Label Focus – Spirit Goth

Sometimes you find a record label that just produces album after album you love to bits. I’d like to pause to shout these heroes out from time to time.

To kick us off let’s look at US label Spirit Goth, created in 2016 by Castlebeat main man Josh Hwang, he’s has been championing smaller acts and bringing them to a wider audience. No mean feat when writing, recording and releasing your own music at the same time.

Spirit Goth have number of cool things going on worth pointing out. Firstly, they run a cassette tape subscription service called Cassette Club! Each month, they will mail you out limited-edition cassettes featuring an artist in the lo-fi indie rock genre! Secondly, they operate a digital release only, net label called BIRTH-D-I-Y. On there you will find a wealth of amazing music to peruse. Lastly there is the label itself, currently on release 41. A most impressive output for such a small label.

So, who can you expect to hear on Spirit Goth? Let’s dive in and have look at some of the artists currently with the label.

Sea Lemon

Fresh to the label is Seattle based bedroom pop artist Sea Lemon. This is the new solo project of 26-year-old songwriter Natalie Lew. Sonically inspired by the lush dreamy atmosphere of Alvvays and Chromatics and the bittersweet glittery vibes of The Beach Boys and Rilo Kiley, Natalie’s songwriting and sound is all about being both present in the moment while never fully letting go of nostalgia, and her experiences growing up as a 4th-generation-Asian woman. Check out her latest track, ‘Sunday’.

Cathedral Bells

Cathedral Bells is Matthew Messore’s shoegaze/dream pop project based out of Cassadaga, Florida. He deals in a gloriously dark edged brand of that bedroom synthpop sound that Spirit Goth do so well. The parallels to Castlebeat are undeniable, but this isn’t a carbon copy act. Far from it. They merely inhabit that same space. His 2021 album Ether is an absolute triumph and warrants your immediate attention. Check out the single ‘Dark Aura’.

Hause Plants

Hailing from Lisbon in Portugal, DIY bedroom pop artist Guilherme Correia writes and records as Hause Plants. Ranging from themes like social anxiety, careless coming-of-age and nights out in a big city, Hause Plants’ songs are bedroom pop in their essence, but are meant to be heard and played live, combining the urgency and vitality of 80’s post-punk with the ethereal landscapes of dream pop and shoegaze. Check out the track “Visual Diaries” featured on his Film For Color Photos EP.

Kekko

Kekko is the psychedelic lovechild of cosmic duo Tim and Cherie Kekko. These guys make the most beguiling, other worldly music. Definitely blazing their own trail their music defies pigeon holing. It’s got elements of psych but also space pop and then again, it’s also got a lo-fi aesthetic. Their Dreaming Life EP is an absolute joy to behold. A trip from start to finish. Check out my favourite track ‘Within You’.

CASTLEBEAT

We simply can’t talk about Spirit Goth without mention of Hwang’s own project Castlebeat. Now on album number three he has laid the path for so many others to follow. His self-titled debut was recorded at home in his garage yet has the production values of any high-end studio recording. That first album is a regular on my turntable. There is not one bad track on it. Then came the follow up VHS in 2018. Josh himself considers this a direct continuation of his debut. For me it is a shade darker and denser in production but just as engaging and enjoyable. On Melodrama, his third outing, Hwang broadens his musical palette. Drawing from his dream pop roots he reaches out into synthwave, hip hop, jangle pop and more whilst maintaining his lo-fi credentials by continuing to record at home. Check out new track ‘Racing’ for a flavour of where he is going next.

There are many more artists for you to explore and enjoy on the Spirit Goth website and Bandcamp page. Don’t forget to check out Birthdiy on Bandcamp too.

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