Tag Archives: shoegaze

September 21, 2017 — “That’s Not All” by Pia Fraus

Pia Fraus

If you only listen to one song today, make it “That’s Not All” by Pia Fraus (2017, from the forthcoming album Field Ceremony).
Pia Fraus is a shoegaze/dream-pop/indie pop quintet from Tallinn, Estonia. Between 2001 and 2008, they released four proper albums. In a previous feature back in 2012, I wrote

I guess you could say that they’re three parts The Swirlies, one part Yo La Tengo, but with the volume low, the windows open, and the light shining in.

I stand by that assessment.

The band took a long hiatus and shuffled the deck just a little bit. After nine years, they’re ready to release their fifth album —Field Ceremony— on October 16. Actually, it’ll be out on October 13 via Shelflife Records in the United States and October 16 in Europe (SekSound Records) and in Japan (Vinyl-Junkie Recordings). They’ve been releasing singles ahead of the album, but those somehow slipped between the cracks until I got something in the mail bag a couple of weeks ago. I was, of course, pleasantly surprised and excited to read about the new album, and I was totally satisfied when I listened to the promo copy.

The melty, gooey guitar with the tons of effects, their magnificent pop sensibilities and the glorious coed vocals reminded us of why we fell in love with Pia Fraus in the first place: they remind us of a lot of familiar and comfortable things while bringing a lot of their own things to the table.

It’s fair to mention that I was also unaware of this development, but Pia Fraus recently recorded a split 7″ single with Rocketship. Check that out here. Rocketship, incidentally, has new record coming out after an 11-year hiatus. You should check out the new song here.

Back on topic, though, the new tune from Pia Fraus is great, and this is that song:
“That’s Not All” by Pia Fraus

I love that they waste no time getting to the melty, gooey guitar awesomeness. No stick clicks or snare hits to count them in, no jangly acoustic intro. Just the warm, gooey stuff right from the drop. My only complaint (and this is a very minor one) is that I wish they were much louder. The noise that they do bring is glorious, but I wish they would turn their amps to elevens.

There’s also a video, which was directed by the band’s former drummer Joosep Volk:


June 11, 2017 — “New Colors” by Panda Riot

Panda Riot

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “New Colors” by Panda Riot (2017, from the album Infinity Maps).

Panda Riot is a shoegaze/dream pop/noise rock quartet from Chicago. They formed in 2007 in Philadelphia and put out a record as a duo. Years later, they ended up in Chicago with a full lineup. I first learned about them when the band submitted their 2013 album Northern Automatic Music to my mailbag. I immediately fell in love with that album and I eventually named it my #13 album of that year.

I also, almost exactly a year ago, featured the song “Helios (June 20)” while they were working hard on the new album. That new album finally came out on Friday, and it met every high expectation that I had for it. I had the chance to listen to it in its entirety while driving out-of-town on Friday, and I knew that I recognized “Helios”. I thought I had just heard it as an album preview, and I planned and promised to feature it in this post. However, I just discovered that the reason I recognized it was that I had already written about it.

There are a lot of bits in this record and in tonight’s song that remind me of My Bloody Valentine. Specifically, I’m reminded of the latest MBV record m b v. There’s a lot of similar guitar effects and production qualities. There’s a parallel vibe, and the same beautiful noise. And, of course, it has to be said that Rebecca Scott sometimes sounds quite a bit like Bilinda Butcher. While this band definitely wears the MBV influence on their sleeve, they’re not a Valentines rip-off band. They’re definitely doing their own thing.

Here’s tonight’s song:
“New Colors” by Panda Riot

The first 35 seconds are quiet. Dreamy and pretty. When the shoe drops, it’s not an overwhelming tsunami of sound. Rather, it’s a really pleasant wave of noise. While I’ve been known to appreciate deafening “noise for the sake of noise”, this works better here. I like that there’s tons of noise, but you can still hear the difference between the guitar, the other guitar, and the bass. Too often with noise, it sort of all melts together into a big chunk. Like a bag of gummy bears left in the car on a hot summer day.

I also really like that the song ends with an even longer bit of quieter beauty.

You can download the album from Bandcamp
here
. Or Amazon, or whatever place you legally buy and download music. They’ve announced a small tour of seven shows in six cities. It’s like they took the NHL Original Six and replaced Toronto and Montréal with Philadelphia and Milwaukee. No shows down here have been announced yet. I’m still holding out hope.


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.


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