Tag Archives: SOAK

Our favorite albums of 2015 (part 8)

All week long, I’ve been counting down my favorite albums of 2015. I started with a list of 25 honorable mentions, and then got into the countdown. I encourage you to revisit my last seven posts for details on the countdown, which has gone like this:

50)Lower Dens — Escape From Evil
49)Girl Band — Holding Hands With Jamie
48)Creepoid — Cemetery Highrise Slum
47)Thayer Sarrano — Shaky
46)Rachel Grimes — The Clearing
45)Stolen Jars — Kept
44)Hey Anna — Run Koko
43)Speedy Ortiz — Foil Deer
42)Marriages — Salome
41)Haiku Salut — Etch and Etch Deep
40)The Harrow — Silhouettes
39)Casket Girls — The Piano Album
38)Spectres — Dying
37)Eternal Summers — Gold and Stone
36)Esmerine — Lost Voices
35)Diverting Duo — Desire
34)Viet Cong — Viet Cong
33)astrobrite — Deluxer
32)Noveller — Fantastic Planet
31)Godspeed You! Black Emperor — Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
30)Long Beard — Sleepwalker
29)Hamsas XIII — Encompass
28)Westkust — Last Forever
27)Hop Along — Painted Shut
26)Lanterns On The Lake — Beings
25)Violent Mae — Kid
24)The Black Ryder — The Door Behind The Door
23)Moon King — Secret Life
22)The Soft Moon — Deeper
21)Trementina — Almost Reach the Sun
20)Beach House — Thank Your Lucky Stars
19)No Joy — More Faithful
18)Torres — Sprinter
17)Mount Eerie — Sauna
16)Shana Falana — Set Your Lightning Fire Free

Today, we’re counting down from 15 to 11. As always, you can click on the album art to go to where you can buy the album.

Eskimeaux — O.K.

15)Eskimeaux — O.K.
This is the latest in a long list of releases by the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Gabrielle Smith, also known as Eskimeaux. She started using the moniker in 2007 and has released a slew of home-recorded EPs and albums. It’s difficult to put Eskimeaux into a tidy category, especially because each release has a slightly different flavor, but it’s pretty safe to say that it’s mostly indie-folk. There are elements of punk, twee, electronic, dream pop, and other things. However you want to classify it, it’s good stuff, and I’ve played the hell out of it. While the earlier stuff screams DIY, this has much better sound and much better craftsmanship behind it.

Ringo Deathstarr — Pure Mood

14)Ringo Deathstarr — Pure Mood
This is the third album by the shoegaze/noise rock trio from Austin, Texas. Elliott Frazier (guitar/vocals) started the band as a solo project in 2005, and they became a trio when Alex Gehring (bass/vocals) and Dan Coborn (drums) joined in 2008. They quickly became a very big name, and one of the darlings of the genre. Although it’s clear where they got some of their influence, people don’t say “they’re America’s answer to MBV”. They’ve etched their own name very firmly, and they’re the ones who new bands get compared to. They tour a lot, and it seems like they’ve been around longer than they have. If their 2013 EP God’s Dream had been classified as an album, it would have been in the top five of my list that year. This album got tons and tons of play around here, and I almost put it in the top five. The song in this video is really Lush-like, but it’s still got their distinct Ringo sound.

Pinkshinyultrablast — Everything Else Matters

13)Pinkshinyultrablast — Everything Else Matters

This is the long-awaited debut album by the shoegaze/dream pop band from St. Petersburg, Russia. They’ve been around for a few years, and they’ve put out a couple of excellent EPs, but this is their first album. There’s another on the way, scheduled for release in early 2016. They’re certainly influenced by MBV and Ride and stuff of that ilk, but more than anything else, they were inspired by astrobrite. This band is named after the 2005 album by astrobrite, and they say they’ve modeled their sound after the way that album sounds. Particularly the spaces. Make sure you catch astrobrite’s new album, which came in at 33 in my countdown this year. And look for the forthcoming pinkshinyultrablast album to be near the top of my 2016 list. This isn’t the highest ranking debut on my list, but a very good first outing.

SOAK — Before We Forgot How To Dream

12)SOAK — Before We Forgot How To Dream
This is the astonishing debut by 19-year old indie-folk singer/songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson, who comes from Derry, Northern Ireland. She quit school at the age of 16 to pursue a career as a musician, and so far it’s worked out really well. A lot of people compare her to Laura Marling, and that’s totally fine. However, the thing that really sticks with me is the similarity between her voice and that of Victoria Bergman out of The Concretes. I started hearing about SOAK a couple of months before the album came out, and when it finally did, I immediately locked it in to my top 20. If she’s this good at age 19, I can’t wait to see what she does when she’s in her mid-20s. Watch the video below, but also watch her KEXP performance, because it’s freaking brilliant

Thrushes — Exposing Seas

11)Thrushes — Exposing Seas
This is the third album by the Baltimore shoegaze/noise pop quartet. After their 2010 sophomore album Night Falls, they took a hiatus that I thought might be permanent. To my delight, they started to hint at the new album sometime late last year, and as we got into June and July of this year, we heard some of the teasers and previews. The album finally came out on September 18 via New Grenada Records, and I was quite pleased with it. It might not be as upfront with the noise, but I think it’s a much more well-polished record with better peaks and valleys. It’s still got plenty of noise, but somehow I like it better with the juxtaposition of noise with the quiet bits. Yes, they’ve adopted the quiet/loud/quiet thing, and it works beautifully for them. I’m very glad that they’re back.

I’ll be traveling all day tomorrow, and I’ll return on Tuesday with the penultimate chunk of albums.

06.13.2015 — “Sea Creatures” by SOAK

SOAK (Bridie Monds-Watson)

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Sea Creatures” by SOAK (2015, from the album Before We Forget How to Dream).

SOAK is the stage moniker for 19 year-old indie-folk singer/songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson from Derry, Northern Ireland. She’s been performing since the age of 16 and has been turning heads in the UK music scene for some time. Last year, she released two EPs which got her some international acclaim, and early this month, she released her debut long player Before We Forget How to Dream.

Some people compare Monds-Watson to Laura Marling, and a lot of people say that her voice is reminiscent of Victoria Bergman from The Concretes. I can definitely get on board with the latter of those two comparisons. I haven’t yet spent enough time with the SOAK album to get the Laura Marling thing, but the very first time I heard Monds-Watson’s voice, I immediately thought of Victoria Bergman.

The Blud EP from last March features a CHVRCHES remix of the title song, and that’s sort of the thing that got her some notoriety outside the UK. Later, she did a really fantastic cover of the CHVRCHES song “The Mother We Share”. I don’t care for CHVRCHES very much, but that really is a great song. The SOAK version, however, is a lot better. It wasn’t released on anything, but you can hear it here:

As good as that is, it’s not why we’re here. One of my favorite songs from the album is “Sea Creatures”. She’s been performing the song for a long time, and through the magic of YouTube clips, it might be the first SOAK song I ever heard. Either way, it’s a great song from a great album. Unfortunately, there isn’t a soundcloud or bandcamp link for it, but there is an official video:

I love how delicate the whole thing is. Her voice, the arrangement, everything.

For a woman who is barely 19 years old, she’s very mature as a songwriter and performer. She should have a super-bright future ahead of her.

You can get Before We Forget How to Dream from Amazon here.

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