If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Red Shift” by The Emerald Down (2001, from the album Scream the Sound).
The Emerald Down is a shoegaze band from the Seattle area. They formed in 1995 in Olympia, Washington. Founding frontwoman Rebecca Basye (vocals/guitar) was playing as The Emerald Down with two other band members. At a show one night, some guys from the audience asked her to join their band, but she doubled their request by telling them that they should join her band. Jason Markin (drums) took her up on that offer, and they have been the core of The Emerald Down ever since. They put out one album — Scream the Sound — in 2001 and a couple of EPs. At some point, they moved to Columbus, Ohio and changed the lineup a bit with Basye and Markin as the mainstays.
Although that debut album was well-received, they were on the wrong side of the Atlantic as far as shoegaze was concerned. They were also a few years too late as far as shoegaze was concerned. The album was, unfortunately, quickly forgotten. I had actually never heard of the band or the album until very recently.
The band decided to take an extended hiatus in 1993. At some point during this hiatus, Basye was diagnosed with breast cancer. Understandably, she shifted her focus from making music to staying alive. She’s now living in Germany and has gotten back into the fray.
It was announced earlier this year that Saint Marie Records was going to reissue Scream the Sound on CD and that they would also release it on vinyl for the first time. Check out those details here.
It was also recently announced that Basye and Markin have ended the hiatus and have got two new band members. They’ve signed with Wrong Way Records and are scheduled to release a new album called Songs from Saturn next year. You can read a bit about that here. As of now, details are sketchy at best, but they say they’ll release a single called “Lucas” very soon. This isn’t about that.
As I said, I didn’t even know about The Emerald Down until very recently when I stumbled upon them by way of a conversation in the comments of a friend’s Facebook post about how it’s easier for people in their 20s to discover new music than it is for people in their 30s and 40s. A click here and a click there, and I ended up on the Soundcloud page for The Emerald Down. This song, which I mistook for a “new” song, by a “new” band got me very excited.
“Red Shift” by The Emerald Down
There’s something about the chiming guitars and all the effects that simultaneously reminds me of Blue Bell Knoll-era Cocteaus and Smile-era Ride. Those two reference points don’t really resemble each other, but this song tastes like both of those things. And it’s just the guitars I’m talking about anyway. There’s something in the vocal harmonies that makes me think of some lost Slowdive b-side. In other words, this is ticking a bunch of boxes for me.
The re-relase date of Scream the Sound got delayed a bit, but it should be happening in the extremely near future. For now, you can pre-order here.