Category: Shoegaze

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.

 

 

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. 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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.