Tren Go! Sound System / Ornamental – Assessment

Since 2021 arrived I have been patiently waiting for word on the first release of the year from Dirty Filthy Records. After a stellar set of releases in 2020 I was a bit worried they may have peaked in quality. Thankfully, I needn’t have worried.

For their first release of the year Dirty Filthy Records have teamed up with German label Pink Tank Records to release Assessment by Tren Go! Sound System and Ornamental.

Pedro Pestana (Tren Go! Sound System) and Sidney Yendis (Ornamental) join forces to take us on a trip into another dimension.

Tren Go! Sound System is a guitar, loop and effects driven one-man-band. You may know Pestana from 10 000 Russos and Talea Jacta. Yendis has been producing and performing electronic music under his alter ego ′′ Ornamental ′′ since 2013. He is also a member of the psychedelic rock band Burn Pilot.

Assessment kicks of with the title track. All glitchy electronica erupts into a pounding surf rock sonic assault. Instead of visions of Hawaii Five O this song is firmly set in space. I imagine the silver surfer travelling at breakneck speed from galaxy to galaxy. The drums and bass anchor the song whilst the guitar riffs soar. What a start!

Next up is ‘Meio Com Meio Sem’ which Google Translate reliably informs me is Portuguese for ‘Half with Half Without’. After the adrenaline fuelled rush of the opener we are now drifting through the cosmos. This has a real K7 or Compost vibe to it as well as being out there psyche. Its like Kruder and Dorfmeister suddenly discovered a fuzz pedal. Utterly enthralling and chilled to the max.

‘Tuarengue Fever’ further subverts our expectations with tribal drums and a very African vibe. The bass and guitar mirror each other and then split off to build and create their own worlds within the structure the drums provide. Its hypnotic, eerie and further proof that this band are no one trick ponies.

The album closes with some good old fashioned space rock. ‘Space Race (Breaking the Atmosphere)’. This is my favourite track on here and it delivers in spades. It takes all the rhythms and textures from across the album and repurposes them. I particularly enjoyed the trilling guitars at the five-minute mark. Just beautiful and they evoke the moment of entering space perfectly.

Assessment is such a satisfying listen. It never sits around mimicking the previous song. Instead, it constantly explores and evolves as it goes. This is essential listening and a lesson on how to engage a listener and take them on a journey.

Assessment will be released on cream opaque coloured vinyl on 12th March 2021 via Dirty Filthy Records webstore and the Pink Tank Records webstore.

Hadda Be – Another Life

Regular readers will know I have a particular soft spot for the amazing Last Night From Glasgow label. Every year they shine a spotlight on some really amazing talent. One such act that blew my mind was Brighton’s Foundlings. Their self-titled 2019 EP is still a regular spin in my house.

They return to us anew in 2021 ready to release their debut album on an unsuspecting world. They have also decided to rename the band for this next stage in their journey. So was born Hadda Be.

Ahead of the album release we have been gifted a sneak peek through the release of the single ‘Another Life’. Angular indie rock at its finest it’s accompanied with a video filmed at each of the band members’ homes.

This is music designed for a big stage. I can see Hadda Be being the must-see band at future festivals. This song is built for the mosh pit. If this is any indicator then we are in for a treat with the upcoming release of their album also entitled Another Life.

If high energy, guitar driven indie pop is your thing. If you like a killer chorus then you Hadda Be checking this band out.

Another Life will be released by Last Night From Glasgow on 30th April 2021. Pre orders are now available from the label’s webstore.

Strata Florida – Achilles

The record label 4AD has sound tracked most of my life. From bands such as Pixies, Cocteau Twins and Lush I learned there was so much more to music than the dross in the Top 10. It was from this stable that Swallow emerged releasing their landmark album Blow to wide critical acclaim in 1992. I played that album until it wore out my CD player.

Louise Trehy was once half of Swallow. After two exceptional albums together, Swallow broke up in 1994. Trehy walked away from music and left London for a self-sufficient life in rural Wales.

She returned to music after 20 years after meeting Peter Pavli (High Tide, Robert Calvert, Third Ear Band, Annette Peacock) at their local choir. They started to work together and over the next few years released two stunning albums.

In 2019 Mike Mason, the other half of Swallow, and Louise were in contact to sort out publishing permissions for a Swallow sample to be used by The Avalanches for a song to appear on their 2020 album We Will Always Love You. The song never appeared on that album but the relationship between Mike and Louise that had ended back in 1994 was mended.

Mike recorded and produced Strata Florida’s new music at his studio in mid-Wales, and also contributed by playing keyboards and programming the drums.

The two tracks from those sessions are now out in the form of ‘Achilles’ and ‘Ghost’.

‘Achilles’ is a song based around that signature gaze bass sound we all know and love. Louise sings of times ancient and forgotten. Hearing that voice again. Hearing that voice in this song. It’s really very special indeed. The song ebbs and flows and builds to a really satisfying finish. If you aren’t reaching for the play button to listen again, I’ll eat my jumper.

Much like ‘Achilles’ the second track ‘Ghost’ centres around the dancing bassline conjured by Pavli. There something comforting and familiar in his playing style which immediately made me warm to the track. That only compounds when Trehy’s trademark breathy vocals kick in. Love lost and the aftermath is the theme here but, all in all, the feeling you are left with is one of euphoria.

These tracks are available now on the groups Bandcamp in digital format as well as a now sold out, limited-edition box art cassette created by Louise herself.

Dreamback – After Before

I’m a huge post rock fan and find myself wallowing in fifteen-minute-long instrumental tracks and loving every minute. What I really enjoy though is when post rock merges with other genres to create something new and exciting. This is exactly what the debut EP from Staffordshire-based producer/musician Jamie Duddy has achieved with his musical project Dreamback.

Drawing on influences including My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Slowdive, Japanese Breakfast and Tame Impala; Dreamback combines lush, dreamy reverberation, fuzzy distortion and shimmering acoustic guitar to create layered soundscapes. Jamie has been sound tracking his dreams since August 2020 then self-releasing the After Before EP in October 2020.

The EP opens on ‘Before’ a wonderfully light song. It floats along on a picked acoustic theme, echoing Nick Drake in parts. In other parts you feel like you are listening to a lost Massive Attack song. A confident and assured way to open any EP.

‘Daze again utilises that acoustic base to build from. This time however Jamie strikes a marked contrast with a fuzzed-out guitar playing a wonderful glide part. Definitely drawing on his inner Kevin Shields. This song showcases Jamie’s understanding of dynamics and scale in a song. Superb.

After the pair of large open sounding songs, we have just heard, ‘Pressure’ turns the whole EP on a penny. We are now in a claustrophobic, eerie sounding place. Everything sounds distant from the drums to the main guitar line. I loved losing myself in this track.

The EP closes on the aptly titled ‘After’. There is something very final, something that’s says ‘this is the end’ about ‘After’. The layered guitar parts that escalate in the verse sections to the steady and sure-footed drums it’s a beautiful conclusion to this EP.

This is a stunning debut and I cannot wait to hear the upcoming album scheduled for release in Spring this year.

After Before is available now via the Dreamback Bandcamp page.

Last Tourist – Public Service

I have to admit to being a sucker for a cool seven inch single. There’s something about the format that makes the listening experience that bit more personal and immediate. I was absolutely buzzing when I received my copy of Public Service from Leeds based outfit Last Tourist.

Last Tourist conjures the sound of creeping down dark corridors and wandering through deserted spaces, all set to a moody and rhythmic danceable beat.

Drawing firmly from post-punk ideals, this darkwave, shoegaze, synth-infused four piece formed in 2017 and now feature John Wellby (guitar, vocals, programming) and Adam Simpson (synths, programming, backing vocals), Jason Booth (bass guitar, bass synth) and Andrea Parra (drums, backing vocals).

They cite influences by such as Joy Division, Interpol, Suicide, Diiv and The Jesus & Mary Chain.

.This first single is a double A side seven inch featuring the tracks “Public Service / Are We Just Algorithms?” and was released back in November last year.

“Public Service” is a darkly glorious synthwave meets shoegaze blend. Shimmering synths fight with 10-foot-tall guitars for your attention. Powerful bass lines, entwined with moody vocals and rhythmic danceable drums complete this heady concoction.

‘”Are We Just Algorithms?” has all the swagger of early Gary Numan but instead of that cold, robotic feel his work has, here, there is a human heart. The line “at least we’re still alive” has that hopeful counter to the title. The song is driven by the bass and drums sitting beneath wailing guitars and a catchy synth hook.

The single features a hidden track, consisting of an original Commodore 64 BASIC program written by Last Tourist, to accompany the single “Are We Just Algorithms?” A copy of this program file is hidden within the vinyl and cassette versions. Each record also contains a private QR code linking to a demonstration video.

The single is available to buy now, on vinyl or digital, from Bandcamp.

The Churchill Garden – Fade Away

It only seems like minutes since I was writing here about the last single from The Churchill Garden, ‘Reality’. Now here we are with the latest track from the collective mind of Andy Jossi and Krissy Vanderwoude.

Where ‘Reality’ was a real mover. with their latest single, ‘Fade Away’, the pace is more sedate. This slower tempo really plays to both their strengths. Andy has an uncanny ability to convey emotion through the dynamics of his music. As the song progresses we rise and fall, start and stop all leading to a stunning crescendo at the climax of the song.

Krissy, as usual, is pulling her lyrics straight from her heart. Layering heavenly harmonies over a stunning lead vocal. This is the summery hit we all need right now in these cold winter months.

If you haven’t listened to any of The Churchill Gardens previous work I would highly recommend their Heart & Soul album. As well as being an exquisite collection of songs it’s also one of the most beautifully designed records I have in my collection.

‘Fade Away’ is available now, digitally on The Churchill Garden Bandcamp page.

Mystery Rose – Stability

In a strange curve ball for me I received this out and out pop track this week. Normally I tend to lean to the alternative or indie artists however this artist seems to be ploughing a furrow all of her own.

Mystery Rose is a seventeen-year-old artist who has grown up in Los Angeles. Epicentre of the “look at me” culture. Rather than buying into all of that she has decided to eschew it, in favour of letting her music speak for her. Her style is familiar It has the indie pop of Amy McDonald with the acoustic strums and the teenage snarl of Avril Lavigne.

To date she has released five singles and now is back with new single ahead of her album release later this year.

‘Stability’ is a catchy number which will earn her a lot of fans. The tale is familiar. A failed teenage relationship that our singer is reflecting on.

“Lyrically, it’s about relationships. Whether you leave someone or you get left, you still feel vulnerable, like someone took away your stability — not just with them, but for future beaus! Break-ups have a lasting effect on everyone, no matter which side they are on.”

Whilst the songs lyrics have that naivety of youth, the melody is more fleshed out, especially in the chorus. Chiming guitars over a pounding drum beat lend a real credibility which I think an acoustic version of this song would lack.

 Mystery Rose has a great attitude to her music and how it is performed.

 “My interest is really in creating the song. Not so much who sings it, but who listens to it and how that audience is impacted or affected by the poignancy. If other artists use my material, or if ordinary listeners are singing in the mirror, that’s cool for me. I get a kick out of being the creator, not necessarily the only performer. I hope my work is universal in its appeal and that many will want to perform it.”

‘Stability’ is out now and you can access it on your chosen platform here.

White Flowers – Within a Dream EP

After two exquisitely crafted single releases in ‘Night Drive’ and ‘Day by Day’, Preston’s White Flowers return with their new EP Within a Dream. Recorded at home and in the studio back in 2020 during the various lockdowns the songs on the EP explore themes of isolation, dissociation and self-reflection in this troubling time.

White Flowers is made up of Katie Drew and Joey Cobb who together weave the most wonderful soundscapes blending post-punk, goth, dreampop and shoegaze in their own unique way.

The EP kicks off with the title track. It slowly appears, as if from the dark, with Katy’s whispered vocal over a cascading synth. An ominous bassline looms large until the chorus blooms with the most joyous melody. It’s a surefooted opening and retains the White Flowers aesthetic from their previous releases.

‘Blue May’ follows, a more chilled affair. Laid back vocals and reverb-soaked guitar. It has all the intent of a 1950’s ballad couched in the most modern of delivery and production. The swirling outro is pleasantly discombobulating and a great way to finish the song.

Over on Side B we find ‘You Caught Me’ a dynamic and enthralling mix of goth and dreampop. The balance struck between the dark bass and synth parts against Katy’s beautiful voice and the glistening guitar is spot on.

After the three originals which explore the outer edges of post-punk, dreampop and shoegaze in increasingly alien ways comes a beguiling cover version of Mama Cass’s ‘Didn’t Want to Have to Do It’. As with their version of Red House Painters’ ‘Katy Song’ from the Day-by-Day single it provides another example of how defined White Flowers’ aesthetic has become, as they’re effortlessly able to shape the music of others to their own vision.

This gorgeous four song collection is out now via Tough Love. Alongside digital formats, it will be pressed to 12″ transparent vinyl in an edition of 300 which you can order via their Bandcamp page, Tough Love or a selection of indie retailers.

You, Nothing – Reflectie

Italy is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited. There is a fine tradition of world class music emanating from their shores. Continuing that tradition is You, Nothing, an up-and-coming shoegaze/dreampop band based out of Verona. Formed in 2019 the band consists of Gioia Podestà (vocals and guitar); Federico Costanzi (guitar and keyboards); Giulia Cinquetti (bass) and Nicola Poiana (drums and drum machine).

Back in October 2020 the band released their dreamy first single “Waves” and its video which you can check out below.

Their music mainly recalls the shoegaze scene of the early 90s, made up of reverberated and distorted sounds, vocals sometimes ethereal, sometimes punchier with the addition of post-punk rhythms.

Now they are back to release their second single “Reflectie” and a homemade video, edited by the guitarist, filmed and directed by the band. The song is exquisite with Gioia’s voice complementing the chiming guitar and crystalline synth perfectly. The chorus is massive. I can see this playing well in big venues one day. This is a band with ambition and the skill and passion to deliver.

Last summer they recorded their debut album which I can reveal will be called “Lonely // Lovely”. There is no release date set as yet but as soon as I know about it, I’ll be back to give you a track-by-track breakdown.

“Reflectie” is out now via Flippy Dischi and you can access it here.

The Empty Sleeps ‘PANTHERS’

This last year has been a tough one for all of us, for so many reasons. As we headed into 2021 my hope was for another great year of music to help us all escape the stress and chaos of life today. Music to lift us up and envelope us in its warm embrace.

It was with absolute joy that I received the new EP from Australian gazers The Empty Sleeps who are Nic Datson (formerly of No Through Road / Alpha Beta Fox) and Tristan Hennig (formerly of Little Ice Age / Bye Bye Mountain). After stirring up quite the buzz on the international shoegaze scene with their first release ‘Good Place’, this Adelaide two-piece dreamgaze outfit return with ‘PANTHERS’.

As soon as this song begins you immediately exhale and smile. It feels like a wave of joy just washing over you. It almost feels orchestral in places. The guitar riff loops around and each time another layer is added. A guitar lick here, a vocal line there. All adding up to an exultant, joyous four minutes.

The title track is then remixed by Blush Response, Tim Koch, Lone Kite, Deep Sea Data and Dental Jams/Ezroh. What is really interesting is how each remix retains that jubilant heartbeat that drives and powers the song whilst adding their own unique take.  I would draw the listeners ear to the Blush Response remix in particular. It is just stunning.

What a fantastic way to begin the year. ‘PANTHERS’ is being released on CD, download and a limited edition 10” vinyl available now from The Empty Sleeps Bandcamp page.

The Rosie Varela Project – Low

The EEP singer is back with her own solo outing with The Rosie Varela Project. ‘Low’ is the first single from Rosie who says she created this outlet for herself so she could stay productive and sane between her monthly virtual EEP recording sessions. This will also let her record her back catalogue of songs leading to an album in 2022.

The song kicks of with a shimmering wall of guitars supported by pounding drums. Immediately you can tell this is going to be altogether different to her work with EEP.

Dreamy, woozy and overlapping vocal lines keep the listener off balance whilst the crystalline guitars chime over everything like sunlight on a lake. The song climaxes with a sixties style psychedelic jam with Rosie channelling her inner Grace Slick.

‘Low’ will be released February 5th on Rosie’s Bandcamp page. For a sneak peek head over to The Rosie Varela Project Facebook page.

Static Sounds Club Top 10 Albums of 2020

2020 has been the worst year in my living memory, of that there is no doubt. However, it has also been a year of unprecedented musical creativity. This has been the hardest list to compile as the sheer amount of excellent albums that have been released this year has been overwhelming. It has led to me having TWO albums in the number one spot as I couldn’t separate them. I have been really lucky to have reviewed some of these amazing albums this year. If you see an asterisk next to the album name select the picture to read my review in full.

10 – The Homesick – The Big Exercise

This is one curveball of an album. You start off in baroque sixties pop territory, almost Fleet Foxes and by the end of side B it feels like you are front row at an Idles gig! I lose myself in this album every time it goes on!

Key Track – Male Bonding

09/ Kiwi Jr. – Football Money

This one owes a lot to the Pavement sound but my god they do it so well. There isn’t a bad track on here. From the Brighten the Corners vibe of ‘Murder in the Cathedral’ to the Jonathon Richman influenced ‘Leslie’ to ‘Swimming Pool’ which sounds like a lost La’s track this album skips about like a toddler on a litre of Ribena! Utter happy happy joy joy start to finish!

Key Track – Murder in the Cathedral

08/Sweeping Promises – Hunger For A Way Out

This short sharp jolt of pop punk really caught my ears this year. Like a modern day Blondie crossed with The Strokes. From the strident title track to the more laid back ‘Blue’ this album keeps your attention throughout!

Key Track – Hunger For A Way Out

07/ Christian Lee Hutson – Beginners

This is an album of consummate song writing start to finish. The fallibility of the human condition is laid bare in track after track. No punches are pulled and you can’t help but wince from time to time. Behind it all are stunning folk tunes which will stand the test of time from the Paul Simonesque ‘Atheist’ to the confessional duet ‘Keep You Down’.

Key Track – Talk

06/ DEHD – Flower of Devotion*

I discovered this album fairly recently but it has rarely been off the turntable or the car stereo. My intro was the wacky video to the amazing single ‘Loner’. I immediately went and explored the album. All three members of the band turn in lead vocal performances too, which is unusual. The album has that heavy reverb Julee Cruise Twin Peaks thing going on coupled with heartfelt songs packed with interesting hooks and choruses !

Key Track – Loner

05/ EEP – Death of a Great Machine*

I am so so happy for Rosie and the band this year! They have produced one hell of an album and have received all round praise for it from every corner of the Shoegaze community and beyond. This album swept me off my feet in a big way. It’s an incredibly emotional listen which you cannot help but get swept up in. Just listen to ‘Hogar’ or ‘Can’t Keep Hurting’ to see what I mean! I have heard that album number two is being worked on which I am immensely excited about!! Roll on 2021!

Key Track – Hogar

04/ Hum – Inlet

This album, this band even, came right outta left field for me this year!
It was one of those lightbulb moments where you end up going and snagging all the back catalogue !!
The guitars on this are just ….. the definition of HEAVY! But the songs have that amazing balance of melody and mayhem that I like in a band!

Key Track – Desert Rambler

03/ Nothing – The Great Dismal*

I’ve been lucky enough to get early access to a lot of great music this year so I could write blogs on them. Bands and labels have been brill at sending CD’s, vinyl and tracks over early doors to allow me time to properly digest the music to write about it. Nothings people were super generous in giving the album to me a full month prior to release allowing me time to properly soak it up. The album was inspired by the first photo of a black hole and themes of universal collapse but the music on this album is jubilant! Every time I listen I come away elated and wanting to listen again.

Key Track – Famine Asylum

02/ bdrmm – Bedroom

Another album that landed this year with an instant appeal was the debut album from bdrmm. I covered the ‘ Reason to Celebrate’ single earlier in the year and knew from that something special was coming. I wasn’t wrong. This is a stunning debut for any band. Songwriting of the highest calibre coupled with a nailed down shoegaze aesthetic across all the tracks. It was that cohesive, seamless listening experience that has earned this band plaudit after plaudit. If this one has passed you by this year make sure you check it out.

Key Track – A Reason To Celebrate

So now we get to the number one albums for me this year. I judge how good an album is on how much time it spends on my turntable. I just can’t split these two. I adored them both so so much.

01/ Zoon – Bleached Wavves

First time I heard this band was the title track from the album. I couldn’t believe my ears. It literally blew my mind. I scrabbled around trying to think of ways to describe it. The name Zoon derives from the Ojibway word Zoongide’ewin which means “bravery, courage, the Bear Spirit” and aptly describes the inspirations for the project and the lovingly crafted first full-length recording from aboriginal songwriter, Daniel Monkman. In Bleached Wavves Daniel crafted a work of stunning originality, blending the dreamy and psychedelic sounds of shoegaze with the more traditional sounds of his heritage. I have honestly never heard anything like this before and this is only his first album.

Key Track – Bleached Wavves

01/ Laveda – What Happens After*

I first discovered Laveda whilst watching one of DKFM DreamGaze events which brightened our 2020 no end. They performed the song ‘Blue Beach’ and it absolutely floored me. The performance they gave was wholly captivating and the harmony singing was so on point !I chased a copy of the album down hastily and was so happy that Blue Beach wasn’t a fluke. Every track was well crafted, used unique soundscapes and choruses…. man they got choruses !! When you listen to this record it’s hard to believe it’s a debut. Greatness awaits for Jake and Ali (and band). I’ll be waiting patiently for what happens after.

Key Track – Blue Beach

To all my readers, have a wonderful new year when it comes and here’s to a much brighter 2021 for us all.

Fotoform – They Say It’s Always Lonely

Well, it’s the festive season again at the end of the toughest year in my memory. Throughout this year our bands and musicians have been producing some of their best work. I was looking for something suitably festive to post as my Merry Xmas blog when along came Fotoform.

Fotoform hail from Seattle, Washington and have been releasing 80’s and 90’s inspired darkwave since their 2017 self-titled debut. Prior to this they were known as C’est le Mort.

This is the bands first festive track and kicks off in the usual way with the obligatory jingle bells. Then the track unfolds verse by verse. This could be the Xmas song on Stranger Things next season.

The band say the song was “inspired by a patch on a vintage synth we dusted off and written in anticipation of the bittersweet feelings the holidays bring (especially this year), this one comes straight from the heart.”

This song could only have been written in 2020. In a year where we have been forced from our loved ones even though we are so close. Where we have had to isolate, separate, dislocate and extricate ourselves. The heartache and longing is palpable in every note of this song. This should be the Xmas number one the world over.

As if that wasn’t amazing enough, the band will be donating all proceeds through until the end of the year to the University District and West Seattle food banks to help combat food insecurity in their community. A really worthy cause I’m sure you will agree.

So, with Xmas nearly upon us I just wanted to wish all readers of Static Sounds Club a very merry Xmas. I hope you have a wonderful day. Better days for us all are coming soon. I believe that from the bottom of my heart. Thank you all for following the blog in 2020 and helping me get it up and running. I cannot wait to bring you more great music in 2021.

Until then please support Fotoform and the University District and West Seattle food banks by buying the single from Fotoforms Bandcamp page.

The Method One – A Life Obscene

Returning with their latest single is Greenock’s rock supremo’s The Method One. ‘A Life Obscene’ is the latest in a series of tracks the lads have been teasing us with ahead of a much-anticipated album release.

The band formed from the ashes of Glasgow outfit Dresden features Dave Mac (Vocals), Robert McGovern (Guitar), Gary Foley (Guitar), Dodge (Bass), and John McLelland (Drums). The sharper eyed among you will recognise Robert from his days playing alongside Primal Screams Jim Beattie in Spirea X.

The Method One are renowned for their incendiary live shows. It’s great that they pull no punches on record too.

True to form this song comes straight out the gate ten feet tall and taking no prisoners. All pounding drums and wall of sound guitars. The production is expansive bringing to mind the Morning Glory era of Oasis.

There is a nice contrast between some really ominous rhythm guitars and the chiming lead parts. The rumbling rhythm section is solid and, at times, steps front and centre.  I particularly love when that’s happening with the drums.

Singer, Dave Mac, glues it all together with his assured delivery. He is on top form in the latter half of the song especially, as it all comes to a climax.

Putting it all together you have a pretty special track. With an album in the pipeline it won’t be long before The Method One will be playing in arenas. You heard it here first!

‘A Life Obscene’ is out now on iTunes, Amazon music and Bandcamp.

CASTLEBEAT – Melodrama

Dream pop is such a vibrant and vital genre. There is no more vital member of that scene than CASTLEBEAT, the lo-fi project of first gen Spanish-Korean-American Josh Hwang, also founder of the record label Spirit Goth. He has a unique DIY, lo-fi approach to recording. His self-titled debut was recorded at home in his garage yet sounds 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.

Now CASTLEBEAT returns with a new album. On Melodrama Hwang is looking to broaden 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.

The album opens on a slow burning instrumental. ‘Beam’ sets the mood for the album. Straight away you can tell this album is going to different to VHS or his debut. The synth is so well formed and defined. The beats divine, lead us into ‘Summertime’. The first word that comes to mind when describing this song is romantic when in actual fact it’s anything but. The lyrics deal with the break up of a relationship “Taking the time. Keep it together. Feeling inside. How to forget her.” Bleak though the lyrics are, the tune is so warm and lustrous. You can almost visualise the heat haze rising from the sidewalks.

On ‘TI-83’ we are in classic CASTLEBEAT territory. Dreamy and woozy vocals over an synth and drum machine backing. I’m sure I had a TI-83 calculator when I was in school. The reference being to the key lyric “Recalculate my brain. I just don’t think the same. Like I did before”. There is a real high school theme starting to emerge.

As if to confirm my suspicions next up is ‘80’s High School’ featuring the most synth heavy production on the album. Josh was deliberately trying to move away from that guitar centric approach with this album and nowhere else on the album is that more evident than on this song. This is a risky move for him but for me it pays off. I really took to the track on first listen. The song has this easy strut to it. Paced to perfection with glorious vocals.

As if to throw us completely ‘Shoulder’ opens with sound of lo-fi guitar which breaks into a jangly almost Cure sounding riff. The golden tones of Sonia Gadhia do the heavy lifting on the track elevating this song into the clouds. The chorus is ridiculously catchy, I have been whistling it for days now. I can see this getting heavy airtime. Their voices are a perfect match.

More guitar features on ‘Who You Are’ and again a wonderfully simplistic guitar line dominates this track. There is some thing unerringly charming about his choice of guitar parts. None of them fight for your attention within the song. They are there to service the sog and compliment and augment the vocals especially. This new approach to his music is really agreeing with Hwang. I can just imagine him smiling ear to ear whilst performing this one.

‘Next Time’ brings the pace right back down again and we are back in synth heaven. Sounding like it has been recorded using an eighties Casio keyboard it feels really authentic to the decade. Whilst it is undeniably retro there is an unmistakable CASTLEBEAT stamp on show.

Tapping into the Stranger Things fervour has proved successful for a number of modern dream pop acts and on ‘Part’ Hwang throws his hat and heart into the ring. This is widescreen songwriting at its best. The song delivers a cinematic experience start to finish as well as chorus which delivers the deep emotional impact of any of your favourite soundtracks.

‘Worries’ has back on guitar again but not as you’d expect it. The guitar itself is warped out of shape under the weight of multiple effects while a chiming synth taps out a simplistic melody. This song feels like a song The Cardigans would sound great recording.

This takes us into the title track. With ‘Melodrama’ Hwang is seeing just how far he can push the eighties motif. The answer is probably a wee bit too far but the vibe is rescued with a glorious Cure like guitar line which brings us back to the present.

The album closes with Hwang lamenting the ache of long-distance relationships on ‘East Coast’. “Is it any wonder. Why it gets so cold. I’m leaving here without you. I’m on the east coast”. The song reclaims the synth production that worked so well earlier on the album and provides a fitting end to this eighties fuelled odyssey.

Whilst I wouldn’t say this album is as good as his previous works it’s because it stands alone. I love how he has taken risk after risk on this record and I applaud how successful he has been. I will undoubtedly revisit this album again. It has a sunny summer evening feel that will warm up the coming winter nights.

Melodrama is available now via Spirit Goth or from the CASTLEBEAT Bandcamp page.

Psychedelic Trips To Death – The Resistor

It only seems like yesterday we were here discussing the last release from our friends at Dirty Filthy Records, the immense Depopulation from Acid Roulette. Yet here we are with another exciting release in the inbox. This time it comes from Greek psych rockers Psychedelic Trips To Death and their sophomore release The Resistor. The boys at the label have described it as “Beautifully relentless tension. From the metronomic palpitations of the opening bars, through the threat of the vocals to the determined bass lines, this record owes as much to the subcutaneous, frenetic and paranoid soundscape of the 1980’s as it does to modern psychedelia. If dystopian literature was a voice, this would be it.” I don’t know about you but that makes me want to dive right in.

And dive in we do with the title track. ‘The Resistor’ swings from pulsing, tension filled verses into a technicolour explosion of textures and sounds. This is a statement of intent from the band. It’s dark, brutal and gargantuan.

That theme carries into the robotic swagger of ‘Headlock’. Guitars flash like strobes as the bass rumbles like thunder beneath the primal scream of singer Konstantinos Iosifidis. Accompanied by a very clever promo video this track encapsulates everything this album is about. The darkness being pierced by flashes of terrifying light.

The tension is turned up to eleven on the next track ‘Sending Flowers To The Ignorant’. Led by an ascending bassline that teases a resolution and release that only comes in the last minute of this sprawling six-minute epic. This is edge of your seat stuff

‘Burn Your Eyes’ maintains the ominous vibes but this time the addition of an eerie synth line brings an extra sinister dimension. This track brought to mind some of Goodbye Mr Mackenzie’s darkest moments but amplified and twisted almost beyond recognition.

We take our foot off the gas for a moment for the intro to ‘For The Sake Of Our Song’. Thig s get all chaotic soon enough and we descend into the murky depths of the song. Thankfully we are saved by an exultant vocal line and sparkly guitar from Panos Anastasiadis.

The closing track is curiously entitled ‘The Crate’. It could very well soundtrack the darkest horror movie such is its emotive feel and scope. At nearly ten minutes in length it encompasses a number of different musical themes and motifs. Because of this and the ever evolving, shape shifting nature of the track your attention is held rapt.

This is an album of epic proportions. Each track is monumental in its own right. Every member of the band knows the part they play in this and they execute it to perfection. Drop the needle on this one at your own peril. For here there be monsters.

The Resistor is available to buy from Dirty Filthy Records on ‘Reign in Blood Transparent Coloured Vinyl.’ Word to the wise, this one is limited to 250 copies and is likely to go fast so I wouldn’t hang about if you want in.

Laveda – Better Now

When I started Static Sounds Club one of the first bands I featured was New York’s Laveda. I had been enthralled with their performance on the most recent DKFM Global DreamGaze event where they performed a stunning version of their album track ‘Blue Beach’.

Now they release the latest single from their stunning debut album What Happens After.

‘Better Now’ is a stand out track from the album. A driving drum machine carries angelic vocals from Ali Genevich countered by Jake Brooks heavily effected vocals in the chorus. The guitars sound amazing on this track switching from glossy chiming parts to the shimmering fuzz of the outro.

The track is accompanied by a fabulous video which you can check out below! Featuring Ali in rolling countryside and Jake underwater it matches the mood and vibe of the song perfectly.

This has truly been Laveda’s year. It has been a joy to watch them release this music out into the world and for the world to be so emphatically positive about it. Mark my words, 2021 will be their year!

What Happens After is available from the following outlets as well as from the Laveda Bandcamp page.

Spotlight Kid – Roller State Disco

It was with great excitement that I opened an email from Nottingham shoegazers, Spotlight Kid, this week. I am so happy to announce that they are back with a new single “Roller State Disco” and really exciting news about a new EP.

The band are releasing their first new music in a year and the first long player since the release of their exceptional third album, Ten Thousand Hours, in 2014. That album was a game changer for me and shepherded me back to the shoegaze scene.

If you are new to the band then imagine a blend of My Bloody Valentine, Lush and Slowdive. You’ll be somewhere close then!

At the beginning of last year, Spotlight Kid took a hiatus following a sold-out return show in their hometown, Nottingham. Since then, the band have been involved in several side projects and are now back writing together. The band have written over a dozen new tracks that will be spilt across two EPs and released on Bandcamp early next year.

The first track to be released from is “Roller State Disco”. The track opens with a quintessentially Spotlight Kid intro. Shimmering guitars with Katty Heaths breathy oohs sounding that almost sampled and looped way. This track is gloriously upbeat and optimistic which given the inspiration for the video makes for a pretty stark contrast. The video is inspired by a short film directed by Alan Clarke (Scum, The Firm, Made in Britain). The unemployed spend their days at the Roller State Disco, circling round and round, before being called up to take low-paid jobs as they become available. They leave the building in a wash of light, leaving the rest confined to a grim, graffiti-strewn state-run roller disco where they have to remain until they find a meaningless job that no-one wants.

This track will make you yearn for the summer to be back again so you too can get out on your roller skates. Although I’m not sure my skating skills are quite up there with Kattys.

“Roller State Disco” is the lead track from a forthcoming EP available to stream on all platforms and available to buy on the Spotlight Kid Bandcamp page from the 4th of December.

The Churchill Garden – Reality

Earlier this year I received one of the most beautifully packaged records I have in my collection, containing music to match the beauty of its sleeve. That record was Heart & Soul by The Churchill Garden. Andi Jossi is the one-man musical machine behind The Churchill Garden, playing all the instruments on the record. He has been recording now for a decade from his home in Switzerland. Whilst he has worked with a few vocalists in those years none have sang on as many of his songs as Krissy Vanderwoude has. Her stunning voice and lyrics grace many of the tracks on Heart & Soul and now on their latest release, ‘Reality’.

Starting off with in an up-tempo groove with the jangliest guitars ever bringing to mind The Primitives. Alongside this is a bass and counter guitar line with a Cocteau Twins vibe. When we hit the chorus the drums double time and it really lifts the song, and the listener, in the most ecstatic way.

If you have listened to any of The Churchill Gardens previous work or indeed Whimsical you will know the calibre of Krissy’s vocal talents. I love how she holds herself back a bit on the verses here and then gives it everything on the choruses. I think this is the nimblest Krissy vocal I’ve heard yet.

Clocking in at just shy of four minutes this is one of The Churchill Gardens shortest tracks. Whilst it may be shorter than usual you certainly aren’t being short changed. Listen how Andy builds that trademark wall of sound, that distinctive blend of guitars that form his unique stamp. Enjoy how Krissy layers her vocals steadily until that final chorus.

In these winter months we all need a pick me up. In ‘Reality’ I think I may have found mine.

‘Reality’ is available digitally from November 13th on The Churchill Garden Bandcamp page.

The Voices – Death of a Lovers Song

It’s very rare that I get the opportunity to cover an iconic release by an equally iconic act. I was over the moon to be sent on Death of A Lover’s Song from Welsh psychedelic shoe-gazers, The Voices. Death of A Lover’s Song was the band’s third album which was released on CD only back in 2009. I was fortunate enough to pick up a copy of their previous album The Sound of Young America and was blown away so I couldn’t wait to get this in my ears.

Now, on the eve of it’s triumphant release, for the first time on vinyl, it’s time to dive in and explore this album’s sonic landscape.

The opening track is called ‘The Setup’ and does a great job of easing us into the album. Sparse instrumentation and breathy vocals coast along until the announcement comes. “Ladies and gentlemen. We are all part of the setup”. What follows is a stunning use of crescendo that Mogwai would love to have written.

The discordant intro to ‘Silver Queen’ has massive Sonic Youth vibes. Then after about two minutes the song suddenly pivots into this heavy shoegaze dream trip. This is vital, engaging listening. It demands your attention. Through the walls of fuzz and feedback there is a glorious melody. Shimmering in the distance as the song fizzles out.

Channelling the spirit of Jason Pierce next on the psyche wig out that is ‘Savant’. Riffing around a single droned note this song has the groove of a jam session that has taken off and is currently orbiting Saturn. The coolest of all the planets!

The curiously titled ‘Flames versus the seventh art’ is up next and does a great job of bringing the listener up to date with what The Voices do best. Ridiculously catchy songs with beautifully textured soundscapes to lose yourself in.

One thing that I really appreciate is when a band take their time and really think out the track list for their albums. What song sounds best in what part of the album. With ‘La Guerra’ following here you can tell the band have thought this order through. The flow between the two is seamless and might have been nice to segue them. That said, the song is dynamite as a stand alone and maintains that wall of noise versus irresistible melody that The Voices do so well.

Just when you think you have this album all sussed out, they hit you with ‘Tempt Your Eyes’. Synth driven; moody riffs abound as we see another side of the band. This song suddenly opens up into widescreen. It has real space and is so different to what precedes it. I smiled the whole way through this track the first time I heard it. Its hypnotising stuff.

As if to further surprise we get ‘West Coast Turnaround’ next. Another glorious melting pot of discordant guitar with spacey synths and lots and lots of room. That is until we enter the final two minutes. The band then intricately layer up everything in their sonic arsenal. Sometimes this can lead to a bit of a cacophony and not be pleasant to listen to. But not here. There is real clarity between all you are hearing at any given moment. The production on this track is exceptional for that reason among all the others.

There’s something about ‘Arrivistes’ that brings Radiohead to mind. It has this interstellar space rock riff underpinning the whole thing which had my head nodding along, eyes shut just soaking it up. There’s something unsettling about the overlapping vocals. Its almost like his inner monologue is trying to take over. The song has genuine threat and menace but you revel in it.

The pace drops slightly has we enter the behemoth that is ‘When the Black Sun Sets’. Featuring, for the first time on this album, a rock ‘n’ roll lead guitar. Like a mashup between The Stooges or MC5 and an event horizon The Voices are not taking prisoners here. This song is massive, not only in run time but in scope. It hits you in waves, ever building. I guarantee, like me, you will hit play again as soon as it fades out.

The album closes with ’Superpowers’. An acid squelchy synth over some broadcast quality recordings leads us into the song and sits beneath some really quite sedate vocals. The contrast between the frantic backing and the chilled-out vocals works beautifully. The Voices surprising the listener once again with yet another sonic palate. It’s almost in EDM territory until the fuzz driven guitars return at one point.

This album is quite the accomplishment and shows a band unafraid of experimentation. I lost count of how many times this album surprised me, made sit up and take notice or just made me smile from ear to ear at the ingenuity of it all. If you like music that just gives and gives then this album is for you. Repeated listens will reveal more and more to you. That. to me, is the sign of greatness.

Death of A Lover’s Song is available for download now from the bands Bandcamp page and right now the good folks at Drone Rock Records have a very limited run of this album for order on two vinyl variants.