New Audio: Introducing the Anthemic, Shoegaze of Belgium’s Newmoon

Comprised of Bert Cannaerts (vocals/guitar), Giel Torfs (guitar/backing vocals), Philippe Corthout (guitar), Robby Geybels (bass) and Stef Gouwkens (drums), Newmoon are an Antwerp and Ghent, Belgium-based indie rock quintet derive their name from an Elliot Smith album, and although they formed in 2013, they can trace their origins to the breakup of locally renowned hardcore punk band Midnight Souls. Certainly, for anyone who may have been familiar with their previous project, Newmoon may superficially appear to be sonic change in direction, a proverbial left turn — despite the fact that reportedly, the band’s influences have almost always been the same: The Jesus and Mary Chain, Slowdive, Ramones, Oasis, and Sunn o))).

Their debut EP was released Touché Amoré’s label Secret Voice/Deathwish Inc. and the reconvened and rebranded quintet quickly built up a profile across the European Union as they’ve toured with the likes of Touché Amoré, Basement, Nothing and Cloakroom, and others. Building upon the buzz they’ve received, the band will be releasing their anticipated full-length debut as Newmoon, Space in October through PIAS Records. And the album’s first single “Head of Stone,” which was written while the band was on a bullet train between Tokyo and Kyoto and is primarily about the feeling of being lost and alone when you confront an impenetrable language barrier — the sort in which you don’t speak or understand a word of that country’s language and the people around you don’t speak your language. As the band’s Bert Cannaerts explains in press notes, “I realised that there’s something very frightening about being in a place where you are unable to connect to people in any way. You cannot understand the language they are speaking; you can’t understand any visual cues. This can make you feel isolated and invisible. The same thing can happen with emotional relationships. They get to a point where people become unable to communicate, and emotions and nuances are lost. This leads to isolation and resentment and people go their separate ways.”

As for the song you’ll hear propulsive, four-on-the-floor drumming, layers upon layers of gently buzzing power chords and anthemic hooks with ethereal vocals bubbling over an enveloping and dreamy sound and to my ears, I’m reminded of My Vitriol‘s FinelinesA Storm in Heaven and A Northern Soul-era The Verve and others — but with a subtly expansive song structure as the song possesses an explosive introduction,  the previously mentioned anthemic hook and a towering bridge with a mind-altering guitar solo.