Category: Shoegaze

New Video: Montréal’s Bodywash Shares Woozy and Uneasy “Massif Central”

Montréal-based shoegazers Bodywash — Chris Steward and Rosie Long Dector — can trace their origins back to when the pair met while attending McGill University. But when they met, the pair didn’t immediately share a common musical language: Steward grew up in London listening to celestial dream pop while Dector grew up in Toronto listening to folk and Canadiana. The music they began writing together saw the pair bridging their influences. And with the release of 2016’s self-titled EP and 2019’s full-length debut, Comforter, the Montréal-based duo firmly established their sound — slow-burning and dreamy material centered around ethereal vocals, intricate guitar lines and pulsating synths. 

The Canadian shoegazers’ sophomore album I Held the Shape While I Could is slated for an April 14, 2023 release through Light Organ Records. . When touring to support Comforter was cut short by the pandemic, the duo used the unexpected hiatus to write new material, which was darker, more experimental and more invigorating than its predecessor, and managed to reflect on Steward’s and Long Dector’s separate and shared experiences of losing a sense of place, the way something once solid can slip between your fingers, and their attempts to build something new from the psychological and emotional fallout.

Late last year, I wrote about the sophomore album’s expansive first single, “Kind of Light.” Beginning with a slow-burning and elegiac intro featuring glistening organ and a skittering yet propulsive kick pattern that slow builds up and breaks into a high energy boom bap-like breakbeat paired with scorching guitar squealing and wobbling bass synths. Long Decter’s ethereal and achingly plaintive vocals expressing profound, heart-wrenching despair — and hope. The song suggests that while loss is natural and sadly expected there can be hope; that there are only a handful of things in our lives that are truly permanent. And that ultimately for the most part, it can get better.

“I wrote ‘Kind of Light’ in bed,” Long Decter says. ““It was the fall of 2018 and Chris and I were both going through experiences of learning not to trust what feels like home. He sent me a plugin for a new organ sound, suggesting it might provide inspiration. I sent him back chords, a kick pattern, and some vocals about trying to pull your legs back; trying to take your energy out of the wreckage and put it into yourself. The process of deciding what’s worth keeping, what can be reworked and what gets tossed in the fire. A process that is devastating and also weirdly invigorating, because you can see new possibilities opening up in front of you. And you can start to look for light somewhere else.”

I Held the Shape While I Could‘s second single, the woozy “Massif Central” features glistening synth bursts, shimmering and angular post punk-meets-shoegaeze-like textures paired with a relentless motorik groove, stormy guitar feedback and Steward’s ethereal whispers recounting an experience of Kafka-esque, bureaucratic purgatory: a typo in a government letter caused Steward to lose his legal work status in Canada. The song manages to evoke the sensation of having your life flipped upside down, then being hopelessly stuck and having no say or agency in your situation.

“After eight years living in Canada, in the Spring of 2021, a government clerical error caused me to lose my legal status here,” Steward explains. “As a UK national, I lost my right to work. My savings trickled away during months where I could do little but pace the corners of my apartment. I was prepared to pack my bags and leave as the life I’d hoped to construct for myself seemed to vanish into a bureaucratic abyss.”
 
“‘Massif’ is the sound of wailing into a cliff and not knowing if you’ll hear an echo,” continued Steward. “The spoken word is inspired by a squirrel that was trapped in the wall behind my bed, clawing its way to salvation. With the help of friends, family, music, and a few immigration lawyers (and the rest of my savings), I’m now a permanent resident here. But this song remains as testament to my experience with an exploitative institution.”

Directed by Jordan Allen, the accompanying video for “Massif Central” is a dizzying collage of live footage, directed by Brandon Kaufman, distorted VHS-like visuals and eerie. retro-futuristic -inspired graphics. “With ‘Massif Central,’ we wanted to encapsulate the panic and urgency that Chris experienced, and have the abstracts portray the anxiety and hopelessness one can feel at the hands of bureaucracy,” Allen explains. “I chose graphics that heavily leaned into feelings of being lost in a maze, with towering structures and horizon lines pulling you into them. The idea was that the camera would be both a CCTV view of the band, but also glitching to reveal the more emotionally internal visual aspects.”

New Video: Wroclaw, Poland Shoegazers Give Up To Failure Share Brooding “Slow Collapse”

Wroclaw, Poland-based shoegazer outfit Give Up To Failure — Mark Magick, Krzysztof Młyńczak, Rafał Wekiera, Michał Szczypek, and Dominik Półtorak — will be releasing their sophomore album Cocoon through Polish indie label Requiem Records on February 20, 2023.

The Polish shoegazers explain that they’ve developed on Cocoon is a definite transformation from the sound of their full-length debut, 2020’s Burden. The ten-song Cocoon sees the band’s sound evolving with material that ranges from shoeagze, post-rock and post-metal with nods of post-punk, ambient and dream pop in a swirling and cohesive fashion. “We describe the sound of this album as: from chaos in the head to peace in the heart,” the Polish outfit said through email. Lyrically and thematically, the albums material touches upon love, depression, self-destruction, insomnia, trying to find yourself and trying to become a better person.

Cocoon‘s second and latest single, “Slow Collapse” is a slow-burning and brooding track centered around swirling and malevolent guitar atmospherics, propulsive and dramatic drumming paired with achingly plaintive vocals, buried a bit in the mix, expressing regret and self-loathing that brings A Place to Bury Strangers to mind. The song’s narrator begs for for another chance, for their love interest to just talk — for a chance to explain what happened from their perspective. But throughout there’s a sense that it’s just too late.

The accompanying video features some trippy and brooding imagery, including fuzzy black and white, VHS-style footage of an exceedingly European forest, a couple of embracing, a couple walking through a trippy background and more.

Richmond, VA-based shoegazer outfit Keep formed back in 2013. And since their formation, the Richmond-based act have developed a sound that is heavily influenced by 80s goth and post-punk, 90s shoegaze and grunge, as well as post 2000s indie rock. 

Their full-length debut, Happy In Here is slated for a February 3, 2023 release through Honey Suckle Sound. Last month, I wrote about album single “Dasani Daydream,” a brooding track centered around shimmering, shoegazer-like guitar textures, ambient synths, thunderous drums and achingly plaintive vocals paired with enormous hooks. Rooted in earnest songwriting and performance, the track sonically reminded me of  A Storm in Heaven and The Life and Times

Happy In Here‘s latest single, “Everything” is a centered around swirling and stormy shoegazer-like guitar textures and thunderous drumming paired with achingly plaintive vocals in a classic grunge song structure — alternating quiet, loud, quiet sections. Much like its immediate predecessor, “Everything” brings A Storm in Heaven and The Life and Times to mind — but also, A Northern Soul and harder fare to mind.

Silversun Pickups — Brian Aubert (vocals, guitar, keys). Nikki Monniger (bass, vocals), Chis Guano (drums, percussion, programming, vocals) and Joe Lester (keys, samples, sound manipulation, guitar and vocals) — released their Butch Vig-produced, sixth album Physical Thrills earlier this year. The album’s material came together serendipitously during a particularly dark period: The acclaimed Los Angeles-based outfit started 2020 touring to support 2019’s Widows Weeds. The pandemic halted the rest of their tour and forced the band to retreat to their homes.

With touring on hold, Silversun Pickups’ Brian Aubert channeled his energy into taking care of his son. Although his focus initially shifted from the band to domestic affairs, he found that he couldn’t escape the new melodies that had been germinating in his head. “I would sneak off and start writing these songs, and I didn’t know what they’re for because I didn’t really think about Silversun on any level. I was just doing it to keep myself calm and keep myself company,” Aubert explains. The songs were so different from what he’d previously written for Silversun Pickups that he initially thought he might have been writing a musical. He would describe them as “dream shanties” with gentler vocals, horror-inspired sounds and newer elements coming to mind. But the material isn’t meant to be somber; instead, Aubert manages to explore his own comfort — and discomfort — in seemingly indefinite, newfound isolation.

When Aubert presented the new material he had been working o to his bandmates, they readily embraced what would be a new direction for the band. They decided to continue their collaboration with Butch Vig, who had produced and recorded Widow’s Weeds at his Wisconsin home studio. Once Aubert made plans to visit Vig and play him what he had worked on, more music came. Aubert immediately began recording material with Vig, with the rest of the band joining later.

When Aubert revealed the new material to his bandmates, they readily embraced the new direction—and so did producer Butch Vig. The band reunited with Vig, who first worked with SilversunPickups on Widow’s Weeds, recording the album at the famed producer and Garbage-member’s home. Once Aubert made plans to visit Vig and play him what he had, the music began pouring out. He immediately began recording with Vig, having the rest of the band join later.

With the album arguably being the most exploratory of the band’s catalog, each of the band’s members felt much more free to explore and traverse new ground: Guanlao, who usually shies away from drum fills, took inspiration from The Beatles documentary Get Back and Ringo Starr’s drum work on Let It Be threw some in on the album. Monniger’s vocals were showcased much more than on their previously recorded material. And Joe Lester took on a larger writing role, writing the piano part for “We Won’t Come Out,” which became the backbone of the song.

Although the album features an eclectic mix of sounds and melodies, each song on the album is interconnected with each other, and meant to be experienced as a whole body of work. “All of our records are designed for people who want to listen to them all the way through and hopefully stick around with it,” says Aubert. “After a while, maybe you’ll catch on to the little things—not just the [pattern of] the dream songs, but maybe you’ll hear that, and you’ll hear a melody from the first song in the last song. There are crossover things happening.” Monninger adds, “We’ve been together for twenty-two years; it’s really interesting that we still love doing this. We know that we’re fortunate to still be together after all these years, seeking out the silver lining. I feel like we still have many more things to say, and we’re so happy with how this album turned out.”

Silversun Pickups close out 2022 with a slow-burning and shoegazey, Butch Vig-produced cover of Low’s “Just Like Christmas” that pulls out the gentle yearning and wistfulness out a bit further to the forefront. All proceeds from the song will be donated to Union Gospel Mission, a charity of Alan Sparkhawk’s choice — in Mimi Parker’s name. Silversun Pickups suggest that you should consider directly supporting and listening through Bandcamp — and based on the fact that it’s worthwhile cause, you should.

We’ve been fans of Low’s beautiful music for a long time now. When we heard the news about Mimi’s passing, we were incredibly sad. With Alan’s blessing, we decided to cover one of their Christmas songs, with hopes of raising money for a cause dear to Alan in Mimi’s name. Low’s Christmas is a classic. It was the first one I ever heard that made me feel holiday music could be cool.”

The band will resume touring to support Physical Thrills in 2023. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates
Fri, Feb 17, 2023                     Birmingham, AL          Iron City
Sun, Feb 19, 2023                   Knoxville, TN               Mill & Mine
Mon, Feb 20, 2023                  Asheville, NC               Orange Peel
Tue, Feb 21, 2023                   Louisville, KY               Mercury Ballroom
Thu, Feb 23, 2023                   McKees Rock, PA        Roxian Theater
Fri, Feb 24, 2023                     Cincinnati, OH             Bogarts
Sat, Feb 25, 2023                    Chicago, IL                   Radio Show
Tue, Feb 28, 2023                   Little Rock, AR             The Hall
Thu, Mar 2, 2023                    New Orleans, LA         House of Blues
Sat, Mar 4, 2023                     San Antonio, TX          The Aztec Theatre
Sun, Mar 5, 2023                    Ft Worth, TX                Tannahill’s
Mon, Mar 6, 2023                   Dallas, TX                    House of Blues
Tue, Mar 7, 2023                    Houston, TX                House of Blues
Thu, Mar 9, 2023                    Austin, TX                    Emo’s
 

New Video: Richmond, VA’s Keep Shares Brooding And Shimmering “Dasani Daydream”

Richmond, VA-based shoegazer outfit Keep formed back in 2013. And since their formation, the Richmond-based act have developed a sound that is heavily influenced by 80s goth and post-punk, 90s shoegaze and grunge, as well as post 2000s indie rock.

Their full-length debut, Happy In Here is slated for a February 3, 2023 release through Honey Suckle Sound. The album’s latest single “Dasani Daydream” is a brooding track centered around shimmering, shoegazer-influenced guitar textures, ambient synths, thunderous drums, enormous hooks paired with achingly plaintive vocals. Rooted in earnest songwriting and performance, “Dasani Daydream” sonically brings A Storm in Heaven and The Life and Times to mind.

Shot at sunrise at the beach, the accompanying video for “Dasani Daydream” follows the band strolling along the beach and playing near the rising tides — and at an eerie amusement park and aquarium.

New Audio: Montreal’s Bodywash Shares a Meditation on Loss and Hope

Montreal-based shoegazers Bodywash — Chris Steward and Rosie Long Dector — can trace their origins back to when the pair met while attending McGill University. But when they met, the pair didn’t immediately share a common musical language: Steward grew up in London listening to celestial dream pop while Dector grew up in Toronto listening to folk and Canadiana. The music they began writing together saw the pair bridging their influences, and with the release of 2016’s self-titled EP and 2019’s full-length debut, Comforter Steward and Rector firmly establishing slow-burning and dreamy material centered around ethereal vocals, intricate guitar lines and pulsating synths.

When touring to support their full-length debut was cut short by the pandemic, Long Decter and Steward used the unexpected hiatus to write. And they wound up writing material that was darker, more experimental and more invigorating than the material on Comforter. Last year, they took the songs into the studio with longtime drummer Ryan White and The Besnard Lakes‘ Jace Lasek, who helped record and engineer the album, which will be released through Light Organ Records.

“Kind of Light,” the forthcoming album’s first single is an expansive track that begins with a slow-burning and elegiac intro featuring glistening organs and a skittering yet propulsive kick pattern that slowly builds up and breaks into a high energy, boom bap-like breakbeat paired with scorching guitar squealing and wobbling bass synths. Front and center is Long Decter’s ethereal and achingly plaintive vocals express profound, heart-wrenching despair, and hope. The song suggests that while loss is natural and expected, there can be hope; that there are only a handful of things that in our lives that are truly permanent — and that for the most part, it can get better.

“I wrote ‘Kind of Light’ in bed,” Long Decter says. ““It was the fall of 2018 and Chris and I were both going through experiences of learning not to trust what feels like home. He sent me a plugin for a new organ sound, suggesting it might provide inspiration. I sent him back chords, a kick pattern, and some vocals about trying to pull your legs back; trying to take your energy out of the wreckage and put it into yourself. The process of deciding what’s worth keeping, what can be reworked and what gets tossed in the fire. A process that is devastating and also weirdly invigorating, because you can see new possibilities opening up in front of you. And you can start to look for light somewhere else.”

New Video: Minneapolis’ LUMARI Shares Swirling Shoegaze Anthem “Neon Mirror”

Minneapolis-based dream pop/shoegaze outfit Lumari — twin siblings Dave West (drums) and Dan West (guitar, bass), Margo Pearson (vocals, keys) and Robert Caple (guitar, bass) — can trace their origins back to the relationship between the West Brothers: Dave West and Dan West have played together in a number of different national and internationally touring projects over the course of several decades.

As the story goes, the West Brothers had the fortune of finding Pearson and Caple, who gamely completed Lumari’s lineup. Along with award-winning producer/engineer Eric Olsen, the Minneapolis-based sheogazers wrote and recorded an album’s worth of material that sets the groundwork for the band’s sound and approach.

The quartet’s debut single, and presumably, their album’s first single, “Neon Mirror” is centered around reverb-drenched, swirling guitar textures, thunderous and propulsive drumming, a supple bass line and enormous choruses paired with Pearson’s ethereal vocals. Sonically. the song strikes me a slick synthesis of Meat is Murder-era The Smiths, Cocteau Twins, Slowdive and RIDE — with a modern production sheen.

Co-directed by Sara Fox and the members of Lumari, the accompanying video was shot in the Catskills and follows Leslie Cuyjet wandering through the hilly forests, when she discovers an ornate, old fashioned mirror in the moss. We see the woman twirling through the forest pathways with her mirror before shifting to an ornate house. In one way, the video can be red as a modern day extrapolation of the old Greek myth of Narcissus — but while going through a lysergic and nightmarish funhouse mirror.

New Video: The Neon Sea Shares “120 Minutes”-era MTV-like “As I Wonder”

Tom Doyle is a Dublin-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and creative mastermind behind the emerging Irish shoegaze recording project The Neon Sea. Recorded at The Open Studio, Doyle’s debut single as The Neon Sea, the Dave Flood-produced “As I Wonder” sees the Irish singer/songwriter and guitarist crafting a textured, swirling soundscape that seems simultaneously indebted to Cocteau Twins, RIDE, and A Storm in Heaven-era The Verve paired with Doyle’s ethereal falsetto.

“As I Wonder” features a narrator, grasping with life’s enormous and difficult questions — with the narrator humbly admitting that maybe some of those questions won’t have an answer.

The accompanying video for “As I Wonder” is indebted to 120 Minutes-era MTV as we see Doyle in a performing the song in a studio with flashing, neon-colored strobes — and shot through a mind-bending array of mirrors and filters.