07.25.2014 — “Heart on a Chain” by The Underground Youth

The Underground Youth

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Heart on a Chain” by The Underground Youth (2010, from the album Sadovoya).

The Underground Youth is a psychedelic/shoegaze band from Manchester. They got started in 2009 after frontman Craig Dyer wrote, home-recorded, and digitally self-released two albums that year. Although his “live band” didn’t last long, he reformed with a different group of musicians and self-released another two albums in 2010. In 2011, they digitally self-released another album and an EP. In 2013, they released another album. That’s six albums and an EP in five years. At some point, they joined Fuzz Club Records, who has vowed to re-issue the back catalog and to release them in physical format.

I had never heard of this band until I got something in the mail bag the other day urging me to watch the video for this song. The video is pretty sweet; but first, the song:

“Heart on a Chain” by The Underground Youth

It sounds a lot like early Jesus and Mary Chain. When they were trying to make records that sound like The Shangri-Las and other 1960s girl-group pop outfits. It’s a little fuzzy and a little lo-fi. I like how gritty it is and how lovely the backing vocal harmony in the chorus is. It seems like something that might have been a b-side or an alternate track from the JAMC Darklands sessions. Something that might have been included on Barbed Wire Kisses.

Perhaps I’m trying too hard to make the JAMC connection because of the video, which is undeniably very JAMC.

Here that is:

Sadovoya was apparently the inspiration for the folks at Fuzz Club to start a label, and it’s been lovingly remastered and released on vinyl by them. You can buy it through their web shop here
You can also buy a download of the much rawer original digital version here.


07.20.2014 — “Ze Beseder Lefahed” by Vaadat Charigim

Vaadat Charigim

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Ze Beseder Lefahed” by Vaadat Charigim (2013, from the album The World is Well Lost).

Vaadat Charigim is a shoegaze/post-punk trio from Tel Aviv. I don’t know very much at all about them except that they are influenced by underground Israeli bands from the 1980s and 1990s and that their debut album was released last summer. Their songs are in Hebrew, which makes it difficult for most Gentiles to understand them. Despite this, they’re starting to get some attention in the indie world.

The band name translates to something like “Exemptions Committee”, and the title of tonight’s song translates to something like “It’s Okay to be Afraid”.

Vaadat Charigim is one of the bands who will be playing at the upcoming fifth annual Hopscotch Music Festival this September in Raleigh. This year, as always, I’ve never even heard of 70% of the lineup. Usually, the lineup consists of about 175 bands, and I think it’s a little less than that this year. Either way, when the lineups are announced, I draw blanks on most of the bands. The fun part for me is doing a bit of research by reading up/listening up about every band. The good folks at Hopscotch take a lot of the legwork out of it by posting mini-bios and song samples right there on the lineup page.

Like I said, I’ve had a lot of fun over the years finding new favorite bands among all the “never heard of ‘em”. That said, I’m pretty excited that I’ll be seeing these guys at the festival. Presumably on Thursday night, the first night of the festival.

The band certainly has a 1970s/1980s UK post-punk sound like the Cure or Joy Division. Some people compare them to The Smiths. I don’t get that. Some people compare them to Slowdive. Maybe not so much on tonight’s song. but I can kind of hear that.

Anyway, tonight’s song:

“Ze Beseder Lefahed” by Vaadat Charigim

I have no idea what he’s singing about. I like to think that the lyrics are really beautifully poetic or deeply meaningful, but I kind of prefer the mystery. Although I used to be able to understand French with at least some degree of proficiency, I’ve forgotten nearly everything that I learned so many years ago. So when I hear those lovely songs by Cœur de Pirate, I don’t even want to know what she’s singing about. Of course the French language is mellifluous while the Hebrew language is, well, … not. So there are lots of differences, but my point is that I don’t know what he’s singing, and I don’t really care either. I like the music. I like the way the whole thing fits together. It’s great, and it transcends language barriers.

For extra credit, here’s a video of the band playing the song in front of some kids who are celebrating something. Probably Purim, but maybe something else.

You can buy the album in digital or CD format here. Burger Records did a cassette release of the album in the US. I love encouraging people to buy physical copies of albums. Even more than that, though, I wish people would stop encouraging labels to release things on cassette. It’s a horrible format and it’s a stupid trend that I really want to go away. So please, don’t buy this or anything on cassette. Unless you like terrible sound quality that gets worse every time you play it.


07.13.2014 — “The Garden” by A Million Billion Dying Suns

Nate Mercereau of AMBDS

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “The Garden” by A Million Billion Dying Suns (2014, from the album AMBDS).

A Million Billion Dying Suns is a “transcendental rock” band from San Francisco. The project was dreamed up and is fronted by Nate Mercereau. He does most of the heavy lifting, but the other members of the band have collaborated with a wide range of acts from Richard Ashcroft to Chaka Khan.

They released an EP last autumn, and the new album will be self-released on September 2.

AMBDS’s music is usually described as “grungy” and “brilliantly shiny”. I’ve listened to an advance copy of this album, and there are times when it sounds like stoner rock and times when it sounds like grunge revival. At times, it’s even a little shoegaze-y. Whatever the comparable genre, there’s almost always a prominence of fuzzy guitars. We really like fuzzy guitars over here at This is That Song.

Here’s one of my favorites:

“The Garden” by A Million Billion Dying Suns

Fuzz. Noise. Heavy bass. It’s all there. And it’s all there right from the drop. My favorite bit is the ending of the song, where it gets a bit louder and a bit more chaotic. And the hooks. Under all the noise and fuzz, there’s some fantastic hooks there in the chorus.

I have to admit that when I got the email about this, I was already pretty much sold on it just with the band’s name. There are some examples of bands who have names that I love, but music that I hate. There are bands who have music that I love and names that I hate. Most of the time, the band name is just sort of there. I really like this band name, and I like their music too. Some folks even say that the name is appropriate for their music.

You’ll be able to buy the album on September 2. Until then, enjoy this song


07.06.2014 — “Diastolic” by Lightfoils

Lightfoils

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Diastolic” by Lightfoils (2014, from the forthcoming album Hierarchy).

Lightfoils is a shoegaze five-piece from Chicago. They founded in 2010, and have one EP to their credit thus far. This Tuesday, they’ll release their debut album Hierarchy via the brilliant little label Saint Marie Records. If you’re scoring along at home, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve featured a lot of stuff from Saint Marie. It’s because they run a great label there. At year’s end, a handful of SMR releases will be on my year-end list. This album promises to be in the top ten of that list.

The five-piece band features three (Cory Osborne on bass, John Rungger oh drums and Zeeshan Abbasi on guitar) former members of the illustrious Chicago shoegaze band Airiel. Osborne is also in the Chicago shoegaze band Panda Riot, who are also on SMR. Singer Jane Zabeth is in an unsigned Chicago band named Essenza, and she also used to contribute guest vocals for Airiel.

The one-sheet on this album describes it as:

Hazy soundscapes, ringing guitar, icy synth, feather-light vocals, and actual compelling tunes.

And that’s perfectly fine.

To give you a quick roadside point of reference, Jane Zabeth’s vocals are reminiscent of the angelic tones of Liz Fraser, while the rest of the band certainly have more teeth than the Cocteaus did. They play like — because they pretty much are — Airiel

I’ve listened this Lightfoils record a bunch of times now, including two consecutive listens all the way through on each of the last two days while I was at work. Every time I listen to it, I have to stop and pause at least twice for those “I can’t believe how good this is” moments. And it’s always at a different spot in the album.

Today’s song might not even be my favorite song on the album, but it’s really brilliant nonetheless.

“Diastolic” by Lightfoils

For the first 25 seconds, when it’s just bass/drums/tambourine, everything is all Kid A-ish, but once those shimmering guitars and Zabeth’s vaporous vocals come in, there’s a much different vibe. You’re carried off to a darker, much more mysterious place. Dark and mysterious, but warm and comforting. That little change there at 0:25 is one of “those” moments.

I’ve listened to this song a bunch of different ways. While it sounds great in the car and sounds even better through a set of Klipsch x10 (ipod), and better still through a set of Audio Technica studio monitor headphones (laptop), the best way is through a set of real speakers on your real stereo. Play this really loud.

The album will be out on Tuesday July 8, and you should pre-order a copy right now in digital or CD format.

If you live in the Chicago area, you should definitely get on down to The Empty Bottle on Tuesday night for the CD release party. Lightfoils will be playing a show with A Sunny Day in Glasgow. I’d go to that show, but it’s an 11 hour drive and I have to work the next morning.

Seriously, though. Buy this record. Play it a lot. Play it loud.

Also, for a little bit of extra credit, here’s a video for the song:


07.02.2014 — “Love is a Battlefield” as covered by Wrongchilde (featuring Morgan Kibby)

Wrongchilde (Mat Devine)

If you only listen to one cover song tonight (and it is still “tonight” where I live), make it “Love is a Battlefield” as covered by Wrongchilde featuring Morgan Kibby (2014, from the forthcoming album Gold Blooded).

Wrongchilde is a synth rock recording project for Mat Devine, who is also in a band called Kill Hannah. I don’t know anything about that band, and I know very little about this project. I got two things in the mail bag about this yesterday. Devine collaborated with a bunch of musicians to make this new record, and on tonight’s song, he got a bunch of help from Morgan Kibby, who is also in M83 and a solo project called White Sea. I’m not a big fan of M83, and that White Sea record doesn’t do much for me if I’m honest, but Kibby is an amazing vocalist, and that’s certainly highlighted here.

These two collaborated on a magical cover of the classic 1983 song by Pat Benatar. The original was synth-y and new wave-y and there is absolutely no mistaking that it’s from the early 1980s. This version, although shorter in length, is much slower and darker. It’s also really synth-y, but in a different way. And it’s punctuated by dense, human drumming and fuzzy bass. Whereas the original Pat Benatar version could just as easily have been The Fixx, this version makes me think of Besnard Lakes. Perhaps it’s because the video looks like something that would happen if a Besnard Lakes video and a New Pornographers video had a baby video. There are kids in karate costumes, espionage, a mysterious Spanish-speaking woman (Kibby) placing a hit on a star of film and screen (Devine), who is in the middle of a photo shoot when the karate kids attack him. The hit goes awry, and in the end, they all eat cupcakes.

If you don’t feel like watching the video, here’s the audio:

“Love is a Battlefield” as covered by Wrongchilde (featuring Morgan Kibby)

Seriously, though… Watch the video. You’ll be glad.

It’s totally fun, right?

Aside from the cinematic aspects of the video, I think the song is astonishing. It’s so gloomy and dark and mysterious and a little dreamy and a lot sexy. This cover focuses mainly on the choruses, and I love Kibby’s slow, beautiful take. Oh sure, this is Devine’s vehicle and he harmonizes wonderfully, but this is all about Morgan Kibby. And the drumming.

The whole vibe of this is just incredible. I like this way more than I like the original version. And I like the original version a lot.


06.28.2014 — “Star Rising” by The Sorry Shop

The Sorry Shop

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Star Rising” by The Sorry Shop (2013, from the album Mnemonic Syncretism).

The Sorry Shop is a dream pop/shoegaze six-piece from Rio Grande, Brazil. That’s a small city in the southernmost state of Brazil. I had never heard of this band before tonight. I started doing some research about an Argentinian shoegaze band, and I’ll eventually get around to writing about those guys, but once I heard this song, I was totally hooked.

“Star Rising” by The Sorry Shop

The band formed in 2011, put out an album called Bloody Fuzzy Cozy in 2012, then followed with Mnemonic Syncretism in May of 2013. Tonight’s song is the first song from the album, which you can download for free via the band’s official bandcamp page.

While there are reasons to point to more obvious influences like My Bloody Valentine, I can’t help but be reminded of Estonian shoegazers Pia Fraus.

Whoever you want to compare them to, I think their record sounds great.

Go download the album now. It’s free!

And for a bit of fun, here’s the video for the song:


06.27.2014 — “Alien Dance” by Aerofall

Aerofall

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Alien Dance” by Aerofall (2014, from the album Aerofall).

Aerofall is a shoegaze four-piece band from Rostov-on-Don, Russia. I had never heard of them until I stumbled upon this new album the other day. It turns out that they started in 2004 as a techno band, and sort of did that for a while. They blew that up and started playing guitars in 2006. I have no idea how many records they’ve put out, but there are a couple of releases from 2011, and this self-titled record came out in April of 2014 via Hands and Moment.

It’s clear that this shoegazey incarnation of the band draws influence from some of the trailblazing giants of the genre: Lush, My Bloody Valentine, and maybe even Drop Nineteens.

On some songs, singer Yana Komeshko sounds a bit like Miki Berenyi from Lush. That’s not the case with this song. She’s got her own wonderful thing going on here. In general, though, this song reminds me quite a lot o Drop Nineteens.

“Alien Dance” by Aerofall

I love the multi-layered wall of guitar noise. I love Komeshko’s warm vocals. I love the fuzz. I love the sheer volume of it. I love the static at the end. It’s the whole dame thing that I love.

You can buy a physical copy of this album from the Hands and Moment web shop here, or you can buy a digital copy via Amazon here. I highly recommend it.


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