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.

Dive and Drown – Here and Now.

I’m a huge fan of that ethereal sound the Cure were producing around the time of The Top and Head on the Door. I was so happy when I received the Here and Now EP from French musician, Laurent Guerrier that records under the moniker Dive and Drown.

Guerrier is heavily influenced by that era as well as 4AD bands like Cocteau Twins. This six track instrumental EP is a real homage to that period however it doesn’t wallow in its mores and idioms but uses it as a foundation to build from.

We open on the gothic splendour of ‘I’ll Give You This’. Spanning that early Cocteaus and Cure sound but with an added eastern influence this sets the mood for the EP and stamps Guerrier’s identity on your mind.

‘Discontent’, whilst a darkly bass driven track, is also a gloriously light and airy experience. The guitars are gossamer fine and drive a mean hook in the chorus movements.

Taking the pace down a notch ‘The End Of What Never Was’ enters into some really dark territory. Like a scary walk through some haunted woods at midnight this track had me on tenterhooks start to finish.

 If ever there was an aptly named track its ‘This Sea’. The tension builds like the waves in an embryonic storm until we are being bombarded with sound and textures. It’s a very clever piece of work.

In contrast to the deafening roar of the previous track ‘Yet You Stand Tall’ is almost minimalist in its introduction. Then the rug is pulled out from under us. A* fuzzed-out bass blasts from the speakers and the drums kick in. This is a powerful, driving and vital track. It’s so full of life and is my stand out track.

We close on the epic ‘Dispossessed, Forgetful’. Like an amalgam of all we have heard so far, it’s a sprawling journey through the sonic palette of Here and Now. There is no better way to draw this experience to a close.

Guerrier has succeeded in creating a cohesive and all-consuming vision that stays true to itself from beginning to end. I think if Robin Guthrie heard this EP, he would be seriously impressed at what he heard. No greater compliment could I offer.

Here And Now is out now via the Dive and Drown Bandcamp page.

Crome Yellow – No Friends or Mirrors

As the summer draws to a close, I was on the hunt for some new mellow tunes to chill out to. I didn’t have far to look. Waterford’s Crome Yellow have released an album that has been practically glued to my turntable since it arrived from the label.

No Friends or Mirrors is their second album and is a step forward in ambition and scope for the band. Crome Yellow brew a heady blend of psychedelia with a pinch of funk, a sprinkle of 60’s mod vibes and a knowing drizzle of 90’s baggy. Thirsty yet? Me too. Let’s drop the needle and see what this is all about.

We ease into the album with the smooth ‘2.0’. Setting the tone for the album the song grooves along with a gentle sway. Drawing influence from both 70’s funk and new soul of the early eighties. It’s a glorious sound of sundown on a summer’s day.

‘Constant Delay’ maintains that chilled out pace. Even opening on the line “I’m already ready to take it really slow”. What sets the song apart is the cascading guitar lines at the end of each verse. They’re absolutely mesmerising.

After the spaced-out sound experiment that is “Instant Replay” we move into my album highlight.

“Pocket Protector” caught my ear immediately with its shifting off beat chorus and silky guitar lead. There’s nice vocal interplay playing the lead vocal off of a falsetto. This, for me, is this album distilled down into one track.

Next up is the 90’s Madchester inspired “Don’t Really Want To Know Ya”. It sounds like John Squire joined forces with Tim Burgess and Clint Boon. This is the band really having fun. That comes through in buckets. You can’t help but smile and nod along to the infectious groove.

The breathy ballad ‘October’ follows, full of sombre reflection. This song clocks in at just over six minutes but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. The commitment in the vocal delivery is very engaging and holds your interest throughout.

‘Oh How It Feels To Be Down” gives us a false start before kicking into a psych-soaked funky jam. Make no mistake, this band have chops. I can imagine this song would be amazing to see live.

After another short interlude in the company of the distant and shimmering ‘Friends’ we’re back on familiar ground with ‘Nobody Told Me’. There’s something of the Hendrix in the guitar licks on show here. Not too flamboyant but enough to compliment the solid backline. I love how the guitar seems to fight its way through the gaps in the vocal.

From this point on the album switches things up. Gone is the funky, baggy groove replaced by something deeper and more complex.

‘The Ballad of John Who Can’t Open His Eyes’ is nothing short of genius. Channelling the Ready Steady Go Carnaby Street 60’s mod vibe and honing it for 21st Century ears. It’s a fun trip and you will love it.

Our final sound experiment of the album ‘Mirrors’ follows. I really loved it. Perhaps they will develop that idea into a fully-fledged song one day.

The Pink Floydesque ‘No.9‘ follows. To say this is a triumph of song writing would be understating things somewhat. There are moments here where I feel I’m listening to some lost Beatles track from Sgt Peppers. It’s story telling with razor sharp observational lyrics.

Closing the album out is the summery ‘Daffodils’. Apt for a band called Crome Yellow. A cool as a cucumber guitar riff dances along accompanied by a squelchy keyboard motif. This creates another new texture and ambience on this album. It’s the perfect closer, as it leaves you hungry, wanting more.

I think it’s fair to say, Crome Yellow have recorded an album that’ll be appearing in a lot of end of year polls. Its fun, funky, chilled and a deeply satisfying listen. I highly recommend consuming at sunset with a cool beverage of your choosing. Cheers Crome Yellow. Here’s to your health.

No Friends or Mirrors is out now on the brilliant Fuzzed Up and Astromoon Records. Make sure you go check out their other releases. They’re a very discerning label. You can grab a copy of the album over at the groups Bandcamp. There are some lovely yellow themed vinyl variants on offer.

Static Sounds Club takes to the air at One!

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since I created this blog. I wanted a place of my own to express how much I love music. Somewhere to showcase and share amazing bands. One year on and I feel I’ve only just started doing that. Looking back, I’ve been lucky enough to have had a sneaky peek at a lot of amazing music. I’m eternally grateful to all the bands and their PR people for working with me to achieve that. It’s something I never take for granted and always relish.

Now, Static Sounds Club is about to evolve into something else entirely.

I’m fortunate enough to contribute to the blog at DKFM Shoegaze Radio. I started doing that around the same time as starting this blog. I cannot stress enough how much I love my extended family at DKFM. They welcomed me with open arms and have got me involved in so much great stuff. From the initial blogs to providing video introductions for the International DreamGaze events during lockdown. This years highlight was collaborating with Deborah Sexton on The Velvet Hum show to showcase the shoegaze and dreampop talent across the UK. It’s all been amazing.

I’ve now been given an opportunity to create my own radio show based around this blog!

Static Sounds Club is going live! Me? A DJ? With my own radio show? On DKFM? I’m still getting my head around that.

Just like this blog, I’d like to use the show to showcase the best Shoegaze and Dreampop the UK and Europe has to offer. I’ll also have a segment where I can devote my attention to bands from further afield, don’t worry about that. Bands, keep getting in touch. You’ll find my contact details in the about section of the blog. Who knows? I might be playing your band next month.

I’d like to thank Greg Wilson at DKFM for taking a shot on me. I really appreciate it!! Also, thanks to Deborah for reaching out and getting me involved in your amazing show, The Velvet Hum. Finally, thanks to Krissy Vanderwoude for all the words of encouragement in those early days.

The first Static Sounds Club radio show goes out on DKFM Shoegaze Radio on Tuesday 17 August 10pm Central, 8pm Pacific, 11pm Eastern, 4am GMT and repeated 12 hours later. For the best listening experience, I recommend downloading the DKFM mobile app from the Apple App Store or if you have an Android device from the Google Play Store. Hope you can tune in!

Paper Birch – morninghairwater

Paper Birch have just released their stunning debut album, morninghairwater on vinyl via Reckless Yes. It was written under lockdown between May and June 2020. A fervent correspondence of lyrics, ideas and sounds between musicians Fergus Lawrie of cult band Urusei Yatsura and Dee Sada of NEUMES/An Experiment on A Bird in The Air Pump.

As a massive fan of Urusei Yatsura I was dying to get this one on the speakers but as I was to discover, this is a quite different animal altogether.

The album opens on a screech of feedback the Jesus and Mary Chain would be proud of. “Summer Daze” is an extreme noise experiment against the gentlest of vocal deliveries. It’s almost like Sonic Youth teamed up with Vashti Bunyan. Totally exhilarating and enthralling, you won’t be able to do anything but focus on the sounds coming from your speakers. What a start.

In contrast “Love for the Things Yr Not” is a sparse, pared back piece of indie pop. With both Lawrie and Sada delivering vocals throughout, this has a romantic vibe. Like two lovers, separated by distance, singing to and about each other. It’s quite beautiful.

“Elegy As We Mourn” is led by Sada’s powerful yet tender vocal. All the while it is being increasingly pummelled by the electronic conjuring’s of Lawrie. Only dropping in the chorus of “And it’s black…” the textures he weaves are fascinating and ever evolving. I can listen to this track all day.

“I Don’t Know You” reminds me of a lo-fi Primitives track. It has that late 80’s kind of alternative feel like something from their Lovely album. While the driving drums get your foot tapping Lawrie assaults and delights us with his ferocious guitar squalls. This is my kind of song.

“Hide” is the most experimental track on the album with its arhythmic drums and discordant soundscape stretched over six minutes. Whilst not an instant hit with my ears, after soaking this up a few times in the headphones I found myself getting lost in it. Surrendering to the void and letting Sada’s soothing voice guide me. There is some ancient magick at work here.

“Cemetery Moon” has a big Beck influence sounding not unlike “Jack-Ass” in places. That only endeared it to me. After the intense experience of ‘Here’ this was a welcome change of pace and tone.

“Blue Heartbreak” is a brilliant slice of lo-fi indie pop. Over a drumbeat that sounds like it came from a Casio keyboard (other keyboards are available folks) is a stunner of an indie pop track. Love the vocals on this, very much like the opener.

Taking the pace down a notch is “Curse Us”. A sparse and bleak affair, punctuated by a stuttering electronic backing. The rest of track is populated by Sada’s low and tender tones and Lawrie’s guitar attacks. It’s just lovely.

The album closes as it began on a sea of feedback upon which floats a killer melody sang by both members. The bass plucks out the path to keep the song from flying out the speakers. This is a stylish way to end the album and makes a real statement.

It’s something that Paper Birch excel at. With every track they have indelibly stamped their unique identity all over them. That’s down to the strength of the songwriting at play here. Beneath all the textures and tones live stunningly beautiful songs. Lyrics that will break your heart and lift your soul. This album left me smiling and reaching for the play button again. That’s the highest praise I think I can give.

morninghairwater is out now on two colour variants on vinyl and CD via the Reckless Yes Bandcamp page as well as the bands own Bandcamp page.

PREMIERE: Lorcán – Circles and Turns

Bristol is well known as producing some of the most innovative music of the last few decades. Adding to the city’s roster of talent is Lorcán, a DIY artist who makes a beguiling blend of dream pop, ambient and indie music. With releases stretching back to 2016 he is set to launch his first studio recorded single, ‘Circles and Turns.’

The song features childhood friend and solo artist Ailsa Tully, providing a sparkling falsetto foil to Lorcán’s lush baritone voice.

It’s on Tully’s voice that the song opens. Moving at a sedate pace we are engulfed in the most beautiful soundscape. A gently picked guitar plays against the sharp programmed beats. This is a sublime and accomplished track. It’s no wonder that Lorcán was recently asked to support White Flowers for their album launch.

‘Circles and Turns’ is the first single from Lorcán’s upcoming debut EP Sleepy City, a taster of what’s to come. The single will be available to stream on all major platforms from today.

To accompany the release Lorcán has created a graphic video to suit the vibe of the song. I’m proud to be able to be to premiere that for you here.

White Flowers – Day by Day

After three exquisitely crafted single releases in ‘Night Drive’ and ‘Day by Day’ and ‘Within a Dream’, Preston’s White Flowers finally release their debut album, Day by Day.

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 atmosphere created across these ten tracks is one of sheer escapism and finding wonder in the everyday. The band take pride is keeping tight creative control over the band’s aesthetic. From the black and white imagery on the cover of their records to the striking visuals at their live shows. This commitment to their craft has led to them producing one of 2021’s most cohesive and accomplished albums.  Let me explain why.

The album opens on the appropriately titled “Intro”. Very much setting the mood and sonic palette for the album it’s a short and breathy burst before we are into “Night Drive”.

Those of you familiar with the band will know this as the lead track on their 2020 single. They really have captured the oppressive and paranoid feel of a late-night drive. I can picture myself on a rainy motorway as I listen.

As if flipping to the opposite side of the coin “Daylight” shimmers and sounds like starlight on a rain-soaked pavement. The arpeggio guitar line is just gorgeous, as is Drews vocal. Passionate and committed. You can’t help but stop what you are doing and pay attention.

 “Stars” is a stunning slice of Cocteau Twins like, song writing. The ever-moving guitars play against a heavy programmed drum loop that sounds like something from “Head Over Heels”. It’s a potent track that is equal parts intoxicating and moving.

“Tried to Call” is such a romantic slice of dream pop belying the tragic love story being told. Breathy vocals float over the most spacious guitars and echoing drums. The chorus just grabs you as it lifts and soars. I can see this becoming a big fan favourite.

Following is my album highlight and the oldest track on the album. “Help Me Help Myself” is song writing on a grand scale. From the gentle back and forth of the verses to the stratospheric lift in the chorus this is undoubtedly Drews finest vocal performance on the album and Cobb’s most breath-taking soundtrack.

“Day by Day” their debut single for Tough Love Recordings is up next. A gloriously bleak lyric plays out against a bombastic backdrop of chiming synths and guitars on the edge of feedback. This is truly a northern song.

“Different Time, Different Place” hangs a silvery, gossamer backdrop over a steady and surefooted bassline. As with so many of the tracks on this album there is a theme of being in cars. I love the pre chorus line of “In the summer we are driving in the back of someone’s car”. Such an evocative line which leads to gorgeously sung title.

I was so excited to hear “Portra” as I had missed on grabbing the single at the time. I was also intrigued by the title as I had grown up with a photographer in the house and often seen Kodak Portra film lying about. On face value this song appears to be about a trip. The woozy, out of focus guitars and seductive nature of the lyrics all add up to very heady mix. Thankfully it’s a very pleasant trip we are taken on with “colours everywhere”.

The album closes where we began, at night. “Nightfall” starts a lot more sparsely arranged than the rest of the album. Slowly Cobb weaves in pulsing drums and more guitars before reaching a crescendo. This plays well as the finale. 

White Flowers have crafted a debut album that is indelibly stamped with their identity, with the shadows of their upbringing in the north of England. Every note has been carefully planned and played so as to capture the mood of the lyrics sung by Drew. What I really love about Day By Day is that it instantly won me over yet each time I put the needle on the record I hear something new, feel something different about the songs in those grooves. To achieve that in your career is amazing. To achieve that on your debut? Well, that’s incredibly special.

Day By Day is out now via Tough Love. Alongside digital formats, it has been pressed on a variety of vinyl variants. The blue vinyl variant is currently available from their Bandcamp page.

Beachy Head – Beachy Head

The beautiful Beachy Head cliffs in England are a popular tourist destination as well as a notorious suicide spot. It’s that dichotomy between the joyous and the heart wrenching despair that run up the back bone of Beachy Heads self-titled debut album.

Founded by Slowdive guitarist Christian Savill along with Ryan Graveface of The Casket girls and Graveface Records, Steve Clarke of The Soft Cavalry, Matt Duckworth of The Flaming Lips. If that list of illustrious players wasn’t enough Rachel Goswell of Slowdive and Mojave 3 fame lends her considerable vocal talents to the project too.

I pre ordered this album without hearing a note based on the strength of that line up. I have been so looking forward to hearing it start to finish. Let’s drop the needle and see what they have in store for us.

The album opens on the luscious “Warning Bell”. The verse has a Celtic almost folk vocal feel before erupting into the most euphoric chorus. As an opener I don’t think they could have picked a stronger song. This one hits you right in the feels.

Next up is “Michael”. A song which feels steeped in nostalgia. There is a blend between 80’s synthwave and dream pop pulsing through. The video taps into that nostalgia too with a family playing some VR game that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the TV back in the 90’s.

“Distraction” darkens the tone a little with the band channelling the spirit of Depeche Mode to great effect. Fluttering electronica dances over the sultry bass and echoing synth. I love the dark, almost gothic vibe the band conjure towards the end of the track. Makes you want to skip back and listen again.

But onwards we go.

The darkness remains for “All Gone”. The song opens with Savill, like a troubadour, laying it all out there. The song is swathed in an eerie undulating drone and swelling synths giving it an other-worldly feel. Whilst the listener is left with a feeling of uneasiness, as if having eavesdropped on a deeply personal conversation, it is tempered by the sheer beauty of the vocal delivery.

“Looking for Exits” comes bounding out the gate all happy chords and Duckworth laying down his trademark drum sound. Alas the lyrics tell a more ill-starred tale “I held on to the fragments cause she was only looking for exits”. This is the magic of Beachy Head. Taking the deeply sorrowful and couching it in a killer melody. Coming in at just under three minutes I was crying out for more. Something tells me that was the plan.

This album’s acoustic ballad is up next in the shape of “October”. There is an unmistakable Mojave 3 influence in the delivery of this number. That is then warped as the song progresses as it is slowly overwhelmed and engulfed in a slow building wash of reverb. 

In striking contrast “Hiddensea” is a strident electronic pop smash. It’s like a mash up of Castlebeat and Tubeway Army. This song is my absolute favourite on the album. The simplistic guitar line really appeals to me. Ultimately though, it all comes back the chorus. In “Hiddensea” Beachy Head have the most devastatingly catchy hook. This song alone will keep the album on my turntable for a long time to come.

The closer “Destroy Us” leans into that Tubeway Army vibe instigated on the previous song. The vocals are massive, like medieval castle turrets bearing down on the rest of the song. I love how the synth mirrors the vocal line. It adds that extra texture to lift the song from really good to absolutely exceptional.

What Savill & Co have created in Beachy Head is another world. A place where you can lose yourself for half an hour in the glorious song writing on display. Compound that with stellar performances from all involved and you have a sure-fire hit on your hands.

Beachy Head is available now via Bandcamp and in independent record shops.

Piroshka – V.O.

With their new album Love Drips And Gathers due for release 23rd July via Bella Union, and having previously shared a video to lead track ‘Scratching At The Lid’, today Piroshka share a video to new single ‘V.O.’ The band features members of Lush, Moose, Elastica and Modern English in their line up and had great success with their debut album Brickbat.

Of the track, which is a tribute to Vaughan Oliver, 4AD’s legendary in-house art director who died in late 2019, Piroshka vocalist Miki Berenyi says: “I wrote this originally as an instrumental but the rest of the band convinced me to put a vocal on it. The lyrics are snapshot snippets of Vaughan Oliver’s funeral in January 2020 – lines from the speeches, fleeting impressions of the day. I’m getting to the age where the people I grew up with are dying and I find funerals a comfort in the sadness, formal but emotional, a celebration of a life, a space for the living to reconnect.”

Video director Connor Kinsey adds: “We wanted to put this ominous-being centre frame and allow the viewer to reflect on fear and loss whilst also embracing hope and futurity through its life experiences. Giving the subject no recognisable features meant that it’s emotional journey through the different timelines felt more relatable to a wider audience.”

Here is the video for you to enjoy.

PREMIERE – Go With Strangers – Further

Once again Static Sounds Club are proud to be bringing you another exclusive premiere.

Malaysian multi-instrumentalist Eugene San has created a new musical project called Go With Strangers. Determined to face his social anxiety head-on, and picking up the mic for the first time in his life. Go With Strangers marks Eugene’s first entire solo effort (self-produced, written, and recorded) in a full-band format.

What a lush affair it is too. A dense wall of sound laced with moments of that glide guitar we all love so much. A powerful rhythm section drives the song forward with real purpose. Meanwhile Eugene provides the gentlest vocal delivery, being both comforting and poignant. Fans of Nothing and Tennis System will find a lot to admire here.

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

The single ‘Further’ is available from all usual streaming outlets now.