10.20.2014 — “Swim Dream” by Ludvig Moon

Ludvig Moon

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Swim Dream” by Ludvig Moon (2014, from the Ludvig Moon EP).

Ludvig Moon is an indie pop/dream pop quintet from Oslo. They’re one of the new additions to the lineup over at the incredible indie/shoegaze/dream pop label Riot Factory. It’s a great Norwegian label with a very small roster of about 14 bands. I think I’ve written about 12 of them. As I’ve said before, that label is doing a lot of things to dispel stereotypes about Norwegians. You know the ones about how everybody is in a black metal band or a folk group.

I actually didn’t know about this band until I got something in the mail bag the other day. All the email said was “Hi from Norway. What do you think about this?”, followed by a link to the band’s soundcloud page, a link to their page on the Riot Factory site, and the EP’s artwork. Normally I expect emails to have reference points or key words that help me decide how interested I am in even listening to whatever it is they’re promoting. Once I saw the relationship to Riot Factory, I didn’t need any other information. However, because of this, I went in with high expectations. I wasn’t let down.

Tonight’s song is the first of theirs that I listened to, and it’s probably my favorite.

“Swim Dream” by Ludvig Moon

One of the things that I like so much about this song is how it gets really big in the choruses. Something about that makes me think of the big chorus in “The Men Who Live Upstairs” by The Most Serene Republic. Or really anything by that band.

It’s pretty obvious that this band draws some influence from Elliot Smith. I’m reminded a lot of him and also of Matt Pond PA. They don’t list Matt Pond as an influence, but they certainly do list Elliot Smith. I also get a little bit of …Illinoise-era Sufjan Stevens.

The band is also heavily influenced by The Magnetic Fields, and they do a very nice cover of “Strange Powers” (1994, from the Magentic Fields album Holiday). The cover version is unreleased, but they’ve released a video of it here:

You can buy a digital copy of Ludvig Moon through the Riot Factory bandcamp page.

10.16.2014 — “Come Unwound” by The Bulls

The Bulls

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Come Unwound” by The Bulls (2014, from a standalone digital single).

The Bulls is an indie-pop/shoegaze duo from Los Angeles. The band is made up of multi-instrumentalist Anna Bulbrook from the NYC indie band The Airborne Toxic Event, and bassist Marc Sallis from the London indie rock band The Duke Spirit. The two met once in New York, then kept running into each other. In London. In Paris. At Coachella. It’s a familiar tale: they bonded over their mutual love of The Jesus & Mary Chain, Siouxie & The Banshees, The Cure, the new wave movement of the 1980s and the shoegaze movement of the 1990s. Finally, they decided that they should collaborate musically, and they formed a band earlier this year. They’ve been hard at work on their first EP while playing a bunch of live shows. On Tuesday, they released a standalone digital single called “Come Unwound”, which landed in my email box that morning. I’ve been a bit bogged down, and it took me a couple of days to get around to it, but I immediately fell in love.

This is that song:
“Come Unwound” by The Bulls

For the first minute or so, I’m reminded of So Tonight That I Might See-era Mazzy Star. By the end of it, I’m reminded of Split-era Lush. It starts off soft and gentle, but at about 1:37, a sonic wave comes crashing down and at that point, it turns into a tasty shoegazing song. Just before that, though, there’s a vocal bit that I really like:

Don’t make me turn this car around
Hope’s not lost, it’s just unfound

There’s a lot that I really love about this song. Of course there’s the sheer noise in the chorus, the tons of delay on Bulbrook’s vocals, and other things in their bag of tricks. I like Bulbrook’s voice, but I also really love that there’s not any lyrics in the chorus. Just that really delicate “oooooooooh oooooooooooh aaaaaaaaah aaaaaaaah”, and so on. I’m a big sucker for that kind of thing, especially when the singer can go as high as Bulbrook can. Coming out of the big chorus, there’s some of that iconic “Be My Baby” drum bit. It only goes about four times, and then it goes away, but I’m always a fan of a song that uses that kick….kick-kick-snare/tambourine bit.

If this song is any indication of things to come, this band will be one of my new favorites. I’m already excited about the EP, and I have no idea when it’ll be out. Hopefully, they’ll also have an LP sometime in early 2015.

For now, you can buy a download of the standalone single from Amazon, or eMu, or that other digital marketplace.

10.11.2014 — “A Way to Say Goodbye” by Pix

Pix (Hannah Rodgers)

If you only listen to one song today, make it “A Way to Say Goodbye” by Pix (2014, from a standalone single).

Pix is the moniker for 19-year old musician Hannah Rodgers. The South London native recorded a song called “I Wake” last year under her given name. It’s a marvelous dream-folk song that sounds like she’d been listening to the Slowdive album Pygmalion quite a bit. You should really check that song out here. But that’s not why we’re here today.

Today’s song is a bit different. It’s dream-pop. It’s trip-hop. It’s folk. I don’t really know. She says she’s influenced by Joni Mitchell, Aphex Twin, and Mac Demarco, among others. That’s a pretty wide array of influences. Today’s song is heavily influenced by Cocteau Twins. More on that after the song. This is that song.

“A Way to Say Goodbye” by Pix

Rodgers sings like an absolute angel and it’s fitting that this song was born out of a misunderstood Cocteau Twins lyric. As the story goes, she was listening to the Cocteaus song “Alice” (1996, from the “Violane” (green) single). The chorus of that song is simply the name Alice over and over. What Rodgers heard was

I miss the lonesomeness I miss

Admittedly, that does sound like something that should be a Cocteaus lyric, but it isn’t. Anyway, she took it and ran with it. If you listen closely, you’ll hear that misheard lyric in the chorus of today’s song.

I miss the lonesomeness I miss

The song itself is really amazing, and I hope that there’s more of this to come. I don’t care for the way the song ends really abruptly, but that’s the only criticism I have.

I learned about this late last night when a friend emailed me a link to the official video, then immediately sent me a text saying that he’d already watched the video four times. You might also get stuck watching over and over.

The video features twin Hannahs. The one on the left is sitting there in her overalls and her hippie jewelry dancing like she’s at a goddamn Grateful Dead concert. Meanwhile, the Hannah on the right is attired more conservatively. Pay attention, though. Everything that she does, she’s doing in reverse. Eating the strawberry, playing with that weird rabbit/guinea pig thing, burning the book, rapping her fingers on the table. Everything is in reverse. That’s the part that just slays my friend who forwarded the video to me. the rapping of the fingers.

As good as this is, it’s really hard to believe that this girl is only 19 years old. She’s got a really bright future ahead of her. I certainly hope there will be an album sometime in 2015.

10.09.2014 — “All Around You” by The KVB


If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “All Around You” by The KVB (2014, from the EP Out of Body).

The KVB is a darkwave/shoegaze/dream pop duo from London. Nicholas Wood and Kat Day formed in 2010 and they immediately put out a limited run cassette. Since then, they’ve released a few EPs, two LPs and a compilation record. Their smokey, synthy brand of music is almost even reminiscent of 4AD Records in 1992 and also of early 80s UK new wave.

Whatever you want to call what they’re doing, and whatever comparisons you want to make, I really like what they’re doing.

I happened upon their new EP this afternoon as I was doing some bloggy work, and I immediately liked it. The band’s name and the names of the members sounded familiar, and that made me pretty sure that I’d written about them before, but apparently I haven’t. So without further ado, this is that song.

“All Around You” by The KVB

With that bass line and the heavy synth bit, if you listened to this without knowing anything about it, you might struggle to guess the decade. You will not, however, have any difficulty in guessing which side of the Atlantic this comes from. Don’t ask me to explain. It just screams “UK” to me.

I imagine a dimly lit room with lots of smoke machine smoke. A few bursts of bright light and film projection. But mainly, just a sweaty, dark room. And that’s pretty much what this is here with them performing the song live in this video:

You can get the Out of Body EP and any of their other releases via their bandcamp page, or any other digital retailer.

10.07.2014 — “Just One Night” by JuliaWhy?

JWHY- press shotIf you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Just One Night” by JuliaWhy? (2014, from the forthcoming EP Wheel).

JuliaWhy? is a pop/punk trio from Sydney. I don’t know anything about the band other than the scant information that I got in an email today and the very little bit that’s offered via their Facebook page. Their name is a derivative of the name of their frontwoman Julia Wylie. She plays in a couple of other bands as does their drummer Peter Beringer. According to the email, their other member Matt Frederickson is fanatical about country music and moonshine.

The band released a two-part EP in the summer of 2012, and I don’t think they’ve released anything else. This November, they’ll release an EP called Wheel via their own EXXE Records. Tonight’s song is a little taste of it.

“Just One Night” by JuliaWhy?

I don’t know what the rest of the EP sounds like, but this song draws obvious influence from 80s/90s indie royalty Sonic Youth and Pavement. There’s a tiny bit of this that also reminds me of The Swirlies. There’s a lot of this retro 90s stuff going on right now and I absolutely love it. Especially the chiming guitars. I’m reminded specifically of the Pavement song “Unfair” (1994, from the album Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain)

In conjunction with the official release of the single “Just One Night” a couple of weeks ago, some art students at the National Institute of Dramatic Art made a video for the song, and it’s pretty freaking amazing. And I don’t mean “pretty good for some film school kids”. I mean, this is a good video.

It’s funny and creepy and awkward. Everything that a high school dance is, and that’s just what’s being depicted in the video. It’s also dark and twisted, and very well crafted.

If you act immediately, you can get a free download of the song by clicking over to the bandcamp page. The offer of the free download expires on October 8, so don’t delay.

10.02.2014 — “Santaria” by The Black Ryder

The Black Ryder

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Santaria” by The Black Ryder (2015, from the forthcoming album The Door Behind the Door).

The Black Ryder is a psychedelic shoegaze/dream pop band. The core of the band, and the only “official” members are the Australian duo of Aimée Nash and Scott Van Ryper. They’re set up in Los Angeles now, and they frequently get help from guest musicians who come from bands such as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

The band formed in 2007, and they released their debut album Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride in 2009 to very favorable reviews.

I had never heard of the band until I saw this song in my soundcloud feed about thirty minutes ago. I immediately fell in love with the song.

This is that song:
“Santaria” by The Black Ryder

It sounds like something that might have happened if Galaxie 500 and Mazzy Star played a show in 1991 using My Bloody Valentine’s gear and pedal boards. There’s a lot of pop sensibilities here, and just enough of the “psychedelic” thing to be vaguely reminiscent of a brawnier version of Mazzy Star. But there’s other, heavier stuff going on at the same time. There’s also so much fuzz and drone, so much heavy delay and pitch shifting. Like a gentler MBV. It all combines quite nicely to make a very soothing final product.

Von Ryper’s delay-drenched vocals are perfect for this, even if it’s very difficult to discern what he’s singing. Nash’s backing vocals are barely noticeable on this song except for one glorious flourish that goes from 3:35 to 3:50, where she’s actually singing rather than cooing. It’s subtle enough that I missed it the first two times that I listened, but it’s really worth paying special attention to that part.

The band released their debut on Von Ryper’s label The Anti-Machine Machine, and it was eventually released in this country on Mexican Summer Records. The new album has been in the works for more than a year and it looks like it should be out in early 2015 via Anti-Machine Machine.

09.29.2014 — “Talking” by September Girls

September Girls

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Talking” by September Girls (2014, from the album Cursing The Sea).

September Girls is a fuzzy noise pop/post-punk five-piece from Dublin. The band’s name is derived from the Big Star song “September Gurls” (1974, from the album Radio City). They spell their name differently, though. They also, as the story goes, took the name not from the original song, but specifically from the cover of said song as done by The Bangles (1986, from the album Different Light). Okay.

September Girls formed in 2011, and early this year they released their debut album via London-based label Fortuna Pop!. There’s heavy influence from bands like The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Cure as well as the countless bands that were inspired by “the Phil Spector sound”, and even a bit of The Ramones. It’s not uncommon for people to say something like “they’re a slightly sweeter version of The Jesus and Mary Chain”. There’s a huge wall of feedback and delay-laden guitar sound backed by some very heavy-handed drumming and a bass that might be described as Hook-y. In some ways, the album sounds like something that might have come out in 1979, but in other ways, it also sounds very fresh and new.

Somehow, this very good album slipped under my radar, and I had never even heard of the band until I saw the other day that Kanine Records had welcomed the band to their roster. More to the point, the label was announcing that the band will be releasing an EP entitled Veneer on November 24. This morning, Consequence of Sound debuted the title track from that EP, and it’s very good. Check it out here.

More importantly, though, you should first listen to tonight’s song.

“Talking” by September Girls

I really love the bass in this song, just barely peeking over the metaphorical wall of sound. I’ve listened to the album and this song in particular a BUNCH of times today. Every time, I get such a thrill from the sensation of being spun in different directions simultaneously. There’s something dizzying and confusing and intoxicating and sexy about it. The guitars and vox have me spinning in a clockwise motion at one speed while the bass and drums have me spinning anti-clockwise at a different speed. I sort of wish that they had produced it such that the guitars and vox were in one channel and the bass and drums in the other.

I have to admit that the first time I listened to this album, I was in my car and I didn’t “get it”. I thought the songs were good, but I felt like something was missing. I listened again on big speakers and had a similar experience. Finally, I listened through my fancy earbuds and I absolutely loved it. The whole album, but especially this song. I’ll encourage you to skip steps one and two, go directly to your good earbuds. I’ll also encourage you to play it really loudly on big speakers, but I really think you should hear it on good earbuds first.

The album came out in January, and since I missed the boat on it, I’ve been making up for lost time by playing it a lot today.

Speaking of which, you can buy the album from the Fortuna Pop! web store here. You can also pre-order Veneer via Kanine here.


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