Category: dream pop

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Lucid Express Release a Trippy Visual for Shimmering and Lush “North Acton”

Hong Kong-based shoegazer outfit and newest JOVM mainstays Lucid Express — Kim (vocals, synths), Andy (guitar), Sky (guitar), and siblings Samuel (bass) and Wai (drums) — can trace their origins back to 2014: the then-teenagers started the band (initially known as Thud), in the turbulent weeks before the Umbrella Movement, the most recent in a series of tense pro-democracy protests against the increasingly brutal state-led suppression in the region. Amidst the constant scenery of tear-gassed, bloodied and beaten protestors, politically-targeted arrests and death threats from government officials, the five Hong Kong-based musicians met in a small practice space sun the remote, industrial Kwai Hing neighborhood. 

Despite the ugliness of their sociopolitical moment, the Hong Kong-based outfit manages to specialize in an ethereal and shimmering blend of indie pop, dream pop and shoegaze with their practice space being someplace where they could escape their world. “At that time, it felt like we have [sic] a need to hold on to something more beautiful than before. Like close friendships, the band, our creation,” the band’s Kim says in press notes. 

The band’s current name can be seen as a relatively modest mission statement describing the band’s intent: their use of the word lucid is in the poetic sense of something bright and radiant. Essentially, Lucid Express operates as the service to take the listener on a journey through their lush, dreamy and blissful sound. Interestingly, their material often manages to evoke the mood of its inception: with the band’s members working late-night shifts, their rehearsal and recording schedules found the band playing, writing and recording material between midnight and 4:00AM — and then crashing for a few hours in the studio, before heading back to their jobs.

The Hong Kong-based JOVM mainstay’s 10-song, self-titled, full-length debut officially dropped today. And as you may recall, the album’s material thematically touches upon being young, being in love and maneuvering through heartache in difficult and desperate times. Over the past handful of months I’ve written about three of the album’s singles in the lead-up to its release:

“Wellwave,” a sculptured and lush soundscape centered around Kim’s ethereal vocals, glistening synths, skittering four-on-the-floor and a motorik groove — with the end result being a song that reminded me quite a bit of Lightfoils, Palm Haze and Cocteau Twins but while feeling like a lucid fever dream. 
“Hollowers” the only collaborative track on the album as it features The Bilinda Butchers‘ Adam Honingford, who contributes his baritone to the song’s chorus. Interestingly, the track found the Hong Kong-based outfit pushing their sound towards its darkest corners. While prominently featuring shimmering synth arpeggios and shimmering guitars, the song’s emotional heftiness comes from its stormy, feedback driven chorus. 
“Hotel 65” a song that alternates between shimmering and ethereal verses and anthemic choruses featuring thunderous drumming and feedback drenched power chords. And while evoking a brewing storm on the horizon, the song lyrically name drops the guesthouse where Lucid Express’ frontperson Kim Ho stayed in while visiting the UK — and speaks of a relationship that should have never happened between two strangers, who both know that their time together will only be brief moment.

“North Acton,” the self-titled album’s opener — and fifth and latest single — continues a run of sculptured and painterly lush soundscapes, but this time paired with a propulsive and energetic four-on-the-floor. Seemingly nodding at 4AD Records beloved heyday, “North Acton” serves as the perfect introduction to the band and their sound while arguably be one of the album’s most upbeat and hopeful singles.

The recently released video for “North Acton” features trippy collage-based artwork by London-based artist Nick Scott (who also designed the album’s cover art) that takes the viewer on a psychedelic journey through his hometown and landscapes featuring oceans, mountains and clouds — all seen in neon-colored negatives.

Lyric Video: Cincinnati’s Sungaze Releases a Lush and Anthemic New Single

Cincinnati-based dreamgaze married duo Sungaze — Ian Hilvert and Ivory Snow — can trace its origins back to rather humble origins as Hilvert’s solo recording project: After leaving his long-time gig in a metal band, Hilvert wanted to try his hand at writing more dreamy and introspective material. Snow initially joined the band as a temporary keyboardist, but as the act began to play more shows, her influence on the band grew, helping lead to stronger and more confident songwriting — and eventually to the couple writing much more collaboratively and sharing vocal duties. The end result is a unique sound and songwriting approach that mixes each individual member’s artistic influences and passions. Interestingly, their sound features elements of shoegaze, psych rock, dream pop and a tinge of twang.

Generally, their material is written from personal experience and thematically focuses on human nature, while occasionally touching upon the metaphysical and spiritual. But much of their inspiration comes from a sense of place and a desire to capture the landscapes and spaces they both find enchanting.

The Cincinnati-based duo’s full-length debut, 2019’s Light In All Of It was released to praise from The 405, Austin Town Hall, Cincinnati CityBeat and others. The album eventually landed at #91 on the North American College and Community Radio Charts (NACC), remaining on the charts for more than six consecutive weeks. Building upon a growing profile, Sungaze’s sophomore album This Dream is slated for an August 13, 2021 release.

This Dream’s second and latest single “Body In The Mirror” finds the duo further establishing their sound. Centered around lush layers of shimmering and jangling guitars, a rousingly anthemic hook and Snow’s breathy cooing, “Body In The Mirror” is a seamless synthesis of Slowdive-like shoegaze and Mazzy Star/Still Corners-like dream pop — but while lyrically and thematically focusing on the hard self-reckoning that many of us battled with during the height of the pandemic.

New VIdeo: A Glimpse of Touring Life in Visual for Lucid Express’ Painterly “Hotel 65”

Hong Kong-based shoegazer outfit Lucid Express — Kim (vocals, synths), Andy (guitar), Sky (guitar), and siblings Samuel (bass) and Wai (drums) — can trace their origins back to 2014: the then-teenagers started the band (initially known as Thud), in the turbulent weeks before the Umbrella Movement, the most recent in a series of tense pro-democracy protests against the increasingly brutal state-led suppression in the region. Amidst the constant scenery of tear-gassed, bloodied and beaten protestors, politically-targeted arrests and death threats from government officials, the five Hong Kong-based musicians met in a small practice space sun the remote, industrial Kwai Hing neighborhood. 

Despite the ugliness of their sociopolitical moment, the Hong Kong-based outfit manages to specialize in an ethereal and shimmering blend of indie pop, dream pop and shoegaze with their practice space being someplace where they could escape their world. “At that time, it felt like we have [sic] a need to hold on to something more beautiful than before. Like close friendships, the band, our creation,” the band’s Kim says in press notes. 

describing the band’s intent: their use of the word lucid is in the poetic sense of something bright and radiant. Essentially, Lucid Express operates as the service to take the listener on a journey through their lush, blissful and dreamy sounds. Unsurprisingly, their material manages to carry the mood of their inception: with the band’s members working late-night shifts, their rehearsal and recording schedules found the band playing, writing and recording material between midnight and 4:00AM, and then crashing for a few hours in the studio before going back to work. 

The end result is the band’s highly-anticipated, full-length debut. the 10-song album thematically touches upon being young, being in love and maneuvering through heartache in difficult times. Although writing and recording together served as a unifying and soothing presence for the members of the band, their music fell victim to their complicated circumstances: The pervasive uncertainty over Hong Kong’s sociopolitical future created an overwhelming feeling of depression that found its way into the local music scene. Shows were cancelled and releases delayed. And for a time, it just didn’t feel relevant to promote music.

While there’s much to be fought for at home, the members of the rising indie rock act have recently begun to feel a fresh hope in their work. They’ve felt as though they’ve reached an understanding of their music’s place amongst the world it inhabits — and they’ve decide to release their full-length, self-titled debut through Kanine Records on July 16, 2021.
ucid Express has received glowing praise from Time Out for their “dreamy live performances” with their debut single “Lime” receiving praise from Drowned In Sound, NME and others. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of months you might recall that I’ve written about two of the album’s release singles:

“Wellwave,” a sculptured and lush soundscape centered around Kim’s ethereal vocals, glistening synths, skittering four-on-the-floor and a motorik groove — with the end result being a song that reminded me quite a bit of Lightfoils, Palm Haze and Cocteau Twins but while feeling like a lucid fever dream.
“Hollowers” the only collaborative track on the album as it features The Bilinda Butchers‘ Adam Honingford, who contributes his baritone to the song’s chorus. Interestingly, the track found the Hong Kong-based outfit pushing their sound towards its darkest corners. While prominently featuring shimmering synth arpeggios and shimmering guitars, the song’s emotional heftiness comes from its stormy, feedback driven chorus.

Following in a similar vein as “Hollowers,” the self-titled album’s fourth and latest single is an exercise in painterly like textures as the band alternates between shimmering and ethereal verses and anthemic choruses centered around thunderous drumming and feedback drenched power chords. While evoking a brewing storm on the horizon, the song lyrically name drops the guesthouse where Lucid Express’ Kim Ho stayed in while visiting the UK and speaks of a relationship that should never happened between two strangers, who both know that their time together will be a brief moment. In life, nothing lasts forever — and nothing is certain.

The recently released video for “Hotel 65” is college of footage shot during the band’s travels through Hong kong, Vietnam, the UK and the US. While at points, capturing life behind the scenes of a young band hitting the road and playing in front of adoring crowds — including the last set of 2020 that I got to see — the changing scenery throughout reflect the lyrical turns of the song. (We also see some of the song’s lyrics scrawled onto mirrors, notebooks, paper scraps and typed onto phones.)

Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays Junaco — Shahanna Jaffer and Joey LaRosa — derive their name for a term that they say generally means rolling with the pace of life and enjoying the present; living and working with intention, and not just running on autopilot. Fittingly, much like the term that inspired their band’s name, Jaffer and LaRosa have developed and honed a deliberate creative approach that actively eschews the music industry’s commonly-held attempts to placate the blogosphere’s short attention span with constant releases of varying quality.

Over the past year though, the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays have released a batch of material including:

  • In Between (Reprise) ” an even more ethereal and softer take on their Omar Yakar-produced Awry EP single “In Between” that retained the confusing sensations of uncertainty and progress. 
  • Blue Room” a gorgeous bit of hook driven indie rock that’s both a sigh of contentedness and frustration that thematically touches upon a familiar concept to all of us — that home can be a place of safety, security, peace and love, as well as a place full of stifling boredom and uncertainty. 
  • Weight Of The World,” a slow-burning, Beach House-like track centered around Jaffer’s achingly soulful vocals paired with a gorgeous arrangement of lush and swirling layers of shimmering and jangling guitars drenched in reverb, atmospheric synths, a chugging rhythm section and a soaring hook. But at its core, the song dives headfirst into the experience of slowing down to look around and truly dig what’s around you.

The duo’s highly-anticipated Blue Room EP which is slated for a July 9, 2021 release through Side Hustle Records will be reportedly be a 360º music and art project inspired by “When we were writing the new tunes, we were listening to a lot of Amo AmoBig Thief, Rodrigo AmaranteSam Evian, Broncho & Hannah Cohen,”and others.

Building upon the pre-release buzz, the EP’s latest single “Paradise” continues a run of jangling and hook-driven dream pop featuring Jaffer’s gorgeous vocals. But this time also featuring muscular yet blown out drumming, twinkling keys, and reverb drenched feedback and effects. Interestingly, “Paradise” may arguably be the most person song that the duo have released to date: “The mind is a powerful tool – we have the ability to shift our perspective at any given moment with practice and control,” Junaco’s Shahanna Jaffer explains. “A strong sentiment I learned from my parents’ immigrant experience – that paradise is in your mind if you allow it. We have the habit of placing responsibility on a far away action: ‘when I move there, my life will be better’ but if we instead tried to look inward and felt every feeling genuinely, would we have an easier time adapting?” Joey LaRosa adds, “And while we all attempt to live in the present, it’s still important to take the past and future into account. You are who you are based on the past. And you are who you are based on what you want and what you envision your future to be.” 

Kekko is a Singapore-based psych rock/dream pop duo and married couple — multi-instrumentalist Tim Kek and vocalist Cherie Ko. Ko spent her teenaged years covering dream pop and shoegaze classics on YouTube, earning a cult following from fans of Slowdive, Beach House and My Bloody Valentine. But her musical career started in earnest with a stint as the frontperson of Bored Spies, an act that featured members of Seam.

Bored Spies managed to tour the US and Europe, including a notable stop at Primavera Sound Festival. But interestingly according to the band’s Cherie Ko, Kekko marks the first time that she has been able to fully embrace her authentic wholeness. And without self-imposed expectations and ideas of what music — in particular her music — should be, Ko feels the she now sings from a place of “warm transcendence,” where the music fully embodies who she is deep inside. Kekko’s Tim Kek is tasked with with the paradox of expressing the inexpressible through his compositions. Deeply steeped in Eastern philosophy, Kek’s work often “starts with just one night and a quiet contemplation” of how the sound makes him feel. He then builds and crafts melody-driven arrangements from his “heart cave,” a term that Ram Dass describes as “a place beyond all forms and lists, a place for letting go.” The end result is work that attempts to envision and encapsulates the expansiveness and magic of all realms of existence.

The Singaporean duo have exploded out the gate with their debut single “Past Lives,” which received praise from NME, Obscure Sound and Nevermind. The duo’s debut EP Dreaming Life is inspired by an ancient introspective musing by the ancient Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi: Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.” The EP’s material reportedly feels strangely familiar yet simultaneously exciting and surreal.

Dreaming Life‘s second single, the slow-burning and painterly EP title track features Ko’s ethereal and plaintive vocals paired with shimmering synth arpeggios, an almost motorik-like groove and a soaring hook. While sonically, some critics have compared their sound to Tame Impala and Melody’s Echo Chamber, “Dreaming Life” reminds me of Young Narrator in the Breakers-era Pavo Pavo. But as the duo explain, the song offers a reminder to the listener: that being in control of our lives is an illusion and that this futile pursuit can be very stressful and tiresome. The song calls for an different view of our existence — that life actually happens through you and because of you and that all we can do is appreciate each and every moment we’ve got.

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New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Pastel Coast Return with a Shimmering and Nostalgia-Inducing Bop

The rising French dream pop act Pastel Coast, led by  Boulogne-sur-Mer, France-based creative mastermind Quentin Isidore (vocals, guitar) and featuring Benjamin Fiorini (drums), Ingrid Letourneau (keys), Marion Plouviez (guitar, vocals) and Renaud Retaux (bass) have received attention both nationally and internationally for developing and honing a breezy yet melancholic sound indebted to the early 90s developing and honing a melancholic sound deeply indebted to the early 90s Manchester scene and to acclaimed French indie act Phoenix.

2019 proved to be an enormous year for Pastel Coast: their full-length debut Hovercraft landed on Dream Pop Magazine‘s Top 100. And the band wound up landing a slot at last year’s Inouïs du Printemps de Bourges, which was unfortunately cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Continuing upon that momentum, the French dream pop JOVM mainstays sophomore album Sun officially dropped today — and if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you may recall that the album features the following singles:

The attention grabbing “Rendezvous”
“Dial” a breezy synths of New Order and Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix-era Phoenix that evoked the swooning euphoria of new love. 
“Sunset,” a glistening and breezy number that’s a carefully crafted synthesis of New Zealand jangle pop and Phoenix that thematically focused on lovelorn folks racing against time to try to find love before sunset.
“Distance” one of the album’s more synth-driven numbers featuring angular guitar bursts, gently Autoned vocals and a euphoric club and beach friendly hook.

“Funeral,” Sun’s fifth and latest single begins with an atmospheric intro before quickly morphing into a euphoric bop centered around twinkling synths, jangling guitars, Isidore’s plaintive vocals and a motorik groove that sounds like synthesis of early 80s New Order and Phoenix but imbued with an achingly wistful nostalgia for simpler times and the proverbial “one that got away.”

New Video: Meggie Lennon Releases a Feverish Visual for Shimmering “Night Shift”

Meggie Lennon is a Montreal-based singer/songwriter, who started her career as the frontperson of acclaimed indie pop/indie rock outfit Abrdeen, an act that received an  Alternative Independent Music Gala of Quebec (GAMIQ) nomination for 2017’s Endless Dreams and Dreamlike Mornings EP.

Abrdeen supported their material touring with a number of indie acts including Good Morning, JOVM mainstays Elephant Stone, The Dears, Julie Doiron, Sugar Candy Mountain and Laura Sauvage. And the band made the rounds of the provincial festival circuit with stops at POP Montreal, M for Montreal and FME. Additionally, Lennon developed a reputation as a go-to collaborator, lending her vocals to material by Debbie Tebbs, Lucill and Super Plage.

Lennon fully steps out into the spotlight as a solo artist with the July 9, 2021 release of her Samuel Gemme-produced full-length debut Sounds From Your Lips through Mothland. Featuring guest sports from Elephant Stone’s Gabriel Lambert and her longtime friend and collaborator, Super Plage’s Jules Henry, the album finds Lennon and her collaborators crafting a sound that meshes late 60s and early 70s psych, The Byrds, T.Rex, Melody’s Echo Chamber, MGMT, and Beach House into something that Lennon describes as “make-out dream-pop” with a glowing and infectious sense of optimism.

Sounds From Your Lips’ first single, album opening track “Night Shift” is heavily indebted to Scott Walker psych pop as the track features a gorgeous arrangement of soaring strings, twinkling Wurlitzer and a sultry yet propulsive groove paired with Lennon’s breathy vocals and fuzzy guitars within an alternating quiet, loud, quiet song structure, a trippy break. And as a result, the song manages to capture the intimate thoughts of late night trips home — but with a cinematic grandeur.

“The first part of the song came to me while cycling home back from L’Esco after a wild night. I was on a Box and the streets were completely empty,” Lennon explains. “I was riding fast through the night and it felt both meditative and exhilarating – this feeling is reflected in the dreamy verses and then heavier guitar crescendo at the end. When we got in the studio, I laid the lead track on the Wurli and it all came naturally. The second part, ‘take a glimpse outside,’ came while doodling on the synth. We were in the studio without windows but we both went outside and the sun blinded us, the lyrics were inspired by this.”

Directed by Marielle Normandin Pageau, the recently released visual for “Night Shift” is a gorgeous visual featuring sequences shot during golden hour, with others shot through dreamy filters to evoke the a feverish and hallucinogenic vibe.

Long Beach, CA-based indie rock act Sweet Nobody — Joy Deyo (guitar, vocals), Brian Dishon (drums, guitar, vocals), Casey Synder (guitar) and Adam Nolan (bass) — recorded their Joel Jerome-produced sophomore album We’re Trying Our Best in sessions at Hurley Studios and Jerome’s garage prior to the pandemic. Intended for release last summer, the album’s planned release and their plans to support the album were understandably waylaid, much like everything else last year.

The album’s material is informed by Deyo’s struggles with chronic pain from an illness that managed to resist proper diagnosis and treatment — and her experience of trying to learn with pain. And although Deyo couldn’t possibly know what lay ahead for the world when she started writing the album, thematically the album fits our time, as it touches upon addressing the reality of living with challenges and difficulties, the insecurity and uncertainty that feeling damaged can bring, the sustaining support and love that only those close to you can bring and the weirdness of just being around other people.

Slated for a September 17, 2021 release through Daydream Records, We’re Trying Our Best‘s first singles are coming out just as all of us are trying to figure out how to reintegrate into society and deal with others after more than a year of pandemic-related isolation and boredom. But despite the seemingly dark themes, the album reportedly finds the band balancing poignant lyrical concerns and insight with a light sonic touch inspired by Felt‘s Maurice Deebank, Johnny Marr and The Go-Betweens.

Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Not A Good Judge” lyrically and thematically finds its narrator grappling with crippling self-doubt to the point that she wishes that she could quiet that annoying inner voice — but paired with a breezy soundscape that’s one part Flying Nun Records jangle pop, one part The Smiths centered around an anthemic hook and relentless four-on-the-floor.

“For me the creative process is cyclical; I’ll be making things I like and then I’ll get to a point where I’m stuck on something or I can’t access an idea I want,” Sweet Nobody’s Joy Deyo explains in press notes. “I get frustrated with myself and wonder if I ever really ‘had it’. Then I text my husband (our drummer Brian) and tell him I’m afraid I’ll never make anything good again. He laughs and tells me not to worry and not long after I’ll have a breakthrough and get back to feeling confident again. I’m learning to trust that those lows aren’t the final word on my ability to create. ‘Not a Good Judge’ is me on a creative high imploring the me that’s in a creative low not to take it too seriously. It’s about getting out of my own way so I can keep progressing.”