Tag: shoegaze

New Video: JOVM Mainstays The KVB Return with a Hazy and Hallucinogenic visual for “Unbound”

Currently based out of Manchester, UK, the acclaimed shoegazers and JOVM mainstay outfit The KVB initially started in 2010 as the solo recording project of founder, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Nicholas Wood. Wood released a series of limited cassette an vinyl releases as a solo recording project; but by 2011, vocalist, keyboardist and visual artist Kat Day joined the project. 

In the decade since Day joined the project, The KVB have released several critically applauded albums and EPs through a number of different labels before signing to Geoff Barrow‘s Invada Records,who released 2018’s Only Now Forever. Interestingly, each of the duo’s acclaimed releases saw them crafting a sound simultaneously inspired by The Jesus and Mary Chain and Cabaret Voltaire; however, with each subsequent effort, the band has managed to streamline their sound. 

Through extensive touring across the European Union, the UK, China, Russia and Japan, the duo have amassed a devoted fanbase globally. Now, as you may recall during the pandemic, Day and Wood relocated from Berlin to Manchester to work on their sixth album, the Andy Savors-produced Unity. Slated for a Friday release through Invada Records, the duo’s sixth album will reportedly represent a new and exciting development in their sonic development: Through the album’s ten songs, the duo pull together their trademark components, radiant guitars, textured synths and their penchant for moody melodies and brooding vibes paired with a renewed dynamism. 

The initial Unity writing sessions took place in Spain in early 2019, where the duo found influence from the “half built luxury villas, still unfinished from the crash in 2008. There was something eerie and beautiful about the desolate landscapes and concrete in the sunshine,” the band says in press notes. While their sound and approach has always been informed by what seems like our inevitable dystopian future, there is also more of a rapturous release to the material. Thematically, the album combines double meanings and there’s a sleight of hand present. 

In the lead up to the album’s release later this week, I’ve managed to write about two of the album’s singles:

  • World on Fire,” a track centered around buzzing and slashing power chords, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a relentless, motorik groove and a euphoric hook paired with the duo’s breathy boy-girl harmonies. The end result was a song, which featured elements that reminded m elf Lightfoils, BLACKSTONE RNGRS and others with a gauzy, New Order-like sheen. 
  • Unité,” a dance floor friendly track, centered around thumping beats, shimmering synth arpeggios, a relentless and hypnotic motorik groove paired Day’s ethereal yet deadpan delivery. The end result is a song — that to my ears — sounded as though it could have been part of the Trans Europe Express or Man Machine sessions.

“Unbound,” Unity‘s final single continues a run of hazy and hypnotic material centered around glistening synth arpeggios, driving motorik grooves, the duo’s ethereal boy-girl harmonies and a euphoric hook. To my ears, the song sounds a bit like how I would imagine Evil Heat era Primal Scream covering Kraftwerk.

Directed by Sapphire Goss, the recently released video for “Unbound” follows the JOVM mainstays as they encounter a decaying monolithic structure in England. The structures seem to radiate a mysterious yet rhythmic signal of color and light — with a seemingly deeper meaning. Interestingly enough, the video manages is inspired by the album’s cover art, drawing influence from it.

“We’ve been fascinated by the sound mirrors that are on the south coast of England for a while now and were very pleased to know that Sapphire [Goss] shared our interest in these decaying, monolithic sculptures!” The KVB explain in press notes. “In fact, they were part of the inspiration for Unity’s album cover. It was great to finally visit one in real life,despite the wind and rain that came with filming there. For us, Sapphire’s dreamlike, analogue aesthetic feels like the perfect complement to Unbound’s hazy sound.”

“The video took the album cover imagery as the starting point, and the band were keen to use the sound mirrors- strange monolithic listening structures along the coastline, made obsolete by radar almost as soon as they were built,” Sapphire Goss adds. “The video reanimates these eerie monuments, showing them pulse out mysterious signals of light and colour. The film is made using a mix of analogue & digital effects- lenticular 3D & stereo loops shot on an 80s Nimslo (35mm) and an old Mamiya passport lens attachment that freeze moments in time & dance around them spatially, adding to the uncanny feeling.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays No Swoon Release a Brooding New Visual and Single

Formed back in 2016, JOVM mainstays No Swoon — Tasha Abbott (vocals, guitar) and Zack Nestel-Patt (synths) — have received attention across the blogosphere for a sound and approach that meshes elements of dream pop, shoegaze, post-punk and ethereal wave.

2018’s 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: she spent a great deal of time driving around the suburbs listening to the goth and New Wave that her mom played in the car when Abbott was a little girl  (BauhausLove and Rockets, New Order) and the indie rock and punk rock of her teenage years (Yeah Yeah YeahsThe White Stripes).

2019’s Jorge Elbrecht-produced, self-titled full-length debut saw the band firmly establishing their sound in an urgent and ambitious fashion. Drawing from the divisiveness of the 2016 election and its aftermath, the self-titled album featured incisive political commentary — often criticizing capitalism, unchecked power and greed, while touching upon the confusion, frustration and and uncertainty that so many of us have felt, and continue to feel.

Much like countless others across the world, the COVID-19 pandemic, the members of the JOVM mainstay act found their lives and plans thrown into disarray: their planned tour to support their full-length debut last year was indefinitely scrapped. And after spending the past five years in Brooklyn, the duo relocated to Los Angeles. Understandably, the past year spent in isolation has forced the duo to take a step back and think about their lives in new ways, as well as examine the intricacies of going through life. (This has been a period of profound reflection and reinvention — for all of us.)

The duo’s latest single “Again” marks a period of massive transitions for the band: the aforementioned move back West — and the band reworking their sound as a result. The slow-burning “Again” sees the JOVM mainstays pairing Abbott’s ethereal and plaintive vocals with a stormy backdrop of forceful and buzzing power chords, thunderous drumming by frequent collaborator Jon Smith, swirling bursts of twinkling keys and a enormous hook. Sonically, the song manages to evoke the seemingly unending doldrums of the earliest part of the pandemic, while being a sort of mix of Siamese Dream era Smashing Pumpkins and Slowdive.

“This song is about when days begin and end with no real definition. About being stuck in the loop of our life and we can’t get out. It may come to no surprise that this song was written early on in the Pandemic. Before everything shut down, I (Tasha) was constantly moving: work, music, sleep, etc., and being at stand-still all of a sudden was definitely strange (on top of the already terror and stress of the pandemic).”

Directed, shot and edited by the members of No Swoon,  the recently released video for “Again” features the band’s Tasha Abbott by herself at night, shot in a series of super tight close-ups meant to evoke the claustrophobic feeling of being trapped by yourself with your own thoughts.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Blushing Team Up with Miki Berenyi on the Gorgeous and Anthemic “Blame”

Over the past couple of years of this site’s 11-plus history, I’ve managed to spill a copious amount of virtual ink cover the Austin-based dream pop/shoegazer outfit and JOVM mainstays Blushing. Featuring two married couples — Christina Carmona (vocals, bass) and Noe Carmona (guitar, keys) and Michelle Soto (guitar, vocals) and Jacob Soto (drums), the JOVM mainstays can trace its roots back to El Paso, where Jacob Soto and Noe Carrmona grew up as lifelong friends and musical partners.

Jacob Soto and Noe Carmona relocated to Austin around 2009. Coincidentally, they both met their wives at The Side Bar and according to the band, “naturally all four of us became close friends.” As Michelle Soto was learning guitar, she also began writing material, creating guitar parts and vocal melodies in her bedroom. Christina Carmona, who is a classically trained vocalist, was recruited by Michelle Soto to contribute vocals; but Christina then taught herself bass and helped flesh out Michelle’s songs. Shortly after, Jacob and Noe began to notice how much potential the material had, and they joined in on a practice session to help further flesh out their arrangements. And from that point on, Blushing was a full-fledged band. Their natural simpatico and like-minded musical influences helped to solidify their ongoing creative process.

The members of the Austin-based shoegazer outfit spent the bulk of 2016 writing and refining material, which eventually led to their debut EP, 2017’s Tether, which was released to positive reviews across the blogosphere, including this site. Building upon a growing profile in the shoegaze and dream pop scenes, Blushing returned to the studio to write and recored their sophomore EP, 2018’s Weak, an effort that saw them firmly cementing a sound seemingly indebted to LushCocteau Twins and The Sundays but while being a subtle (and gentle) refinement. They needed that year with the Elliot Frazier-produced and mixed “The Truth”/”Sunshine” 7 inch, which featured what may arguably be the most muscular and direct song of their catalog to date. They also managed to spend the year touring to support their recored output, sharing stages with Snail MailSunflower BeanLa LuzBRONCHOIlluminati Hotties, JOVM mainstays Yumi Zouma and others.

2019 saw the release of their self-titled, full-length debut, which they supported with an extensive US tour with Ringo Deathstarr that included a stop at Saint Vitus Bar that November. Although touring was on an indefinite hiatus until recently, the Austin JOVM mainstays have been busy: they signed to Kanine Records, who will be releasing their highly anticipated Elliot Frazier-produced, sophomore album Possessions.

Slated for a February 18, 2022 release, Possessions is an album born out of incredible patience and perseverance: The earliest tracking sessions started in 2019 and continued in fits and starts through the quarantines, lockdowns and re-openings of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a break in production while Frazier welcomed his second child, and that was followed by the massive blackouts across Texas resulting from the February 2021 winter storm across the region. Interestingly, when the album was finally finished, what revealed itself was an album that reportedly is at points heavier and at other points lighter. Thematically and lyrically, the album sees the band embracing the full and complicated spectrum of life and relationship but while recognizing the need for escape and whimsy.

The album also sees the band collaborating with two shoegazer legends — Lush and Piroshka‘s Miki Berenyi, who contributes vocals on an album track and RIDE‘s Mark Gardener, who mastered the album at his OX4 Sound in the UK. Fittingly, Possessions‘ first single “Blame” features the aforementioned Berenyi. The collaboration can trace its origins back to when Blushing covered “Out of Control” for a Lush tribute album in 2018. The cover caught the attention of Berernyi, who tweeted her appreciation — and a friendship began.

As the band continued to track material for Possessions, the JOVM mainstays approached Berenyi about the possibility of her working on a song, and they were thrilled to find that she shared their excitement about working together. The band then sent Berenyi the track and lyrics digitally with the request that she add any vocals she’d like. The end result is a lush, densely layerred song featuring glistening and reverb drenched guitars, an enormous hook and some eerily spectral harmonies and counter melodies between Christina Carmona, Michelle Soto and Berenyi. But just under the shimmering surface is a subtle sense of menace, expressed by the refrain “Stick around and find out . . . “

The recently released video for “Blame” is a trippy and whimsical mind-fuck of a visual that follows a couple experiencing three completely different sets of reality simultaneously. We start off with a couple having a quiet and boring night at home: glasses of wine, dinner and Netflix before bed. They may care about each other, but they’re also hopelessly bored and hemmed in by their lives. We also see the couple, presumably single or having an open relationship at a rave. The woman smokes and flirts shamelessly with a fantasy man, from a romance novel. The man loses himself in music. What’s real? That’s up to you. Maybe both are. But at its core the video points out that relationships can be hard, amazing and dull simultaneously.

New Video: Belgian Shoegazers Slow Crush Return with a Dreamy Visual for Brooding and Lush “Lull”

Belgian shoegazer outfit Slow Crush — currently Isa Holliday (vocals, bass), Jelle Harde Ronsmans (guitar), Jeroen Jullet (guitar) and Frederik Meeuwis (drums) — exploded into the international shoegaze scene with the release their full-length debut, 2018’s Aurora. Between 2018 and 2020, Slow Crush supported the album with nonstop, relentless touring across the world with acts like PelicanTorcheSoft Kill, and Gouge Away — and with festival stops at RoadburnArcTanGent2000Trees and Groezrock.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the members of the Belgian shoegazer outfit was forced to cancel plans for two European tours and a Stateside tour at the last minute. But interestingly enough for the band, the pandemic was a bit of a blessing and a bit of a curse: The time off from touring allowed the band to re-think and re-group. Aurora‘s unexpected success and the demands of heavy touring had taken a toll on everyone’s personal lives. This was intensified with a massive lineup change, which saw two members leave. Eventually Holliday and Ronsmans recruited the band’s newest members Julioet and Meuwis to complete the band’s newest lineup. And adding to a stormy period of change and uncertainty, the band’s label Holy Roar Records collapsed, leaving the band without a home. 

Slow Crush’s highly anticipated sophomore album is slated for a Friday release through Quiet Panic. Written in between tours and the unexpected downtime during pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, the album’s material is heavily influenced by turbulent times — both personal and global. While further cementing their sound, featuring abrasive and whirling layers of guitars and thunderous drumming paired with Holliday’s ethereal vocals, Hush reportedly finds the band growing as musicians and songwriters. Although the album was informed by and inspired by the dark and heavy times, the material isn’t all bleak; in fact, it’s filled with the hope for a bright, new day. 

In the lead up to the album’s release, I’ve written about two of Hush‘s released singles:

  • Brooding album title track “Hush,” which was centered around an expansive song structure with towering layers of feedback and fuzz pedaled guitars, thunderous drumming and Holiday’s sensual yet ethereal cooing. And at its core, the song expresses an aching and unreciprocated longing.
  • Swoon,” a breakneck ripper with mosh pit friendly hooks that brought Finelines era My Vitriol and Lightfoils to mind but paired with introspective and impressionistic lyrics. The song can be read in a number of different ways: it could be read as touching upon the loneliness, uncertainty and longing that comes about as a result of a seemingly bitter breakup. But it can also be read as a desire to escape a bleak world through connecting with someone equally as lonely as you are. 

“Lull,” Hush‘s latest single continues a run of brooding and lush painterly textured shoegaze that may remind some listeners of a slick synthesis of A Storm in Heaven, Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. And much like its predecessors, the song features impressionistic lyrics that express a profound and bitter ache.

The recently released video for “Lull” by Bobby Pook at SumoCrucial is a hazy yet cinematic fever dream that follows a man riding around a very European town on a bicycle when he sees a woman walking into the sea, The man gets off his bicycle and runs towards the woman — but is she a mirage? Is she some lingering ghost that has haunted him? That is up to you.

Brighton-based dream pop act and JOVM mainstays Hanya — currently Heather Sheret (vocals, guitar), Benjamin Varnes (guitar), Jorge Bela (bass) and Jack Watkins (drums) — exploded into the national and international scenes with the release of their debut EP, I Used to Love You, Now I Don’t, an effort that saw the British outfit quickly and firmly establish a sound that featured elements of dream pop and shoegaze.

Much like countless acts across the globe, the Brighton-based JOVM mainstays had plans to build upon a rapidly growing profile both nationally and internationally: they released their acclaimed, sophomore EP Sea Shoes, which they supported with touring across the UK and their Stateside debut at that year’s New Colossus Festival. Since their New Colossus  set at The Bowery Electric last March, Hanya has been busy writing and releasing new material, including:  

  • Texas,” a shimmering bit of dream pop that nods at 70s AM rock, and focuses on the longing and excitement of a new crush/new love/new situationship
  • Monochrome,”a hazy and slow-burning ballad that celebrates the pleasures of life’s small things
  • Lydia,” a slow-burning and gorgeous track that continues upon their winning mix of 70s AM rock and Beach House-like dream pop. 

The British dream pop outfit will be releasing their highly anticipated third EP lates this year. Now, as you may recall, last month, I wrote about the forthcoming EP’s lead single, the slow-burning “Fortunes,” which featured  A Storm In Heaven like painterly textures, ethereal harmonies and deeply personal, lived-in lyricism.

Hanya’s latest single “Logan’s Run” continues a recent run of lush and painterly textured material featuring glistening guitars for the song’s dreamy verses, towering feedback and pedal effect driven soloing, a propulsive backbeat paired with Heather Sheret’s gorgeous and expressive vocals. Sonically, “Logan Run” strikes me as being a sort of slick synthesis of brooding atmospherics, 79s AM rock and A Storm in Heaven-like textures.

“We wrote this track as a homage to its namesake – the 1970’s sci-fi classic Logan’s Run, set in a seemingly perfect future full of staggeringly blissful ignorance,” Hanya’s Heather Sheret explains. “We can’t get enough of this film, and whilst we were endlessly ageing during this pandemic, this track felt like our own soundtrack to the dystopian present. The film addresses concerns of consumption, truth and escape, all whilst remaining timelessly beautiful, confusing, and trashy. Just like us.”

Mathias Engwall is a Gothenburg-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, mixer and mastering engineer. He has been busy over the years: he has done remixes for Lonely Dear and a list of others, and he has collaborated with CYAMO‘s David Ahlen and a handful of others. Engwall is also the creative mastermind behind the Swedish dream pop recording project Llawagne (pronounced Luv-nyay).

With Llawgne, Engwall has released a number of critically applauded, commercially successful singles including:

  • 2019’s “The White In Its Eyes,” which found its way onto the Swedish PSL Top 20 and several major playlists, with the song revealing a penchant for strong melodies within a stormy yet beautiful shoegazer soundscape.
  • Last year’s “Love + Somebody” was described as “Sonic Youth meets Chris Isaak.

Last year was a big year for the Gothenburg-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, mixer and mastering engineer: Engwall signed with Brooklyn-based label Declared Goods, who released “Reverie Neverending”to a global audience. Building upon a growing profile nationally and locally, Engwall released more material to critical praise from the likes of Savantmusikmagasin, BrooklynVegan, Austin Town Hall, Mystic Sons, Backseat Mafia, White-Light/White-Heat, as well as airplay and playlisting from radio stations globally.

Engwall’s latest Llagwne single “Oh Juliana,” off his forthcoming, full-length debut Nevereveries is a hook-driven slice of 90s alt rock and shoegaze, centered around chiming and reverb-drenched guitars and thunderous drumming within a classic grunge rock song structure: alternating dreamy verses and rousingly anthemic, noisy choruses.

“‘Oh Juliana’ is a song about falling in love with a famous person – you get a crush on the public persona, not the real person,” Engwall explains. “It’s the safest kind of love – you will never meet them and you can never let each other down.” Engwall adds, “Oh and Juliana is, Juliana Hatfield that I have a very safe distant crush on. I stole the whole nineties grunge sound from her. I love you Juliana!”

Nevereveries is slated for an October 29, 2021 release through Declared Goods.

New Video: Lost Horizons Teams Up with KookieLou on a Slow-burning and Gorgeous Standalone Single and Visual

The members of the acclaimed duo Lost Horizons — Cocteau Twins‘ and Bella Union Records label head Simon Raymonde (bass. guitar, keys, production) and Dif Juz’s Richie Thomas (drums, keys, guitar) — each ended a 20+ year hiatus from creating music with the release of their full-length debut together, 2017’s Ojaiá, which derived its title from the Spanish word for “hopefully” or the the idiomatic expression, “God willing.” “These days, we need hope more than ever, for a better world,” Thomas said in press notes at the time. “And this album has given me a lot of hope. To reconnect with music . . . And the hope for another Lost Horizons record!” 

Seemingly, the state of the world has gotten much worse and much more dire since the release of Ojalá. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the viciously inequitable flaws of our socioeconomic systems and our blind selfishness and greed. We’re on the brink of irrevocable climate catastrophe. Millions across the world are risking life and limb, migrating to wherever they can as a result of climate change, socioeconomic instability and civil war. But one small portion of Thomas’ hopes have been fulfilled: the duo reconvened to write and record their acclaimed sophomore album In Quiet Moments

Written and recorded during pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, In Quiet Moments‘ material is inspired by the sense of existential doom, fear, uncertainty and anxiety of the larger world — and deep heartache: Just as the duo were settling into the studio to craft the largely improvised, instrumental bedrock of the album’s material, Raymonde’s mother died. 

As a response, Raymonde threw himself into his work as a way to channel his grief. “The way improvisation works,” he says, “it’s just what’s going on with your body at the time, to let it out.” The duo forged ahead, crafting 16 instrumental tracks that they sent to an eclectic array of guest vocalists including Ural ThomasPenelope Isles‘ Jack Wolter, The Hempolics Nubiya Brandon, Tim SmithGemma Dunleavythe innocence mission’s Karen Peris, Horse Thief‘s Cameron Neal, Marissa NadlerPorridge Radio‘s Dana Margolin, John GrantBallet School‘s Rosie Blair, Penelope Isles’ Lily Wolter (as her solo recording project KookieLou) and an impressive list of others. 

When they sent the instrumental tracks to their then-prospective guest vocalists, Raymonde suggested a guided theme for their lyrics: “Death and rebirth. Of loved ones, of ideals, at an age when many artists that have inspired us are also dead, and the planet isn’t far behind. But I also said, ‘The most important part is to just do your own thing, and have fun.” Roughly half of the album’s lyrics were written during the middle of pandemic-related lockdowns but as it turns out, Raymonde in particular, saw a sliver lining: people were forced to slow down and take careful stock of themselves and their lives. Interestingly, after having heard a lyric written by Ural Thomas, Raymonde singled out on the phrase “in quiet moments,” and thought it would be a perfect album title. “It just made sense,” he says. “This moment of contemplation in life is really beautiful.” 

Although generally centered around loss and heartbreak, the album’s material is imbued with a sense of hope. And as a result, the album subtly leans in the direction of rebirth more so than death. “I think it’s more joyous than Ojalá,” Thomas says. “But both albums have a great energy about them.” That shouldn’t be surprising as both Lost Horizons albums find the duo and their various collaborators on a journey through a dizzying area of moods and voices. 

Lost Horizons’ teamed up with Penelope Isles’ Lily Wolter (a.k.a. KookieLou) on In Quiet Moments single “Heart of a Hummingbird,” a widescreen yet hazy bit of shoegaze that focuses on the confusing and often contradictory feelings that love and heartache inspire — in particular, longing, desperation, uncertainty, acceptance and denial.

Lost Horizons’ Simon Raymonde, along with Penelope Isles’ Lilly Wolter teamed up on slow-burning and gorgeous standalone single “Florida.” Centered around atmospheric synths, shimmering pedal steel, sinuous bass lines and Wolter’s ethereal cooing, “Florida” is a dreamy and introspective song featuring a narrator, who looks at herself and a romantic relationship with a very adult, unvarnished honesty.

Directed by Jack and Lily Wolter, the video for “Florida” further establishes the duo’s reputation for doing as much as possible in a DIY fashion: Featuring a mix of hand-made illustrations and animation, the video follows Lily Wolter in a paper mâché air balloon on a journey through weird and fantastical landscapes and views.

“Like most videos my brother Jack and I make, this one was most certainly trial and error,” Lily Wolter explains. “A lot of the time we find ourselves surrounded in a jungle of paints, flowers, glitter, string, lava lamps and makeshift green screens and say, ‘what have we gotten ourselves into?’ Despite the hours of drawings and the former attempts to make something that suited the trance-like, flowing, softness of the song, we got there in the end! The lyrics are about a time I spent on tour in America a few years back. We wanted to show an abstract journey overlooking all sorts of weird and wonderful views. I’ve always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon, but I reckon it would be pretty damn scary. Big thanks to our mum for assisting with the paper-mâché balloons, to our dear friend Josh for the helping hand, and to Lost Horizons for wanting me to sing on their music, I’m once again, truly honoured.”