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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Back in the pre Covid days of 2019 I was enthralled by the fifth album by German dream pop/punk outfit Fir Cone Children. Fog Surrounds Us has an eclectic catch all approach to songwriting that multi-instrumentalist Alexander Donat is renowned for. Like a magpie, he cherry picks all that is positive and life affirming and weaves it together into something quite magical. Imagine my delight when Alexander reached out to me and asked if I would like to premiere a key track from his up coming sixth album Waterslide at 7am. If you missed that blog you can find it here as we delve in to the amazing ‘Soaking In’.
Waterslide at 7am opens on the fizzy rush of ‘Panic in the Mansion’. As an allegory for the times we find ourselves in, the board game inspired lyrics couldn’t be more on the nose. There is something unsettling about this song whilst maintaining an almost jubilant thrall over the listener.
Next up is our premiere track from the weekend, ‘Soaking In’. After a solid week listening to this album ‘Soaking In’ remains my album highlight. See what I mean here.
‘How to Make a Paper Airplane’ finds Alex in an instructional mood, literally singing us the steps to making a paper aeroplane Channelling the spirit of Mark E Smith there are no prisoners taken in this onslaught. Repeated listens reveal a glorious melody holding the whole song together. Ghostly voices reminiscent of Blurs ‘Song 2’ or ‘Popscene’ make this song a favourite of mine.
‘Entangled’ is a post punk track but gloriously naïve and playful. It feels like Alex is having a lot of fun jumping between rhythms and tempos. Singing about his daughter playing with “three balls of wool” among the trees whilst “eating cheese slices” he continues his theme of dedicating his albums to his kids. That love is evident in every second of this song.
Krissy Vanderwoude returns to sing on ‘Gekko-19’ a contemplation on the life of an allegorical pet in a glass cage. Again, Alex’s voice pairs beautifully with Krissy’s leading to some breath-taking moments. One almost Beach Boys-esque moment really jumped out at me and will do for you too. It’s a slow burner of a track blossoming in the final minute. This is a song I will definitely find myself returning to.
‘Everyday is a Flood’ is Alex in full magpie mode. Underneath the wash of reverb lies a C-86 style track akin to Orange Juice or very early Aztec Camera. Then he sprinkles his magic dust over the top and this song becomes something really unique and very Fir Cone Children. The overwhelming nature of life is hyperreal at the moment as we live in lockdown. This song encapsulates that feeling so well.
Arriving on a sneak attack intro “When This Is Over” reminds me of Arcade Fire if they were a shoegaze band. This track dips in and out, returning more full on than it was before. Lyrically heart-breaking the song deals with a child’s view of this pandemic and their desire for it to all be over and back to normal, whatever normal was.
As if to counter the fear and worry of ‘When This Is Over’ we launch into ‘Max & Hax’ with a euphoric Whoo! A song based on a story Alex’s seven-year-old daughter wrote about two eagles called Max and Hax. The song has a childlike glee as it romps on. With flourishes that The Polyphonic Spree would be proud of the song is a real pick me up.
This magical thinking is carried into ‘Future Pirates’. Channelling his inner Graham Coxon, Alex moves at breakneck speed through a trip out paddling on the water in the “raft mom talked about the other day”. Maintaining humour whilst having riffs that rock as hard as this is a fine balancing act which he pulls off with ease. We go along for the ride and are so much happier for doing so.
From the euphoric to the grief of a child at the loss of their pet. ‘Furball Sun’ tackles this subject with care and love in each note. When Alex sings “Run Stella Run” you can’t help but get choked up. His choice of chords and melody at that point are so on the money it hurts.
Any parent can tell you about that moment in the middle of the night when your child wanders into your bedroom, maybe with a bad dream. In ‘A Tiny Crack’ Alex makes use of really dreamy chords to make us feel as woozy as that tired parent carrying their tiny charge back to their bed. The closing section had me paying very close attention. The complexity mirrored some of Radiohead’s’ finest moments around the In Rainbows period.
We close out the album on the allegorical title track. This track is absolutely bonkers and is the perfect way to finish. About a time when Alex’s daughter performed a song, she wrote with her dad, for a video clip that was made for a popular holiday parks brand in Europe. They had to meet at 7 A.M. in a waterpark before it officially opened to the visitors and she was overwhelmed by the situation. Alex takes that feeling and turns it into music. You can feel the elation, confusion and excitement in this song.
What listening to Waterslide at 7am has shown me is Alexander Donat is a master at observational song writing. He takes day to day situations, finds the spark, the magic in them and spins a song so beautiful from it you would never know where the inspiration came from. For me that is something to shout about. There are few acts that can do this to the level shown on Fir Cone Children albums. Add to this the fact that he plays all of the instruments himself and you have one exceptional musician at the top of his game.
Waterslide at 7am is available from the Fir Cone Children Bandcamp page now.
Static Sounds Club is incredibly proud to be sharing the latest track from Fir Cone Children, ‘Soaking In’, for three reasons.
Firstly, Fir Cone Children have consistently produced albums of the highest quality, none more so than their last full-length release Fog Surrounds Us. Secondly, this track features my very dear friend and DKFM sister Krissy Vanderwoude on guest vocals and, last but not least, this is the first premiere to feature on Static Sounds Club. All these things together make me very excited to hear this new track.
Before I hit play, I asked Alexander Donat, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, what ‘Soaking In’ was about
Alex said “Leaving kindergarten and attending school is one of the major changes in life for everybody. In first grade my first daughter was soaking in everything that teachers told her (especially learning how to read and write), what books had to offer and what classmates were showing her. Also, she is a very social and kind person who instinctively knew how to handle stressful situations: “I say hello, I say good-bye, I know the proper way to avoid a fight, with a smile I enter, with a smile I leave, you are best friends to me”. It’s lovely to see how she gets along with people around her.”
I then asked him, on this song you once again collaborate with Krissy Vanderwoude of Whimsical and The Churchill Garden. Tell us a bit about how that came about?
“I am super happy that, even though she always has a tight schedule, Krissy Vanderwoude found the time to record vocals for two of the album’s twelve songs, ‘Gekko-19’ and this one, ‘Soaking In’. Since album number three, No Gravity Girls in 2017, her vocals have constantly been a part of every Fir Cone Children album. So far you can hear her on 13 songs spread across four albums. Krissy fits in so naturally that I consider her to be the secret second band member of FCC. I love how she adds vocal harmonies to the songs I send her, harmonies that I didn’t think of, so she really adds to the overall feeling. Hopefully, this partnership will keep on going.
So here it is folks. The world premiere of the new track from Fir Cone Children, ‘Soaking In’.
This is an incredibly catchy riff-based number. The discordant chorus is so addictive. I had said to Krissy this was so different to anything I’ve ever heard her do before. I’ve been trying to rack my brains why that is. I think it’s the harmony line she has chosen to follow that gives this song a unique flavour. Alex and Krissy sound fantastic when singing together and Alex makes the most of that here.
We need to talk about the riff. Like Pavement meets Urusei Yatsura pushed along by the rimshots on the drums, its utterly captivating. I love how the guitar moves around the vocal line. Never mimicking anything else on the track. The end section has a one two punch Bis would kill for. All in all, Fir Cone Children have come out swinging. Let us know what you think of the track in the comments below or on our social media.
Stay tuned to Static Sounds Club as I will be bringing you my track by track analysis of the new Fir Cone Children LP Waterslide at 7am later this week. Until then why not check out the bands amazing back catalogue on their Bandcamp page.
Wisconsin-bred and Chicago-based band Slow Pulp – Emily Massey (vocals/guitar), Alexander Leeds (bass), Theodore Mathews (drums), and Henry Stoehr (guitar) – have just released their self-produced debut album, Moveys, out into the world.Having heard a track from the album on DKFM Shoegaze Radio late one night I knew I had to investigate. It’s an album borne from the times we are living in. Recorded from locked down homes across the states, it creates a sense of warmth and togetherness which draws you in like an open fire.
The album opens on a glorious picked acoustic guitar and Emily’s lilting voice. ‘New Horse’ is a perfect introduction to this record. Its both light and dark, weightless and heavy. When the counter vocal line and fuzzed out bass kick in the song takes us away. In my head somewhere snow covered and remote.
All too soon the song is over and we are in to the intro to ‘Trade It’.
There’s a Big Thief meets Soccer Mommy vibe to this song. It moves along with a knowing swagger. This has the sound of a songwriter who has worked and honed every line to a keen edge. The song slowly builds as we go with an insistent drumbeat working hand in hand with the bass to carry us to the final word.
This leads us neatly into ‘Idaho’, the most claustrophobic of all the tracks on the album. It feels like we are trapped in Emily’s thoughts as she wrestles with her demons seeking some sort of self-belief. “I’m losing all the while” she sings as if resigned to her fate.
The track I heard on DKFM Shoegaze Radio is next and it is actually called ‘Track’. This feels like some great lost nineties’ slacker classic. I love how the band play with dynamics bringing instruments in and out, creating space then filling it again keeping us on our toes. It’s no wonder it caught my ear.
The grungy and punchy thrash of ‘At it Again’ keeps us in nineties’ territory. This is another two minute song like, the gorgeous opener, ‘New Horse’ but it feels just right. The guitars mellow as Emily’s voice soften towards the end bringing the song to neat close.
‘Channel 2’ features Alexander on vocal duty delivering a study in shoegaze whilst Henrys guitar whirls in a J Mascis like chaotic cascade. I can see this track getting a lot of airplay. A great chorus coupled with killer guitar is always a recipe for success.
The pace and tone changes completely with the instrumental ‘Whispers (In the Outfield)’. The track is so unlike anything else on the album yet it’s right at home and feels wholly natural as a stepping stone to the next song.
‘Falling Apart’ is a ballad sung by Emily to Emily. Couched in wonderfully chilled instrumentation we find her berating herself “Why don’t you go back to falling apart. You were so good at that.” The band giving her space to weave her magic amongst the slippery drums and elastic bass. We also hear a rueful violin trading lines making the song complete. This is really special songwriting.
In a similar vein, ‘Montana’ takes us on a tour of Emily’s’ inner voice. The self-doubt and critical introspection weigh heavy over this song. Emily says of the track, “This song is about moving beyond defining myself in terms of my mental health. I’ve been working through this over the last couple of years and this song is a reflection of this process and where I am now. ‘Montana’ was the first song we finished recording for the album. Henry’s early demo was kind of heavy and distorted, and when we went to play it together for the first time, it came out a lot slower and cleaner. Our friend Willie Christianson wrote and recorded the slide guitar and harmonica parts.”
‘Montana’ feels like a natural close for the album but then, right out of leftfield, comes ‘Movey’. A sample filled funky instrumental jam to lighten the mood and remind us it’s all going to be ok.
Slow Pulp have delivered a breath-taking debut album against all odds. The band have seen more than their fair share of struggles yet have chosen not to be buried by them but to embrace them and turn them into something truly beautiful and life affirming. If that isn’t a lesson for all of us, I don’t know what is.
Moveys is available from all good independent record shops on a few cool coloured variants. The album is also out to buy from the Slow Pulp Bandcamp page.
Philadelphia heavy gazers Nothing are back with a new album.
The Great Dismal was conceived when, singer and songwriter, Dominic Palermo picked up a copy of the New York Times from a newsstand and saw the famous first photograph of a black hole, taken by scientists in 2019. True enough, he couldn’t escape it. The photograph was framed, placed above his writing desk and onto his notepad a single mantra for the new record was written: “Existence hurts existence.” With previous album Dance on the Blacktop championed as a soundtrack to an end of the world party, there is some satisfying continuity at play in learning that “The Great Dismal” has its origins in the imagery of universal collapse.
The album opens on the genteel yet euphoric ‘A Fabricated Life’. Whispered vocals over a slowly building soundscape welcomes us into these new songs. Destined to be the final track on many a mixtape or playlist this song has future classic written all over it. Truly timeless.
This contrasts with the sonic assault of ‘Say Less’. Literally exploding on to the speakers all the more impactfully because of the more placid previous song. I instantly loved this track. There is a great use of dynamics, especially around the choruses. The chorus is superb. Lifting the song to new heights.
‘April Ha Ha’ begins with some powerful dive bombs on the tremolo before a soaring guitar solo leads us into the song. This has all the hallmarks of a classic Nothing track with the addition of some wonderfully serpentine vocals from Palermo. Almost puts me in mind of the hypnotic ‘Trust in Me’ from The Jungle Book. Maybe it’s because I’m Scottish that I appreciate the line “watching people trying to outrun rain”.
I love how the band are playing with new textures on this album. ‘Catch a Fade’ has an almost straight up indie jangle pop vibe until those trademark Nothing guitars kick in half way through. This is the sound of a band having fun experimenting with their sound and offering their fans something new. Sometimes when successful bands try to do this it doesn’t pay off but in this case it does. It pays off in buckets.
As we head into ‘Famine Asylum’ something is becoming more and more clear. The band have focussed on the songs first. Everything else is in service to the melody. Whilst some heavy bands can lose their songs in walls of distortion Nothing have ensured their songs are built from reinforced concrete. There is no concealing the beauty in these songs.
Second single ‘Bernie Sanders’ follows opening on that eerie reverse string scratch. Such a great track to introduce this album. Soaring guitars lead the way but there is always space given to the punchy vocal line. The track is accompanied by quite an eye-catching video which is not for the squeamish.
We are back in dynamic Nothing territory next with ‘In Blueberry Memories’. Swinging from hushed vocals to pounding drums and fuzzed out guitars on the edge of static. Never losing the melody the mix is superb, lifting the vocal where required to make sure the glorious melodies shine through.
‘Blue Mecca’ has the lolling feel of a lullaby, but you ain’t sleeping through this song. More new textures are introduced in the latter half with high pitched trilling strings contrasting with the growling guitars.
‘Just a Story’ mixes things up by starting on the chorus line undercut by an insistent guitar riff ebbing and flowing beneath it. The guitars are the star on this track from the fuzzed-out attack of the verses to the soaring elation in the chorus, ‘Just a Story’ has it all.
The album closes on a heavy note. ‘Ask the Rust’ bookends this album with yet another killer chorus. What this album has in spades is hooks. Every song makes you sit up and take notice and the closer is no exception. Dynamic, catchy and full of all the characteristics that make Nothing one of the leading lights on the shoegaze scene.
The Great Dismal feels like the album Nothing have been destined to make since the start. At the beginning of this blog I spoke about the albums theme of universal collapse. Lyrically I don’t doubt that however, and this is a massive however, musically this album is jubilant. The overwhelming joy you will feel from listening to this album will bring you back again and again. Could we be looking at the album of the year? I’ll let you decide.
The Great Dismal’ is released via Relapse Records on October 30th. Pre-orders available now via Nothings Bandcamp page and Relapse Records online store.
It’s always great when a band reaches out with a personal email full of detail. That always catches my eye and gets me intrigued.
This evening I received an email just like that from Maddy Little of the band We Wander. Hailing from Mississauga, Canada, the band have taken that folk sound we all know and love and amped it up with some indie vibes. Starting with just Maddy and her acoustic guitar, the band has since expanded their line-up to include Camilo Martinez on bass, drummer Jacob Rondeau and Christian Orozco on violin. With a good few singles under their belt already like ‘Bridges’ and the stunning ‘Can’t Save You’ the band are gearing up for the release of their latest track, ‘Pouring Out’.
The track opens on a solemn violin and lone strummed guitar. When Maddy comes in on vocals you take a sharp intake of breath. She really has the most beautiful voice. I love how the violin and Maddy seem to be singing to each other. The chorus is so uplifting and life affirming. The contrast between the more downbeat verse and soaring chorus is really effective.
This track also features really powerful drums and some neat mandolin dominating the higher register.
On their Facebook page the band say “Pouring Out is about being afraid to speak your mind. Being worried that you’ll say the wrong thing and everyone will hate you.” That comes across in the lyrics like, “It’s pouring out, all on the ground. These thoughts of mine keep making sound, and I can’t seem to tie them down. Don’t think out loud I know, I know.”
I really enjoyed this song and after checking out the bands YouTube channel I really love the previous songs they have released. There’s also a great live session on there too. While we await the new single, you can catch the video for ‘Can’t Save You’ below which will get you in the mood perfectly.
‘Pouring Out’ is out on 23rd of October and you can pre save the track here. Follow the band and find out more here.
It’s not often that the video for a song opens the door to discovering a band for me. That is exactly what happened when I seen the video for ‘Loner’ by garage pop punks Dehd. The Chicago trio—bassist-vocalist Emily Kempf, guitarist-vocalist Jason Balla, and drummer Eric McGrady weave a heady mix of surf rock, shoegaze and heart wrenching balladeering. Honest to a fault their lyrics are an open book. Their previous album, Water, dealt the aftermath of the break up between Kempf and Balla. Their latest album, Flower of Devotion, moves to what comes next. The healing, the processing of that loss and ultimately the rediscovering of yourself.
The album kicks off with the pounding “Desire”. As an intro to the band you couldn’t ask for a better song. The contrast between the sheer versatility and power of Emily’s vocal lead contrasts beautifully with Jason’s cool as you like delivery.
Emily takes the lead on “Loner”. Her voice is this bands secret weapon. It’s so dynamic. Jason’s guitar tone and Eric’s simplistic and steady drumming being the other key components. It has that reverb swamped feel of late 60’s crooners but it feels modern at the same time. Context is everything. Check out the video for this one here.
‘Haha’ is a short ditty patently about the break up. “All I know is I love you. All I know is cry, cry, cry” sings Kempf in the choruses and Balla responding “Well I loved you with all that I had”. There’s no masking the emotional wounds in obtuse lyrics here. That is the power of this album, its direct route straight to the heart.
‘Drip Drop’ slows the pace with Jason taking the lead and Emily’s textured backing lifting the choruses. A trick that is employed equally as effectively on ‘Month’ following. Patently a lot of work has gone in to finding the perfect balance between these two unique styles of singing. It has certainly paid dividends.
This vocal interplay is mixed up further in ‘Disappear’. With Emily singing a slick counter melody to Jason’s slacker drawl it’s a perfect pairing. With that trio of tracks done we are treated to ‘Flood’ and Emily showing us what she capable of. The way she enunciates the title sends shivers down your spine. Jason too, is on fire with glorious and atmospheric guitar work.
The open wounds of the now broken relationship are laid bare in the next track ‘Letter’. It is essentially an open letter to any future girlfriends of Balla’s and plays it clever by couching that within a beautiful melody.
‘Nobody’s almost spoken lyric leads to a euphoric chorus about the search for someone or perhaps the search for yourself again. Constantly asking “When will it be mine” Emily uses her full vocal range to keep you tuned in. Time is also a factor in the next two tracks.
‘No Time ‘is a song out of time. This wouldn’t sound out of place on a Blondie setlist circa 1976 on stage at CBGB’s. The song has an energy and power that is derived both from Jason’s frenetic guitar and Emily’s impassioned delivery. ‘Moonlight’ on the other hand is Jason’s finest moment on the album. The switch of rhythm between verse and chorus is so clever and catches you out every time.
We haven’t spoken about Eric McGrady yet. His steady and minimalist drumming is the glue that holds these two fractured souls together. It’s with some surprise that we now hear him take the mic for his self-penned song ‘Apart’. An ode to aging he delivers it with an honesty and directness his band mates must be envious of.
The album closes with ‘Flying’. Once again acknowledging the end of their relationship and having to move on isn’t always easy.
Flower of Devotion is one of the most cohesive albums I’ve listened to in a while. The album has a stripped back to the bone sonic palette, leaving the vocal performances to do the heavy lifting. Luckily Dehd are adept in this area with three talented vocalists, each with their own unique style. The key thing is, no matter if they are singing about the break up of their relationships their voices will be in love forever.
Flower of Devotion is out now via the groups Bandcamp page and all good record shops.
You just know when an email from the good folks at Dirty Filthy Records drops into your inbox you are about to hear something special. This gem of a label has provided me with some of this years’ highlights with releases from Soden and Par Asito. They are now about to release Depopulation an EP from Acid Roulette. The band, hailing from Austin, Texas, trade in a unique brand of acid psyche rock and like it loud!
The EP opens with the pounding riff centred epic ‘Deathsect’. With lots of nods to Led Zep this track absolutely explodes out the speakers. The groove on this track is absolutely addictive. As openers go, they couldn’t have come out stronger.
After the pace and ferocity of the opener we move into the hypnotic ‘Dividing Slander’. We are through the looking glass now. Centred around a Sabbath like riff and drum pattern this track weaves so much into its run time. Some absolutely stunning lead guitar work acts almost like a second voice. Again, the band hit a groove that keeps you in rapt attention. Love this song!
We take the pace down a notch for the languid and serpentine ‘Lonesect’. Even though we are operating at half the pace the bands playing loses none of its ferocity. Which leads to some interesting pay offs, particularly in the chorus section with its almost tender lead vocal melody playing against the jagged attack of the backing.
The EP concludes with ‘The Truth’. The vocals are at their most potent here. Aryn really does bring the chaos as advertised. What was also notable on this song was the dual, harmonising guitar lines. That really added something different to this track. The deafening finish come all too soon and we close out on a mysterious voice in the static.
Whilst this EP has been available digitally on the bands Bandcamp page for a while now you can pre order a vinyl copy from Dirty Filthy Records from October 2nd. I would advise you move fast because records of this quality sell out fast.
I am a huge fan of post rock. Bands like Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed You Black Emperor create amazing soundscapes that you can lose yourself in. This is why I was so pleased when I was asked to listen to Italian post rockers A Good Man Goes to War.
Hailing from Turin, Flavio Amelotti and Fabrizio Paglia have been in bands for well over a decade. They finally joined forces in 2019 and began crafting their sound. The result is their debut album The Sounds of a Large Crowd. Let’s dive in.
Opening the album is a track called ‘Improvising’. It opens on a low-key piano riff before insistent and ever building guitars join in. There is a lot of thought to dynamics, here and throughout the album. When we do reach a crescendo it is so satisfying. You know because you feel it. That’s what great music does.
‘Reflections’ follows with an almost sci-fi, blade runner soundtrack vibe to the intro. This is then engulfed by the powerful drums that are a signature of this band. They really smack those tubs. The guitars fall into two camps here. One a chiming strum and the other a fuzzed-out drone. Its almost like a call and response song between them. The piano underpinning the whole song gives it a sense of direction and purpose. It really is an amazing track.
‘All the best memories’ opens with the drums picking out the time from an almost jazzy pattern. Once the ascending/descending guitars come in we are back in familiar territory. Then comes the bass. Its huge. A wall of fuzz. This underpins the final minute of the song as the guitars soar to new heights. Breathtaking.
As if sensing our fatigue, the band take the pace down a notch for ‘The Bravest Moment’. This song is utterly joyous. After the slow pace of the intro the guitars and drums barrel along lickety split and you cannot help but smile. Mid song there is a dip where we can catch our breath before heading headlong into the final stretch. There is some nice use of panning which makes headphone listening exciting. Check out the video here.
‘This Cold White Sky’ paints a devastating image in your mind. One of ruined landscapes and the search for life. Its almost as if all the joy from the previous tracks falls away as some terrible event takes place. As always, the instrumentation is exemplary and brings home the feeling of utter desolation. It’s a very moving piece.
‘You Have to Leave Something Behind’ grows from the aftermath slowly blossoming sounding brighter and brighter as it moves closer and closer to the end. It almost feels like this is the second half of ‘This Cold White Sky’. They complement each other so well.
The album closes on ‘Lifeless Architecture’. This song feels final. The drums play a punctuated beat throughout like a series of full stops. The guitars build and swirl around, almost euphoric, that they lead the way to the end. But ultimately, it’s the low buzz of the strings that sees us out.
The band say that they aim to build soundscapes to create a sense of synaesthesia for the listener. That couldn’t have been more descriptive of my experience. I would heartily urge you to find forty minutes in your day and lie down with headphones on and let this album take you away.
The Sounds of a Large Crowd is available now from the groups Bandcamp page.
When life hands you lemons what do you do. That’s a question bands all over the world were asking when the spectre of Covid-19 reared its ugly head. Australian gazers trillion were no different.
Like many other parts of the world, trillion’s members had been under lock down. But the drive to make music remained strong. trillion’s members wrote and recorded their parts for each of the five songs on their new Move to You EP, separately, at home.
The EP kicks off with the 100-mph sonic assault of ‘Soft’. This track is instant. You are immediately hooked in with the harmonised vocals and the fierce battle between the frenetic drums and the riffs……..oh the riffs!! This is a track I’ll still be listening to in a years’ time and it will still feel as fresh. Check out the video below and see what I mean.
‘Out of Your Mind’ follows. This is a denser affair with squalls of feedback layered guitar over a squelchy wah lead. It’s a great blend of gaze and psyche. I got completely lost in this track, floating along on its ethereal vocal line and insistent bass.
‘Don’t Be Sorry’ is a fuzzed-out pop song hung around a cool guitar riff. The vocal interplay on the songs title is gorgeous and will have you going back in for another listen.
‘It’s All I Need’ feels almost discordant as it begins then the song emerges as the vocals kick in, making sense of the maelstrom. I really love how they handled that. Clever stuff. The maelstrom is never far away though and it is used sparingly to add a real feel of menace and threat. This is a very accomplished piece of songwriting.
The EP comes to an, all too soon, ending with the barn storming ‘When it Comes to You’. This is gaze gold. The glide guitars on here are next level. As the song develops you get an idea of what this band are capable of. This is an intense listening experince. I mean that in good way. It demands you pay attention and soak up everything that’s going on.
As the band say themselves “While recorded in isolation, the resulting songs are anything but bleak. Each song presents how we work together to create crashing walls of sound that are at once densely layered whilst also artfully delicate and balanced.”
Trillion’s ‘Move to You EP’ is available now on Bandcamp and other streaming services. Click here to choose your platform.
Funeral Lakes are a Canadian folk-rock duo with hearts fit to burst. Sam Mishos and Chris Hemer started the band in the spring of 2018, self-producing music in their apartment in Vancouver and now in Toronto. They deal in politically and socially charged lyrics set against the most dynamic of instrumentation. Their eponymous debut album was released to widespread acclaim in 2019 and now Funeral Lakes return with the Golden Season EP.
The EP kicks off with ‘Eternal Return’, a song which rails against the misery inflicted by the lies of our politicians. This is a builder and I really like how this song takes its time to get going. You really feel like you are being taken along for the journey. By the time the closing section erupts you are feeling as justifiably angry and righteous as the group. I defy anyone not to fall in love with Funeral Lakes on the basis of this song alone.
‘Earth Falls’ is next up. A song with so much heart and yet so much restrained sadness at the inevitably of the destruction of our environment. “Earth falls and then begins again. Our home is all we ever had” just speaks volumes to me. I love the interplay between Chris and Sam on the vocals here. Some really nice call and response stuff in the verses. The false start to the chorus is a neat twist too.
The closing track is entitled ‘Power Trip’ and features Sam on lead vocals over a really scuzzy fuzzed out guitar riff. Tackling the subject of the white hetero-patriarchy which dominates our society it careens at breakneck speed. Sounding quite different to the other two tracks, I’m not sure if this a detour for the band or them setting out down a new musical path. Either way, we win.
There is no doubt that Funeral Lakes will be getting Arcade Fire thrown at them by lazy reviewers as a point of reference but not here. I can hear the creativity of Talking Heads, the restrained ennui of Sparklehorse even the madcap irreverence of The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band.
I cannot recommend this band and EP highly enough. The Golden Season EP is out now from Funeral Lakes Bandcamp page and can be streamed from this list of platforms.
Bursting out the speakers comes Ten Million Lights with the first track from their upcoming Shine So Bright EP release. “Myanmar” is an absolute classic in the making.
Hailing from Portland, Oregon these shoegazers have a penchant for catchy hooks and imaginative lyrics. If you like your gaze on the heavy side, you’ll love what Ten Million Lights are doing here. Driving bass and drums support a fuzzy, grungy riff fuelled assault on your senses. Lyrically we are off to outer space, through a black hole to seek assistance from the reptilian people. Any band that can fit the line “Praying mantis come and save us reptilian son” into a song deserves our undying admiration.
Static Sounds Club has had a sneak peek of the upcoming Shine So Bright EP and I am pleased to report you are in for an absolute treat when it is released on Friday October 2nd.
Can it be nearly two years since we first heard “Impossible Stuff”, Carla’s last full-length release. That was a real statement of self from the Glasgow pop artist extraordinaire. I’m now sitting here with her brand-new release,” Weirdo”, just soaking up the lush soundscapes. Carla has a sound all of her own and on this release, she has really amplified every aspect of her musical personality to eleven.
Of the album title Carla says “I’ve often been told I am weird – like that’s a derogatory word, let’s be clear – normal doesn’t exist. The things that make me weird are the things that make me, me.” I think we can all get on board with that.
Album opener “Get Lost” is pounding dancefloor filler. With a nice call back to the opener from her last album “we’re still dreamin’ on the run”. There’s an undercurrent of 80’s style production running throughout this album that is particularly prominent in this track. I suspect that was deliberate. A statement of intent if you will.
“Heart So Hard” maintains that synth heavy groove from the opener splashed with hooks galore. With a chorus that is left spinning around in your head after the first listen, this is Carla pulling out all the stops.
Some really cool swirling and panning on the intro to “Spun Out” sets the mood for the song. This is classic Carla. Defiant lyrics, that warm yet epic synth sound that has followed her from Teen Canteen into her own solo work and really thoughtful arrangements. I have developed a bit of a soft spot for this song.
When I heard that Glasgow rapper Solar Eye was appearing on the album, I was scratching my head. How was this going to work? I needn’t have worried. Dave Hooks’ lyrics work so well against the backdrop of a pop banger. This track really cements Carla’s reputation a collaborator supreme. This is a theme that continues into the album.
Honest and from the heart lyrics are something Carla has form for but “Never Knew You” really is the most open and emotionally generous I have ever heard her. “’Never Knew You’ acknowledges the pedestal you can place someone on – what you hope they will be – and what happens when they crash down from that height.” As always, she has cleverly couched this song in a stunning pop anthem but it’s the lyrical content that has cemented it as my album highlight.
We take it down the gears a bit for ‘Signing it in Blood’. The best way I can describe this song is, imagine the song at the end of your favourite eighties coming of age movie. You know, the one where our leading lady gets her dance at the prom. This track wouldn’t sound out of place on the Stranger Things soundtrack. Yeah, that good.
“Beautiful Boy” bounces out the gate with a skipping off kilter rhythm. Retro synths build in to form a luscious, pristine backing. Oh, and that chorus. Simplicity itself executed to perfection. I once said that Bis had “more hooks than a fisherman’s dingy”, this applies to Carla too. And how.
And just to cement that opinion “Over You” Has that big eighties production vibe but taken to the next level. This deserves to be played at high volume in a club.
The title track features a team up with Glasgow rockers Honeyblood. Fuzzed out and delirious its an absolute stormer. Check it out for yourself here.
“Catch Me If I Fall” really caught me unawares. It opens really sparsely and has a similar vibe to her previous work. Then out of nowhere the track opens up into this widescreen pop opus. This is where great song writing and production magic come together to create something magical.
The album closes with “Coming Up Daisies”. There’s something about this song that has that cinematic soundtrack feel. The cascading synths, the unusual chord change in the verses keep you paying attention. The reverb-soaked chorus is the very definition of lush pop. What a way to close an album.
I really love it when artists evolve their sound without losing the core of what makes them unique. With “Weirdo” Carla has undoubtedly brought her A game, building on her previous successes. Moving forward is the name of the game here. No time to dwell on yesterday. This is going to feature in a lot of end of year polls, mine especially.
“Weirdo” is available now from Carla’s Bandcamp page via Olive Grove Records.