to the earth. Add a dreamy vocal into the mix and we're instantly transported to a different world. A world where sonic layering is king! This is Shoegazing at its very best!
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The EP Powers along and stuffs its second track 'Paper Hat' in our faces! It has that 'Slowdive' feel to it but with a driving pulse that's straight out of the 'MBV' mould. It's a brilliant Instrumental track and it's another treat for fans like me. A reminder of how it should be done!
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Track 3 is immense! - 'Kreuzberg' has instrumental 'Loop' all over it and after listening to it on the headphones, I'm reminded of 'Loop's' epic album 'A Guilded Eternity' and again I have to wonder what music 'Wozniak' were listening to during the writing and recording stages of the EP? I'm taken aback at how good Wozniak really are! 'Kreuzberg' ends with a magical piano line to settle your nerves and prepare you for the next aural onslaught. And it comes in the form of 'Columbo's Car', a monster of a track that picks you up and throws you against the wall in a good way! Its a sonic onslaught, a bloody great track and probably my second favourite track after 'El Maresme'. It too remind's me of another great band, a band who I'm a big fan of called 'Ghost Box Orchestra' and especially their 2013 LP 'Vanished'.
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Track 5, and the final track on the EP, has 'My Bloody Valentine' connotations all the way through it. 'Gesamtkunstwerk' is a blissful track. Looping and arcing all over your ear drums. And although I hate to use him as an example, It's as though Kevin Shields himself had stuck his fingers in it and crafted the layers of sound that streak through the track!
It's a triumph, a really great track and a fitting end to the EP. My recommendation is that you should listen to it with headphones on, sitting in a darkened room, for the total 'Wozniak' experience! It's Just brilliantly crafted ShoeGaze in its purist form!
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Hailing from Edinburg, in Scotland, Wozniak are a breath of fresh air to this listener! They are a four piece band, formed 2012 and are in their own words, 'working hard to cause terminal tinnitus through the medium of epic, effects laden guitars, bamboozling bass and pounding drums' which is by no means easy in this modern day, washed down, re- hashed trite that they call the Shoegazing scene! This is old school Shoegaze! I'm Hearing Loop, Lush, MBV, Ride, Chapter-house, Slowdive and The Telescopes! All bands that that got me excited about music in the 80's/90's and indeed bands that I started playing on 'The Quiet Room' for Radio Aktiv, in the early months of the show! It's not that often that a band really grab me and shake out memories of early 90's Gaze but Wozniak have done just that. Im Impressed at their level of understanding, either by a fluke of nature or purposely composed, of early sounding Shoegaze and I can honestly say that this EP is a must have in any music collection. And I'll stand over that statement
Wozniak's Pikes Peak EP is out June 9th on Morningside Young Team Records and you can pre order the EP or download the lead single 'El Maresme' from the bands bandcamp page here: www.wozniak.bandcamp.com
Del Chaney has spent the last two years not only fronting popular Irish Electronic duo Analogue Wave but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the Unsigned or Small Independent Label based Shoegaze Dream Pop Post-Punk & Post-Rock genre’s of music from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has hepled 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.