Tag Archives: shoegaze

April 11, 2017 — “Blurred” by Voices from Deep Below

Voices from Deep Below

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Blurred” by Voices from Deep Below (2017, from the album I Want to Stand Where the Sun Himself Shakes with Fear).

Voices From Deep below is a shoegaze/dreampop/post-rock recording project of Dale Humphries. He’s a Londoner who relocated to NYC several years ago and has been recording as Voices from Deep Below since. I wrote about this project once before a couple of years ago here, and since He’s just released the fifth album, here we are again.

On the other records, Humphries did most, if not all, of the work. On this one, there’s a full band credited, but I think we still talk about Humphries and the band interchangeably.

Although I haven’t been writing much lately, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth and I am trying to pay attention to the mailbag. This one came from the mailbag, which is bulging with unread messages and audio files. I’ll get to that some day.

From what I’ve heard, the previous stuff has some ambient edges and I was reminded just a bit of lovesliescrushing and things of that ilk. On this new one, there’s much more noise. Less pillows. More bricks. Also, the other records have songs of “standard” running times. Most are in the five-minute neighbourhood. The new record has just five songs, and they’re all “long”. Today’s song clocks in at 8:48, and it’s the shortest of the lot.

There’s plenty of the aforementioned “noise” and “bricks”, but there’s also some intermittent softness and serenity. It’s not completely devoid of pillows. Although I’m listening on headphones, I’m sure this is fantastic when played loudly through real speakers.

“Blurred” by Voices from Deep Below

I like the vocals, which are provided by Gioia Lea Gerber, and I like some of the Slowdive-esque guitar bits, but I really like the bits that get really loud. All the different layers upon layers of fuzz and heavily affected guitars at 7:01. That’s my favourite part.

As is the case with the other Voices from Deep Below releases, you can download I Want to Stand Where the Sun Himself Shakes with Fear completely free of charge via Bandcamp here.


February 15, 2017 — “Avalyn II” as covered by White Cascade

Just For a Life: An Homage to Slowdive

Just For a Life: An Homage to Slowdive

If you only listen to one cover song tonight, make it “Avalyn II”, as covered by White Cascade (2017, from the compilation tribute album Just For a Life: An Homage to Slowdive). The song was, of course, originally done by Slowdive on their 1990 eponymous debut EP.

White Cascade is a shoegaze trio from Raleigh, North Carolina. I first learned about this band when I saw them open for Ringo Deathstarr in Durham a few years ago, and I’ve written about them a couple of times before (September 6, 2015, and March 14, 2014).

The members of the band are all called Matt, and they are Guess (guitars/vocals/programming), Cash (bass/vocals), and Robbins (drums/engineering). They’ve released a couple of EPs and an album called Endless.

There have been several exciting updates from the Slowdive camp in the last few months. They’re back together. They’re making new music. They’re touring the USA this spring. The most exciting, though, is that they’re playing at my favourite club, which is just a short 40-minute drive from my house. I’ve loved Slowdive passionately for more than 25 years, and their Souvlaki is among my five favourite albums of all time. It’s always been one of my saddest stories that I never got the chance to see them play back in the day. They toured the USA in 1992, 93, and 94, but they never came close enough for me to go. They’ve never played the Cat’s Cradle. When they announced their USA tour dates for 2017, I was saddened to see that they weren’t coming here. However, I was thrilled to find out last Wednesday that they added the Cat’s Cradle to their tour, and I actually found out about it via a Facebook post by White Cascade member Matt Guess. Naturally, I snagged tickets the very second they went on sale and I’ll finally be able to check that one off my bucket list, leaving only MBV on my list of seminal 90s shoegaze bands that I’ve never seen.

Yesterday, The Blog That Celebrates Itself released another in a long line of fantastic tribute albums. The newest one is a tribute to Slowdive, and the first song on the tribute is by White Cascade.

“Avalyn II”, which is a longer and more spacey version of “Avalyn I”, was on Slowdive’s first EP way back in 1990. When the band’s first three EPs were compiled as the Blue Day EP in 1992, “Avalyn II” was oddly left off. The Blue Day EP was a bonus disc in the limited edition of Souvlaki, which I am lucky enough to have a copy of.

I don’t actually have the original of “Avalyn II” in my personal library, but I do know that this is a fantastic, albeit shorter, cover of it. This is that song.

“Avalyn II”, as covered by White Cascade

It’s a little fuzzier and louder than the original version, but overall, it’s pretty faithful. And we like the noise.

I’ve listened to most of the tribute album, and this one is far and away my favourite. To be fair though, there’s plenty of great stuff on there, and there are a few bands I’ve written about before. As is usually the case, there are a few Brazilian bands I’ve never heard of on the comp, and a bunch of bands from all over the globe with varying styles and varying methods of interpretation. It’s all quite good.

You can download a copy of Just For a Life by naming your price at Bandcamp here.

You can see Slowdive’s tour dates on their official web page here. Tickets are still available for the Cat’s Cradle show on May 10 here. I will be a very happy man that night.


January 18, 2017 — “Crashing” by The Cherry Wave

The Cherry Wave — “Crashing”

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Crashing” by The Cherry Wave (2017, from the forthcoming album Shimaru).

The Cherry Wave is a shoegaze/noise rock quartet from Glasgow. They’ve been around for about five years, and we’ve written about them a couple of times. We still know nothing about this band. There are four guys. First names only: Paul (guitar/vocals), Ryan (guitar), Bobby (bass), and Adam (drums). We liked their very noisy 2015 debut album Avalancher a lot. We enjoy their Twitter feed. We know that they really, REALLY dislike the royal family. We know that they’ve played with the magnificent Ringo Deathstarr a bunch of times. That’s it. That’s all we know about The Cherry Wave.

The first record was released in this country via Saint Marie Records, but I don’t think the new one will be. I don’t really know much about the new record. It’s called Shimaru, and it’ll be out on January 23. In case you need to know, “shimaru” translates from Japanese to English as something like “to be closed (locked, shut)”. According to my research, it can also mean “to become sober”.

Although they haven’t announced very many details about the forthcoming album, the band has been all over social media in the last two days promoting the album with video teasers and songs. This is the only song from the new album that I’ve heard, but I really love it.

“Crashing” by The Cherry Wave

Avalancher was blissfully noisy, a sea of feedback and buzz. It had a lot of rough edges, but that was one of the things that we loved about it. This song is much more polished than any of that, and it seems like there’s more focus on melodies than there used to be. There’s definitely more focus on making the vocals cleaner and closer to the front of the mix. There’s still plenty of noise, though. The songs on Avalancher remind me of the MBV kind of noise. This song reminds me more of the Dinosaur Jr kind of noise.

I haven’t seen any pre-order stuff for the new album, but you can download tonight’s song for free via Bandcamp here.


January 13, 2017 — “Star Roving” by Slowdive

Slowdive

Slowdive

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Star Roving” by Slowdive (2017, from a forthcoming release title to come).
Yesterday, shoegaze/dream pop pioneers Slowdive released a new song, their first in 22 years. They turned a bunch of heads and won favour with the fickle British music press with their 1991 debut Just For a Day. I always liked that record very much, but it’s not my favourite of theirs.

In 1993, Slowdive released their seminal Souvlaki, which was initially given mixed reviews by the press. By that time, shoegaze and dream pop had fallen out of fashion because Britpop was the big thing. It didn’t sell as well or chart as well as Just For a Day, but it was one of my top five records of the decade, and in my top 10 of all time. With the passage of time, the same writers who didn’t like it have come round, and now it’s universally revered.

In 1995, the band released a very strange, very experimental album Pygmalion. It’s really spacey and they used a lot of electronics. There’s a lot of quiet bits and a lot of negative space. It was given nice reviews, but it didn’t sell worth a damn, and I never cared for that record. Shortly after the release of the album, the band was dropped by Creation Records, and shortly after that, the band ceased operations.

After the breakup of Slowdive, principal songwriters Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell formed the country-tinged Mojave 3 along with Slowdive drummer Ian McCutcheon. They released five albums, but were never as well-known as Slowdive. In 2006, Goswell announced that she would no longer tour with the band because of a sudden, dramatic loss of hearing in her left ear and lingering issues with tinnitus.

Halstead and Goswell each released solo records and they each collaborated with lots of different people, but for years there was never so much as a whisper of a reunion.

In January of 2014, the band announced that they would reunite, and they played a few festival shows to delighted audiences. They said there would eventually be new material, but we didn’t know when we would get it.

Meanwhile, Halstead was working with a few projects, including Black Hearted Brother. Last year, Goswell joined forces with Stuart Braithwaite out of Mogwai to form Minor Victories. Their self-titled debut record absolutely blew me away. It was my favourite record of the year. (Yes, there will eventually be a year-end list). Hearing loss or not, Goswell toured with Minor Victories, and she played those Slowdive shows. All signs were still pointing to new Slowdive material.

Yesterday, we finally, officially got a new song. This is that song.
“Star Roving” by Slowdive

At this point, we don’t know any details about a forthcoming album, but they’ve certainly suggested that one is on the way.

I like this a lot, and I’m thrilled that they’ve gotten back to the tasty, noisy stuff. In a way, it’s like a perfect medium between the beautiful melodies of Just For a Day and the beautiful noise of Souvlaki. I can’t wait to hear more.


January 10, 2017 — “Tether” by Blushing

Blushing

Blushing

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Tether” by Blushing (2017, from the forthcoming EP Tether).

Blushing is a dream-pop/shoegaze quartet from Austin. They formed in 2015 when Michelle Soto (guitar/vocals) and Christina Carmona (vocals/bass) joined forces, then brought their husbands Jake Soto (drums) and Noe Carmona (guitar/keyboards) into the mix. Their debut EP Tether is coming out this Friday, January 13.

I don’t know any of their backstory other than that Christina Carmona is a classically trained vocalist. I got something in the mailbag yesterday about this, and their list of influences caught my eye: Cocteau Twins, The Sundays, Belly, Beach House, and Real Estate. The truth is that I was already sold before I even heard a note of their music. When I finally did listen, it was just a formality. Yes. I like this.

Tonight’s song is the first song and the title track from the forthcoming EP. This is that song:

“Tether” by Blushing

Indeed I’m reminded quite a bit of Beach House. I don’t hear much of the other bands that they say they’re influenced by, but I hear something that also reminds me a bit of Memoryhouse.

No matter what, I like this a lot.

The song is marked by a lot of dreamy vocals and soft, delicate, gauzy guitar effects, there’s also just a bit of muscular, fuzzy guitar at the very end. I really appreciate that balance.

The EP will be out on January 13. You can pre-order a digital download, compact disc, or cassette tape of the release here. Although I really hate the cassette tape trend that refuses to go away, I have to admit that the packaging on that format is really cool. It’s packed in a VCR-like case.


December 6, 2016 — “Chain of Pink” by Lazy Legs

Lazy Legs

Lazy Legs

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Chain of Pink” by Lazy Legs (2016, from the forthcoming EP Chain of Pink).

Lazy Legs is a shoegaze/ambient trio from Chicago. You may remember that I wrote about their “Lipstick Prick” single last November, ahead of their self-titled debut EP, which came out in January of this year. They also released their first LP —Visiondeath— in July. Frontman Michael Tenzer, who is also occupied with a couple of other bands (Savage Sister, and Eyes Behind the Veil), wasn’t done with 2016, though. The band has released a couple of singles from a forthcoming EP, and everything I’ve heard has been right up my alley.

I haven’t written about anything in quite some time, and as the year winds down, I aim to rectify that. But I have been listening. And I’ve been listening to this a lot. This is that song.

“Chain of Pink” by Lazy Legs

It starts off all lovely and ambient. It’s melty and gooey and warm. Then at 0:43, there’s a big sonic crush. It gets much bigger and much fuzzier and much louder. And we really like that.

As with other Lazy Legs songs, Tenzer’s vocals and Laura Wagner’s vocals sort of blend together like some delicious Australian blend of shiraz and cab that I would have known about in 2001 when I used to drink red wine.

I love the wall of noise. I love the warm fuzz. I love the weight of it all. I also love the way there’s a sudden stop at 3:50, followed by a bit of a delay and fade out. It’s a lovely, and strangely soothing way to end the song. It’s pillowy and soothing at the start and at the end, with a bunch of beautiful noise in the middle. It’s a tried and true recipe for success in my book.

The Chain of Pink EP will be released on December 16 via Tenzer’s own Wild Patterns Records. For now, you can download the “Chain of Pink” single via Bandcamp by naming your price here. Proceeds from all sales will be evenly distributed between Planned Parenthood, The Sierra Club, and the American Civil Liberties Union.


September 21, 2016 — “Red Shift” by The Emerald Down

The Emerald Down

The Emerald Down

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.


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