08.08.13 — “(I Don’t Mean To) Wonder” by Black Hearted Brother

Black Hearted Brother

If you only listen to one song today, make it “(I Don’t Mean To) Wonder” by Black Hearted Boy (2013, from the forthcoming debut album Stars are Our Home).

Black Hearted Boy is a space rock trio from the UK who are set to release their debut album Stars are Our Home on October 22 via Slumberland Records. The band is comprised of Neil Halstead (of Mojave 3 and Slowdive), Mark Van Hoen (Seefeel) and Nick Holton. If you’ve ever been around here before, you know that I’m a pretty huge fan of the things that Halstead has touched in the past.

I had no idea that this project was happening, but I got something in the mailbag about it yesterday. Actually, before I even opened the email about this song, I was already listening to it via my soundcloud feed, and it stopped me in my tracks. I thought “Wow, this is good! What is this?”, and to my very pleasant surprise, it turned out to be a Neil Halstead vehicle. With Mojave 3, Halstead was veering away from the shoegaze/dream-pop thing, and with his solo stuff, he had left all of it behind for a folk/country sound. This song suggests that he’s back to his shoegaze-y, dream-poppy Slowdive roots.

Halstead has described the band and the album like so:

a lot of very long and indulgent space rawk. The idea was to just make a record that was in some ways ‘unedited.’ To not worry about a particular sound or style, but to just go with the flow. We all make quite focused records individually so, as Mark says, it’s our ‘guilty pleasures’ album.

“(I Don’t Mean To) Wonder” by Black Hearted Brother

That drop at 0:12. Holy cow, that drop. That’s what shoegaze is all about right there. The first section of the song is so very Souvlaki. Then, for a short bit starting at 1:22, it takes on a Pygmalian sound. Atmospheric, sort of electronic, piano-and-vox on heavy delay. As much as I love Slowdive, I’ve always had a hard time sinking my teeth into Pygmalian. I appreciate it, but it’s not an every-day type of listen the way that Souvlaki still is, twenty years after its release. And poor, poor Just For a Day. It’s a very good album, but it sits in the dark shadows of its towering successor Souvlaki. Have I ever mentioned that I really, REALLY like Souvlaki? I don’t think I have.
After the bit that sounds like Pygmalian, it gets back into the heavily fuzzy stuff at 1:55 and carries on like that for the rest of the song.

Even though there are those other two guys in the band, and they’re certainly bringing their own stuff to the table, for me, this is all about Neil Halstead. Hearing this amazing song, which harkens back to Slowdive in so many ways, I can’t help but think of how sad it is that Slowdive will never reform. As fantastic as it would be, Rachel Goswell‘s personal health concerns preclude her from being near loud music, and her need to care for her special needs son sort of preclude her from the rest of it. Just to bring you back up to speed: she has suffered significant and permanent hearing loss in her left ear, and has daily struggles with tinnitus. Her son has CHARGE syndrome. She’s done with being in a band, but she swears that she’s got another solo record in her. We’re really hoping that it comes out some day.

Today’s song is the first song from Stars are Our Home, and if the rest of it is anything like this, it’ll have a very good chance at ending up in my year-end top ten. It’s been a stellar year so far, and there’s still a bunch of good stuff due out this summer. Autumn is already shaping up to be pretty good, especially with this one and the long-awaited new one from Throwing Muses.

No pre-sale details have emerged yet, but you can bet that they will pretty soon. And when they do, you’ll know.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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