07.06.2015 — “Sun Kills Moon” by The Florist

The Florist

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Sun Kills Moon” by The Florist (2014, from the album Dark Entries).

The Florist (sometimes stylized as †he Floris†) is a shoegaze four-piece from Tokyo. I don’t know anything about them, and I only know about them because I spend so much time on shoegaze forums and specifically those that focus on Japanese bands.

They released an EP called Middle of Winter in the spring of 2013. That release featured a cover of The Cure’s “Lovesong”. I’ve only heard a snippet of it, and it’s a little different. A year later, they released their debut long-player Dark Entries. I assume that the album title is a nod to the Bauhaus song of the same name, but I can’t really be sure.

The instrumental bits are really amazing, and if I had to lodge a complaint it would be about the liberal usage of autotune on the falsetto vocals. I think there’s also a bunch of chorus on the vocal or some other effect that I’m not wild about, but I still really like the song.

“Sun Kills Moon” by The Florist

I didn’t notice this the first couple of times I listened to the song, but there’s actually a lot about it that reminds me of the fantastic Slowdive song “Alison”. Not the way the vocals sound, but the pacing of them, and the soundscape in at least the first verse. From that I get “Alison” The instrumental bit from 3:07 to 3:24 reminds me of Explosions in The Sky. I wish there was a lot more of that.

Like most music coming out of Japan, it’s pretty expensive if you wanted to get your hands on a physical copy, buy you can get an iTunes copy at normal iTunes pricing. Nothing digital from Amazon, and it’s not available on eMu.

Here’s the video for the song:


07.05.2015 — “Closer” by Elika

Elika

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Closer” by Elika (2015, from the “Girls, Be Serious (part 3)” single).

Elika is an electro/shoegaze band from Brooklyn. The core of the band is the duo of Evagalia Maravelias (vocals, drums, synths, illustration) and Brian Wenckebach (guitars, synths, laptop, production), but they’ve recently added Andrew Kwasny (bass, synths,vocals) Khaya Lou (bass) to become a quartet. Since 2006, they’ve released four full-length albums and some other stuff, with their most recent long-player coming out in 2012. Since then, they’ve spent a lot of time with this “Girls, Be Serious” project. It’s a trilogy of 7″ records that was supposed to be released in the span of one year. The first part was released in November of 2013. Part two came out in August of 2014, and the third part is finally coming out on July 10 via Saint Marie Records.

Everyone knows I’m a huge fan of Saint Marie, the Texas label focused on shoegaze and dream pop. In terms of my year-end list, last year was a very good year for the label, with seven of their albums making my top 41 Albums of 2014 list, including two in the top nine. They’ve got a handful of records coming out later this summer which are already penciled into the list, and the ridiculously good new album by The Cherry Wave is guaranteed a top ten year-end spot. To bring this back in, I’m still hoping for a full album by Elika this year.

In the meantime, the two songs from the forthcoming 7″ record are pretty amazing. The whole “Girls, Be Serious” series is pretty great, and of the six songs, tonight’s song is, by far, my favorite.

“Closer” by Elika

In the verses, I’m reminded of the airy dream pop of The Moon Seven Times. During the choruses, I’m reminded of the blistering electrogaze of SPC ECO. In the middle eight, I’m reminded of something that would have been on a This Mortal Coil record. I like all of those things very much, so I naturally like this very much. And, of course I love the quiet/LOUD/quiet juxtaposition.

The coda kinda knocked me out the first time I heard it. The quick stop with heavy delay on the guitar and vocals creates a nice, slow, warm fade. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the coda in the magnificent “Persephone” by Cocteau Twins.

You can pre-order the “Girls, Be Serious” (Three of Three) single via Saint Marie here. Your choice of 7″ record, MP3, or lossless digital.


07.02.2015 — “Benighted” by Keep Shelly In Athens

Keep Shelly in Athens

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Benighted” by Keep Shelly in Athens (2015, from the forthcoming album Now I’m Ready).

Keep Shelly in Athens is a chillwave/ambient electronic duo from Athens, Greece. The project started in the summer of 2010 as the one-man project of RPR (sometimes stylized as RΠЯ). The band’s name is a pun based on the Athens neighborhood of Kypseli. Within a couple of months, he made friends with a singer named Sarah P, who joined the band as the only other member. With that lineup, they released a few EPs and a 2013 album called At Home. In January of last year, Sarah P left the band to pursue a solo career and was replaced by singer Myrtha. They’re scheduled to release their sophomore album I’m Ready in September of this year.

Keep Shelly in Athens is one of the many bands who I’ve known about for some time, but didn’t really know what they were about. I’ve heard and read people making oblique references to them in discussions of shoegaze, but I had never really heard them until I finally clicked through the soundcloud link in a mailbag submission from a few weeks ago.

“Benighted” by Keep Shelly in Athens

I don’t know how Myrtha’s voice compares to Sarah P’s, but I read that Sarah P was influenced by Tracey Thorn. This song kind of reminds me of Everything But The Girl, so I guess there must be a similarity. I’m thinking mainly of the penultimate EBTG album Walking Wounded (1996). I’m not an expert on the EBTG catalog, as I only have the last three of their 11 albums, but this song reminds me of Walking Wounded. And that’s a very good thing. I wore out my copy of that album and included most of its songs on mixtapes at one time or another.

Sometime in September, the new album will be released via Friends of Friends Records in Los Angeles. Until then, play this song again and again. Play it loud.


06.30.2015 — “Dishwasher” by Westkust

Westkust

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Dishwasher” by Westkust (2015, from the album Last Forever).

Westkust is a shoegaze/noisy dream pop/dreamy noise pop quintet from Gothenburg, Sweden. The band formed in 2010, and went through a bunch of lineup changes in the first year before finally settling on a permanent lineup. Two members of Westkust (bassist Hugo Randuluv and guitar player/co-vocalist Gustav Andersson) are also in the Gothenburg post-punk/noise band Makthaverskan.

They released an EP in 2012, and a 7″ record in 2013. This April, they released their debut full-length Last Forever via Run For Cover Records. The initial pressing of vinyl sold out quickly, and they followed that with another Swedish pressing and a US pressing.

I’ve known about Makthaverskan for some time, and I keep meaning to post something about them, but I only learned about Westkust this morning when I got something in the mailbag about the repress, which will be available from July 10.

There’s something here that reminds me of the poppy, bouncy variety of shoegaze played by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Even from the drop, before Andersson’s vocals come in, it sounds like a TPOBPAH song.

This is one of many songs from the album where Andersson splits vocal duties with Julia Bjernelind. In this case, they go back-and-forth a lot without so much focus on harmonies.

“Dishwasher” by Westkust

This is warm. This is fun. This is the sun on your shoulders. This is the open road. I never say things like this, but this is a fantastic summer anthem. The truth of the matter is that I don’t like summertime very much, but this feels “summery” and it makes me happy. So there.

You can purchase a digital download or a copy of the limited repress of Last Forever in your choice of black/white marbled vinyl or transparent green vinyl via Run For Cover Records


06.29.2015 — “Wyoming” by Heather Woods Broderick

Heather Woods Broderick

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Wyoming” by Heather Woods Broderick (2015, from the forthcoming album Glider).

Heather Woods Broderick is a dream-folk multi-instrumentalist from Portland, Oregon. She released one solo record in 2009 and has a new one —Glider— coming out on July 10 via Western Vinyl. She and her brother Peter are members of the Efterklang touring band, but most people know Heather Woods Broderick as Sharon Van Etten’s backing vocalist and touring band member.

Even before I heard any of the songs, I had high expectations for this album. I haven’t heard the full album yet, but the three songs I have heard are enough for me to know that it’ll meet or exceed expectations. Some advance reviews are mentioning Julee Cruise as a reference point. Comparisons have also been made to Liz Harris from Grouper and also to Liz Fraser from Cocteau Twins. I can’t really argue with either of those. I couldn’t help but be reminded of that marvelous album Everything I Touch Runs Wild by Lori Carson (1997). Dreamy and placid, but not sleep-inducing.

As an aside, that Lori Carson record is really good, but it was almost immediately forgotten by the music press in a huge pile of really amazing records. It was a great year for new releases, and many have survived the test of time. Ok Computer, Homogenic, Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space, Brighten the Corners, Dig Me Out, The Colour and The Shape, Either/Or, Dots and Loops, Young Team, Be Here Now, F# A# ∞, A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular, I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. Those are just the ones that I still listen to regularly. This isn’t about 1997, though.

Like I said, these songs are really peaceful and pretty amazing. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the album when it comes out. If the rest of it is as good as what I’ve heard, Glider might find a place in my year-end top five. For the record, I already have three albums penciled into my year-end top five and more than 70 in my year-end top 50, so it’s a very crowded field. And we’re not even to the year’s half-way point yet.

For now, this is my favorite song from the album:

“Wyoming” by Heather Woods Broderick

I really love the gradual build. Layers on layers of sound and texture, taking the listener to a dizzying height. It very nearly reaches a destructive level, but just at the right moment, the song tops out and brings the listener safely back down. It’s quite a ride. And her vocals. Oh, her beautiful vocals. There’s some delay or some other effect which only add to their haunting charm.

Also, check out this beautiful video for the song, filmed on the Oregon coast. I’m sure there’s some meaning behind the fact that the first two-thirds of the video are in black/white and the last third in color.


06.28.2015 — “Blue Star” by Cattle

Cattle

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Blue Star” by Cattle (2015, from the forthcoming EP Somehow Hear Songs).

Cattle is a shoegaze/dream pop quartet from Tokyo. Loud, fuzzy guitars. Lots of effects. Female vocals. All the good stuff. They haven’t been around very long, and I haven’t been able to learn anything about them. I happened upon their music today while visiting a forum to find something new and shoegazey and Japanese. There’s a bunch of great shoegaze coming out of Japan, and all of Asia really. Unfortunately, most of it is really difficult to lay hands on in this country. A lot of things are released only in Japan on small labels, in limited vinyl runs. Getting stuff shipped from Japan to the US is also expensive. All of this means that it’s prohibitively expensive to get a lot of things here, if not impossible. Fortunately, the forthcoming debut EP by this new band will have digital and physical distribution in the US via Seattle-based Jigsaw Records.

This isn’t the song that sunk its hooks into me, but this is the one that I’m digging the most right now:
“Blue Star” by Cattle

The intro to the song –the first 13 seconds– is a melty, gooey salute to MBV. It’s what happens next, though, that really gets me going. I love the big burst of sound. The sonic wave and undertow. It’s absolutely brilliant. There’s a steady churn that’s deliciously intoxicating.

According to the description provided by the folks at Jigsaw records, the lyrics are in English. I can’t really tell. There’s a line at the end of the song, and if it’s in English, I can’t even begin to make it out, but it happens at 3:03 to 3:07. Within one tiny vocal phrase, her voice goes up and down, and breaks just a tiny bit. I love that. That little bit reminds of something from early 90s US shoegaze, and I can’t quite place it. Again, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that this is a great song from a fantastic debut EP.

This will be out on Wednesday July 8, and you can go ahead and order it now via the Jigsaw Records bandcamp page here.

Oh. Here’s a video of the band performing the song live back in January of this year. Their performance is very rigid and business-like, but it’s still pretty cool to see. I hope they’ve worked their way out of that.


06.27.2015 — “Wallow” by Forsaken Autumn

Forsaken Autumn

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Wallow” by Forsaken Autumn (2015, from an unknown release).

Forsaken Autumn is a shoegaze/dreampop/slowgaze quartet from Shanghai. I know almost nothing about them. They formed in 2011, and almost immediately broke up only to reform a year later. The core of the band is guitarist “Britlululu” and vocalist “Ecke”. From what little I know, it sounds like they started working on an EP last year for release sometime this year. Although today’s song has been around in different incarnations for at least two years, it’s on the new EP.

While I wouldn’t say that Forsaken Autumn “sounds like” Slowdive, I’d say that this is definitely for fans of Slowdive. It’s very dreamy and the guitars are lightly fuzzy. Ecke’s vocals float high in the upper atmosphere. For listeners like me, this is a perfect recipe.

Apart from their Facebook page, and the band members’ twitter feeds, I can’t find much about this band. I found out about them today when I was just letting my soundcloud feed play without paying attention to it. This song definitely caught my attention.

“Wallow” by Forsaken Autumm

After the intro, there’s a little drum fill at 0:22, followed by the fuzzy guitars and gossamer vocals at 0:24. That’s when I fell in love with this song.

I hope I can track down this EP, and I hope there’s more to come from this band.

Here’s a video of the song, from a couple of years ago:


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