11.27.2015 — “It Happened” by Voices From Deep Below

Voices From Deep Below–Eunoia

If you only listen to one song today, make it “It Happened” by Voices From Deep Below (2015, from the album Eunoia).

Voices From Deep Below is an ambient shoegaze/dream pop recording project. I don’t know who’s in the band, but I know that this is the project of Dale Humphries, who recently moved from London to New York. He released an album called Mountain in 2012, and two albums this year. First, there was Dissolver back in March. Then in October, he released the project’s third album Eunoia.

It’s my understanding that the band’s unusual name is derived from the original working title of an anime film from 2011. The original title was Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, and it was ultimately titled Children Who Chase Lost Voices. I don’t know anything about anime, I’ve never seen the film, and I never will.

Eunoia is a cool word because it uses all the vowels exactly once and only one consonant. I had never heard of this word, so I had to look it up. According to the wikipedia page, it refers to “the goodwill that a public speaker cultivates between himself and his audience”. The term shows up a lot in the writings of Aristotle and is derived from a Greek word meaning “beautiful thinking”. For the record, this word is not an acceptable play in Scrabble, as it is not in the main word sources used to compile the Official Tournament and Club Word List. It’s a sexy vowel dump, but even if it was acceptable, it would be questionable strategy. Even in this hypothetical where I don’t know what the seventh tile on that rack is, I’d get rid of the u and the o and hope to draw to a bingo. Enough about that.

I don’t know anything else about this band. Nothing. I don’t even remember how I came across the album. It sure is good, though.

“It Happened” by Voices From Deep Below

I love the calm, atmospheric, but slightly fuzzy aspect of it. In that way, I’m reminded of Astrobrite, or even the brilliant lovesliescrushing, from which Astrobrite was born.

You can get Eunoia as a free download via Bandcamp here.

11.24.2015 — “Su-Pra” by Cheatahs


If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Su-Pra” by Cheatahs(2015, from the album Mythologies).

Cheatahs is a multi-national indie rock/noise pop quartet based in London. Nathan Hewitt (vocals/guitar) is from Edmonton. James Wignall (vocals/guitars/tapes/keys) is from Leicester. Dean Reid (bass/vocals/keys) is from San Diego. Marc Raue (drums/tapes/keys) is from Dresden. Many years ago, Hewitt and Wignall met each other while they were working in a pub in London. They bonded over a mutual passion for music and Seinfeld, but they didn’t start making music together right away. Years later, they started recording together, and in 2009, they released a series of singles and EPs. In 2014, they released their debut album Cheatahs, and on October 30, 2015, they released their sophomore long player Mythologies via the London-based Wichita Recordings.

The new album is named after a series of essays written by French literary theorist Roland Barthes. While making the new record, they got a lot of inspiration from those essays about semiotics, the work of English television writer Dennis Potter, the Freudian concept of “screen memory” (I have no idea what that is), and being hospitalized whilst on tour.

The band’s debut record was my 41st favorite record of last year, and I also wrote about them back in 2013.

Mythologies is a little bit different stylistically from their previous work, but I still like it a lot.

“Su-Pra” by Cheatahs

Instead of an emphasis on noisy shoegaze. there’s a lot of emphasis on other things. Here, the emphasis is on noisy krautrock, or at least noisy motorik. That’s evidenced throughout this song, but especially in the second half. It’s a little dark and a little dingy, and retro-futuristic. The rest of the album features songs that sound a bit brit-pop, and a bit like college radio in the mid-1990s.

I’m guessing that when they play this song live, they stretch it out to about 14 minutes or so. I’d really love to see that.

You can buy the album via Amazon, or eMu or iTunes. There’s no Bandcamp, and buying from the label isn’t the most cost-effective thing in the world for fans in the US.

11.22.2015 — “Laid” as covered by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart


If you only listen to one cover song today, make it “Laid”, as covered by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (2015, from the “Hell” single). The song was originally done by James, as the title track from their wildly successful 1993 album. That album, the band’s fifth, was their breakthrough album on this side of the Atlantic, largely due to the fact that “Laid” was massive on college radio and on MTV.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart is an indie-pop/noise pop sextet from New York City. They’re commonly refered to as TPOBPAH, or as The Pains. Sextet, quintet. I don’t really know. It changes from time to time. As does their style. On their first two records, they were decidedly noisy, owing their sound to the influence of 90s UK shoegaze. On their 2014 album Days of Abandon, frontman Kip Berman made a very deliberate shift in order to avoid making the same record over and over. Days of Abandon is much poppier, treading into the neighbourhood of jangle-pop, influenced by some of the late 80s and early 90s UK indie pop bands.

For today’s purposes, they’re a sextet. Jen Goma, who is also a star in A Sunny Day in Glasgow is an occasional member of The Pains. She takes the vocal lead on this song, and knocks it out of the park.

Over the years, I’ve heard a bunch of covers of this song. Some have been terrible, and others very good. This is, by far, my favorite. I like the original version very much, but I think I like this even better.

“Laid” as covered by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

I really like that they didn’t …um… mess around with gender roles. It’s just a straight-up cover. They left the “she only comes when she’s on top” line in. And instead of changing the lyric to “Mess around with gender roles, dress me up in men’s clothes”, they kept it true to the original “Mess around with gender roles, dress me up in women’s clothes”. In the end, I think that Tim Booth’s voice may be a bit more expressive in the original, but I still love what Goma and The Pains are doing here. The one change that I really like is that at the very end, where the original closes with Booth wailing out “Laiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiid” a couple of times, Goma goes back to the “Aw, you think you’re so pretty” line to close their version of the song.

Here’s a video of The Pains performing this song

The “Hell” single features the title song, which is an original, plus “Ballad of The Band”, which is a Felt cover, and this. You can get it from Amazon, or eMu, or iTunes. Just get it. It’s great.

11.21.2015 — “My Friend The Scientist” by Dråpe


If you only listen to one song today, make it “My Friend The Scientist” by Dråpe (2015, from the album Relax/Relapse)

Dråpe is an indie pop/dream pop/shoegaze quintet from Oslo. You can pronounce their name “Draw-peh”, and it translates to English as “drop”. I’ve written about this band a couple of times before, and I called their 2013 album Canicular Days my thirteenth favorite album of 2013.

Their sophomore album came out on October 9 via the wonderful Norwegian label Riot Factory.

This time around, it’s a little less gazey and a little more neo-psychedelic. In a lot of spots, I’m reminded of Broadcast, and bands of that ilk. For a while, they had a female singer in Hanne Olsen Solem, but she’s no longer with the band. Ketil Myhre sings and plays guitar, and he sings with a bit of a high voice, bordering on falsetto. It’s a big part of what makes this band so appealing to me.

“My Friend The Scientist”

There’s something about the drumming that also makes me think of St. Etienne. Overall, it’s very European, and very retro-psychedelic. It’s like something that should be in a modern-day French spy film set in 1979.

Separate from that, they made a pretty cool video for the song, using vintage footage (probably from the early 1950s) of US Air Force pilots training for space flight. Here that is:

You can buy Relax/Relapse via Bandcamp here.

11.19.2015 — “The Birds Outside Sang” by Florist


If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “The Birds Outside Sang” by Florist (2016, from the forthcoming album The Birds Outside Sang).

Florist is an indie folk-pop quartet from Brooklyn. They started in Upstate New York a few years ago, but moved to Brooklyn and expanded from a trio to a quartet. I don’t know anything about them, and there’s an absolute dearth of information about them on the interwebs. There are other bands called Florist, and this is certainly not to be confused with any of those, or with the Japanese shoegaze band called The Florist.

This band likes to refer to themselves as a “friendship project”, which makes it sound like their primary focus is being friends with one another, while being a good band is an afterthought. There’s nothing wrong with liking the people you work with, but I think any band will be better suited to think of their band as a job, or as a business that they own.

That said, this band of friends is pretty good. I’ve heard a couple of their songs before, but I balked at writing about them because of the scarcity of information about them. Today, I got something in the mail bag promoting their forthcoming debut album. They released their first EP —Holdly— on October 30 via Double Double Whammy, and their debut long-player is slated for release on January 29 via DDW.

Apparently, the album has a completely different structure on side A to that of side B. Frontwoman Emily Sprague was involved in a bicycle accident in the winter of 2014, and she was left somewhat incapacitated. While she was recovering, she wrote and recorded some stuff that was made by her playing keys with one hand, singing, and “banging on stuff”. That’s side A. The stuff on side B was recorded in single, “live” takes by the full band. Tonight’s song is the first song on side B.

“The Birds Outside Sang” by Florist

Sprague’s voice reminds me a little bit of an unpolished Sharon Van Etten. Like something from Van Etten’s early oeuvre. Or maybe, again, like some early Cat Power. I’m not suggesting that she’ll have the same career trajectory that those two had from humble beginnings to indie darlings to mainstream success. I’m just saying that her voice has some of the sweet but raw qualities that those two had in their early careers. Or at least that’s how I hear it. Certainly, part of the “rawness” in Sprague’s voice is owing to the way they recorded this. I’d love to hear what these kids can do with time in the studio.

You can pre-order the album in your choice of light yellow vinyl, light blue vinyl, CD, or digital download. There are 500 of each vinyl color and 1000 of the CD. Go here for details. As long as you’re in the DDW e-store, you should also get the excellent album by Eskimeaux if you haven’t already done so.

11.18.2015 — “The Ridge” by Sarah Neufeld

Sarah Neufeld

If you only listen to one song today, make it “The Ridge” by Sarah Neufeld (2016, from the forthcoming album The Ridge).

Sarah Neufeld is a violinist and composer working out of Montréal. In 1997, she and the brilliant ambient-electronic/noise/drone musician Tim Hecker moved from Vancouver to Montréal. Although it took a while, she eventually became deeply entrenched in the Montréal/Constellation Records post-rock scene. She was a full-time member of The Arcade Fire for a while, and is still a contributor. She’s also been a member of Belle Orchestre, and The Luyas. In addition, she’s collaborated with Rebecca Foon on albums by Esmerine and Saltland.

In the late aughts, she started to write her own stuff, separate from the work with those numerous projects. She finally released her solo debut Hero Brother in 2013, then an EP called Black Ground last year. Her sophomore album The Ridge will be out in early 2016.

Earlier this year, Neufeld made an astounding album with Colin Stetson (which I featured here, and had a successful tour in support of it. It’s my understanding that she’s going to tour extensively in support of the new album, which is scheduled for release on February 26, 2016 via Paper Bag Records. I just got something in the mailbag about the forthcoming release, and it’s a no-brainer for me to feature it here.

Jeremy Gara from The Arcade Fire plays drums on the new album, and while it’s mostly instrumental, and mostly centered around the violin, Neufeld does sing a bit. From what I’ve heard, it’s more “vocalizing” than “singing”, but whatever it is she’s doing, it’s magical the way her voice plays off the violin.

I’ve only heard one song from the album, and it’s pretty great. This is that song.

“The Ridge” by Sarah Neufeld

I love how it gets crazily busy right smack in the middle of the song, right around 4:10. The drums get a little heavier, and there’s some other musicians in the mix there, but I don’t know any of those details. It’s like organized chaos and beauty together.

If this song is any indication, I’m going to absolutely love the album. From the looks of things, 2016 is going to get off to a roaring start. Especially with albums by Canadian artists. I can’t wait.

11.17.2015 — “Destination of Choice” by Weed Hounds

Weed Hounds — Weed Hounds

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Destination of Choice” by Weed Hounds (2014, from the album Weed Hounds).

Weed Hounds is a pop-punk/shoegaze band from Brooklyn. They got their start on Long Island some time ago, and their self-titled debut album, which was “five years in the making”. The only thing I know about them is that they’re inspired by, and sound a bit like the initial wave of bands on the Slumberland Records roster back in the mid-1990s. Henry’s Dress, Rocketship, Boyracer. Stuff of that ilk.

I don’t know anything about this band. I don’t know their names, or even how many people are in the band. It looks like they released a couple of 7″ records in 2010, and their debut record came out last September via Katorga Works.

“Destination of Choice” by Weedhounds

Indeed. This has “Northern California, 1996” stamped all over it. Of course they are 20 years and 3000 miles away from that, but that’s what this sounds like. From the female lead to the fuzz and wah. From the big cymbal crashes to the quick pace. It’s about noise and it’s about the sun peaking through heavy cloud cover. And I love it.

You can download Weed Hounds for free via the Weed Hounds tumblr here or via the Katorga Works bandcamp page here.


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