The Rosie Varela Project – What Remains

You will undoubtedly know Rosie Varela from her outstanding band Eep. Now she has stepped into the spotlight with her solo album What Remains. A native of El Paso, Texas she has drawn on the musicality and creativity of her band mates and friends to help her realise her vison. Joining her are Ross Ingram, Sebastian Estrada, Serge Carrasco, and Lawrence Brown III from EEP with the addition of Aldo Portillo on guitar and keys.

About the process of creating the songs for What Remains Varela has this to say.

“These are songs that didn’t quite fit the shoegaze genre of EEP and in fact, they weren’t meant to be genre-specific at all. This is a fusion not just of musical influences, but of life experiences.

At its core, The Project is about simplicity – simple song structures that leave room for free studio experimentation and innovation.”

Knowing the calibre of this team’s song writing makes me eager to dive in, so let’s do that now.

We open on the gentle sway to and fro of ‘Louise’. The tender musical backing belying the dark subject matter of a sabotaged relationship. Straight away we are hearing a band at play. Living in the creative moment. The textures and sounds effects around this song are there because the creators understand that sound affects. Everything has a place and purpose.

We segue neatly into ‘Wound’, a heartfelt cry from an America on fire. The rise of the divisive right, the splintering of society, racial abuse, school shootings. This is a deeply affecting song. You can feel the helplessness in Varela’s delivery. The band do a wonderful job of giving that feeling room to express itself in the song. Of ‘Wound’ Varela says

“This is a song about someone who feels helpless, crying out for a miracle to change the fear, and hatred that the narrator is witnessing and experiencing within themselves as they spiral downwards emotionally. The last two lines offer hope as the narrator comes to grips with saving themselves by saying, “give me your hand, I think I can pull you out again.”

‘Night Sky’ blooms on the speakers next. Like a beautiful flower it slowly unfurls and shows us its gorgeous multi-coloured, multi textured form. There are songs you instantly connect with and for me ‘Night Sky’ is one of those songs. We’ve all gazed up at the starry sky in awe and pondered our place in the cosmos. This song perfectly captures that feeling. From the stunning call and response of the verses to the overlapping vocals in the latter sections of the track. We are transported.

Next is the deeply harrowing lyric of ‘What Remains’. This song, the intensely personal exorcism of the emotional damage from childhood sexual abuse, is profoundly moving. You cannot help but feel the hurt and despair of the child. That then turns to rage as you know you cannot help them. The song is quite a sparse arrangement allowing Varela’s vocal performance to deliver the emotional punch that floors you every time. Full credit to the band for their parts here, particularly Brown’s wonderfully beguiling drums.

The sound of the desert is all over ‘Leave Me Alone’. Like a lost Eagles or America track it brings to mind a woman walking out of the desert of a bad relationship into the sun. Again, this genius band take the simplest of structures and add in textures and lovely harmony singing to elevate it to something really quite beautiful.

‘Fault Line’ comes in like a Bond theme. Incredibly cinematic and boy does it get widescreen in scope. This track has a Beatles level recording story involving reverse tracking, learning to play the song backwards and of course, mellotron strings. The song is about being able to spot the red flags around toxic people (mainly men). It’s sung with a steely determination and you can sense this comes from lived experience. As the song heads into its final stretch, it explodes into bloom. Full on psychedelia follows with reverse guitars and Beatle-esque strings like Strawberry Fields Forever. These aren’t the sounds we’re used to hearing from Varela but she owns it. The creativity and sonic dexterity on display could only have come from her heart and head.

‘My Sunshine’ tries to fool us with its subdued, melodic intro. As the vocals kick in, we hit the accelerator and we’re off. There are some glorious musical flourishes on show here. From the various synth tones to the western influenced guitars. It all comes together beautifully to lift the song all the way to the conversation style outro. You just never know what’s coming next and that’s a major strength of this band.

There are so many points on the album where you can identify with the lyrics. None more so I’m sure, than on ‘Foolish Things’.

“He came to me. A wolf in wolf’s clothing. But I couldn’t see. I was naïve. And love makes you do. Foolish things”

Of the song Varela says

“’Foolish Things’ is about that destructive relationship, that crazy love that you can feel for someone that nearly destroys you. I experienced a relationship like that that devastated me to the point of a complete nervous breakdown and a failed attempt to end my life. The abrupt ending of the song reflects the moment in which I cracked.”

The song has a woozy, off kilter theme throughout putting you straight into the writer’s head space. This is a where superb songwriting meets an arranger who knows exactly how to extract the most emotion from each and every note.

The album closes out with the meditative ‘Surrender’. This improvised piece, set against a series of loops and bass, feels like the warm embrace of goodbye, for now.  Certainly not final but the closing of a chapter. It’s the perfect end to this album.

An album of songs this definitely is. You may enjoy dipping in and out to savour your favourite tracks however, if you will accept my counsel, this is an album made to be listened start to finish. It’s an experience and one that rewards repeat listens. Varela bares her soul to us, trusting the listener with her very heart. In doing so she allows us to join her and her band mates, collaborators and friends on a journey of self-discovery. I wonder what you’ll find.

What Remains is released via Hogar Records on 3rd June. You can grab a copy on 180g translucent red vinyl, CD and digital. Head over to Bandcamp or, if you’re in the UK you can grab a physical copy from Plastic Head Megastore.

Follow The Rosie Varela Project here…

Dreamback – Sometimes

UK-based producer/musician Jamie Duddy has been quite prolific of late. You’ll remember I covered his Asleep EP back in January. That was a woozy, dreamy trip of an EP leaning heavily into shoegaze and dreampop. Now he’s back with a new single and a whole new vibe too. I was really keen to hear the results so let’s dive in.

Immediately in the introduction to ‘Sometimes’ you know this is a different type of Dreamback song. Whilst retaining that dreamy drone behind the song the first thing that strikes you is, this is a pop hit! It’s sugary, and addictive and most importantly, it’s an ear worm. It’s also a true duet from start to finish with the vocals of Duddy’s wife, Laura Beth, adding her sparkle to the mix.

There was a feel of latter-day Primitives about the production I really liked. It’s a very summery track, buoyant and uplifting belying the darker subject matter of the song (liars and sunburn).

Make no mistake this is drastic change in direction for Dreamback, but one that has paid off in spades. If Duddy decides that this is the path he’ll be taking Dreamback in I’m sure the Top 40 beckons!

‘Sometimes’ will be out on Friday 20 May over on the Dreamback Bandcamp page.

Follow Dreamback here…….

Perpetual Void – The White Room

Perpetual Void is a shoegaze/dream pop band creating ethereal, emotive soundscapes. Originating from Glasgow, Scotland, the band solely consists of Scottish songwriter and guitarist Graeme Gray. I first encountered Gray back in 2020 when he released his debut single now the lead track on this album. I remember being struck at the time by the ambition shown and was keen to hear more. Two years later here we are with his debut album The White Room. Let’s dive in and see what delights are in store.

As I said the album kicks off with his debut single “The Sea”. It’s a richly textured, reverb-soaked wash of bliss. The programmed drums, reminiscent of Cocteau Twins, sit behind the simply stunning guitars and Graeme’s impassioned vocals. Melancholic yet hopeful, sounds evoke pain and struggle while the lush reverberating guitar invites the listener inwards, leaving them with a sincere sense of optimism.

We next relax into ‘Dream’, aptly named as its warm, inviting soundscape evokes that moment of deep sleep where you dream your most vivid dreams. I would urge you to close your eyes to fully soak this one in.

The second single, ‘Trapped’, follows and brings some gorgeous chiming guitars to the mix. They punctuate Gray’s ambient vocals restlessly. At around the halfway mark we start to hear more layers of sound building to crescendo which crashes like waves on the shore and ebbs away.

‘Icicles’ is a true ambient piece, evoking a frozen landscape, jagged and unforgiving. You can almost feel the wind on your face. Gray is a master at creating moods and pictures using his music.

Speaking of which ‘Everyway’ whilst starting sombre and quiet soon blossoms into this joyous noise. I just got lost in this track and I found myself skipping back and listening a few times to its hypnotic charms.  

‘Climb’ taps into that Slowdive, atmospheric sound. Expansive guitars play off a steady and steadfast drum beat before evolving into the soundtrack for your favourite sci fi movie. The transition is fleeting and we return to the peaceful sound of the intro again. Just a beautiful track.

‘Awaken’ arrives with its joyful sunrise. The guitars feel like the warmth of the sun’s rays on your face. The first rays as you pull back the curtains on a summer’s morning. Gray taps into your imaginations at every turn leaving you with a smile a mile wide.

The wonderfully titled ‘Cloud Paddling’ is the sound of the air. Light and ever moving the track carries us high into the heavens to live among the clouds, if only for a few minutes. This is the very definition of ethereal.

The next track is titled with my favourite word. ‘Hope’ is a warmly subtle tone poem. As it chords slowly cycle Gray introduces more and more heavenly textures. He never loses that relaxing dreamlike quality, just enough to delight your ears.

The album closes out on the epic ‘FND’. Clocking in at nearly ten minutes it’s an adventurous composition, unnerving at times and comforting at others. Surrendering to the journey is the only way. Enjoy its many surprises, twists and turns. What a gloriously heady way to end this collection of ambient odysseys.

If you are looking for music to calm your soul and lift your spirits look no further. In The White Room Perpetual Void have created another world. A world where you are safe and alone but never lonely. A place where you can be yourself and explore your own mind. Gray seems to accomplish this with consummate ease, so what are you waiting for. The White Room is waiting, the doors open.

Head on over to Bandcamp to grab your copy of the album now.

You can follow Perpetual Void here…

Fabriccio De la Mora – Grand Unified Theories

Back in August 2020 when I started Static Sounds Club, the first band I wrote about were Par Ásito who come from Guadalajara, Mexico They combined space rock, post rock, shoegaze and a passion for space exploration into something quite unique for their album Singularity. I love that album to this day and so you imagine how happy I was to hear from Fabriccio De la Mora from the band about his new solo album.

Grand Unified Theories is De la Mora’s first solo effort. Of the album he says…

“These compositions are characterized by the spatial noise extracted from Par Ásito, with conceptual and structural details typical of my interest in astrophysics, the search for the theory of everything and its possible tonal implications.”

Now that’s what you call an intro. Let’s get into this album and see what’s what.

The opener ‘Causal Fermion Systems’ is named for an approach to describe fundamental physics. It’s a pacy and spacey ride through the cosmos. The drums lead the way with a steady pounding whilst a sci-fi keyboard motif picks out the gaps. Soon they are joined by edgy guitars providing a satisfying foil to the drum’s rhythm. The wonderfully off kilter lead guitar line completes the soundscape and we are off and running.  This is exactly what I was hoping to hear.

‘Technicolor Models’ takes the pace and volume way down and presents us with something quite different. It’s a gentle float through the universe observing the sound and listening to the song of suns and stars. A gently picked and muted guitar plays a beautiful lullaby as the various whirrs, bloops and bleeps pass our field of hearing. This is a very relaxing experience and one I will enjoy time and time again.

We are back up to pace for ‘String Theory’. Sounding like the theme tune for a lost sixties sci-fi serial TV programme this track opens with an air of familiarity. Fans of Singularity will adore this one, with its groovy aesthetic and fresh take on space rock. It’s what I’d call a palette cleanser of a track. Really fresh sounding, I can imagine a sea of bodies dancing along to this at live shows.  

At the midway point we are introduced to ‘Little Higgs’. This is a brutalist sound experiment. A heavily compressed guitar struggles to be heard through the sonic void and collapses over its own event horizon.

We head into heavy psyche territory next with ‘M-Theory’. De la Mora’s obsession with physics manifests again, the title a unifying theory in that world. This is a glorious wig out jam that transports us away on the tail of a comet, blasting through the cosmos. I love how nimble the drums are on this track. They really take the opportunity to fill every corner of the song right up until the last note.

We stay in the physics class for ‘Loop Quantum Gravity’. This is a theory that postulates that space and time are composed of finite loops all woven together. The intro has us leaping from loop to loop as the song seeks to find its feet. It isn’t long before we find our way in. Two guitars, one chiming, the other featuring the heaviest, scuzziest fuzz ever play off each other. Meanwhile the drums are off playing the most complex time signature ever, almost like jazz but good. This is such a treat, there’s so much to explore and revisit on this track.

We close out the album with ‘Causal Dynamical Triangulation’. No surprises that this is another approach that attempts to show how the spacetime fabric itself evolves. Another spacey jam with the catchiest riff being played out over his signature interstellar hyperspace soundtrack.

All I can picture when I listen to the music of Fabriccio De la Mora is barrelling through the galaxies in a rocket ship. It’s a real skill to be able to paint such vivid pictures in your listeners imaginations. For De la Mora it appears to occur so very free and easy. That’s something I really admire.

Grand Unified Theories is available now over at Bandcamp and all good streaming sites.

  1. Causal Fermion Systems
  2. Technicolor Models
  3. String Theory
  4. Little Higgs
  5. M-theory
  6. Loop Quantum Gravity
  7. Causal Dynamical Triangulation

You can follow Fabriccio De la Mora here…

Waves Crashing – high / low

This week I was on the hunt for some new tunes when into my inbox dropped Josh Calisti with news of the release of his band’s new maxi single. Hailing from Olympia, Washington Waves Crashing are a post wave / shoegaze quartet featuring the aforementioned Calisti (guitar, vocals), Bryce Albright (drums), Luke Ogden (bass, backing vocals) and Landon Young (lead guitar).

The band have released a number of singles over the last two years to much critical acclaim, my DKFM sister Krissy Vanderwoude has also played them on her show.  So, with that pedigree I just had to dive in.

The high / low maxi single kicks off with the title track. There’s a real Bossanova era Pixies vibe about this track. Off kilter chords with a gentle vocal performance exploding into sublime instrumental passages. It’s a great taster for what’s to come.

‘in my head’ comes in next on a powerful uppercut of an intro. Drums pound while guitars soar and fill your ears with the most stunning soundscapes. I particularly enjoyed the contrast between the chorus and verses.

The single concludes with a reworking of a track from 2020. ‘Capsized (reimagined)’ is a song painted on a big canvas, proper widescreen music. Built on a foundation of a purring fuzzed out guitar the song plays with some glorious textures. Glacial lead guitar, haunting backing vocals, pulsing bass and it all comes together beautifully.

The single high / low is available now over on the groups Bandcamp page. While you’re there check out their extensive back catalogue.

Just Mustard – Mirrors

I have made no secret of the fact I adore Dundalk’s finest musical export, Just Mustard. Out on May 27th Heart Under is the long awaited follow up to their landmark debut album Wednesday. I had reported last month on the stunning teaser single ‘Still’. A dark affair, with massive bass and raging guitars it blew my mind!

Today they have dropped another single from the album. ‘Mirrors’ with its watery, swelling guitar chords showcasing the softer, dreamier side of the band in contrast with the aggressive industrial tones found on ‘Still’.

Guitarist and ‘Mirrors’ co-vocalist David Noonan says of the single: “‘Mirrors’ was one of the final songs to be written for Heart Under, the lyrics and music arrived together in what felt like one moment and we wanted to keep the feeling of one thought or moment constant throughout the song”.

Right now, Heart Under is stacking up to claim album of the year by a country mile.

You can pre-order the album now from the band’s website or your choice of indie retailer.

The band are out on tour throughout 2022. Check out the dates below to see if they are playing near you.

1. 23

2. Still

3. I Am You

4. Seed

5. Blue Chalk

6. Early

7. Sore

8. Mirrors

9. In Shade

10. Rivers

Just Mustard Live 2022

Apr-21 – Washington, D.C. – 9:30 Club *

Apr-22 – Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts *

Apr-23 – Asbury Park, NJ – Wonder Bar *

Apr-25 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club *

Apr-26 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Steel *

Apr-27 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Steel *

Apr-29 – Columbus, OH – The A&R Music Bar *

Apr-30 – Cleveland, OH – The Beachland Ballroom *

May-2 – Montreal, QC – Corona Theatre *

May-3 – Toronto, ON – The Phoenix *

May-5 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrew’s Hall *

May-6 – Chicago, IL – The Vic Theatre *

May-7 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue *

May-9 – Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre *

May-10 – Salt Lake City, UT – Soundwell *

May-12 – Portland, OR – Revolution Hall *

May-13 – Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre *

May-14 – Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo *

May-16 – San Francisco, CA – The Regency Ballroom *

May-18 – Los Angeles, CA – The Regent Theater *

May-27 – Rough Trade East – London, UK (in-store)

May-30 – Resident – Brighton, UK (in-store)

May-31 – Rough Trade – Bristol, UK (in-store)

June 1 – Rough Trade – Nottingham, UK (in-store)

June 2 – Jumbo Records – Leeds, UK (in-store)

June 20 – Banquet @ The Fighting Cocks – Kingston upon Thames, UK (out-store)

Jun-3 – Dublin, Ireland – The Academy

Jun-4 – Dundalk, Ireland – Spirit Store

Jun-8 – Cork, Ireland – Cyprus Avenue

Jun-10 – Berlin, Germany – Tempelhof Sounds Festival

Jun-11 – Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands, Best Kept Secret Festival

Jun-13 – Belfast, Northern Ireland – Limelight

Jun-15 – Limerick City, Ireland – Dolans Warehouse

Jun-16 – Galway, Ireland – Roisin Dubh

Jul 17 – Cologne, Live Music Hall DE*

Jul 18 – Munich, Neue Theaterfabrik DE*

Jul 20 – Berlin, Astra DE*

Jul 21 – Gruenspan, Hamburg DE*

Aug 23 – Longhorn, Stuttgart DE*

Aug 24 – Wiesbaden, Schlachthof DE*

Sept 11 – Ramsgate, Kent, England – Ramsgate Music Hall

Sept 13 – London, England – Village Underground

Sept 14 – Bristol, England – The Exchange

Sept 15 – Brighton, England – Patterns

Sep 16 – Southampton, England – The Loft

Sept 17 – Norwich, England – Voodoo Daddys

Sept 20 – Liverpool, England – Jimmy’s

Sept 21 – Nottingham, England – The Bodega Social Club

Sept 22 – Manchester, England – Band On The Wall

Sept 23 – Glasgow, Scotland – Broadcast

Sept 25 – Leeds, England – Brudenell Social Club

Oct 5 – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso

Oct 6 – Nijmegen, Netherlands – Merleyn

Oct 7 – Utrecht, Netherlands – Ekko

Oct 10 – Munich, Germany – Orangehouse

Oct 11 – Vienna, Austria – Das Werk

Oct 12 – Leipzig, Germany – Moritzbastei

Oct 14 – Berlin, Germany – Privatclub

Oct 15 – Hamburg, Germany – Molotow

Oct 16 – Cologne, Germany – Artheater

Oct 18 – Luxembourg, Luxembourg – Rotondes

Oct 19 – Brussels, Belgium – Botanique

Oct 21 – Paris, France – Hasard Ludique

Oct 23 – Winterthur, Switzerland – Albani Music Club

Oct 25 – Barcelona, Spain – Sidecar

Oct 26 – Madrid, Spain – Wurlitzer Ballroom

Oct 28 – Porto, Portugal – M.ou.co

*w/ Fontaines D.C.

Image – Olaf Grind

Teenage Fanclub – I Left A Light On

Bellshill boys Teenage Fanclub have, arguably, had a tempestuous few years. The departure of songwriting genius and core member Gerry Love, two polarising albums, Norman Blakes marriage coming to an end and all the problems Covid has brought with it, it’s been hard for our boys.

That’s why it was so heartening and uplifting to open my inbox this morning to see the new single ‘I Left A Light On’. Written by Blake during the Endless Arcade mixing session, the band didn’t record it at that time as the album was pretty much finished at that point.

Instead, they returned to the studio to record it recently, and boy I’m glad they did.

Starting like a lost Beatles track on piano the song blossoms gently. It is a very gentle song. You can draw comparisons to the band during their Songs From Northern Britain era. It builds to a warm hug of a ending leaving you wanting more of the same. Thankfully it sounds like this is in plan with Blake being quoted saying “As a band we’ve already started thinking about another new album, this song is the first signpost towards that”.

Grab a brew, sit back and enjoy ‘I Left A Light On’ by Teenage Fanclub.

The Rosie Varela Project – Fault Line

If the name Rosie Varela sounds familiar, you’d be right. Rosie is the primo mover and shaker from Texas based gazers Eep. She’s now launching her debut solo album under the name The Rosie Varela Project. What Remains is up for pre order now over on Bandcamp however we’ll circle back to that in another blog very soon.

Varela has released the single ‘Fault Line’ as a taster of what is on offer. Opening on a simple acoustic guitar and vocal line the song quickly blossoms. Drums beckon in a chiming xylophone and lush complimentary backing vocals.

As the song heads into its final stretch, it explodes into full bloom. Full on psychedelia follows with reverse guitars and Beatle-esque strings like Strawberry Fields Forever.  

These aren’t the sounds we’re used to hearing from Varela but she owns it. The creativity and sonic dexterity on display could only have come from her heart and head. The musicians (and close friends of Varela’s) who play on this track have given us a tease of the magic that’s ahead of us on this album.

I’ll be back with a full breakdown of the album soon (spoiler alert…….it’s amazing). Until then head on over to Bandcamp and get it pre-ordered. While you’re there check out her albums with Eep too.

Here’s the video for the single. Enjoy!

Sun Shines Cold – Temporal Solace EP

I’ve a massive love for the sonic soundscapes of post rock. Imagine my joy when fellow Scots, Sun Shines Cold, dropped their latest EP this month.

Edinburgh based Colan Miles and Brian Jordan have been making music together for a long time now. Their musical partnership has nurtured a musical shorthand that’s evident on the ‘Temporal Solace EP’.

The first piece, ‘Finding Solace’, has all the hallmarks of a great post rock track. The elemental swells and falls. The sweeping six string flourishes, ebbing and flowing. The build, build, build to the wall of fuzzed out sonic ecstasy. There’s an icy uneasiness driving throughout this number keeping the listener on edge and awaiting that release the closing segment brings. It brings to mind being swept out to sea from the calm shore to the crashing waves of the ocean. This is music to lose yourself in.

Moving into the second piece the unease is replaced with a sense of endless space. A journey unending. ‘Temporal Shift’ is built upon the interplay between the pulsing bass and reverb-soaked guitars. There’s a restrained beauty on show here, Miles and Jordan giving the song the delicate touch it needs to keep it driving along. Driving? Maybe that should be floating along, as this piece brings to mind the exploration of the heavens.

The ’Temporal Solace’ EP is without doubt the bands most accomplished tracks to date. A quick dip into their Bandcamp page will attest to how high a compliment that is. Sun Shines Cold create music that excites me. It’s music that captures and holds your attention. I’d love to see a long player from these guys someday. What a sonic journey that would be.

Head on over to the Sun Shines Cold Bandcamp page to download and stream the ‘Temporal Solace EP’ now.

T.G. Shand – Little Sieve

As a big Miniatures fan, I was so happy when lead singer Annemarie Duff returned with her solo project T.G Shand.  Hailing from Ōtautahi New Zealand she is creating some sublime dreampop. Her 2021 singles ‘Lemony’ and ‘Seats’ signalled her as a real contender for Liz Frasers crown.

Now she is back with a new track for 2022. ‘Little Sieve’. It’s beautifully understated. Coming in on a chilled-out shuffle beat it evokes sunsets at the beach with its guitar lick dripping in watery reverb and laid-back vocal delivery. Annemarie’s voice is such a treasure. It’s the magic ingredient that makes this glorious little pot of sunshine fly.

‘Little Sieve’ is available now over on her Bandcamp page along with her other amazing music. If you’re quick you might be able to snag a copy of the single on lathe cut clear vinyl.

Arcade Fire – The Lightning I, II

After a long five years away Arcade Fire return with a new single and the news we’ve all been waiting for. Their latest studio album We will be released on May 6. After the heady disco vibes on Everything Now what would this new music sound like? I was so excited to find out. Like you, I was there at 6pm UK time waiting for the new single ‘Lightning I, II’ to drop. That’s when we found out about the album too. After some frantic pre-ordering I settled down and hit play on the video you see below.

Directed by friend of the band, Emily Kai Bock, the video expresses the feeling of the last two years: trying to make grand plans only to have the storms of life force you to improvise.

Straight out the gate we find an Arcade Fire sounding nostalgic for the sound that built them. The epic swells of the Neon Bible era underpin this opening section. It just feels so good to hear Win and Regine sing together again. It’s at the halfway point when the track double times your heart just explodes. This is why I love Arcade Fire.

It’s so obvious how much love, care and attention has been poured into this song. When Win sings “A Day, a week, a month, a year, every second brings me here” you absolutely feel his longing because you have felt it too. We all have. The last two years have been hellish. The lack of connection, community, belonging. It’s taken its toll on us all.

This appears to be the theme of We. You only have to look at the song titles.

01 Age of Anxiety I
02 Age of Anxiety II (Rabbit Hole)
03 End of the Empire I-IV
04 The Lightning I, II
05 Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)
06 Unconditional II (Race and Religion)
07 We

The albums seven tracks are split into two halves. The first half ‘I’ deals with matters of the self and our personal anxieties. The second half ‘WE’ is about the power of community and what we can achieve together.

That communal spirit has always been Arcade Fires strength. It’s the backbone of their live shows. It’s so good to see them embrace that again and in such a full throated and loving way.

You can pre-order We now on a number of different formats from Arcade Fires link tree here.

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.

Ghost Patterns – Drone Jam / Howl

London based Ghost Patterns return after thrilling us with their stunning debut album Infinite. Not content with delivering one slab of sonic goodness they’re treating us to two singles. For those unfamiliar, Ghost Patterns are a four-piece psyche band who fold in elements of shoegaze and post punk to create their unique sound.

I was instantly smitten by Infinite and its fuzzy technicolour world. I’d draw your attention to tracks like ‘Oracle’ for its Banshees, epic scale delivery. Title track ‘Infinite’ also demands your attention with its hypnotic delivery. If you haven’t got it on your ‘to listen to’ list add it immediately.

It’s on the back of that amazing album that these two new tracks arrive. Let’s kick off with a listen to ‘Drone Jam’. A very literal title as we dive headlong into vortex of swirling guitars and pounding drums. This instrumental delivers new levels of intensity with each section. It certainly keeps the listener on their toes. By the closing section you are fully under their spell. ‘Drone Jam’ is psyche wig out that delivers in spades.

‘Howl’ on the other hand is a driven, vocal track with canyon size reverb and a riff ten feet tall. This band really do deal in widescreen aural treats. There is an early Cure, goth feel to the backing and delivery which when blended with their psyche sound makes for something all of their own.

There is lots to explore in their back catalogue so make sure you head over to their Bandcamp page to grab these singles and their album. If you happen to be in London on March 29, you can catch them live at the Shacklewell Arms in Hackney supporting the awesome Mayflower Madame.

Just Mustard – Still

Excitement reached fever pitch this week at the Static Sounds Clubhouse with the announcement of a new album from Dundalk’s finest, Just Mustard.  Out on May 27th Heart Under is the long awaited follow up to their landmark debut album Wednesday. They had teased us with a sneak peek, back in November last year, with the release of ‘I Am You’. It was a typically genre defying, slow burning lesson in how you can take everyday instruments, like electric guitars, and create a soundscape like no other.

This week they have dropped another single from the album. Whereas ‘I Am You’ slowly built to its awe-inspiring finish ‘Still’ comes in HOT! Katie Ball owns this track with her strongest vocal performance to date. This is dark, dark territory we’re in. The bass looms large like an ogre while the guitars rage against each other. It’s the drums however that surprise the most. Driving the funkiest groove under the whole thing they lift this song to another level. Check the track out for yourself whilst enjoying the amazing promo video.

If this is any indication as to what the rest of the album is going to sound like we are all in for quite a treat.

You can pre-order the album now from the band’s website or your choice of indie retailer. The album also came out as part of the Dinked releases however they’ve now sold out.

https://justmustard.lnk.to/heartunder

Whimsical – Rewind

Two years on from the release of their last album Bright Smiles & Broken Hearts US shoegaze stalwarts Whimsical are back with a new LP and single.

The band, Krissy Vanderwoude (words) and Neil Burkdoll (music), gave us a taster with the single ‘Gravity’ last summer. The album Melt will be released on April 1 via Shelflife Records and Through Love Records. We don’t have to wait to hear the new single ‘Rewind’. Let’s jump in.

The track opens on powerful guitar strums from Burkdoll incorporating a neat false stop to bring in some pulsing electronica. This is something new to the bands sonic arsenal and it really lifts this songs intro. No wonder it was picked to lead out the new album.

Vanderwoude gorgeous, lilting tones sing of a relationship gone awry and her desire to “rewind it to the start”. As always, the sound of her optimistic lyrics claims the gaps in the melody and make the song whole. You can tell these two have a musical telepathy that transcends the physical distance between them.  

This is their first single of the year however March heralds the release of not one but TWO more choice cuts from the album. More news on that nearer the time.

In the meantime, head over to Bandcamp if you are in the US or Through Love Records if you’re closer to Europe to pre-order the new album. For now, here is the video for ‘Rewind’ created by the visual and musical genius that is Andy Jossi.

Keeley – Brave Warrior EP

Ireland has been producing some of the finest acts of the last couple of years, especially in the indie and shoegaze / psych scenes. Dublin based artist Keeley is continuing that fine tradition with her Brave Warrior EP. Originally released last year digitally it has now been pressed to vinyl and is about to be released to the world. She has garnered a lot of attention around this collection of songs from the likes of, BBC Radio 6 DJ, Steve Lamacq, so it’s definitely time for me to give it a spin.

The EP opens with the glam stomper ‘The Glitter and the Glue’. Trading off a killer riff and beefy guitar tone this sets Keeley’s stall out early doors. For the past five years, Keeley has been publishing ‘The Keeley Chronicles’ blog, dedicated to the harrowing and mystifying case of murdered German tourist Inga-Maria Hauser in 1988. The lyrics of the song reflect this, her labour of love, and contrast beautifully with the upbeat, tone of the music.

Continuing that narrative into ‘Last Words’ Keeley looks at the final hours of Hauser’s life. She trades the indie pomp of the opening track for the almost Kraftwerk inspired backing to this song. It’s a travelling song and she has imbued that movement into every moment of the song. It’s utterly engaging and you want to know where it’s going to go next.

‘Never Here, Always There’ pivots the sound of the EP again. Much softer and nurturing, this song wears its heart on its sleeve throughout. On the subject of what this song is about Keeley said “It’s a portrayal of purity belonging to a world that’s gone, and the story of a girl who chased the sun only to face soulless ogres who could not be overcome. But her beautiful defiance and soulful strength of spirit continue to generate limitless light from beyond the boundaries of mortality.” Optimism is such an infectious thing. It’s bursting out of every moment of this song.

The EP closes on the dark and brooding ‘You Never Made It That Far’. A pledge, a heartfelt promise from Keeley to Inga-Maria that she won’t ever be forgotten and her memory will live on. Live on in Keeley’s’ heart, these songs and all who are touched by them. It’s a sparse, electronica led song which blossoms in the choruses. Keeley’s’ Irish lilt comes through more here than any of the other tracks suggesting how close to her heart this song is.

This EP is a beautifully compiled tribute to the life of a beautiful soul. The ease at which each track moves from style to style speaks volumes to the skill of Keeley as a songwriter.

The Brave Warrior EP is available now on Bandcamp digitally or on a very limited edition 10” vinyl.

Dreamback – Asleep

Almost a year ago to the day I was introducing you to the debut album from UK-based producer/musician Jamie Duddy. I was absolutely floored by the joyful experimentation and dreamy aesthetic on show. This is why I’m so happy he has returned for 2022 with a new EP called Asleep. Has that experimentation continued? Let’s get in amongst it and find out.

The EP opens with the woozy ‘Connected’. This track immediately reminded me of Ultra Vivid Scene and Throwing Muses. Two massive favourites of mine. I was sold after the intro alone.

‘zzz’ opens with an eerie voice saying “counting sheep” whilst a psychedelic, swirly, raga dreamscape plays out behind it. This is a hypnotic interlude which takes us further down into Duddy’s imagination.

The centrepiece of the EP ‘Vison Clear’ appears next. Hung on a luscious chord cycle Duddy sings the song title like a mantra. A fuzzed guitar trying to edge its way is constantly held just at bay. Holding this perfect moment, frozen in time.

The lullaby ‘Saturn’ follows lifting us into space. Floating through the starlit expanse, in awe at all that surrounds us. This really is an ‘out there’ track where out there is the most wonderful place.

The EP comes to a close on ‘Wakeful’ as we rise from our slumber. The inclusion of pacier drums on this one whist revisiting the themes and motifs of the EP lead to a most satisfactory conclusion to our dream odyssey.

What Duddy has achieved here is a cohesively themed EP which feels like a trip from start to finish. That’s not something that’s easily achieved and certainly not this early in your recording career. I really hope we continue to see this level of songwriting in his future work.

Asleep is available now over on Dreamback’s Bandcamp page and streaming on all the usual places.

PREMIERE – Go With Strangers – Slow Down, Wild One

After a short hiatus Static Sounds Club returns for 2022.  I’m proud to be bringing you yet another exclusive premiere to kick off this new year.  

I welcome back our old friend, Malaysian multi-instrumentalist Eugene San and his superb musical project, Go With Strangers. I premiered his debut single, ‘Further’, in May last year and I’m so happy to share with you his latest release ‘Slow Down, Wild One’.

This is a driving, powerful track straight out the gate. All amps are set to eleven and we’re treated to the catchiest riff before Sans’ soothing and melodious voice grabs us and takes us on a trip. I particularly love the call and response of the chorus. It makes the riff that more exciting afterwards. This is shoegaze with a heart

When asked about the track Eugene said “‘’Slow Down, Wild One’ speaks from the point-of-view of a larger-than-life entity, or a guardian; watching over a dear one whom they care about. Encouraging them along in their path of life, and assuring them that they’ll find their way.”

The single is accompanied by a stunning video which I’m proud to be premiering on Static Sounds Club. I hope you enjoy it.

‘Slow Down, Wild One’ is available from all usual streaming outlets now.

Thought Bubble – Around

It seems like an age since I heard from our good friends at Dirty Filthy Records. It’s been awful quiet without them around. But what’s this? A new release? Huzzah!!

It’s something a bit different this time. DFR are heading into electronica with English duo Thought Bubble and their new album Around.

Thought Bubble are an alt-electronic duo whose music regularly veers into various noisy skronk fusion pigeonholes. Having spent the last decade or so as members of various psych and spacey fusion bands, on the psychedelic rock festival circuit, keyboardist Chris Cordwell and percussionist Nick Raybould had maintained Thought Bubble as their cherished side project. It’s now time to bring it into the open.

Let’s dive in and see what delights are in store.

The record begins with the ominous and foreboding tones of ‘The Waves’. This is a tune “full of eastern promise” (can any of my readers name that TV advert?) This song has a slouched, downtempo pace, however, that allows room to showcase some stunning rhythmic work alongside some gloriously exotic keyboard textures. It recalls to me the Peace Orchestra album that Peter Kruder put out back in the 90’s. I’m not sure I could pay this track a higher compliment.

The pace picks up on ‘Beatwave’, a krautrock inspired, pedal to the metal freak out. Your attention is demanded right from the get go and is rewarded throughout. Synth strings give way to acid squelches and glitchy synth. Not to mention a cheeky ladies voice popping up from time to time.

There is a nod to Lemon Jelly in the intro to ‘Mobius Trip’. The spoken word intro describing the famous mobius strip being mirrored in the cyclical repetitions of the music. It builds and builds on that foundation, adding guitar and more spoken word making this a truly psychedelic experience.

‘Rat Race’ comes in all anxious and pounding. That feeling is amplified and skewed off on a number of themed tangents. From the tight, fractious percussion to the scattergun synth and samples, this shakes you from the psychedelic stupour of the previous track and slaps you about the face.

Throwing us another curveball is ‘Fluctuate’. This track is beautiful. Its chilled out floaty vibes carry you away and make you feel all warm. Even in the closing section where the tempo drops and the mood gets slightly darker, it still made me smile. A big smile! This is my album highlight!

We close on ‘Devoider’ a spaced out rock jam. This is a cosmic trip amongst the stars. The introduction of a fuzzed out guitar is a welcome new texture to their sonic pallate. It’s wonderful way to close out a much varied and interesting album.

Thought Bubble are clearly fans of the G-Stone and Compost records from the 90’s and they have taken that influence and built something new and unique with it. By playing with tempo and textures they bring us into their world and excite us with each new experience created. This was a very rewarding listen and one I will continue to enjoy.

Around is out now on Dirty Filthy Records!

The Churchill Garden – Grounded

Friends of Static Sounds Club, The Churchill Garden return with their new single ‘Grounded’.

For those new to the band, The Churchill Garden are multi-instrumentalist Andy Jossi and singer / lyricist Krissy Vanderwoude. They create lush, vast soundscapes you can lose yourself in. If you are looking for a great starting point to explore their music, I can heartily recommend their stunning Heart & Soul album. As well as being a fine collection of songs it’s also one of the most sumptuous records I have in my collection.

Let’s talk about the single. ‘Grounded’ opens like a lost Stone Roses track before erupting into the trademark Jossi sound. Chiming guitars trade off against a fuzz driven bass and driving drums. Vanderwoude has a knack of telling a story in a song. Straight from the heart. I think a lot of us could identify with the daydreamer in the song.

There’s something really special about the musical relationship these two have. The bond between the instrumentation and lyrics is so life affirming and buoyant. Real sympatico in action. That for me is the core strength of the band and one they deliver on time and again.

‘Grounded’ is out on September 8th. Check out The Churchill Garden Bandcamp for the single and their back catalogue.