Category: Shoegaze

l

I’ve written about and have photographed the Northeastern Pennsylvania-based shoegazers and JOVM mainstays The Stargazer Lilies quite a bit throughout this site’s nine-plus year history. The act, which is comprised of founding duo and married couple John Cep (guitar, bass, vocals, drums, production) and Kim Field (bass, vocals) and a rotating cast of live drummers can trace its origins to when Cep’s and Field’s previous band Soundpool broke up.

Soundpool had built up a national profile, touring with Chapterhouse, Ulrich Schnauss, A Place to Bury Strangers, School of Seven Bells, Black Moth Super Rainbow, TOBACCO, and a list of others, but despite the fact that there was growing buzz surrounding them, Cep and Field desired a chance in sonic direction. And with their Stargazer Lillies full-length debut, We Are The Dreamers, the duo quickly established a signature sound, which meshed elements of dream pop and shoegaze — but with a muscular and forceful insistence. Their sophomore album, 2016’s Door to the Sun firmly cemented their sound and approach while expanding upon it.

Since the release of Door to the Sun, Cep and Field have been relentlessly touring as both an opener and headliner, frequently with JOVM mainstay TOBACCO and his Black Moth Super Rainbow, among a list of others.

Now, as you may recall, the JOVM mainstays long-awaited, third full-length album Occabot is slated for a November 1, 2019 release through Rad Cult Records — and the album finds Cep and Field collaborating with their frequent tour mate TOBACCO (a.k.a Tom Fec). Interestingly, this collaboration can be traced back several years ago to a Stargazer Lillies show that TOBACCO had attended. “It just hit me they were way heavier than they seem,” TOBACCO explains in press notes. “And that wasn’t translating in their recordings. Their old stuff is panoramic and smooth; I wanted 3D and bumpy.”

Wanting to help get the duo where they all felt they wanted to be, Fec signed the band to his Rad Cult Records imprint and agreed to work on their third album. But he didn’t start working with the band right away. He let Cep and Field work on the material in their own idiosyncratic image first.  When the members of Stargazer Lilies had completed things on their end with eight raw and primal tracks, Fec then stepped in to distort, bend and burn the material’s overall sound even further.

Cep likens the creative process behind Occabot to what Andy Warhol did with pop art prints and The Velvet Undgeround and Nico. “Lou [Reed] said Andy was the best producer because he basically let the group do whatever the fuck they wanted. Tom did a similar thing with us; he let us have complete creative control, then added splashes of color and made it rough around the edges. Those embellishments make his artistic stamp on the project unmistakable, but leave the essence of our music very much intact.”

Occabot’s first single “Living Work of Art” found TOBACCO scrubbing the material with sandpaper than mangling Field’s and Cep’s work in a blender for a bit, then throwing it into an acid-bath –and while becoming heavily distorted and whirring batch of broken machinery and instruments, with skittering hi-hats, the song manages to retain the gauzy quality of their previously recorded work. Interestingly, the album’s second and latest single “Dizzying Heights” finds Field’s ethereal vocals floating and fight through a viscous haze of heavily distorted guitars, shimmering hi-hat and wobbling drums. It’s a woozy and dizzying swoon of a song that evokes the decay and disorder of the impending end of everything.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

New Video: French Shoegazers Dead Horse One Releases a Languid and Cinematic Visual for Shimmering “Saudade”

Valance, France-based shoegazers Dead Horse One, currently comprised of founding trio Oliver Debard, Ludovik Naud and Antoine Pinet, with Maxime Garcia and Ivan Tzibousky can trace their origins back to their formation in 2011. While recording their full-length debut, 2014’s Without Love We Perish, the members of the French shoegazer act reached out to RIDE’S Mark Gardener, who wound up taking up production duties. 

Following the release of their full-length debut, the band spent the next three years touring across the European Union, sharing stages with the likes of The Telescopes, The Wands and Sound Sweet Sound, and they made an appearance at Liverpool Psych Fest.

After a busy period of touring, the band went into the studio with Fleeting Joys’ John Loring, who produced the band’s sophomore album, 2017’s Season of Mist, which they supported with a tour that included a handful of opening dates with RIDE during the legendary shoegazer act’s European tour. And building upon the growing buzz surrounding the band, they shared the stage with The Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Philadelphia-based band NOTHING. 

Since then, the band went back into the studio to work on their forthcoming third, full-length album The West Is The Best. Slated for a November 22, 2019 release through Requiem Pour Un Twister, the album finds the French shoegazers continuing their ongoing collaboration with John Loring — while marking a second time they’ve worked with Mark Gardener, who mixed the album. Thematically, the album as the band’s Oliver Debard explains is “a collection of thwarted love songs in the spirit of Sparklehorse and other such 90s bands.” 

“Saudade,” The West Is The Best’s first single is a slow-burning track, centered around layers of shimmering guitars and plaintive boy-girl harmonizing, which gives the song an aching yearning — while nodding heavily at classic late 80s and early 90s shoegaze. “This song is a special song for us because it was written by Rorika Loring, her husband John and ourselves,” the band told Northern Transmissions. “Rorika and John play in Fleeting Joys, which is none less than one of the best shoegaze bands of the second wave, post 2000. From another point of view, the song joined the title of the album since it is a French, English collaboration by the presence of Mark Gardener at the mix table, and American, the Loring family is from Sacramento.”

Directed and edited by Pedro Wilde, the recently released video was filmed in a gorgeously cinematic black and white on location in the Portuguese cities of Porto, Gaia and Aveiro and stars Carolina Marques. Languidly shot, the video evokes the old-world and old-fashioned charm of Europe as Marques wanders around with a lute — but there’s also a desire to be contemporary without losing that sense of connectedness to one’s roots. 

New Audio: Brooklyn Shoegazers No Swoon Releases a Slow-Burning Meditation on Alienation

Since their formation in 2016, the Brooklyn-based indie act No Swoon — the core duo of Tasha Abbott (vocals, guitar) and Zack Nestel-Patt (synths) — have received attention locally and nationally for a sound that meshes elements of dream pop, shoegaze, post-punk and ethereal wave. And interestingly, much like BLACKSTONE RNGRS, Lightfoils and others, the Brooklyn-based act have added their name to a growing list of acts that have actively pushed the sonic and aesthetic boundaries of shoegaze and dream pop.

Last year’s critically applauded EP 1 was written in Los Angeles during a self-imposed exile from the East Coast. For Abbott, a native of Ontario, CA, the idea was to get back to her geographic and musical roots with a great deal of time spent driving around the suburbs listening to the goth and new wave that her mom played in the car when Abbott was a little girl (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, New Order) and the indie rock and punk rock of her teenage years (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The White Stripes).

Now, as you may recall, the duo’s forthcoming Jorge Elbrecht-produced, self-titled debut is slated for a November 1, 2019 release through Substitute Scene Records, and the album reportedly is an ambiguous and urgent affair that thematically touches upon the confusion, frustration and uncertainty of our zeitgeist. Naturally, the result is material that is at times searingly critical, frustrated and despondent everything from misogyny to global power imbalance and inequality with each of the song’s narrators seeking answers to questions that may never be resolved. The album also finds the duo collaborating with Robi Gonzalez, best known for his work with A Place to Bury Strangers and This Will Destroy You, contributing drums.

“Don’t Wake Up, Wake Up,” their self-titled debut’s first single and opening track was a Joy Division-like take on shoegaze, centered around layers of fuzzy and distorted power chords, a motorik-like chugging groove, an enormous arena rock-like hook. But at its core, Abbott expresses confusion, unease and frustration while asking uncomfortably familiar, large questions: has the world gone crazier or is it me? Is this real or is this some horrifying and unending nightmare? “Forward,” the album’s second single was a lush, synth-driven track featuring shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thunderous drumming, a soaring hook and Abbot’s ethereal cooing. And while being their most dance floor-like single of their growing catalog, the song expresses frustration about how we haven’t made progress on racism, sexism. homophobia, inequality and so on. “Faces,” the self-titled album’s third and latest single continues in the same lush vein of its predecessor — but it’s a shimmering and slow burning and meditative song that evokes a sense of alienation and disconnectedness that feels and sounds familiar.  

“Faces is the oldest song on the record and worked for us as a kind of pivot from the sound of the EP to the sound of the record,” the band explains in press notes. “We brought in a sampled synth and had more intricate parts and arrangements. Lyrically the song is about floating through a crowded city feeling disassociated from the people you see around and how specifically we begin to internalize that alienation. A day living in a city puts us in proximity to an insane number of people. And that number increases ten fold when you add what we see on social media. Yet so many of our friends are struggling with loneliness. It’s hard to build and sustain a close community. And in many ways, how we are forced to live in this city specifically makes connecting to folks difficult. The generally cramped apartments we share make it hard to have people over, and the struggle to pay rent make it hard to have income to go out. And this is beyond the general exhaustion so much of us feel from hustling.”

Last year, I wrote about the Orlando, FL-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Matthew Messore. And as you amy recall, after spending a period of time traveling across the country, Messore returned to his hometown to work on music with his solo, bedroom recording project Cathedral Bells.

Since the release of last year’s breakthrough self-titled EP, which received support from David Dean Burkhart and praise from the likes of The Line of Best Fit, who likened the project’s sound to “an exploration of the smudged reds of The Cure, hazy pinks of Chromatics and gluey browns of DIIV,” Messore has been busy releasing new material, including his latest single, the gauzy and swooning “Heavy Rain.” Centered around seemingly unending layers of shimmering guitars, propulsive drum machine-driven beats and Messore’s plaintive and ethereal vocals, the track sonically meshes the classic 4AD Records sound with shoegaze in a way that feels warmly familiar yet novel.

“Sometimes, loneliness can feel like it’s raining down on you and there’s such a storm of emotion, you wonder if anyone can understand,” Messore told FAULT Magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Audio: Brooklyn Shoegazers No Swoon Releases a Shimmering and Lush, Synth-Driven Single

Since their formation in 2016, the Brooklyn-based indie act No Swoon, currently comprised of Tasha Abbott (vocals, guitar) and Zack Nestel-Patt (synths) have received attention locally and elsewhere for a sound that features elements of dream pop, shoegaze, post-punk and ethereal wave. Interestingly, much like BLACKSTONE RNGRS, Lightfoils and others, the Brooklyn-based act have added their name to a growing list of acts that have actively pushed the sonic and aesthetic boundaries of shoegaze and dream pop.

Last year’s critically applauded EP 1 was written in Los Angeles during a self-imposed exile from the East Coast. For Abbott, a native of Ontario, CA, the idea was to get back to her geographic and musical roots with a great deal of time spent driving around the suburbs listening to the goth and new wave that her mom played in the car when Abbott was a little girl (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, New Order) and the indie rock and punk rock of her teenage years (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The White Stripes).

Now, as you may recall, the duo’s forthcoming Jorge Elbrecht-produced, self-titled debut is slated for a November 1, 2019 release through Substitute Scene Records, and the album reportedly is an ambiguous and urgent affair that thematically touches upon the confusion, frustration and uncertainty of our zeitgeist. And naturally, as a result, the material is at times searingly critical, frustrated and despondent over everything from misogyny to global power imbalance and inequality with each of the song’s narrators seeking answers to questions that may never be resolved. The album also finds the duo collaborating with Robi Gonzalez, best known for his work with A Place to Bury Strangers and This Will Destroy You, contributing drums.

“Don’t Wake Up, Wake Up,” their self-titled debut’s first single and opening track was a Joy Division-like take on shoegaze, centered around layers of fuzzy and distorted power chords, a motorik-like chugging groove, an enormous arena rock-like hook. But at its core, Abbott expresses confusion, unease and frustration while asking uncomfortably familiar, large questions: has the world gone crazier or is it me? Is this real or is this some horrifying and unending nightmare? “Forward,” No Swoon’s second and latest single off their forthcoming full-length debut is a lush, synth-driven track featuring shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thunderous drumming, a soaring hook and Abbot’s ethereal cooing. And while being their most dance floor-like single of their growing catalog, the song expresses frustration about how we haven’t made progress on racism, sexism. homophobia, inequality and so on. 

“You know when you’re talking to someone about how fucked the world is (in many ways) right now and they say ‘but it’s better than it used to be, we’ve come so far!’  I hate that, ‘we’ve come so far,’ it’s such a cop-out,” the band says in a statement. “Sure we’ve made progress, some things are better than before and some things aren’t. It doesn’t mean that racism, sexism, homophobia, abuse (the list goes on), doesn’t exist today or that climate change isn’t a real threat to the world. And if that all still exists, we still have work to do. And that’s what this song, ‘Forward’ stems from. That cop-out of an idea that things are better and great. ‘Are the clouds really breaking, or merely moving over?’ Meaning are we really making progress or is whatever problem just shifting, either to someone else, or in a different form.” 

 

With the release of their full-length debut Colors, the Galveston, TX-based act El Lago — Lauren Eddy, Jacob Villarreal, Charles Eddy and Jaron Hal — quickly established an unhurried and reverb-drenched take on dream pop, which resulted in a lengthy tour that included stops across the national festival circuit, sharing stages with the likes of Stereolab‘s Laetitia Sadier, JOVM mainstays Sylvan Esso, The Black Angels and Blushing, Holy Wave and Crumb.

Slated for release later this year through Wallflower Records, El Lago’s forthcoming sophomore effort Pyramid reportedly finds the band’s sound and approach evolving in  new direction as they increasingly incorporated elements of post-punk and New Wave into the dream pop and shoegazer-like sound that won them attention, essentially adding a darker element to their sound.  Interestingly, Pyramid‘s latest single “Endless” is centered by the prerequisite layers of fuzzy and distorted guitars and ethereal vocals of shoegaze within an expansive song structure — but with a muscular and forceful insistence.

Largely inspired by the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Cocteau Twins, Stereolab and a collection of contemporary shoe gazers, the Brooklyn-based shoegazer act 4Vesta have committed themselves to developing a swirling, mind-bending wall of sound — with a modern touch.

Interestingly,  the slow-burning”Evening Star,” the latest single off the band’s debut EP Light & Chemicals. which was recorded, mixed and mastered at the band’s own studio finds the up-and-coming Brooklyn-based act striving to capture and modernize the one of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless by adding layers upon layers of heavily pedal effected, pitch bending guitars with a subtly motorik-like groove, a soaring hook and ethereal vocals submerged into the trippy yet gorgeous mix.

 

 

New Video: Shana Falana Releases a Dazzlingly Gorgeous Visual for “Come and Find Me”

Over the past few years, I’ve written and photographed the California-born, Upstate New York-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Shana Falana. And as you may recall, Falana can trace the origins of her music career to her involvement in San Francisco‘s D.I.Y. scene in the 90s, where she also had a stint in a local Bulgarian women’s choir. In the early 00s, she had relocated to New York. And as the story goes, by 2006 Falana had been struggling through drug addiction and financial woes, when she lost part of an index finger in a work-related accident.

Under most normal circumstances, the accident would be considered extremely unlucky and tragic; however, Falana received settlement money, which provided a much-needed period of financial stability — and it also allowed her to get sober and find a new focus in her life and music. Her sophomore album, last year’s Here Comes the Wave was conceptualized and written during two disparate parts of her life — while she was struggling with drug addiction and desperately trying to get sober ad the subsequent years of sobriety. Understandably, much of that album’s material was rewritten and revised with the growing sense of perspective and awareness that comes as you’ve gotten older and a bit a wiser. Thematically, that album touched upon transformation as as a result of emotional and spiritual turmoil; the necessary inner strength, resolve and perseverance to overcome difficulties; the eventual acceptance of aging, time passing and of one’s own impending mortality.

Slated for an October 25, 2019 release through Arrowhawk Records, Falana’s third album Darkest Light has been playfully described by its creator as “druggy music by sober people” but at its core, the album is naturally full of mystery, contract and paradox. The Kingston, New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist has worked deep in her own niche in the psych rock, shoegaze and ethereal punk worlds and on the forthcoming album reportedly finds her converting weird, magical and occasionally nasty energy into  authentic messages of personal empowerment, rebirth and redemption. “I’ve been around a while,” Falana says. “I was an addict. I worked on the fringe of the sex industry in New York City for two years. I know that even in the darkest lives, everyone still has their light. People still shine. Darkest Light is an album of mantras.”

The album finds Falana continuing her ongoing collaboration with drummer Mike Amari and producer D. James Goodwin, who has worked with the likes of Kevin Morby, Wand, Heather Woods Broderick and others. Reportedly, the trio build manage to construct a sound that at points is stormy, heavy and harrowing and at other points delicate without overwhelming Falana’s delicate and vocals.  Interestingly, the album’s first single is the sparse and hauntingly gorgeous “Come and Find Me.” Centered around Falana’s delicate vocals and strummed guitar, the song expresses a plaintive and aching longing, making it arguably one of the most heartbreaking songs of her growing catalog. 

“This is the only song on the record that is not ‘new,'” Falana says of the new single. “I wrote it while still living in BK over a decade ago, and at the time (not yet sober) I thought I was waiting for my love, my prince, my savior to come to me. But since then I’ve realized it was a plea to myself. It took me years to get to a place where I felt I could put this song out, and perform it regularly. It’s from the deepest, quietest part of my heart. When we decided to put this on the record I knew it needed to be the first single . . . so it could stand on its own for a while.” The song does what we all do at some point, as we get older — look back at our past selves with a mix of shame, pity and empathy for all the things we somehow didn’t know, all the things we lost, but with the innate understanding that we wouldn’t be who we are now without those younger and more foolish selves. 

Directed and shot by D. James Goodwin, the recently released video is a an appropriately stark and intimate visual featuring Falana, neck deep in water, with a small bit of light on her face, reflected back into the water. It’s a dazzlingly gorgeous visual for a gorgeous and heartfelt song. 

New Video: Hull’s bdrmm Releases a Trippy Visual for Arena Rock-Friendly Single “Shame”

Last year, I wrote about the up-and-coming Hull, UK-based indie rock act bdrmm. And as you may recall, the act which initially started as the bedroom recording project of singer/songwriter and guitarist Ryan Smith during the end of 2016 quickly became a full-fledged band when Smith recruited his brother Jordan (bass), Joe Vickers (guitar), Daniel Hull (synth, backing vocals) and Luke Irvin (drums) to complete the band’s lineup. 

The band went on to cut their teeth playing shows across Northern England before releasing their first two singles “kare” and “the way i want,” which quickly caught the attention of MTV, Clash Magazine and DORK, as well as airplay from BBC Radio 1 and Amazing Radio. The Hull-based quintet has opened for Trudy & The Romance, Her’s, FEHM and Horsey — and as a result, they caught the attention of London-based indie label Permanent Creeps, who released the 4AD Records-like “C.U.” Since then, they’ve opened for JOVM mainstays pizzagirl and Amber Arcades, as well Gengahr. Additionally, they’ve played sets at a number of British festivals including Gold Sounds, Humber Street Sesh, and Live at Leeds, which have added to a rapidly growing national profile. 

Their highly-anticipated Alex Greaves-produced debut EP If Not When? is slated for an October 11, 2019 release through Sonic Cathedral Records — and the EP, which has seen physical pre-orders quickly sell out is largely influenced by the likes of DIIV, Slowdive and Beach House, as well as an up-and-coming crop of British post-punk acts including Squid, YOWL, Black Country and New Road. Interestingly, the EP’s first single “Shame” find the band retaining the shimmering post-punk tinged shoegazer sound of their previous releases — but with a forceful and propulsive groove and an ambitious arena rock-like feel, reminiscent of The Cure and others. 

“‘Shame’ is about the heartache of having to tell someone you can about the most that being together can’t work for whatever reason — having to be the person, who takes it upon themselves to do the right thing, even though it feels so wrong,” the band’s Ryan Smith explains in press notes. 

The recently released video by Jordan Smith is a dizzying visual that’s one part lyric video with some psychedelic imagery.