Category: Shoegaze

Initially began as the solo recording project of Seattle-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Natasha El-Sergany that focused on spectral balladry and late-night exploration, the Seattle-based shoegazer project Somesurprises has gradually expanded into a full-fledged band featuring Josh Medina (guitar, synth), Laura Seniow (bass) and Nico Sophiea (drums) since the release of the project’s 2016 debut effort Voice Memos

2017 found El-Sergany collaborating with Josh Medina for the ambient album Serious Dreams, an effort that was released to critical applause from the likes of The Quietus, Bandcamp, The StrangerSeattle Weekly and Tiny Mixtapes. The following year, the project expanded to a full band with the addition of MX-80 Sound’s Nico Sophiea aend Red Ribbon‘s Emma Danner (bass) for that year’s Alt, an effort that Aquarium Drunkard compared to “an imaginary collaboration between Grouper and Spiritualized.” Interestingly, the band started off this year with a collaborative split tape with fellow Seattle-based act Supercandy, some candy that featured contributions from Brenan Chambers, Lori Goldston, Monika Khott and Ambrosia Bardos, who added layers of guitar effects, cello, vocals and trumpet.

The band has built up a strong profile in their hometown, opening for the likes of Circuit Des Yeux, Carla dal Forno, A Place to Bury Strangers and The Cave Singers — and they’ve toured the West Coast. Building upon a growing profile, the band will be releasing their self-titled full-length debut through Drawing Room Records. Slated for a September 20, 2019 release, the Seattle-based sheogazers self-title full-length finds the band exploring a wide range of styles from intensifying meditative drones to songs, where the same moment never quite happens twice. And unlike their previously released material, the vocals and lyrics are much more focused — with the material thematically longing for and seeking knowledge of the self, to guide the way out of one’s own mind.
Clocking in a little over five minutes, “High Rise,” the latest single off the Seattle-based shoegazers forthcoming full-length, self-titled  album is an expansive and shapeshifting song that begins with a pensive and slow-burning, shimmering intro that slowly builds up into an explosive power chord and motorik groove driven middle section. The song then closes out with a pensive and slow-burning, shimmering coda to close off a mind-bending and expansive song that sounds like the perfect accompaniment to experimenting with hallucinogens.

 

 

Up-and-coming Copenhagen, Denmark-based noise rock act why sun have begun to develop a reputation across their native Denmark for a dark and melancholic sound, which they’ve dubbed sleepy noise, and references acts like Suicide, The National and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Building upon a rapidly growing national profile, the act comprised of Rasmus Kjærsgaard Velling, Lasse Skydsgaard Knigge and Julius Emil Brinck released their latest EP Frugte (the Danish word for fruit) earlier this year. The EP features two critically applauded singles: “Eastern Love” and their latest single, “Traffic,” a slow-burning, lysergic-tinged, shoegazer dirge, centered around layers of reverb-drenched guitar chords, thumping almost industrial-like drumming and rumbling baritone vocals. Interestingly, the track — to me, at least — evokes lazy, downright sleepy summer afternoons, aimlessly daydreaming.

  

 

 

 

New Video: Austin-based JOVM Mainstays Blushing Release a Hazy and Mind Bending Visual for “So Many”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Austin, TX-based dream pop/shoegaze quartet Blushing and the act — 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 after spending several years of writing material on guitar, Michelle Soto recrutied her classically trained friend Christina Carmona to join her new project. Shortly after the band’s founding duo started the band, they recruited their spouses to complete the band’s lineup.

The then-newly formed quartet spent the next year writing and revising material Bad Wolf Recordings to record their debut EP Tether, which was released to positive reviews across the blogosphere, including this site. Building upon a growing profile, the Austin-based shoegazers returned to the studio to record their sophomore EP Weak, an effort that further cemented their reputation for crafting material indebted to Lush, Cocteau Twins and The Sundays — while revealing a gentle refinement of the sound that first caught the attention of this site and the rest of the blogosphere.

The Austin-based JOVM mainstays ended last year with the release of the Elliot Frazier-produced and mixed “The Truth”/”Sunshine” 7 inch, which was released both digitally and on colored vinyl through The Nothing Song Records. That single found the band further expanding upon their sound with “The Truth” being one of the more muscular songs of their growing catalog while retaining a hazy vibe. Adding to a growing profile, the members of Blushing have shared stages with the likes of Snail Mail, Sunflower Bean, La Luz, BRONCHO, Illuminati Hotties, Yumi Zouma and others.

Now, as you may recall, this year may arguably be one of the biggest years of the band’s relatively short history: they made their second SXSW appearance this year, and the band’s highly-anticipated, self-titled full-length debut is slated for a September 6, 2019 release through Wallflower Records here in the States and on CD through Hands and Moment Records in Japan. “Dream Merchants,” the album’s first single was a woozy and swirling track that continued in a similar vein of “The Truth” — and while centered around the dual, ethereal harmonizing of Christina Carmona and Michelle Soto, the track evokes the sensation of a vivid yet half-remembered dream. 

“So Many,” the debut album’s latest single begins with a brooding and wistful intro centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars and the dual, ethereal harmonizing of Christina Carmona and Michelle Soto before turning into a turbulent and towering storm, revealing a band that can balance explosive noise with gorgeous melodicism. Interestingly, the song lyrically was inspired by the vicious cycle of frustration and defeat that Michelle witnessed her son go through while dealing with attention and concentration issues in school. Her son’s struggles forced her to realize that she also struggled through many of the same obstacles in her own daily life. 

Interestingly, the recently released video is hazy, Memento-like visual in which the timeline at points run forwards and backwards, as it focuses on the Polaroid pictures of several mundane, daily moments in the life of its protagonist. Underneath the photos, someone has written a line of the song’s lyrics — and we see them thrown into a metal bowl, as someone lights them on fire. The video manages to evoke the sense of frustration, defeat and procrastination that frequently affects those who have trouble focusing on one thing at a time. 

New Video: The Soft Calvary Releases a Charming Visual Meditation on Devotion

Over the course of this past year, I’ve written quite a bit about The Soft Calvary, a new shoegaze project formed by husband and wife duo Steve Clarke and Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell. Now, as you may recall, the duo’s self-titled, full-length debut is slated for a July 5, 2019 release through Bella Union Records. And interestingly enough, for the duo’s Steve Clarke, the album is equal parts labor of love and long-held dream finally realized, as well as the first album that he has masterminded from start to finish — with the assistance of his wife and his brother, Michael, who produced the album. 

The album’s material reportedly is inspired by and radiates both midlife crisis and elation. Essentially, the album is the sigh of finally finding real contentment and peace after living a messy life, full of heartache, bitterness and confusion. As Clarke emphasizes in press notes, the album was an album that he “needed” to make, as it can also be seen as a way of rewriting his own narrative: Divorced in 2011, Clarke admittedly spent the next three years in a haze. He had played bass and sung backing vocals in bands as a session musician and as a touring member since the late 90s, while also working as a tour manager.

Coincidentally, at one point, he began working as a tour manager for the reunited Slowdive. “I was hungover in the back of my van trying to work out how I was going to fit all the band’s gear into this confined space whilst I still had all of mine from the show that I’d played in London the night before,” Clarke recalls in press notes. “The second of two sold-out shows at Hammersmith Apollo with David Brent!” Coincidentally, that same day Clarke was introduced to Goswell. A year later, they were living together in Devon, before marrying last year. Rachel not only turned his world “upside-down,” as he recalls, she also unwittingly produced “the catalyst” for the new project. “I’d always had ideas but never felt that anything I had to say was worthy of anyone’s attention, let alone my own,” he says in press notes. “I wish that I could have done this fifteen years ago but, in reality, I simply couldn’t have. But I’m not one to overly wallow. I’d rather plough the various levels of confusion into songs.”

The album in many ways is an exercise in creative and personal therapy. The first songs Clarke wrote specifically for the album are Goswell-inspired paeans to fate, love, new beginnings and hope. But as he began to open up, the past found a way to seep in — the years of frustration, confusion, anxiety, heartache. If there’s a theme to the material, reckons Steve, “it’s recovery versus new doubt. I’m there, in the middle. The word that kept coming back to me was ‘resilience.’ With the right mentality and people around you, especially family, we get through and find a level of hope.”

The writing sessions were in some way an extended conversation between the couple. Clarke, as Goswell says “is always writing, his head always full of lyrics.” Goswell, as Clarke says “reins me in when I get obsessed. She’s a good editor. She says my songs can still work without sections of words, that leaving spaces is OK.” As Clarke began to assemble songs, he invited a handful of dear friends including Mercury Rev‘s and Midlake‘s Jesse Chandler (keys), Tom Livermore (guitar) to assist with the album’s overall sound and tone. “I’d grown up with guitar bands and I didn’t want it to be overly guitar-y,” Clarke says. “We evolved things by trying out ideas. We’d be build things up, and then stripe them back and build them again.”

Interestingly, as the album progressed Goswell formed Minor Victories with members of Mogwai and Editors while all of those bands had gaps in their schedules, eventually writing and recording an album, which Goswell and Clarke contributed vocals and lyrics for. “It got the cogs turning on a writing and lyrical level, and gave me a certain amount of self-belief,” Clarke recalls.

After completing their album together, Clarke found a name for the band and the album, seemingly out of thin air — The Soft Calvary. “I can’t explain its literal meaning,” he says. “It just made sense.” Might Rachel be the calvary? “Maybe! it would be subconscious, but that makes sense too, strangely.”

The self-titled debut’s first single “Dive” was centered around towering layers of shimmering guitars, a propulsive backbeat paired with the duo’s gorgeous dual harmonies. And while being one part deeply contented sigh, one part sweet, romantic swoon there’s a creeping sense and tacit acknowledgement that such a wondrous dream will fade. The album’s second and latest single “Bulletproof” found Goswell and Clarke pairing their ethereal harmonies with shimmering guitar lines, a soaring hook and propulsive, electro pop-like beats, which gives the song a subtle, dance floor friendly vibe. The album’s third and latest single is the breezy love song “Never Be Without You.” Centered around a soaring hook, jangling guitars and Clarke’s plaintive vocals, the song is an ethereal and tender expression of devotion and fidelity within a finite period of time. And in a cynical and superficial age, such an expression of devotion is both earnest and charming. 

Speaking of charming, the recently released animated visual introduces the viewer to two hat-wearing creatures, who dimly resemble Goswell and Clarke and their forest world full of amazing creatures. The hat wearing creatures’ have wild adventures — but they’re always faithfully together. When the world is running to shit, sometimes we need some sweetness and beauty. 

New Video: Florence Italy-based Shoegazers We Melt Chocolate Release a Lysergic “120 Minutes”-like Visual for “everyjoy”

Formed back in 2014, the Florence, Italy-based shoegazer outfit We Melt Chocolate consists of a group of friends, w ho have been active in their hometown’s music scene for some time, as the band features members of Interzone, Evanicetrip, Scum, Smell of trees, Shades of blue and others. And with a self-released demo and EP under their belts, the Florence-based act have developed a reputation for crafting lilting and noisy shoegaze that owes a debt to My Bloody Valentine, Lush and The Sugarcubes among others. 

We Melt Chocolate’s self-titled, full-length debut is slated for a June 28, 2019 release through Annibale Records and the album’s latest single “everyjoy,” is a perfect example of classic shoegaze as the song is centered around distortion and pedal effected guitars, four-on-the-floor-like drumming, a propulsive bass line, ethereal and plaintive vocals and a soaring hook, all of which emphasizes the song’s dreamy and lysergic vibes. Centered around the band performing the song in an empty studio with superimposed special effects and trippy light effects, the video brings memories of 120 Minutes-era MTV  to mind. 

Dallas Green is a St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada-born singer/songwriter and guitarist, who started playing piano when he was eight and writing music when he was 14. Initially beginning his music career as a member of Helicon Blue, Green was a founding member of Canadian post-hardcore act Alexisonfire with whom he wrote and recorded four Platinum-certified albums and an EP — 2001’s self-titled album, 2004’s Watch Out!, 2006’s Crisis and 2009’s Old Crows/Young Cardinals and 2010’s Dog’s Blood EP — before officially breaking up in 2011.

Interestingly, Green’s critically acclaimed and commercially successful folk rock/alt-country solo recording project City and Colour, can trace its origins back to 2005 when he began releasing early versions of songs for fans to download. Many of those songs were written when Green turned 16 — and he complied those songs and rewrote many of those songs, eventually releasing them as his 2005 City and Colour debut, Sometimes.

2008’s City and Colour sophomore album, the folk-influenced Bring Me Your Love featured a wider arrangement of instrumentation, including harmonica, banjo, drums and lap steel and found Green collaboration with The Tragically Hip’s Gordon Downie and Attack in Black‘s Matt Sullivan. The album’s lead single “Waiting . . . ” peaked at #32 on the Canadian Hot 100. Building upon a growing profile on both sides of the border, Green and his backing band went on their first American tour, opening for Tegan and Sara and Girl in a Coma. The following year, Green went on a Stateside headlining tour with William Elliott Whitmore. 

January 2010 saw Green on another headlining Stateside tour to support Bring Me Your Love with opening act Lissie, which he followed with a UK tour opening for Pink and Butch Waters, with a handful of headlining dates. He ended that year collaboration with Polaris Prize-nominated artist Shad on a remix of one of “Listen” off TSOL, and an original song “Live Forever.

2011’s Little Hell features Green’s highest charting single, “Fragile Bird,” which reached #1 on the Canadian rock/Alternative Charts. That August, Alexisonfire formally broke up with a statement from the band’s George Pettit saying that Green had been planning to leave the band to focus on his solo work, as balancing the two projects became too difficult.

In 2014 Green collaborated with multi-Grammy nominated and winning pop artist Pink in You + Me and the duo’s full-length debut, rose ave. debuted at #4 on the US Top 200 Charts, #1 in Canada and #2 in Australia, eventually being certified Platinum and culminating in appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Green’s most recent full-length album 2015’s If I Should Go Before You debuted at #16 on the US Billboard 200 and #1 in his native Canada, marking his third consecutive chart-topping album in his homeland.  As far as other accolades, Green has won 3 Juno Awards, including two Songwriter of the Year Awards — and in Canada he has 3 Double Platinum-certified albums, 1 Platinum-certified album and 1 Gold-certified album, which may arguably make him one of the most commercially successful, Canadian artists of his generation.

His forthcoming sixth, full-length album is slated for release this Fall through the acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter’s newly minted Dine Alone Records imprint, Still Records — and the album’s first single the Jacquire King-produced “Astronaut,” is the first batch of new material from Green in over four years. Interestingly, the single is one part, honky-tonk ballad about a lonely life on the road, far from friend and family, playing your sad, beer and whiskey-soaked songs on the road, one part, towering and anthemic hook-driven shoegaze that recalls Slowdive and The Verve.  “I always think of the relationships in my life that have been fractured because I ended up doing what I do for a living,” Green says of the new single. “I’m always gone, wandering around and singing songs. However, it weighs on my family and friends. I’m asking for ‘one more year.’ I left home at 21 to go play my guitar. It’s lonely, but it’s because I yearn to wander, I’m aware of how lucky I am. “

Along with the new single, Green announced festival dates and a North American tour that will feature back-to-back nights in Nashville, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and New York. One night in each of those cities will take place in a seated theater, featuring Green playing an intimate solo show with stripped down versions of songs across his catalog with Ben Rogers, the first artist to sign onto Green’s new label.  The second night will feature Green and his touring band playing in general admission rock and indie rock venues with Ruby Waters opening. You can check out the tour dates below.

For this tour, Green has partnered with PLUS1. $1 from every ticket sold in Canada and the States will be donated to charitable foundations — Crisis Text Line here in the States and MusiCounts and Indpsire in Canada. Since launching in 2013, Crisis Text Line has provided free, 24/7 confidential support for those in crisis across the country, exchanging over 100 million messages from folks across the country. If you or someone you know needs help, have them text 741714 in the US to connect with a trained Crisis Counselor.

TOUR DATES
Festival Dates
Jun 27 – Lansing, MI @ Common Ground Festival (Solo)
Jun 29 – Peterborough, ON @ Peterborough Musicfest (Solo)
Aug 3 – Montreal, QC @ Osheaga Festival
Aug 5 – St. John’s, NL @ George Street Music Festival
Aug 4 – Saint John, NB @ Area 506 Festival
Aug 17 – Elora, ON @ Riverfest
U.S. Tour Dates
Sep 20 – Tacoma, WA @ WAMU Theatre (w/ ALICE IN CHAINS)
Oct 09 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement East**
Oct 10 – Nashville, TN @ James K. Polk Theater (Solo)*
Oct 14 – San Francisco, CA @ Palace of Fine Arts (Solo)*
Oct 15 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore**
Oct 16 – Los Angeles, CA @ Ace Hotel (Solo)*
Oct 17 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theatre**
Oct 21 – Boston, MA @ Royale**
Oct 22 – Boston, MA @ Berklee Performance Center (Solo)*
Oct 24 – New York City, NY @ Webster Hall**
Oct 25 – New York City, NY @ Town Hall (Solo)*
Canadian Tour Dates
Nov 08 – Victoria, BC @ Save On Foods Memorial Centre^
Nov 09 – Vancouver, BC @ Pacific Coliseum^
Nov 10 – Kelowna, BC @ Prospera Place^
Nov 12 – Calgary, AB @ Scotiabank Saddledome^
Nov 13 – Edmonton, AB @ Rogers Place^
Nov 15 – Regina, SK @ Brandt Centre^
Nov 16 – Winnipeg, MB @ Bell MTS Place^
Nov 19 – Sudbury, ON @ Sudbury Arena^
Nov 22 – Toronto, ON @ Scotiabank Arena^
Nov 25 – Ottawa, ON @ Canadian Tire Centre^
Nov 26 – Kingston, ON @ Leon’s Centre^
Nov 29 – Halifax, NS @ Scotiabank Centre^
* = w/Ben Rogers
** = w/Ruby Waters
^ = w/Jacob Banks and Ben Rogers

New Video: The Soft Calvary Releases a Hearing Impaired Friendly Visual for New Single “Bulletproof”

Earlier this year, I wrote about The Soft Calvary, a new shoegaze project formed by husband and wife duo Steve Clarke and Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, and their self-titled, full-length is slated for a July 5, 2019 release through Bella Union Records. Interestingly, for The Soft Calvary’s Steve Clarke, the album is equal parts labor of love and long-held dream finally realized — and perhaps more important, the first album that he has masterminded from start to finish with the assistance of his wife and his brother Michael, who produced the album.

Reportedly, the album’s material comes from and radiates both midlife crisis and elation — particularly, the sigh of finally finding real contentment and peace after living a messy life, full of heartache and confusion. And as Clarke emphasizes in press notes, an album that he “needed” to make, as it can also be seen as a way of rewriting his own narrative: Divorced in 2011, Clarke admittedly spent the next three years in a haze. He had played bass and sung backing vocals in bands as a session musician and as a touring member since the late 90s, while also working as a tour manager.

At one point, he began working as a tour manager for the reunited Slowdive. “I was hungover in the back of my van trying to work out how I was going to fit all the band’s gear into this confined space whilst I still had all of mine from the show that I’d played in London the night before,” Clarke recalls in press notes. “The second of two sold-out shows at Hammersmith Apollo with David Brent!” Coincidentally, that same day Clarke was introduced to Goswell. A year later, they were living together in Devon, before marrying last year. Rachel not only turned his world “upside-down,” as he recalls, she also unwittingly produced “the catalyst” for the new project. “I’d always had ideas but never felt that anything I had to say was worthy of anyone’s attention, let alone my own,” he says in press notes. “I wish that I could have done this fifteen years ago but, in reality, I simply couldn’t have. But I’m not one to overly wallow. I’d rather plough the various levels of confusion into songs.”

The album in many ways is an exercise in creative and personal therapy. The first songs Clarke wrote specifically for the album are Goswell-inspired paeans to fate, love, new beginnings and hope. But as he began to open up, the past found a way to seep in — the years of frustration, confusion, anxiety, heartache. If there’s a theme to the material, reckons Steve, “it’s recovery versus new doubt. I’m there, in the middle. The word that kept coming back to me was ‘resilience.’ With the right mentality and people around you, especially family, we get through and find a level of hope.”

The writing sessions were in some way an extended conversation between the couple. Clarke, as Goswell says “is always writing, his head always full of lyrics.” Goswell, as Clarke says “reins me in when I get obsessed. She’s a good editor. She says my songs can still work without sections of words, that leaving spaces is OK.” As Clarke began to assemble songs, he invited a handful of dear friends including Mercury Rev‘s and Midlake‘s Jesse Chandler (keys), Tom Livermore (guitar) to assist with the album’s overall sound and tone. “I’d grown up with guitar bands and I didn’t want it to be overly guitar-y,” Clarke says. “We evolved things by trying out ideas. We’d be build things up, and then stripe them back and build them again.”

Interestingly, as the album progressed Goswell formed Minor Victories with members of Mogwai and Editors while all of those bands had gaps in their schedules, eventually writing and recording an album, which Goswell and Clarke contributed vocals and lyrics for. “It got the cogs turning on a writing and lyrical level, and gave me a certain amount of self-belief,” Clarke recalls.

After completing their album together, Clarke found a name for the band and the album, seemingly out of thin air — The Soft Calvary. “I can’t explain its literal meaning,” he says. “It just made sense.” Might Rachel be the calvary? “Maybe! it would be subconscious, but that makes sense too, strangely.”

Now, as you may recall, Goswell and Clarke’s full-length debut’s first single “Dive” was centered around towering layers of shimmering guitars, a propulsive backbeat paired with the duo’s gorgeous dual harmonies. And while being one part deeply contented sigh, one part sweet, romantic swoon there’s a creeping sense and tacit acknowledgement that such a wondrous dream will fade. The album’s second and latest single finds Goswell and Clarke pairing their ethereal harmonies with shimmering guitar lines, a soaring hook and propulsive, electro pop-like beats, which gives the song a subtle, dance floor friendly vibe. And much like its predecessor, the song ‘s narrator expresses a deep unsettling sense of doubt — the sort of doubt that comes from a lived-in, messy life with its regrets, mistakes and triumphs but there’s an underlying sense of hope, that this time it’ll be different. 

The recently released video features Clarke and Goswell dressed in black, standing in front of a black background: Clarke sings the song’s lyrics while Goswell uses British Sign Language to sign the song’s lyrics. “For a long time now I have wanted to do a video that incorporates BSL (British Sign Language) due to my son being Profoundly Deaf with no hearing. He also has additional needs with CHARGE Syndrome that brings many added complications,” Goswell explains. I live within two worlds both Hearing and Deaf; and have learned alot in the last nine years about the many barriers Deaf people can face in our society. One of the main points I was taught very quickly is how music is accessible to Deaf people. Of course music can be felt through vibration but visually I feel so much more could be done to enhance the experience. We made this video with the support of Sign Up BSL to translate ‘Bulletproof’ so that the song flows properly in BSL. Sometimes with signing videos – they can be a literal translation of the words (Sign Supported English) which will make little sense to the Deaf viewer. Our hope is that we have achieved this and also that one day as my son gets older and develops his language skills he will be able to understand this song.”

New Video: The Soft Cavalry Releases a Meditative and Cinematic Visual for Swooning and Slow-burning Album Single “Dive”

Formed by husband and wife duo Steve Clarke and Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, The Soft Calvary is a new project, and their self-titled full-length debuts slated for a July 5, 2019 release through renowned indie label Bella Union Records. For Clarke, the album is equal parts labor of love and long-held dream finally realized — and perhaps more important, the first album that he has masterminded from start to finish with the assistance of his wife and his brother Michael, who produced the album.

Reportedly, the album’s material radiates both midlife crisis and elation — the sigh of finally finding real contentment and peace after living a messy life, full of heartache and confusion. And as Clarke emphasizes in press notes, an album that he “needed” to make, as it can also be seen as a way of rewriting his own narrative: Divorced in 2011, Clarke admittedly spent the next three years in a haze. He had played bass and sung backing vocals in bands as a session musician and as a touring member since the late 90s, while also working as a tour manager.

At one point, he began working as a tour manager for the reunited Slowdive. “I was hungover in the back of my van trying to work out how I was going to fit all the band’s gear into this confined space whilst I still had all of mine from the show that I’d played in London the night before,” Clarke recalls in press notes. “The second of two sold-out shows at Hammersmith Apollo with David Brent!” Coincidentally, that same day Clarke was introduced to Goswell. A year later, they were living together in Devon, before marrying last year. Rachel not only turned his world “upside-down,” as he recalls, she also unwittingly produced “the catalyst” for the new project. “I’d always had ideas but never felt that anything I had to say was worthy of anyone’s attention, let alone my own,” he says in press notes. “I wish that I could have done this fifteen years ago but, in reality, I simply couldn’t have. But I’m not one to overly wallow. I’d rather plough the various levels of confusion into songs.”

The album in many ways is an exercise in creative and personal therapy. The first songs Clarke wrote specifically for the album are Goswell-inspired paeans to fate, love, new beginnings and hope. But as he began to open up, the past found a way to seep in — the years of frustration, confusion, anxiety, heartache. If there’s a theme to the material, reckons Steve, “it’s recovery versus new doubt. I’m there, in the middle. The word that kept coming back to me was ‘resilience.’ With the right mentality and people around you, especially family, we get through and find a level of hope.”

Interestingly, the writing sessions were in some way an extended conversation between the couple. Clarke, as Goswell says “is always writing, his head always full of lyrics.” Goswell, as Clarke says “reins me in when I get obsessed. She’s a good editor. She says my songs can still work without sections of words, that leaving spaces is OK.” As Clarke began to assemble songs, he invited a handful of dear friends including Mercury Rev‘s and Midlake‘s Jesse Chandler (keys), Tom Livermore (guitar) to assist with the album’s overall sound and tone. “I’d grown up with guitar bands and I didn’t want it to be overly guitar-y,” Clarke says. “We evolved things by trying out ideas. We’d be build things up, and then stripe them back and build them again.”

Interestingly, as the album progressed Goswell formed Minor Victorieswith members of Mogwai and Editors while all of those bands had gaps in their schedules, eventually writing and recording an album, which Goswell and Clarke contributed vocals and lyrics for. “It got the cogs turning on a writing and lyrical level, and gave me a certain amount of self-belief,” Clarke recalls.

After completing their album together, Clarke found a name for the band and the album, seemingly out of thin air — The Soft Calvary. “I can’t explain its literal meaning,” he says. “It just made sense.” Might Rachel be the calvary? “Maybe! it would be subconscious, but that makes sense too, strangely.”

The album’s first single is the cinematic yet ethereal “Dive.” Centered around towering layers of shimmering guitars, a propulsive backbeat and Clarke and Goswell’s gorgeous harmonies, the track is one part contented sigh, one part sweetly, romantic swoon — but underneath all of that is a creeping sense of everything being a fleeting dream. “How long will this wondrous dream last?”  

Directed by Handheldcineclub, the recently released video is a meditative and lyrical experience that follows a middle-aged man, as he arrives at his local pool. He changes his clothes and heads to the pool. We see his as he climbs up the stairs of the pool’s Olympic-sized diving pool and as he approaches the third level, the man becomes visibly uncertain and by the time he reaches the diving board, he’s terrified — to the point that he eventually climbs down, appearing self-conscious and foolish. After seeing a fellow swimmer successfully dive, we see our protagonist with a newly acquired bravely, climbing up the stairs and about to dive off the board. While literal in some sense, the video suggests that sometimes we need to be inspired and gently pushed out of out comfort zones to take leaps of faith.