Category: Shoegaze

 

 

Comprised of Lush‘s Miki Berenyi (vocals, guitar) and Moose‘s KJ “Moose” McKillop (guitar), who are married, along with Modern English‘s Mick Conroy (bass) and Elastica’s Justin Welch (drums), the indie rock all-star act Piroshka derives their name from the Hungarian version of Little Red Riding Hood — and while each member may be known for their highly acclaimed individual creative pursuits, they’ve long been connected within a complex and oft-knotted web: Berenyi and McKillop have long been considered shoegaze pioneers with their own bands before they got married and raised a family; Elastica were considered rising Brit Pop stars, and as a result Berenyi and McKillop were familiar with Welch. After Modern English broke up for second time, Conroy joined McKillop’s band Moose. Welch joined the reformed Lush in 2015. Interestingly, when Lush needed a bassist for what turned out to be their final show in Manchester, Conroy filled in.

It was those Manchester show rehearsals that laid the foundations for their current project. But as I write this, I realize that I need to backtrack a bit because backstories are often extremely confusing — and there details I hadn’t figured out a good way to fit in. So here we go: After Chris Acland’s suicide in 1997, his devastated and grieving bandmates felt unable to continue. Berenyi in particular felt that she had to completely get away from music; in fact, Berenyi spent the next close to 20 years as a parent with a full time job — and as a result, she didn’t agree to reunite Lush until 2015.  Adding to the six degrees of musical and creative separation, Welch was a close friend of Acland’s, making it easy to recruit him to fill in. As the story goes, Welch was the one, who asked Berenyi if she’d be up to doing something else, after the Manchester show. As she mentions in press notes, she had never made music outside of Lush and never wanted to do anything solo. “I need someone else to motivate me, and in this case it was Justin,” Berenyi recalled. “He sent drum tracks with guitar parts and odd words, so I wrote some vocals and lyrics, which became ‘This Must Be Bedlam’ and ‘Never Enough.’ When Mick added bass, it sounded great. When Moose added guitar and keyboards — I’d never written like that before, it was such good fun.”

“We sounded great!” Welch added in press notes. “Like a proper punk band. Mick brings a huge amount of enthusiasm and livens up the room, and I thought this is the kind of band I want to be in again.” Conroy agreed, adding “I’d seen Lush so many times, it was like playing with old friends. Miki agreed and it was good fun, too. And with Moose available, we thought, ‘let’s all have a bash, see what happens.’”

Adding another layer to the entangled web of personal, professional and creative connections, Bella Union‘s label head Simon Raymonde was among the first people to hear the band’s demos for their forthcoming full-length debut Brickbat and after listening to them, he quickly signed the band — and as it turns out, his former Cocteau Twins bandmate Robin Guthrie produced Lush’s debut album. Alan with that Raymonde’s current Lost Horizons bandmate Richie Thomas was a former member of Moose. Raymonde then introduced the members of Piroshka to Lanterns on the Lake‘s Paul Gregory to mix the album — with the exception of “What’s Next,” which was mixed by Alan Moulder. Fiona Brice, who was once a Bella Union recording artist, wrote string arrangements while The Higsons and Blockhead‘s Terry Edwards, who also played on Lush’s final album played brass.

Slated for a February 15, 2015 release through the Bella Union, Piroshka’s debut album Brickbat is derived for a slang term for a missile and reportedly, the title hits on how the album is a marked departure from each individual members’ known work; in fact, the material is centered by blunt, forceful lyrics that tap into the fear, loathing, envy and spite at the heart of our sociopolitical moment.  Much of the material was written through the anxious prism of parenthood in a world gone mad. Similarly to JOVM mainstays Atmosphere‘s Mi Vida Local, Brickbat‘s first single “Everlastingly Yours” is rooted in a very real fear — that you can’t protect your loved ones from the constantly evolving dangers of our world. While the song is centered around a shimmering and anthemic shoegazer-like arrangement featuring soaring synths, a propulsive, angular bass line, four-on-the-floor-like drumming and Berenyi’s aching and ethereal vocals, the song thematically as McKillop explains is “about school shootings and our reaction to almost being almost unable to take our eyes off twenty-four hour news and internet feeds.” And as a result, the song points at the vacillating cycle of disgust, depression and powerlessness that we all feel on a daily basis.

Featuring four-on-the-floor drumming, jangling guitar chords, shimmering synths and Berenyi’s ethereal vocals, Brickbat‘s latest single “What’s Next” continues in its predecessor’s footsteps as it’s centered around the urgency of our sociopolitical moment — with the song’s narrator essentially saying “Wait, hold up. What the fuck, man? Shouldn’t we want better?” And throughout there are references to people hitting the streets to protest, out of fear, concern and outrage. Interestingly, as the band’s Berenyi explains in press notes “‘What’s Next’ started life as a guitar-and-drums demo from Justin that he’d called ‘Protest’ – the drums being inspired by the idea of a protest march. It’s one of the very first songs Piroshka worked on together. The lyrics are inspired by the shock and fallout regarding current political upheavals – how this finger-pointing and rage and blame are so damaging, how we need to get back some kind of solidarity if we possibly can because the divisions between us are playing into certain people’s hands. Funnily enough, the song was called Time’s Up when it was first recorded, but that title then got taken so we thought we’d better change it!”

 

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New Video: Brooklyn Shoegazers Parrot Dream Release Cinematic and Mournful Visuals for Shimmering “Light Goes (In Mines)”

Over the course of this past year, I’ve written a bit about  Parrot Dream, a shoegaze duo comprised of  Santiago, Chile-born, Brooklyn-based Christina Hansen Appel (vocals, keys) and Gonzalo Guererro (guitar). Hansen Appel and Guererro formed the band back in 2013, and as you may recall, after relocating to Brooklyn, the duo developed a reputation for crafting sprawling and shimmering soundscapes, which helped them amass more than 500,000 streams of Spotify.

The duo’s full-length debut Light Goes was released earlier this year through Good Eye Records, and the album which was written and recorded over a two year period features material that thematically touches upon themes of connection, love, memory and clarity. The album’s latest single “Light Goes (In Mines)” continues upon a similar vein of preceding singles like “Paradise & Prey” and “Clouldchaser,” as the track is centered around shimmering synths and guitars, an angular and propulsive bass line, four-on-the-four-like drumming and a soaring hook. Hansen Appel’s ethereal yet mournful vocals float over the mix. While, the two previous singles I wrote about were much more anthemic, “Light Goes (In Mines)” is much more mournful; in fact, the song manages to possess an unfulfilled yearning at its core as the song reflects on how much remains uncommunicated and unresolved in parent and child relationships.

Co-written by the band’s Gonzalo Guerrero and Cristian Pino, and directed by Cristian Pino, the recently released video stars Kai Pelton, a co-facilitator of the TransGenerational Theatre Project. In the video, the protagonist desperately longing for a relationship with a parent, who doesn’t seem to understand their child and their life. Throughout the video, Pelton moves about her world dealing with grief, loss, confusing and heartbreak. It’s a powerful reminder of that rejection and the loss of a parent’s love can be devastating no matter how old you are.

New Video: Swervedriver Returns with the Wistful and Nostalgic “The Lonely Crowd Fades Into The Air”

Primarily centered around founding and core members Adam Franklin (vocals, guitar) and Jimmy Hartridge (guitar, vocals) and currently featuring Mikey Jones (drums, vibes) and revolving bassists Mick Quinn and Ben Ellis, the renowned Oxford, UK-based alt rock/shoegazer act Swervedriver formed back in 1989. And during their initial run between 1989 and 1998, the band released four full-length albums — 1991’s Raise, 1993’s Mezcal Head, 1995’s Ejector Seat Reservation and 1998’s 99th Dream — while going through a number of lineup changes, management changes and different labels.

Interestingly by 1993, the band’s lineup settled to include Franklin, Hartridge, Jez Hindmarsh (drums) and Steve George (bass), and with that lineup they developed a reputation for having a much heavier sound than their shoegazer contemporaries — although over the last five years of the band’s initial run, their sound eventually evolved to include elements of psychedelia, pop and indie rock. 

The members of Swervedriver’s longest tenured lineup went on a lengthy hiatus in 1998 in which the individual members went on to pursue a variety of professional and creative pursuits. Franklin embarked on a solo career that would rival Swervedriver’s creative output, first fronting he experimental electro pop/electro folk act Toshack Highway, whose releases ranged from sextet ensemble works to four-track bedroom recordings and then with the more traditionally guitar rock-driven Adam Franklin & Bolts of Melody. Hartridge founded a distribution company. Hindmarsh founded Badearth Management, eventually managing Scottish rock act Terra Diablo and others. Interestingly, in early 2005, Franklin, Hartridge, Hindmarsh and George reconvened to collaborate with Castle Music to choose songs on what would be a two disc anthology Juggernaut Rides ’89-’98, which featured 33 tracks remastered from the original DATs. Half of those tracks were non-album tracks  along with four previously unreleased tracks — Shake Appeal’s “Son of  Mustang Ford” demo and the remainder of Swervedriver’s recordings during 1998, which included “Just Sometimes” and “Neon Lights Glow.” The compilation was critically applauded and in some way, it helped to build up interest in the shoegaze pioneers’ work.

2006 was a busy year for the members of Swervedriver — Franklin began collaborating with Interpol‘s Sam Fogarino in Magnetic Morning. Hindmarsh went on to publish Rider, which chronicled his experiences and observations on the road touring with the band between 1992 and 1998. Somewhat inspired by the successful 2004 reunion of the Pixies, Franklin, Hartridge and Hindmarsh went on an international reunion tour in 2008, garnering the attention and acclaim that evaded them a decade earlier. 2015’s I Wasn’t Born To Lose You was the first album of original material from the band in 17 years — although they managed to remain consistent, as they went through another series of lineup changes between the reunion tour and Born.

Swervedriver’s sixth full-length album and second of their reunion, Future Ruins is slated for a January 25, 2019 release through Dangerbird Records. Having written and recorded  I Wasn’t Born To Lose You immediately after their

Australian tour, the band decided to repeat the process after a lengthy Stateside tour, playing Raise and Mezcal Head in their entirety. That’s a good way to record,” Franklin says in press notes, “because you’ve literally just seen the whites of the audience’s eyes and you’re thinking, ‘If that audience from last night were here now…’ You can’t get too mellow. We came home with 30 different songs.” 10 more days of vocals and overdubs at Brighton UK‘s Seaside Studios with Grammy Award-winning engineer TJ Doherty quickly followed.

The album’s 10 tracks were mixed earlier this year, as the band was touring across Europe. And while the material finds the band retaining the escapist vibes that they’ve been long known for, the album’s material is centered around an uneasy tension, inspired by our current sociopolitical moment. Now, as you may recall, Future Ruins second single “Drone Lover,” actually predated the Future Ruins sessions. Although interestingly enough, as the band’s Adam Franklin explained in press notes, “I have no recollection of where this tune came from. It’s a song that’s been knocking around for a few years, but for some reason had never been presented to anyone until we were in the studio this time and I clicked play on the demo while searching for something else. TJ and Mikey both went “what’s this?” and then “so why aren’t we recording it?” – and so we recorded it. The lyric mentions love but it’s really about war – remote war and killing from a distance whilst chomping on last night’s leftover pizza or something.” Obviously, it’s an incisive commentary on the  depersonalized nature of 21st Century techno-warfare — including some hellish and fucked up imagery of bombs falling from the air, and neighborhoods in flames; but centered around buzzing power chords, a steady and propulsive backbeat and an infectious hook that brings an updated take on the beloved 120Minutes alt rock sound.

Future Ruins‘  latest single is the shimmering “The Lonely Crowd Fades In The Air,” a track that Franklin admits found the band thinking of The Clash, “even though it doesn’t sound anything like them, but it’s like a punch on the nose from a velvet glove.” Franklin goes on to say that “the title came from a misheard Supremes lyric and the words came out of that.” Centered around shimmering and fuzzy power chords, the track may arguably be the most nostalgic and wistful track on the album, with the song’s narrator thinking about all the directions his life may have taken, if he made a different decision at some key point in his life. Continuing the album’s overall vibe and feel, there are references to weapons — of one “choosing their weapons wisely” — and a begrudging acceptance of the world being fucked up and broken, it’s a heartbroken sigh. 

Dedicated to Buzzcocks‘ Pete Shelley, the recently released video is a mix of footage shot on glitchy VHS camera, and archival footage, which emphasizes the heartache at the core of the song. 

New Video: Portland’s Shadowgraphs Release a Hallucinogenic Take Down of the Record Industry for Album Title Track “Another Time”

Shadowgraphs is a Portland, OR-based psych rock/psych pop duo consisting of Bryan Olson and Charles Glade. After a month-long tour last summer, the duo returned home in a different state of mind. Olson and Glade had experienced some profound emotional ups and downs in their personal lives, and they were forced to make some heartbreaking decisions — all while writing, recording the new batch of material that would eventually comprise their latest album, Another Time. 

The  album which was initially self-recorded in North Carolina with Ethan Ricks (bass) and Shaun Olson (drums) reflects what was a difficult and crazy time for Olson and Glade. Glade’s vocal takes were recorded later on in Portland. The completed album was mixed at Chase Park Transduction in Athens, GA by Drew Vandenberg and mastered at Telegraph Mastering with Adam Gonsalves. Interestingly, the album’s latest single, album title track “Another Time” is centered around big, arena rock friendly hooks, shimmering reverb-drenched guitars, ethereal vocals, a propulsive groove and a scorching, trippy guitar solo — and as a result it manages to recall 60s psych rock, 90s shoegaze and Brit Pop simultaneously with a sunny, laid back air.  I was immediately reminded of the likes of JOVM mainstays Elephant Stone, Secret Colours and others. 

Directed by Cory Ring and the band’s Charles Glade, the video stars the band’s Bryan Olson as a bored and disaffected A&R guy, who initially seems completely unimpressed with the band who’s playing their new video in their office, before getting completely getting into it and rocking out hard at the video’s most hallucinogenic moments. The video ends with Olson shaking hands with a member of the band, presumably giving them a record deal. It’s a playful yet incisive look at the record industry. 

New Video: Renowned Shoegazers Swervedriver Release Trippy Visuals for One of Their Most Incisive Singles to Date

Primarily centered around founding and core members Adam Franklin (vocals, guitar) and Jimmy Hartridge (guitar, vocals) and currently featuring Mikey Jones (drums, vibes) and revolving bassists Mick Quinn and Ben Ellis, the renowned Oxford, UK-based alt rock/shoegazer act Swervedriver formed back in 1989. And during their initial run between 1989 and 1998, the band released four full-length albums — 1991’s Raise, 1993’s Mezcal Head, 1995’s Ejector Seat Reservation and 1998’s 99th Dream — while going through a number of lineup changes, management changes and different labels. Interestingly by 1993, the band’s lineup had settled to include Franklin, Hartridge, Jez Hindmarsh (drums) and Steve George (bass), and with that lineup they developed a reputation for a heavier rock sound than their shoegazer contemporaries; but over the last five years of their initial run, their sound evolved to include elements of psychedelia, pop and indie rock. 

The members of Swervedriver’s longest tenured lineup went on a lengthy hiatus in 1998 in which the individual members went on to pursue a variety of professional and creative pursuits. Franklin embarked on a solo career that would rival Swervedriver’s creative output, first fronting he experimental electro pop/electro folk act Toshack Highway, whose releases ranged from sextet ensemble works to four-track bedroom recordings and then with the more traditionally guitar rock-driven Adam Franklin & Bolts of Melody. Hartridge founded a distribution company. Hindmarsh founded Badearth Management, eventually managing Scottish rock act Terra Diablo and others. Interestingly, in early 2005, Franklin, Hartridge, Hindmarsh and George reconvened to collaborate with Castle Music to choose songs on what would be a two disc anthology Juggernaut Rides ’89-’98, which featured 33 tracks remastered from the original DATs. Half of those tracks were non-album tracks  along with four previously unreleased tracks — Shake Appeal’s “Son of  Mustang Ford: demo, the remainder of Swervedriver’s recordings during 1998, which included “Just Sometimes” and “Neon Lights Glow.” The compilation was critically applauded and in some way, it helped to build up interest in the shoegaze pioneers’ work. 

2006 was a busy year for the members of Swervedriver — Franklin began collaborating with Interpol’s Sam Fogarino in Magnetic Morning. Hindmarsh went on to publish Rider, which chronicled his experiences and observations on the road touring with the band between 1992 and 1998. Somewhat inspired by the successful 2004 reunion of the Pixies, Franklin, Hartridge and Hindmarsh went on an international reunion tour in 2008, garnering the attention and acclaim that evaded them a decade earlier. 2015’s I Wasn’t Born To Lose You was the first album of original material from the band in 17 years — although they managed to remain consistent, as they went through another series of lineup changes between the reunion tour and Born.

Swervedriver’s sixth full-length album and second of their reunion, Future Ruins is slated for a January 25, 2019 release through Dangerbird Records. Having written and recorded  I Wasn’t Born To Lose You immediately after Australian tour, the band decided to repeat the process after a lengthy Stateside tour, playing Raise and Mezcal Head in their entirety. “That’s a good way to record,” Franklin says in press notes, “because you’ve literally just seen the whites of the audience’s eyes and you’re thinking, ‘If that audience from last night were here now…’ You can’t get too mellow. We came home with 30 different songs.” 10 more days of vocals and overdubs at Brighton UK’s Seaside Studios with Grammy Award-winning engineer TJ Doherty quickly followed. 

The album’s 10 tracks were mixed earlier this year, as the band was touring across Europe. And while the material finds the band retaining the escapist vibes that they’ve been long known for, the album’s material is centered around an uneasy tension, inspired by our current sociopolitical moment. However, Future Ruins’ second and latest single “Drone Lover” actually predates the Born. As the band’s Adam Franklin explains in press notes. “I have no recollection of where this tune came from. It’s a song that’s been knocking around for a few years, but for some reason had never been presented to anyone until we were in the studio this time and I clicked play on the demo while searching for something else. TJ and Mikey both went “what’s this?” and then “so why aren’t we recording it?” – and so we recorded it. The lyric mentions love but it’s really about war – remote war and killing from a distance whilst chomping on last night’s leftover pizza or something.” Obviously, it’s an incisive commentary on the depersonalized nature of 21st Century techno-warfare — including some hellish and fucked up imagery of bombs falling from the air, and neighborhoods in flames; but centered around buzzing power chords, a steady and propulsive backbeat and an infectious hook that brings an updated take on the beloved 120 Minutes alt rock sound.  

The recently released video for “Drone Lover” is an appropriately psychedelic mashup of Ralph Bakshi’s 1973 film Heavy Traffic, Polaroids by Charlie Miller, grainy VHS footage of the band, footage of bombing raids and other detritus. It evokes, the very end of the world as we know it, and no one really giving a fuck because we’re busying looking at porn on our phones. 

New Video: Chicago’s Lightfoils Release a Lyrical and Meditative Video for “Summer Nights”

Over the past few weeks I’ve written quite a bit about the Chicago, IL-based shoegazer act Lightfoils. And as you may recall, the band, which is comprised of Jane Zabeth Nicholson (vocals), Neil Yodname (guitar), Zeeshan Abbasi (guitar), Cory Osborne (bass) and John Rungger (drums) has developed a reputation for pushing the boundaries of shoegaze with a unique and sophisticated take on the genre, as heard of 2014’s critically applauded Hierarchy.

The band’s long-awaited, forthcoming album Chambers will be self-released by the band, both for the autonomy and the ability to be intimately involved in all aspects of the album’s production and promotion — and with the album’s first single “Summer Nights, ” the first bit of new material since the release of Hierarchy finds the Chicago-based shoegazers fully commanded the sound they’ve developed with a swaggering self-assuredness, as the band pairs layers of lushly shimmering and chiming guitars with a propulsive, hip-hop like rhythm section and soaring hooks while Zabeth Nicholson’s ethereal vocals float over the mix, expressing deep longing. And while anthemic, the gorgeous track manages to possess the wistful feel of a summer night, complete with the knowledge that a bitterly cold winter is coming.

Co-directed by the members of the band and Brian Cook, the recently released video for “Summer Nights” meant to evoke the nostalgia for summer, the longing many of us feel once it passes — and in a subtle way, the recognition that the years and the time are flying by. Featuring footage shot by each member of the band, the video is partially an exploration of Chicago and the surrounding wilderness. As the band explains in press notes, the juxtaposition between the urban and wilderness scenes are meant to capture the paradoxical nature of city life — and the desire to both embrace and escape. Jane Zabeth Nicholson’s superimposed and spectral figure gives it all a film noir-ish like vibe. 

Comprised of founding duo Maja (guitar, vocals) and Andreas (guitar, vocals) along with Samuel (drums), the Stockholm, Sweden-based shoegazers Star Horse can trace their origins back to 2011 when the band’s founding duo met while in Toyko. And as the story goes, Maja and Andreas bonded over a mutual desire to create a sound based around their love of 90s shoegaze. When they returned to Stockolm, they recruited Andreas and Samuel — and while each member individually has dissimilar tastes and preferences, they used the Twin Peaks soundtrack as a common musical thread to create their sound and aesthetic.

Interestingly, since their formation, the Stockholm-based quartet has been considered at the forefront of their homeland’s shoegaze/dream pop scene, developing a developing a devoted international fanbase — and for most of their history, they’ve done it all in a completely DIY fashion, releasing three EPs and a handful of singles through their own label Haxrummet Records. Additionally, along with Follow the Sea, they created the local DIY noise rock/shoegazer festival Fuzztival.

Since, the release of the highly praised single “Slower Now,” the band has been holed up in the studio, finishing up their highly-anticipated full-length debut You Said Forever, which is slated for a February 15, 2019 release through Startracks Records. The album’s latest single is the slow-burning epic track “Albatross” which clocks in at a little under 9 minutes and is centered around shimmering guitar chords and ethereal vocals. And while recalling A Storm in Heaven-era The Verve, the track manages to be melancholic but yearning.