Category: dream pop

Austin-based shoegaze/dream pop act ThunderStars, comprised of longtime Margot & the Nuclear So and Sos multi-instrumentalist Erik Klang (vocals, guitar), Sven Bjorkman (drums) and Omar Richardson (bass) can trace their origins back to when Bjorkman posted a random thought about a creating a band named ThunderStars, a term coined by his toddler daughter, during a stress-fueled trip to the hospital. And while marking Klang’s return to music, the band has had a art-out-of-chaos theme hanging over them since their inception back in 2018.

After their second-ever live show, Omar Richardson was assault by a vagrant outside of the venue, which resulted in a severe concussion and a subsequent trip to the ER. The incident was covered extensively by Austin-bass news outlets — and as a result the band’s profile rose unexpectedly. Additionally, their early demos were well received publicly with the band receiving radio and podcast airplay, as well as show bookings with a number of national touring acts.

Building upon a growing profile, the Austin-based shoegazers’ latest effort Number Stations is slated for a Friday release through Mariel Recording Company. Interestingly, the album’s latest single is the slow-burning and shimmering “Not That Far.” Centered around Klang’s plaintive vocals, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, the track manages to recall 4AD-era shoegaze, as it possesses an ethereal and feverish quality.

 

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Loudmammoth is a Newcastle-upon-Tyne-based shoegaze act — currently comprised of Sophie, Will, Liam and Declan — that can trace its origins back to August 2018, when its founding members bonded over a mutual appreciation of shoegaze, DIY recording and Ian Curtis. With the release of their self-produced debut single “Enough,” the Northeastern English band caught the attention of Scottish indie label Last Night From Glasgow, who signed the act seven weeks later.

Building upon a growing profile, the members of Loudmammoth released their second single “Let Go” last summer, which they followed up with a sold out hometown show at Newcastle’s The Cumberland Arms with labelmates L-Space and Stephen Solo. The single helped the band land praise from The Crack Magazine, who described the band as “purveyors of the very finest jangle,” while receiving airplay on BBC 6 Music‘s The Tom Robinson Show and a feature on the BBC Introducing Mixtape.

Since the release of “Let Go,” the band has been rather busy:  they’ve spent the past few months in intensive writing sessions  — and in that same period of time, they’ve gone through a slight lineup change. Interestingly enough, those past few months of intense writing have helped to produce the rising British act’s latest single, the shimmering one part jangle pop, one part shoegaze, one part dream pop number “In Blue.” Centered around shimmering and jangling guitars, Sophie’s ethereal vocals and a soaring hook, the track — to my ears, at least — brings The Sundays and Slowdive to mind, complete with an unfussy yet clean production and a yearning ache at its core.

Talinn, Estonia-based shoegazers Pia Fraus — currently comprised of founding members Kärt Ojavee (synths), Rein Fuks (guitars, vocals) and Reijo Tagapere (bass),  along with their returning longtime drummer Joosep Volk and newest members Eve Romp (vocals, synths, met allophone) — can trace its origins back to 1998, when the band’s founding sextet were all art school students. Since the band’s founding, they’ve gone to release five full-length albums and a handful of EPs of material that have cemented their sound — a mix of dream pop, shoegaze and electronica with layered male-female harmonies.

Slated for a January 20, 2020 release through Vinyl Junkie Records in Japan and Seksound Records globally, Pia Fraus’ John McEntire-produced sixth album Empty Parks was recorded at Nevada City, CA-based Soma Electronic Music Studios with album title track  “Empty Parks” being recorded in two separate kitchens, a windowless basement and Reijo Tagapere’s barn. “This is the poppiest album we’ve ever made. It’s melancholy and happy at the same time – definitely happier than our latest Field Ceremony album,” the band’s Rein Fuks says in press notes. “To work with John McEntire was my teenage wet dream.  I have been a massive fan of John’s work over the years, and I never thought that one day I have a chance to sit next to this guy and make my own record. Of course, it was quite challenging and stressful for me.”

“Although the process of making this album wasn’t been the easiest, I associate this album relates mostly with the feeling of happiness and positivism,” the band’s Eve Komp says in press notes. “The awareness of being able to be hopeful and make jokes about life even if everything seems to going downhill.”

The band’s Joosep Volk adds “Personally, Empty Parks means a lot. It’s sort of a homecoming to me. 16 years has past since I last played with the rest of the group and when Rein asked me to return, I never thought twice. Understanding that sometimes things do fall apart and you just have to pick yourself up and deal with it. Life is deviously clever, we just have to endure.”

Album single “Love Sports” is a decidedly upbeat song, centered around jangling guitars, propulsive drumming, ethereal male-female harmonies and soaring hooks. And while continuing their long-held reputation for meshing shoegaze and dream pop, “Love Sports” finds the band adding a bit of Flying Nun Records-like jangle pop — but with a subtly modern production. Album title track “Empty Parks” is a more contemplative and seemingly wintry affair, centered around layers of reverb-drenched, shimmering and  jangling guitar, hushed male-female harmonizing. Both songs are gorgeous and kind of bittersweet in a way that acknowledges what life really is: full of heartbreaking losses, minor victories, brief moments of transcendent beauty and all of its important and necessary.  We find a way to endure somehow — and that’s what matters.

 

 

Matthew Messore is an Orlando, FL-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. best known as the creative mastermind behind the rapidly rising bedroom recording project Cathedral Bells. Now, as you may recall since the release of last year’s breakthrough self-titled EP, an effort which received support from David Dean Burkhart and praise from The Line of Best Fit, Messore has released a handful of singles from his highly-anticipated Cathedral Bells full-length debut, Velvet Spirit, which will be released through Good Eye Records on March 6, 2020.

The album’s third and latest single “Ephemeral” continues a run of material centered around ethereal vocals., shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, propulsive drum machine, a motorik-like groove and an infectious radio-friendly hook. And while clearly indebted to 4AD Records glorious heyday, The Cure, The Sisters of Mercy, Chain of Flowers and others, the song is a swooning and urgent fever dream.

 

 

 

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Sophie Nicole Ellison is a London-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and studio engineer, who has spent the past few years playing drums for a number of local bands and working as as studio engineer. During that same period of time, Ellison began writing material for her solo, dream pop recording project HUSSY.

Since October, Ellison has released three singles that have received praise from the likes of DIY Magazine, So Young Magazine, The Line of Best Fit and Clash Magazine. Adding to a growing reputation as one of the UK’s most exciting and promising alt pop/indie rock acts, Ellison has opened for the likes of FEELS and Lala Lala — and she will be playing the second annual New Colossus Festival in March 2020.

Interestingly, Ellison’s latest HUSSY single “YLMD” is a moody. decidedly hook-driven, New Wave-inspired, shimmering take on dream pop that — to my ears — brings JOVM mainstays Amber Arcades, Gothic Tropic, and Too True-era Dum Dum Girls to mind. And much like those acts, “YLMD” finds Ellison pairing earnest and ambitious songwriting with a slick, radio friendly,  studio sheen. “I really wanted to up what I’ve been doing sonically,” Ellison explains in press notes. “Before now I’d been recording nearly everything at home but went to a proper studio to redo some elements from the original home demo.

“I could almost say at this stage it has become a love letter to self-empowerment and things going wrong,” the rising British singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and studio engineer says of her latest single. “You can guess once you hear the lyrics, YLMD stands for You Let Me Down. I wrote it a few years ago and feels like it’s almost taken on a new meaning for me now than when I wrote it.

“Originally it was the frustration over seeing loved one’s self-destruction. Ultimately though, it’s a journey of reflection and self-empowerment.”

Adds Ellison, “This song has become a remind of how important trusting yourself is to me.”

 

New Video: Los Angeles’ The Know Releases a Hazy and Nostalgia Visual for Shimmering “143”

The Know,an up-and-coming Los Angeles-based dream pop/shoegaze act comprised of married duo Daniel Knowles and Jennifer Farmer, can trace they origins to late last year, when Knowles suggested to Farmer, that instead of traveling home for the holidays — the UK and Texas respectively — that they stay put in Los Angeles, and try to write music together, just to two of them. The material that they’d spend writing would be their gift to themselves. 

For the next few weeks, they isolated themselves in their home studio with no real plan — but they shared a mural love of Beach House, Julee Cruise, Ye Ye, The Jesus and Mary Chain, 60s girl groups, Patsy Cline and The National. The first bit of material they wrote together wound up being their latest single “143,” will appear on their forthcoming debut EP. Inspired by Tom Waits’ “(Looking for) The Heart of Saturday Night,” “143” finds the duo meshing the autobiographical with the fantastical, as the song focuses on a the hazy recollections of a night out. Sonically, the song is an atmospheric fever dream, centered around shimmering synths and guitars, Farmer’s ethereal crooning and a soaring hook. And while seemingly indebted to Beach House and 60s girl groups, the lush song is imbued with a hazy nostalgia and aching longing. 

Directed by the band’s Jennifer Farmer, the recently released video for “143” focuses on a wild night out through a series of hazy, seemingly drug and alcohol fueled recollections of a party and wandering through the neon-lit streets of Los Angeles with a group of friends before ending with a young couple cuddling while watching the sun rise over the city’s skyline. And although its set in Los Angeles, the video captures something intimately familiar — young people hanging out, goofing off and being carefree. 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Still Corners Returns with Two from Abbey Road Studios Live Sessions

With the release of their 2012’s Creatures of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures and 2016’s Dead Blue the London-based dream pop act Still Corners — vocalist and keyboardist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes — have developed a shimmering and atmospheric take on dream pop, centered around Murray’s smoky vocals. 

Last year, the London-based JOVM mainstays released their fourth album, the critically applauded Slow Air. Deriving its name from the sultry Texas summer days and nights that they spent writing and recording the album in Austin, TX, the album found the band making a return to early form, with the band leaning heavily towards arrangements centered around electric and acoustic guitar, live drumming and a minimal use of synthesizers. Some of this may have been inspired by the studio Hughes designed and built for the recording sessions — and by a minimalist approach in which they consciously ensured that they didn’t overthink, while using a variety of old and new microphones. 

While in the past there may have been countless takes and overdubs in an attempt to make things absolutely perfect, Murray and Hughes kept the inevitable mistakes to remind the listener of the material’s emotionality — and also to remind the lister that living, breathing, feeling humans made it. 

Additionally, the band recorded and mixed the album in three months, the fastest they’ve ever done, and as a result, the material possesses a previously unheard urgency while retaining the shimmering and moody atmospherics that they’ve long been known for — especially on album single “Black Lagoon.” After completing what may arguably be the biggest world tour, including a memorable stop at Elsewhere, as well as across North America, Europe and Asia, the duo wanted to document their live sound with a live stood recording. As the band’s Tessa Murray says in press notes. “Abbey Road was the first studio we thought of when deciding where to record. It’s a beautiful and iconic place that we’ve always dreamed of. The sound and experimentation that happened there makes up much of the fabric of recording history.””Vintage consoles lined the corridors as we made our way to the Studio 3. We Could feel the weight of walking into the same studio where Pink Floyd recorded Dark Side of the Moon,” Greg Hughes adds. “We used microphones used on many Beatles’ recordings.” 

During their Abbey Road session, the band recorded a live version of one of my favorite tracks off the album, Black Lagoon — and while being a slightly stripped down rendition, the Abbey Road rendition retains the song’s gorgeous melody and shimmering atmospherics, while possessing a road-tested looseness. “We played this for a session at KUTX in Austin and a lot of people mentioned they would like an official audio recording, so we decided to that as well,” Murray says in press notes. 

The other track the JOVM mainstays recorded found the duo tackling Richard and Linda Thompson’s “The Calvary Cross.” As the band’s Greg Hughes explains in press notes, Richard and Linda Thompson’s I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight is a personal favorite of the duo — and they covered “The Calvary Cross” during their last tour. And while the original was more of a mid-tempo stomper reminiscent of Neil Young, the Still Corners version is a slow-burning and gorgeously atmospheric take, centered around shimmering country-like guitars and Murray’s smoky vocals.  

New Video: Lunar Twin Releases a Brooding Late Night Visual for Trip Hop-like “Leaves”

Deriving their name from a scientific theory that suggests that Earth may have had a second moon, a twin moon that was destroyed in a massive collision during the earliest moments of our solar system, Lunar Twin, which is comprised of vocalist Bryce Boudreau and multi-instrumentalist and producer Chris Murphy can trace their origins back to 2011’s Denver Underground Music Festival when Boudreau joined Murphy’s goth band Nightsweats as a guest vocalist. And by 2013, the duo started collaborating together full-time.

With the release of their debut, 2014’s self-titled EP and 2017’s Night Tides EP, the duo which is currently split between Hawaii and Salt Lake City have developed a unique take on chill wave/dark wave that draws from and possesses elements of synth pop, shoegaze, dream pop and others. A couple of years have passed since I’ve written about Lunar Twin — and as it turns out, the duo’s Chris Murphy has been busy sharing the stages with a growing list of acclaimed and renowned artists including Grimes, Bonnie Prince Billy and Peaches through other projects he’s worked in. But the duo have also been working on their long-awaited third EP Ghost Moon Ritual, which is slated for a February 16, 2020 release through  the band’s own imprint, Tropical Depression/Desert Heat. 

Ghost Moon Ritual reportedly finds the duo expanding upon the sound that caught the attention of this site and elsewhere with some of the material nodding at psych folk and desert noir-themed late night moon music. The EP’s latest single, the moody and atmospheric “Leaves” is centered around Boudreau’s sonorous, Mark Lanegan-like baritone, layers of buzzing and shimmering synths and thumping beats. And while simultaneously nodding at trip hop and dream pop, the song evokes — for me, at least — a a specific late night loneliness I’ve known — wandering a new town, a new country on your own, as a stranger, a man from far away. 

Directed by San Francisco-based Zoey Nyguen, the recently released video is set in a raw, late night, neon cityscape — her neighborhood of Russian Hill. ” I wanted to embody the song with visuals from my within my neighborhood and local surroundings and to include basically a collage of clips from different time periods and eras of the City,” Nyguen says in press notes. “I made the video as a simple Creative Commons project and then approached the group about a possible collaboration and then filmed them performing to add to the story I had built around their song into something more” 

“Collaboration with a new person is always a surprise creatively and I thought her vibrant and imaginative approach visualizing the song to be just right .. to curate this version of this songs story,” Bryce Boudreau says of the video. “Her choice of imagery really melds with the track. I’m very happy with the way the video develops and encapsulates everything we are trying to express musically” Chris Murphy adds in press notes.