Her Vanished Grace is a dream-pop/shoegaze band from The Bronx. Charlie Nieland met a woman named Nancy when they were both working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art way back in 1986. They formed Her Vanished Grace a year later, and got married a year after that. In the early days, the duo was more of a goth-influenced band. After a few years, they became a full four-piece band, and in a discography that’s spanned three decades, they’ve released something like a dozen albums. Their style has changed a little bit from record to record, but they are mostly a shoegaze and dream-pop band. Or as they like to say, “power dream pop”.
I don’t know how in the world this band flew under my radar for the entire time, but I had never heard of them until I heard one of their songs on a soundcloud playlist that was published by my friends from the Canadian/Ukrainian shoegaze/dream-pop duo Ummagma. The song in that playlist is a different song from the same HVG album, and it knocked my socks off right from the drop.
I did a little bit of research and I was (and I can’t emphasize this enough) beside myself that I had never heard of HVG before. There’s a lot of late 80s/early 90s 4AD Records and Creation Records influence being displayed prominently. It may be obvious, and it may sound like a bit of a cliché, but I’m really reminded of late Cocteau Twins mixed with early Ride.
Here’s tonight’s song:
“Fade Away” by Her Vanished Grace
Ohhh. That fantastic wall of guitar sound, and that thick, elegantly simple bass-heavy drum bit. That’s all slowed down shoegazey. All melty and gooey. The vocals are the star of the show, though. Charlie and Nancy Nieland harmonize beautifully, but during the chorus when her vox are much higher in the mix than his, it’s really magical.
Under all of the dreamy vocals and the warm gooey shoegazey stuff, there’s one subtle but brilliant thing about this song. Something that might have been unintentional. At 2:38, there’s just a tiny bit of high pitch feedback in the left channel. Just that little squawk for two seconds. It’s the only time that it happens in the song, so I kind of get the impression that it’s something that was unintentional, and was “left in”, when it could have been cleaned up in the studio. The guitars are so heavily affected, you might miss it the first time you listen to the song, but listen a second and a third and a fifth time, and maybe you’ll love that little beep as much as I do.
Whatever the case may be, I love this song.
I urge you to buy a download of the album via bandcamp here.
For extra credit, you should also watch the official video here: