08.02.2015 — “One More Time” by Cape Snow

Cape Snow

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “One More Time” by Cape Snow (2015, from the album Cape Snow).

Cape Snow is a dream-folk quintet with members on opposite ends of the United States. Bree Scanlon (vocals) and her husband Sean live in Los Angeles while multi-instrumentalists Guy Capecelatro III, Marc McElroy, and Dylan Metrano live in New Hampshire and Maine. The three New Englanders have been in the collective Tiger Saw for a long time. The short version of the story is that 14 years ago, Scanlon, Scanlon and Metrano played one show at a bar in Boston while Tiger Saw was trying to get things going. The show went well, and they wanted to keep playing together. They wrote some stuff, but never recorded anything. Scanlon and Scanlon moved to Los Angeles, and that put a damper on things. A few years ago, Metrano and Bree Scanlon renewed their efforts to collaborate, and in the end, Cape Snow was the final product. There are five “official” members plus a lot of other contributing members.

The self-titled debut album just came out on Friday via Burst & Bloom Records, and I’ve been getting a lot of emails about it. All of the emails and most of the press about this band mention Mojave 3 and Mazzy Star as reference Points. Not really because of the music, but because Scanlon’s voice is a bit reminiscent of Hope Sandoval or Rachel Goswell. I’m reminded more of Rachel’s solo record than any Mojave 3 record. Others reference the voice of Margo Timmins from The Cowboy Junkies. I’m not so sure about that one. Whatever you want to use as a signpost, there’s something very familiar and very comforting about Scanlon’s voice. And while they’re not blazing any new dream-folk ground, they’re doing what they do really well.

“One More Time” by Cape Snow

You can purchase a digital download or order a CD of Cape Snow via the Burst & Bloom bandcamp page here.

07.31.2015 — “I Will Run From You” by Cemeteries

Kyle Reigle (Cemeteries)

If you only listen to one song today, make it “I Will Run From You” by Cemeteries (2015, from the album Barrow).

Cemeteries is an ambient/slowcore/dream pop/experimental band from Portland, Oregon. For the most part, it’s the solo project of Buffalo native Kyle Reigle, and Barrow is the third full-length album he’s released under the Cemeteries moniker. When he performs, he brings along his “band”, which consists of his best friend — multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Ioviero (who records his own records as Seismograph, and Kate Davis, who is a musician, photographer, and the founder of the Portland-based boutique label Track And Field Records.

The new album just came out this week, but I had never heard of this project until late last night. I happened upon the album while I was doing some of my routine research on new and upcoming releases, and without even reading a description of it, I was drawn in by the cover art. My understanding is that the cover photo and all of the songs were inspired by the vacations that Reigle’s family would take every summer on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. He was also inspired by the films of John Carpenter. Specifically, The Fog. That movie, incidentally, was Janet Leigh’s last feature film, and one of two films in which she played a starring role alongside her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis.

Although the album didn’t grab me right away, as I gave it a close listen, it really impressed me and grew on me as the record played on. It’s dark, gloomy, and a bit like a spooky dream, but it’s also really beautiful. Although most of the songs have clean gaps between them, I’m guessing that the record was crafted to be listened to in one sitting without outside distractions. Tonight’s song actually bleeds right into the album’s next song, but it still stands alone just fine.

“I Will Run From You” by Cemetaries

There’s something about the intro to this song that reminds me of the Venice-by way of Oakland dream pop/goth/post-punk recording project The Soft Moon. Specifically, this reminds me of the song “When It’s Over” (2010, from the album The Soft Moon. I wrote about that song three years ago here. I wouldn’t say that the songs sound very much alike, but there’s something about the texture and the overall sound and feel that made me instantly recall that Soft Moon song.

The album was co-released by Snowbeast Records (which is owned by Reigle and Ioviero) and Track And Field Records (which is owned by Davis). You can buy a digital download for $1 (or more) here. Each label has produced a limited run of cassettes, and each label has produced a limited run of exclusive vinyl. Snowbeast has “Fog Grey” vinyl, which you can buy here, while Track and Field has “Lake Green”, which you can buy here.
Both labels are indicating that there was a delay on the manufacturing side of things, and the records aren’t available at the moment. Accordingly, neither label has a photo of the specially coloured vinyl.

07.30.2015 — “Rodney King (Song For Lenny Bruce)” by The Boo Radleys

The Boo Radleys

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Rodney King (Song for Lenny Bruce)” by The Boo Radleys (1993, from the album Giant Steps).

This song has been running through my head for about two days,and it’s been a long time since I’ve written about anything from the 1990s, so I’m doing something a little different tonight.

The Boo Radleys was an alternative rock band from a small town in northwestern England. Obviously, they took their name from the character in To Kill a Mockingbird and the title of this album from the John Coltrane album of the same name. They were active between 1988 and 1999, releasing six albums in that span. They started their career as a shoegaze/psychedelic band, but by the end of their career, they did what so many other bands did and abandoned their vision for something that sold records: Britpop. I never even heard their last album Kingsize(1998), but a fair portion of their 1996 album C’Mon Kids is straight Britpop. The title track is a fantastic song, but it doesn’t even sound like The Boo Radleys. It sounds exactly like Oasis.

The story I’ve heard a couple of times is that everyone in the band kind of wanted it to end after C’Mon Kids, but nobody took the initiative to start that conversation. They made that last record even though nobody really wanted to. I don’t think they toured in support of that last record. They just released it and pulled the plug. This isn’t about that though.

The band’s shift to Britpop notwithstanding, they’re a band that I really should have been a huge fan of. I’m a massive fan of tonight’s song, but not much else from their oeuvre. There’s a very good reason that I’m a huge fan of this song. Meriel Barham from Pale Saints does the vocals. Most of my favorite Pale Saints songs are the early stuff with Ian Masters doing all of the vocals, but that’s a different story for a different day.

There’s quite a lot of electronic/synthetic stuff going on here, but there’s also some really great shoegazey guitar stuff. And of course Meriel Barham’s angelic voice.

“Rodney King (Song for Lenny Bruce” by The Boo Radleys

Again and again:

Do You know my name
Before you tear me apart?
Do you care who I am?

I don’t think this has anything to do with the Rodney King incident, and I don’t think it has anything to do with Lenny Bruce. The first time through, there’s another vocal track after it, and I’ve never been able to understand what’s going on. For a long time, I thought that those vocals were a backwards loop, but I’m not sure of that anymore. No matter how hard I try (and I don’t have any way to isolate that or run it backwards) I just can’t figure it out. It doesn’t matter, though, because Meriel Barham crushed those 16 words.

07.29.2015 — “Zebra Boy” by Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk

Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Zebra Boy” by Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk (2015, from the EP Kill The Fuzz)

Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk is an indie pop/dream pop/downtempo shoegaze trio from Brooklyn by way of Kansas. They’ve been around since 2005 but I had never heard of them until this morning when I found a different one of their songs in my soundcloud feed. I don’t know anything about them other than that their newest release is a six-song EP Kill The Fuzz, which was released by Fire Talk Records this April.

If I had to make a comparison, I might say that the new EP reminds me a bit of Grizzly Bear. There are lots of little things that bring to mind other bands like Pavement or Broken Social Scene, but I’m sticking with Grizzly Bear for the big picture comparison. Maybe it’s the miles of delay on the vocals. Maybe it’s the fact that there are lots of shoegazey effects on the guitars without all the volume. It’s all of that and maybe something else.

“Zebra Boy” by Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk

I love the way that it sounds like it ought to be really noisy, but it’s not.

BBDDM made 20 copies of the vinyl edition of Kill The Fuzz, and that sold out quickly. They also made cassettes and digital downloads. You can get those via bandcamp here.

07.26.2015 — “Sunday Morning” by BLiNDNESS


If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Sunday Morning” by BLiNDNESS (2015, from the album WRAPPED iN PLASTiC).

BLiNDNESS is an electro-shoegaze trio from London. You probably know their lead guitarist Debbie Smith from her previous stints in Curve, Echobelly, Snowpony (alongside members of Stereolab and My Bloody Valentine), and more recently as a part-time member of SPC ECO with her longtime friend and musical collaborator Dean Garcia. The other two members are Beth Rettig (vocals, programming) and Emma Quick (bass).

They typically present their name in all upper-case except the i. And their album title. And the song titles. I’m not sure what that’s about. They also present their name in the English-speaking Braille visual representation of their name. The Braille “letters” are all in lower-case, though.

In case you’re wondering, that looks like this:

blindness braille

The band got their start in 2008, and they’ve been part of the Saint Marie Records family since last autumn. Add them to a very long list of great artists on that little Texas-based shoegaze-centric label. This is the band’s debut long player, and it was just released this week. There was a limited run of 250 vinyl copies. That, along with CDs and digital downloads are available via the SMR store here

Here’s one of my favorite songs from the album

“Sunday Morning” by BLiNDNESS

I really like Quick’s fuzzy bass on this one, and the relentless snare of the programmed drums. This song isn’t as noisy or as gazey as most of the album, and it’s certainly not as noisy or gazey as any of Smith’s other bands, but there’s just about this that I love. Part of it might have to do with Rettig’s vocals which are kind of crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. Or something like that. In a small way, her voice reminds me of Toni Halliday.

It’s sort of fun that the album’s cover is a shot of the London Eye from the bottom of it. It looks like all of the photos on the inside are also shots of the London Eye (which has, apparently, been recently co-opted by Coca-Cola). I know it’s “just a Ferris Wheel”, but I really would love to ride that thing one day. Separate from that, I think the cover photo is just a really cool picture.

07.22.2015 — “Pale Flower” by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Pale Flower” by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma (2015, from the album A Year With 13 Moons).

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma is an ambient electronic artist and multi-instrumentalist currently residing in Brooklyn. He’s been active for about 20 years, and while most of his work has been as a solo ambient electronic/drone musician, he’s also been in rock bands and has done lots of collaborations. The Texas native lived in San Francisco for a long time, only recently relocating to Brooklyn.

He’ll be playing at this September’s Hopscotch Music Festival in downtown Raleigh. When I started doing my Hopscotch homework, even though I don’t have any of Cantu-Ledesma’s records, I knew a little bit about him because of his celebrated collaboration with Liz Harris (aka Grouper).

Cantu-Ledesma and Harris have a project called Raum. They released an album called The Event of Your Leaving via Glass, House, and the word on the street is that they have a new record in the works. What people really talk about when they talk about the Liz Harris/Jefre Cantu-Ledesma project is a seven hour live performance that they did a few years ago. The piece, entitled “Circular Veil” was designed for listeners to drift in and out of sleep. The audience was provided with cushions, and the musicians sat on the floor the whole time. Lots of tape loops, but lots of live instruments too. They had to constantly manipulate something or other. They actually performed the piece twice. Once in Berlin, and then a shortened four-hour version in Cologne a couple of days later. Harris says that she’s almost always sleep deprived, and that she hadn’t slept for at least a day leading up to the Berlin performance. She says she herself drifted off a few times. The artists and the audience were in a state of half-sleep. It must have been incredible.

That one album Raum did is amazing, and I can’t wait for the new one. I don’t own a single one of Cantu-Ledesma’s solo records, but I’ve heard all of the newest one, which came out in February of this year via Mexican Summer. Although the album is meant to be absorbed as one piece rather than dissected into bit parts, this one has very convenient (and very long) fade-in and fade-out, so it almost stands alone.

“Pale Flower” by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

This is something I could listen to for a few hours on end as I’m going to sleep.

Hopscotch originally had Cantu-Ledesma scheduled to play at Vintage Church on Friday night, the middle night of the two-day/three-night festival. That venue is, well, a church. I saw a couple of things there last year. It’s an awkward, but good place to see something like this. Something happened with the venue, and they won’t be hosting any shows this year. Their events were shifted to The Hive, which is a very narrow, cramped room in an upstairs bar. They have excellent beer selection, but it gets really crowded in there really quickly. The Jefre Cantu-Ledesma set has been rescheduled for Friday night 11:00pm to midnight at The Hive. As far as I can tell, this is not part of a tour. This looks like a one-off show.

You can buy a digital download of A Year With 13 Moons from Mexican Summer via bandcamp here. Or you can buy a physical copy here.

Hopscotch opens seven weeks from tomorrow. You can see the lineup here, the grid schedule here, and all of the ticketing options here.

07.20.2015 — “Sparks” by Beach House

Beach House

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Sparks” by Beach House (2015, from the forthcoming album Depression Cherry).

Beach House is the Baltimore dream-pop duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. They formed in 2004, and have been one of the biggest stars of indie rock and college radio ever since then. Their 2012 album Bloom was an overwhelming success, making nearly everybody’s year-end list. It was my fifth favorite album of that year. As successful as that album was, it was also a bit of a departure from the roots, the original vision of Beach House. That album featured a lot of live drums, and some elaborate structure. This is opposed to the other albums which stuck to the original model of Legrand on vocals/keys and Scally on guitars/bass pedal/keys, with programmed drums and other samples. On the new album, they return to their original form and keep it really simple.

Depression Cherry comes out on August 28 via Sub Pop, and in advance of it, the label premiered today’s song a few weeks ago.

I’ve managed to listen to the entire album a few times, and I think it’s fantastic. Not only a return to their true form, but it’s also reminiscent of some of the second tier of the 1990s 4AD roster. On today’s song, I’m specifically reminded of His Name Is Alive, and their 1993 album Mouth By Mouth. Without, of course, the extreme weirdness of HNIA. Dream-gazey goodness with live guitars and a bit of programming. Legrand’s vocals make something that’s already pretty dreamy, and pushes it over the top.

Today’s song is a pretty good example of what you should expect from Depression Cherry

“Sparks” by Beach House

After the intro, when it gets right into the warm synths, the squealing guitar, and the programmed drums, that’s the part that makes me think of HNIA. Very specifically, I’m thinking of the song “Can’t Go Wrong Without You”. The rest of the song gets away from that, and it goes in a really terrific direction.

If you pre-order Depression Cherry via bandcamp here, you’ll get an instant download of today’s song, and the rest of the album on August 28. Also consider buying this on vinyl from Subpop here. While supplies last, people who pre-order vinyl will get the limited edition clear vinyl.

You can also catch Beach House on tour starting in August. Their last show of the US tour will be about 30 minutes from my house, then they’ll head to the UK and Europe for a month, then they’ll play four nights in a row at LA’s Fonda Theater and three nights in a row at San Francisco’s Filmore.


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