Category: Shoegaze

New Video: Chicago’s Lightfoils Release a Brightly Colored and Lysergic Visual for “This Time Is Up”

Comprised of Jane Zabeth Nicholson (vocals), Neil Yodname (guitar), Zeeshan Abbasi (guitar), Cory Osborne (bass) and John Rungger (drums), the Chicago, IL-based shoegazer act Lightfoils formed back in 2010 and since their formation, the band has developed a reputation for pushing the sonic boundaries of the genre with a unique and sophisticated take as heard on 2014’s critically applauded Hierarchy.

The Chicago-based shoegazers’ 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 batch of new material since the release of Hierarchy found the band fully-commanding their sound, as the band self-assuredly paired layers of lushly shimmering and chiming guitars with a propulsive, hip-hop like rhythm section and a soaring hook while Zabeth Nicholson’s ethereal vocals float over the mix, expressing deep longing and aching nostalgia over something that has passed.

Chambers’ second and latest single is the frenetically breakneck “This Time Is Up,” which features rapid-fire drumming, woozy and distorted guitars and rumbling low end. Lyrically, the song outlines the end of a relationship with a dishonest partner, and as a result the song emotionally is centered around a dizzying and disorientating feelings of anger, betrayal and hurt before shifting into a slow-burning, simmering coda which suggests begrudging acceptance, of things left unsaid — perhaps with the recognition that they’re better not said, before fading out. The new single may arguably be the most forcefully direct single in their growing catalog while being a bold new sonic direction for the band.

Directed by Brian Cook, the recently released video features vivid, neon-bright colors swirling in a lysergic haze around the band as they perform the song. Interestingly, the visuals manage to evoke the song’s energy and vibe in an accurate (yet trippy) fashion. 

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New Audio: Members of Modern English, Elastica, Lush, and Moose Release a Shimmering and Anxious New Single

Comprised of married couple Lush’s Miki Berenyi (vocals, guitar) and Moose’s KJ “Moose” McKillop (guitar), along with Modern English’s Mick Conroy 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 Welsh. 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 I need to backtrack a little bit, because even the most boring backstories are often confusing — and there are details you need to know:  After Chris Acland’s suicide in 1997, his devastated and grieving bandmates felt unable to continue. Berenyi in particular felt that she had to complete 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. Of course, 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 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. 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. Understandably, 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 Loca, 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. 

Led by founding member and creative mastermind Leslie Sisson (vocals, guitar), who has had stints in The Wooden Birds, Matt Pond PA, Western Keys, Black Lipstick, Black Forest Fire, Tanworth-in-Arden, and Aero Wave, collaborated with The American Analog Set, Windsor for the Derby, Rhythm of Black Lines, RIDE’s Mark GardenerDan Mangan, John Wesley Coleman, Snowden, and Broken Social Scene, and has developed a reputation as a solo artist in her own right, the Austin, TX-based dream pop act Moving Panoramas can trace their origins to when its founding member and creative mastermind returned home to Texas to be closer to the members of her previous full-time band The Wooden Birds and her to her family. Sisson took a job teaching music at School of Rock where she met Rozie Castoe (bass),  who was in an 80s-themed show that Sisson directed. Interestingly, at the same time, Sisson took up a gig subbing in Black Forest Fire with Karen Skloss (drums), who was a long-time friend. When each of their various creative projects broke up, the trio started Moving Panoramas, rooted in their mutual love of shoegaze; however, since the band’s formation and release of their debut effort One, the band has gone through a series off lineup changes that has result in Sisson collaborating with a rotating cast of previous bandmates, as well as current bandmates Cara Tillman, Jordan Rivell, Jody Suarez and Phil McJunkins.

Moving Panoramas’ sophomore album In Two was delayed by a series of unexpected roadblocks during its production — i.e., health and timing issues — that delayed its release until February 22, 2019 through Modern Outsider Records. Recorded with engineer Louie Lino at Resonate Studio in Austin, the band’s sophomore effort reportedly finds the band expanding upon their sound and songwriting approach, as there’s a concerted effort for diversity in rhythm, volume and instrumentation, including the incorporation of pedal steel. Along with that the album features guest spots from Nada Surf‘s Matthew Caws, A Giant Dog‘s and Sweet Spirit‘s Sabrina Ellis and former bandmates Karen Skloss, Jolie Flink and Laura Colwell.

The album’s latest single “Baby Blues” is a decidedly anthemic track, centered around shimmering power chords, a propulsive rhythm section, ethereal vocals and a soaring hook that recalls Sunflower Bean’Twentytwo in Blue as the song seems to draw from psych rock, shoegaze and 70s arena rock performed with the easygoing self-assuredness of old pros; but underneath the self-assured performance, there’s the recognition of time rushing by, of people moving in and out of your life — sometimes without even knowing why or how. As the song seems to say, “Remember friends, life is confusing and when you think you may have handle on it, life will throw a monkey wrench or two your way — and you’ll get through it somehow, some way.”

 

 

Comprised of Jane Zabeth Nicholson (vocals), Neil Yodname (guitar), Zeeshan Abbasi (guitar), Cory Osborne (bass) and John Rungger (drums), the Chicago, IL-based shoegazer act Lightfoils formed back in 2010 and since their formation, the band has developed a reputation for pushing the sonic boundaries of the genre with a unique and sophisticated take as heard on 2014’s critically applauded Hierarchy.

The Chicago-based shoegazers’ 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 batch of new material since the release of Hierarchy found the band fully-commanding their sound, as the band self-assuredly paired layers of lushly shimmering and chiming guitars with a propulsive, hip-hop like rhythm section and a soaring hook while Zabeth Nicholson’s ethereal vocals float over the mix, expressing deep longing and aching nostalgia over something that has passed.

The album’s second and latest single is the frenetically breakneck “This Time Is Up,” which features rapid-fire drumming, woozy and distorted guitars and rumbling low end. Lyrically, the song outlines the end of a relationship with a dishonest partner, and as a result the song emotionally is centered around a dizzying and disorientating feelings of anger, betrayal and hurt before shifting into a slow-burning, simmering coda which suggests begrudging acceptance, of things left unsaid — perhaps with the recognition that they’re better not said, before fading out. The new single may arguably be the most forcefully direct single in their growing catalog while being a bold new sonic direction for the band.

 

 

Last year, I wrote a bit about he Austin, TX-based dream pop/shoegaze quartet Blushing, and as you may recall, the act which is comprised of two married couples — Christina Carmona (vocals, bass) and Noe Carmona (guitar, keys) and Michelle Soto (guitar, vocals) and Jake Soto (drums) can trace its origins back to 2015, when Michelle Soto recruited her classically trained friend Christina Carmona to join her new project, after spending several years writing material on guitar. Soto and Carmona then recruited their spouses to complete the band’s lineup. And after about a year of writing and revising material, they went into Bad Wolf Recordings to record their debut EP Tether, an effort that at points recalled A Storm in Heaven-era The Verve and Lightfoils Hierarchy.

Building upon a growing profile and the positive reception of their debut EP, the Austin-based shoegazers returned to the studio to record their sophomore EP Weak, which was released through Austin Town Hall Records earlier this year, and from EP single and title track “Weak,” the band further cemented their reputation for crafting material that sonically was indebted to the likes of Lush, Cocteau Twins and The Sundays —  and while arguably being one of the more direct and anthemic songs of their growing catalog, the song revealed a gentle refinement of the overall sound and aesthetic that first caught the attention of the blogosphere. Adding to a busy year, the band recently released the Elliot Frazier-produced and mixed “The Truth”/”Sunshine” 7 inch both digitally and on colored vinyl through The Nothing Song Records, and the 7 inch single represents a band that has yet again expanded upon their sound: “The Truth” is arguably the most muscular song they’ve released as it featured crunchy and fuzzy guitar lines, thundering drumming paired with soaring vocals. And throughout, there’s a decided focus on crafting an anthemic and rousing hook that sounds as though it inspired by 120 Minutes-era MTV before ending with a feedback-driven coda. “Sunshine,” the second track of the 7 inch is  arguably the most towering and expansive sound that the Austin-based shoegazers have released to date, as Christina Carmona’s and Michelle Soto’s vocals soar over layers of lushly shimmering and pedal effected guitars, a simple yet propulsive backbeat and a soaring hook while recalling A Storm in Heaven and Lightfoils but with a bold self-assurance. Both singles may be among the most ambitious and focused songwriting and playing the band has recorded to date, and I’m looking forward to the forthcoming full-length, slated for early next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Formed initially as a solo, bedroom recording project of Hull, UK-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Ryan Smith during the end of 2016, the up-and-coming Hull-based indie rock quintet bdrmm became a full fledged band when Smith recruited his brother Jordan (bass), Joe Vickers (guitar), Daniel Hull (synth, backing vocals) and Luke Irvin (drums). The British quintet cut their teeth playing across Northern England before releasing their first two singles “kare” and “the way i want,” which quickly caught the attention of MTVClash Magazine and DORK, as well as airplay from BBC Radio 1 and Amazing Radio. Adding to a growing profile, the up-and-coming band 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 recently released the band’s latest single “C.U.”

Interestingly, the sprawling new single briefly nods at classic 4AD Records post-punk,  shoegaze and slacker rock as the song is centered around a morphing and shifting song structure which features an arrangement of shimmering, pedal effected guitars, thundering drumming, a propulsive bass line and soaring hook — and that’s paired with a swooning and emotionally urgent song rooted in deeply personal, lived-in experience. As the band’s Ryan Smith explains in press notes “I wrote ‘C.U.’ during a pretty ‘eventful’ time in my life — a lot of feelings hurt, vivid anxiety and thing lost, this track has been a long time coming . This is an ode to 2017.”

 

 

 

 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Beach House Releases an Anthemic and Mesmerizing Shoegazer-like Single

Over the course of the site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Baltimore-based JOVM mainstays  Beach House, and as you may recall, the dream pop act comprised of core duo Victoria Legrand (organ, vocals) and Alex Scally (guitar, vocals) have released a number of critically and commercially successful albums, including 2015’s Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, which were written and recorded within a two-and-a-half year period between 2012-2014. 7, the Baltimore-based indie rock’s seventh full-length album continued a run of critically applauded and commercially successful albums with its release earlier this year through Sub Pop Records in North America, Bella Union Records in Europe and Mistletone Records in Australia and New Zealand. 

The recording sessions for 7 found the band working with Spacemen 3‘s Sonic Boom (a.k.a. Peter Kember) as a producer — but not in the traditional sense, as he helped the band in their attempts to start anew by shedding conventions and ensuring that the album’s material would be fresh, alive and protected from the tendency of overproduction and perfectionism. “Throughout the process of recording 7, our goal was rebirth and rejuvenation. We wanted to rethink old methods and shed some self-imposed limitations. In the past, we often limited our writing to parts that we could perform live,” Legrand and Scally explain. “On 7, we decided to follow whatever came naturally. As a result, there are some songs with no guitar, and some without keyboard. There are songs with layers and production that we could never recreate live, and that is exciting to us. Basically, we let our creative moods, instead of instrumentation, dictate the album’s feel.

“In the past, the economics of recording have dictated that we write for a year, go to the studio, and record the entire record as quickly as possible. We have always hated this because by the time the recording happens, a certain excitement about older songs has often been lost. This time, we built a ‘home’ studio, and began all of the songs there.  Whenever we had a group of 3-4 songs that we were excited about, we would go to a ‘proper’ recording studio and finish recording them there. This way, the amount of time between the original idea and the finished song was pretty short.”

As the act admits, the societal sense of instability, uncertainty and chaos was deeply influential on the album’s material. “Looking back, there is quite a bit of chaos happening in these songs, and a pervasive dark field that we had little control over. The discussions surrounding women’s issues were a constant source of inspiration and questioning. The energy, lyrics and moods of much of this record grew from ruminations on the roles, pressures and conditions that our society places on women, past and present.” They go on to say that in a general sense, “we are interested by the human mind’s (and nature’s) tendency to create forces equal and opposite to those present. Thematically, this record often deals with the beauty that arises in dealing with darkness; the empathy and love that grows from collective trauma; the place one reaches when they accept rather than deny.”

I’ve written about a handful of singles off 7 — “Lemon Glow,” a jangling and atmospheric track centered around Legrand’s ethereal vocals; the shoegazer-like “Dive,” one of the most expansive and ambitious tracks they’ve released; “Dark Spring,” which continued in a similar vein as its predecessor, as it was a shoegazer-like single featuring woozy power chords, twinkling keys and a soaring hook;  “Black Car,” a synth-based track that found the duo pushing their sound away from their known and wining formula; and “Drunk in LA,”  a slow-burning and meditative track centered around arpeggiated synths and Legrand’s ethereal crooning. Interestingly enough, the band’s latest single the Sonic Boom, Jason Quever and Beach House-produced “Alien,” is an outtake from the 7 recording sessions and was originally released a B-side for a limited-edition tour-only 7 inch — and the track manages to bear a semblance to the previously released “Dive,” as it’s an anthemic bit of shoegaze centered around buzzing power chords, twinkling and arpeggiated synths and a rousing hook. While arguably being one of their most arena rock friendly tracks, it manages to possess a subtly mesmerizing quality. 

Comprised of Jane Zabeth Nicholson (vocals), Neil Yodname (guitar), Zeeshan Abbasi (guitar), Cory Osborne (bass) and John Rungger (drums), the Chicago, IL-based shoegazer act Lightfoils formed back in 2010 and since their formation, the band has developed a reputation for pushing the sonic boundaries of the genre with a unique and sophisticated take as heard on 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.