Tag: shoegaze

New Audio: Introducing the Gorgeously Cinematic Sounds of The Soft Calvary

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 progresses 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 album’s first single is the cinematic yet ethereal “Dive.” Centered around towering layers of shimmering guitars, a propulsive backbeat, Clarke and Goswell’s gorgeous harmonies, the track is one part contented sigh, one part romantic swoon; but underneath that there’s a creeping sense that it’s all a fleeting dream.

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New Video: Austin-based JOVM Mainstays Blushing Release Woozy and Hallucinatory Visuals for “Dream Merchants”

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

The then-newly formed quartet spent the following year or so writing and revising material before heading to Bad Wolf Recordings to record their debut EP Tetherwhich was released to positive reviews across the blogosphere, including this site. Building upon a growing profile, the Austin-based shoe gazers returned to the studio to record their sophomore EP Weak, which featured EP title track “Weak,” a track that further cemented their reputation for crafting material that was indebted to LushCocteau Twins and The Sundays while being a gentle refinement of the sound and aesthetic that first caught the attention of this site and the rest of the blogosphere.

Blushing 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. “The Truth”/”Sunshine” 7 inch found the Austin-based JOVM mainstays expanding upon their sound with “The Truth” being one of the more muscular songs of their growing catalog while retaining the haziness that has won the attention of the blogosphere.

2019 may arguably be one of the biggest years of the band’s relatively short history: they’ve made their second SXSW showcase earlier this year, which they followed with their first West Coast tour — and their highly anticipated full-length debut is slated for release this summer. The full-length album’s first single is the woozy and swirling “Dream Merchants,” a track that continues in a similar muscular and feedback-filled vein as “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. Unsurprisingly, the track is about the power of dreams and their premonitory value on waking life.

The recently released video is an acid-tinged hallucination that’s split between footage of the members of the band performing in front of a psychedelic background, the writing of the song fueled by an incredibly vivid dream and a brush with the occult. “The video concept came about because Christina had a dream about a dear friend who passed away. In the dream he was telling her to go to New Orleans,” the band explains in press notes. “A month later we were planning our trip back from Athens Georgia where we were playing Athens Pop Fest and realized we would be driving back through New Orleans. She decided she should get a tarot reading while there because of the significant coincidence. Unfortunately the tarot reading wasn’t able to happen but it did inspire the lyrics she sings during the bridge and the music video where we see her get a reading.

New Video: Film School’s Glitchy and Hazy Visuals for “Influencer”

Currently comprised of founding member Greg Bertens (vocals, guitar) along with Jason Ruck (keys), Nyles Lannon (guitar), Justin Labo (bass) and Adam Wade (drums), the acclaimed, Los Angeles-based shoegazer act Film School can trace its origins to when Bertens founded the band as a primarily solo act in which he worked with members of Fuck and Pavement for the recording of the band’s full-length debut, 2001’s Brilliant Career. Ruck, Lannon, Labo and Ben Montesano (drums) were all recruited to compete the band’s first permanent lineup later that year.

2003 saw the release of the Alwaysnever EP, an effort that was recorded in Lannon’s bedroom and shortly after the release of the EP, the band went through a series of lineup changes — with the first being Donny Newenhouse replacing Montesano on drums. 2006 saw the release of their self-titled sophomore album, their first through renowned indie label Beggars Banquet. They also provided the music for a series of short films by Demetri Martin, known collectively as “Clearification,” which was used for an ad campaign for Windows Vista.

The band went through another a massive lineup change that featured Lorelei Plotczyk replacing Labo on bass, Dave Dupuis replacing Lannon on guitar, and James Smith replaced Newenhouse on drums and then relocated to Los Angeles before releasing their third full-length album 2007’s Hideout, which was primarily written by Bertens and recorded with Dan Long.

The band’s fourth full-length album Fission, which found the band exploring new sonic territory was released to mixed reviews by fans and critics in 2010. The band played what was considered their last official show the following year and went on an indefinite hiatus for several years before the band’s self-titled era lineup reunited for a one-off show at San Francisco‘s Bottom of the Hill to celebrate Newenhouse’s 40th birthday that focused on early material. Interestingly, the reunion eventually resulted in 2016’s June EP, which found the reunited band returning to their signature spacious sound.

Film School’s fifth, full-length album, last year’s Bright to Death was written and recorded as a labor of love, with tempered expectations, since it was the band’s first album in eight years. Recorded over an eight day period in November 2018 on the outskirts of Joshua Tree, CA, the album’s title is derived from text on a piece of art that Bertens had seen as part of an exhibit by Chinese students on the topic of global warming. As they were recording in the sun-blistered environs of Joshua Tree, the phrase “Bright to death” popped into Bertens’ head and it stuck.

Featuring four members of the band’s original lineup and Shudder to Think and Jawbox’s Adam Wade contributing on several songs, the album’s sessions came about almost by accident. As the story goes, Bertens was at a Fourth of July get-together and was grumbling to Justin Labo about a recent bout with writer’s block. In the ensuing months after recording the June EP, work and family responsibilities had seemingly zapped Bertens of his creativity. At the time Bertens joked “The only way, I could write is if I were out in the desert for a week.” A few hours later, Bertens received a phone call from Labo: Labo had the go-ahead from his wife and kids to go to the desert to write and record. Greg’s offhanded remark had awakened “a pent-up lust to make music the way we wanted to,” in Justin’s words. It wasn’t long before Nyles Lannon (guitar/backing vocals, also a dad) and Jason Ruck (synths) were on board, too.

As for the sessions themselves — after Bertens returned from his dawn run, the members of the band would hunker down in a small outbuilding that functioned as a simple studio. “It was perfect,” the band’s Labo said “We set up our laptops and fashioned a makeshift DIY recording setup. It brought us back to [2003] when we recorded the Alwaysnever EP in Nyles’s bedroom.” They would spend all day and most of the night working, taking breaks only to eat and to catch a few hours of sleep. “At some points we had two recording setups going simultaneously,” Labo recalls. “Greg and Nyles might be working on an arrangement or vocals, while me and Jason would be tracking keyboards and bass for another idea. We recorded for eight days straight, right up until the very last moment.”

The band will be releasing a new EP sometime this year, and its first single is the hazy and atmospheric “Influencer.” Centered around four-on-the-floor, buzzing and arpeggiated synths, shimmering, pedal effected guitars and an anthemic hook, the song manages to bring Silversun Pickups but with an ambivalent and ironic detachment. Interestingly, the song is a a nod to people’s ambivalence and as Greg Bertens says in press notes how we “cringe at fake positivity yet we desperately want to be shown a model for the good life. We’re doomed!” The recently released video features a sweeping, glitchy landscape which emphasizes the song’s hazy and dreamy vibes.

New Video: The KVB Releases Dreamy Visuals for Shimmering “Violet Noon”

Initially formed back in 2010 as a solo recording project of its founding member, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Nicholas Wood, the British shoegazer act The KVB stated off with a number of limited cassette and vinyl releases that included “The Black Sun,” which was released through FLA Records and the Into the Night EP, which was released through Downwards Records. Vocalist, keyboardist and visual artist Kay Day joined Wood the following year, and the newly constituted duo released their full-length debut Always Then through Clan Destine Records. 

2013 was a busy year for the duo, as that year saw the release of their sophomore effort, Immaterial Visions, which was released through Cititrax that February. Wood and Day followed that up with a remix EP featuring contributions from Regis and Silent Servant that May — and a reissue of 2011’s limited edition cassette release Minus One through The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe’s label, A Recordings.

The following year, Wood and Day went to Newcombe’s Berlin studio to track what would eventually become the Out of Body EP, which A Records released later that year. Interestingly, those sessions marked a couple of firsts for the duo — the first time that they worked outside of their home studio and the first time that they worked with Joe Dilworth, a dummer known for his work with Stereolab and Cavern of Anti-Matter. The more experimental material they recorded the year, would up comprising 2015’s Mirror Being, which was released through Invada Records. 

2016’s Of Desire found the duo’s sound moving in a more experimental, electronic-leaning direction, as they recorded with vintage synths from Invada Records head and  Portishead and Beak> mastermind Geoff Barrow’s collection. Continuing at a busy pace, the duo’s Fixation/White Walls EP was release in 2017 and they released a re-masted, fifth anniversary edition of Always Then. Interestingly, last year’s Only Now Forever finds the duo returning to their DIY roots, with the duo recording in their Berlin apartment over the course of 2017. 

The album’s atmospheric, “Violet Noon” will further cement the duo’s reputation for pairing reverb-drenched shoegaze, 60s pop inspired boy-girl harmonies and minimalist  electronic production — but within a swooning and achingly hazy dream-like song.  “Influenced by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra, ‘Violet Noon’ is a dark love song set against the backdrop of the apocalypse. While the world falls apart, all you can think of is the person you want to spend those last moments with,” The KVB say of the song and its accompanying video. “We shot the video last October, on the last unseasonably warm day of the year on the Jurassic coast in Dorset on the south coast of England. For us, the dreaminess of the video perfectly reflects the otherworldliness of this song, it feels like a hazy memory, timeless and romantic.”

New Video: Swervedriver’s Murky Yet Anthemic “Space Oddity”-like “Mary Winter”

Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the renowned, Oxford, UK-based alt rock/shoegazer act Swervedriver, and as you may recall, the act which is primarily centered around their founding duo Adam Franklin (vocals, guitar) and Jimmy Hartridge (guitar, vocals) along with Mikey Jones (drums, vibes) and revolving bassists Mick Quinn and Ben Ellis can trace their origins back to 1989. During their initial run from their founding until 1998, the band released four full-length albums — 1991’s Raise, 1993’s Mezcal Head, 1995’s Ejector Seat Reservation and 1998’s 99th Dream — while going through a number of lineup changes, management changes and different labels. 

By 1993, Franklin and Hartridge teamed up with Jef Hindmarsh (drums) and Steve George (bass) and with that lineup, they developed a reputation for a heavier rock sound than their shoegazer counterparts — but over their last five years together, their sound slowly evolved to include elements of psych rock, pop and indie rock. And although Franklin, Hartdige, Hindmarsh and George were the longest tenured lineup in the band’s history, they went on a lengthy hiatus in 1998, in which the individual members went on to pursue a variety of professional and creative pursuits. Franklin embarked on a solo career that would rival Swervedriver’s creative output, including a stint fronting the experimental electro pop/electro folk act Toshack Highway, whose releases ranged from sextet ensemble works to four-track bedroom recordings and then with the more traditionally guitar rock-driven Adam Franklin & Bolts of Melody. Hartridge founded a distribution company. Hindmarsh founded Badearth Management, a music management company that eventually managed Scottish rock act Terra Diablo and others.

In early 2005, Franklin, Hartrdige, Hindmarsh and George reconvened to collaborate with Castle Music to choose songs on what would be a two disc anthology Juggernaut Rides ’89-’98, a compilation that included 33 tracks remastered from the originals DATs. Half of those tracks were non-album tracks, along with four previously unreleased tracks — including the last recordings the band worked on in 1998, “Just Sometimes” and “Neon Lights Glow.” Released to critical applause, Juggernaut Rides ’89 – ’98 helped build up growing interest in the shoegazer pioneers’ work. 

2006 was a rather busy year for the members of the band’s longest tenured lineup. Franklin began collaborating with Interpol‘s Sam Fogarino in Magnetic Morning. Hindmarsh went on to publish Rider, which chronicled his experiences and observations on the road touring with the band between 1992 and 1998. Somewhat inspired by the wildly successful 2004 reunion tour of the Pixies, the band reunited for a world tour in 2008 that garnered the attention and acclaim that largely evaded them a decade earlier. 

2015’s I Wasn’t Born to Lose You was the first album of new, original material from the band in 17 years, and although they’ve managed to be consistent in their second run, they’ve gone through a series of lineup changes between the 2008 reunion tour and the release of I Wasn’t Born to Lose You. 

Now, as you may recall, the band’s second reunion-era album and their sixth altogether, Future Ruins was released earlier this year through Dangerbird Records. Future Ruins’ predecessor, was written and recorded immediately after an Australian tour and inspired by the results, the members of the pioneering shoegazer act decided to repeat the process after a lengthy Stateside tour in which they played Raise and Mezcal Head in their entirety. “That’s a good way to record,” Franklin says in press notes, “because you’ve literally just seen the whites of the audience’s eyes and you’re thinking, ‘If that audience from last night were here now…’ You can’t get too mellow. We came home with 30 different songs.” 10 more days of vocals and overdubs at Brighton UK‘s Seaside Studios with Grammy Award-winning engineer TJ Doherty quickly followed.

The material on Future Ruins finds the band retaining the escapist vibes that they’ve long been known for — but while generally being inspired by the uneasy tension and anxiety of our ongoing sociopolitical moment. Interestingly, the album’s second single “Drone Lover” actually predates the I Wasn’t Born recording sessions. As the band’s Adam Franklin explained in press notes, at the time, ““I have no recollection of where this tune came from. It’s a song that’s been knocking around for a few years, but for some reason had never been presented to anyone until we were in the studio this time and I clicked play on the demo while searching for something else. TJ and Mikey both went ‘what’s this?’ and then ‘so why aren’t we recording it?’ – and so we recorded it. The lyric mentions love but it’s really about war – remote war and killing from a distance whilst chomping on last night’s leftover pizza or something.”  The album’s third single, was the shimmering and wistful “The Lonely Crowd Fades In The Air.” As Franklin admits, the band was thinking of The Clash, “even though it doesn’t sound anything like them, but it’s like a punch on the nose from a velvet glove.” Oddly, as I have a day left of my 30s, the song seems to hit me in a personal way, as the song’s narrator thinks about all the directions his life may have taken, if he made different decisions at key points in his life. 

The members of Swervedriver are currently on a co-headlining tour with Failure that includes a Friday night stop at Warsaw. You can check out the remaining tour dates below — but I thought I should talk about the album’s first single, album opener “Mary Winter.” Arguably, the darkest single of the three they’ve released, the song is centered around fuzzy and jangling power chords, thunderous drumming and an anthemic hook — and despite the fact that the song sounds as though it could have been released in 1994, the song evokes an uneasy sense of foreboding while lyrically the song sounds indebted to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” as the song’s narrator is a space traveler, hurtling away from the world. Whether the narrator is escaping willfully or not, is left for us to decide. In the meantime, everything is fucked up — and while it may seem hopeless, we can’t just escape the planet. So maybe we should start asking ourselves, “What can we do to make it right?” Fittingly, the video employs the use of old space imagery, helping to emphasize a sense of weightlessness and helplessness. 

With the release of 2016’s full-length debut Get Home Safe, the Brooklyn-based indie rock act Teen Body, comprised of Shannon Lee (guitar, vocals), Xela French (bass, vocals), Alex Bush (guitar) and Marcus McDonald (drums) quickly developed a reputation for a sound that has been compared to the likes of Yo La Tengo, Slowdive, Galaxie 500 and others.

Dreamo, the Brooklyn-based quartet’s long-awaited sophomore album is slated for an April 12, 2019 release, and the album derives its name from a term coined by the band’s close friend, Casey Halter, who after a show, wryly said to the band “Your music is like dream pop and emo . . . dreamo music.” Interestingly, the forthcoming album reportedly features what arguably may be the most vulnerable, sincere and hopeful material of their growing catalog. Now, as you may recall, album single “Validation” retains the gorgeous and shimmering 4AD Records-like sound that has won them attention across the blogosphere while managing to be wistful yet comfortable, evoking a lover or dear friend gently squeezing your hand when you’re at your most desperate and uncertain.  The album’s latest track, album title track “Dreamo,” is a slow-burning and achingly beautiful song that further cements their reputation for crafting a classic shoegaze-like sound. Centered around boy-girl harmonizing, the song manages to possess the wistfulness of a relationship that’s ended, with the weighty recognition that what was once current is now part of your past. And yet, the song has the air of hope because once you’ve known love, you’ll see love come back — it’ll always be different, but it’s love all the same.

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Piroshka Releases Politically Charged Visuals for “What’s Next”

Over the past few months, I’ve written quite a bit about the indie rock All-Star act Piroshka. Deriving their name from the Hungarian version of Little Red Riding Hood, the band is comprised of Lush’s Miki Berenyi (vocals, guitar) and Moose’s KJ “Moose” McKillop (guitar), who are married, along with Modern English’s Mick Conroy (bass) and Elastica’s Justin Welch (drums) — and while each member may be known for their highly acclaimed projects, they’ve been long connected within a complex and knotted web: Berenyi and McKillop are considered shoegaze pioneers with a number of applauded and beloved releases before getting married and starting a family; with the release of their breakthrough, full-length debut, 1995’s self-titled debut, Elastica were rising Brit pop stars, and as  result, Berenyi and McKillop were familiar with Welch and his work; Conroy, was a member of Modern English and after that band broke up for a second time, he joined McKillop’s band Moose. Welch joined the reunited Lush in 2015 — and when they needed a bassist for what turned out to be their final show in Manchester, Conroy filled in. 

The Manchester show rehearsals are what laid the foundations for Piroshka — but I need to backtrack a bit: After Chris Acland’s suicide in 1997, his devastated and grieving Lush bandmates felt it was impossible to continue with the band, and the band broke up as a result. Berenyi was so devastated by Acland’s death that she quit music, spending the next 20 years as a working mother. Because of her personal and personal obligations, Berenyi didn’t agree to reunite Lush and tour again until 2015. I should add that Welch was a close friend of Acland’s, making him a logical choice to lovingly fill in.  Interestingly, as the story goes, Welch asked Berenyi if she’d up to doing something new after the final Manchester show. As Berenyi recalled in press notes, up until then she hadn’t made music outside of Lush and solo work never appealed to her. “I need someone else to motivate me, and in this case it was Justin. 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.’”

There are serial more layers 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 Brickbat demos and he quickly signed the band to the label. Raymonde’s former Cocteau Twins bandmate Robin Guthrie produced Lush’s debut album. Additionally, Raymonde’s current Lost Horizons bandmate Richie Thomas was a former member of Moose. In any case, Raymonde introduced Piroshka to Lanterns on the Lake‘s Paul Gregory, who mixed all but one track on the album — “What’s Next,” which was mixed by Alan Moulder. Lastly,  Fiona Brice, who was once a Bella Union recording artist, wrote string arrangements while The Higsons and Blockhead‘s Terry Edwards, who played on Lush’s final album played brass.

Now, as you may recall, Brickbat was released earlier this month, and while the album’s title is derived for a slang term for missile, it also manages to symbolically hit upon the fact that the material is a marked departure from each individual bandmembers’ known work — with the focus being on blue, forceful lyrics that tap into the fear, loathing, envy, spite and strife at the heart of our ongoing sociopolitical climate. Unsurprisingly, with some of the band’s members being parents, much of the material was written through the anxious prism of parenthood in a world gone completely mad. Brickbat’s first single “Everlastingly Yours” was centered by a devastating and profound fear — that you can’t possibly predict the evolving dangers of our world, and that you can’t completely protect your loved ones from them either. While built upon 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.” As a result, the song taps into deeper sense of powerlessness and helplessness. 

Brickbat’s latest single “What’s Next” continues in its predecessor’s footsteps as it’s centered around the urgency of our sociopolitical moment — with the song’s narrator essentially saying “Wait, hold up. What the fuck, man? Shouldn’t we want better?” And throughout there are references to people hitting the streets to protest, out of fear, concern and outrage.  “‘What’s Next’ started life as a guitar-and-drums demo from Justin that he’d called ‘Protest’ – the drums being inspired by the idea of a protest march. It’s one of the very first songs Piroshka worked on together,” Berenyi explains in press notes. “The lyrics are inspired by the shock and fallout regarding current political upheavals – how this finger-pointing and rage and blame are so damaging, how we need to get back some kind of solidarity if we possibly can because the divisions between us are playing into certain people’s hands. Funnily enough, the song was called Time’s Up when it was first recorded, but that title then got taken so we thought we’d better change it!”

Designed and directed by Bunny Schendler, edited by Jonathan Hodgson and featuring animation by Bunny Schendler, Sofa Umarik and Jonathan Hodgson, the video captures the anxiousness and righteous outrage of our political climate as its centered around political demonstrations, protests and skirmishes in the streets — while stressing that in the Internet age, it’s easy to stir up hatred, infighting and finger pointing. 

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays A Place to Bury Strangers Perform “Punch Back” for Fuzz Club Live Sessions

I’ve written quite a bit about Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstays A Place to Bury Strangers over the course of this site’s nearly nine year history and as you may recall, the band, which is currently comprised of founding member Oliver Ackermann (vocals, guitar), Dion Lunadon (bass, guitar) and newest member Lia Simone Braswell (vocals, drums) have a long-held reputation for an unwavering and uncompromising commitment to an unpredictable live show: they’re known for never writing an actual set list, sometimes spontaneously writing new songs during the middle of sets — and for being arguably one of the loudest bands on the planet.

The Brooklyn-based shoegazers/noise rockers spent the bulk of last year touring to support Pinned and Re-Pinned, a remix album that featured re-imagined and re-worked A Place to Bury Strangers tracks from Slowdive, Trentemøller, No Age, METZ, Eric Copeland, Roly Porter, Davy Drones, and TBO — and while in London, during the tail end of a touring across Europe, the members of the band spent the day at Lovebuzz Studios to record a Fuzz Club Session. Slated for a February 15, 2019 release as a vinyl exclusive, and recorded in live in one take, the live album reportedly captures the band’s ethos and the intensity of their live some committed to wax like never before. Additionally, there were accompanying videos from the sessions, which will be released online.

“It’s good to record at the very end of the tour,” the band’s founding member Oliver Ackermann reflects in press notes. “You’ve been playing these songs all tour and there’s a certain point when you kind of get tired of them, so you have to reinvent what they mean and what happens in them. I feel like that always pushes things to the next level. It’s exciting.” The live session include two tracks off  2018’s Pinned “Never Coming Back” and “Punch Back,” one off 2015’s Transfixiation “We’ve Come So Far,” one off 2012’s Onwards To The Wall, “Drill It Up,” one off their 2007 self-titled debut Ocean and a previously unreleased track “Chrome Shadow,” and while essentially spanning the band’s lengthy catalog, the live session’s material features the songs reconfigured and pushed to their limits. Now, as you may recall that the live album’s second single was the previously unreleased “Chrome Shadow.” A decided sonic departure for the trio, the slow-burning, dirge-like track was centered around a snarling and throbbing Lunadon bass line, undulating waves of industrial clang, clatter and distortion, a propulsive drum machine and Ackermann’s plaintive and wailing vocals fed through layers of distortion — with the song evoking a towering fog of unease and malevolence.

Although I’m writing about this out of order, the live album’s first single is a furious and breakneck version of “Punch Back” that puts Braswell’s feral and snarling vocals and forceful drumming taking center stage while the song is propelled forward by Lunadon’s throbbing bass and Ackerman’s towering peals of feedback-fed guitar. 

Armed with their arsenal of strobes, projectors and smoke machines to accurately replicate their live show, the live footage captures the band’s current lineup at their fiercest, capturing the band working as a collaborative unit, which each member feeding off of and pushing one another.

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays A Place to Bury Strangers Perform a Previously Unreleased Single for Fuzz Club Sessions at Lovebuzz Studios

Over the course of this site’s nearly nine year history, I’ve written quite a bit about  Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstays A Place to Bury Strangers, and as you may recall the band, which is currently comprised of Oliver Ackermann (vocals, guitar), Dion Lunadon (bass, guitar) and its newest member Lia Simone Braswell (vocals, drums) have had a long-held reputation for having an unwavering and uncompromising commitment to unpredictable live shows: they’ve been known for never writing an actual set list, for  sometimes spontaneously writing new songs in the middle of the sets — and for arguably being one of the loudest bands on the planet. 

The Brooklyn-based shoegazers/noise rockers spent the bulk of last year touring to support Pinned and Re-Pinned, a remix album that featured re-imagined and re-worked A Place to Bury Strangers tracks from Slowdive, Trentemøller, No Age, METZ, Eric Copeland, Roly Porter, Davy Drones, and TBO — and while in London, during the tail end of a touring across Europe, the members of the band spent the day at Lovebuzz Studios to record a Fuzz Club Session. Slated for a February 15, 2019 release as a vinyl exclusive, and recorded in live in one take, the live album reportedly captures the band’s ethos and the intensity of their live some committed to wax like never before. Additionally, there were accompanying videos from the sessions, which will be released online. 

“It’s good to record at the very end of the tour,” the band’s founding member Oliver Ackermann reflects in press notes. “You’ve been playing these songs all tour and there’s a certain point when you kind of get tired of them, so you have to reinvent what they mean and what happens in them. I feel like that always pushes things to the next level. It’s exciting.” The live session include two tracks off  2018’s Pinned “Never Coming Back” and “Punch Back,” one off 2015’s Transfixiation “We’ve Come So Far,” one off 2012’s Onwards To The Wall, “Drill It Up,” one off their 2007 self-titled debut Ocean and a previously unreleased track “Chrome Shadow,” and while essentially spanning the band’s lengthy catalog, the live session’s material features the songs reconfigured and pushed to their limits. The live album’s second and latest  latest single is the previously unreleased “Chrome Shadow.” A decided sonic departure the trio, the slow-burning, dirge-like “Chrome Shadow” is centered around a snarling and throbbing bass line played by Lunadon, towering, undulating waves of industrial clang, clatter and distortion, a propulsive drum machine and Ackermann’s plaintive and wailing vocals fed through layers of distortion — with the end result being a towering fog of unease and malevolence. 

Armed with their arsenal of strobes, projectors and smoke machines to accurately replicate their live show, the live footage features the trio huddled around a drum machine and some other hardware that Ackermann uses to manipulate and distort his vocals and everything else. The live footage captures a band working as a collaborative unit, which each member feeding off of and pushing one another.  

 

 

Comprised of Lush‘s Miki Berenyi (vocals, guitar) and Moose‘s KJ “Moose” McKillop (guitar), who are married, along with Modern English‘s Mick Conroy (bass) 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 Welch. 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 as I write this, I realize that I need to backtrack a bit because backstories are often extremely confusing — and there details I hadn’t figured out a good way to fit in. So here we go: After Chris Acland’s suicide in 1997, his devastated and grieving bandmates felt unable to continue. Berenyi in particular felt that she had to completely 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.  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 another layer 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. Alan with that 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.  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 Local, 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.

Featuring four-on-the-floor drumming, jangling guitar chords, shimmering synths and Berenyi’s ethereal vocals, Brickbat‘s latest single “What’s Next” continues in its predecessor’s footsteps as it’s centered around the urgency of our sociopolitical moment — with the song’s narrator essentially saying “Wait, hold up. What the fuck, man? Shouldn’t we want better?” And throughout there are references to people hitting the streets to protest, out of fear, concern and outrage. Interestingly, as the band’s Berenyi explains in press notes “‘What’s Next’ started life as a guitar-and-drums demo from Justin that he’d called ‘Protest’ – the drums being inspired by the idea of a protest march. It’s one of the very first songs Piroshka worked on together. The lyrics are inspired by the shock and fallout regarding current political upheavals – how this finger-pointing and rage and blame are so damaging, how we need to get back some kind of solidarity if we possibly can because the divisions between us are playing into certain people’s hands. Funnily enough, the song was called Time’s Up when it was first recorded, but that title then got taken so we thought we’d better change it!”