Tag: shoegaze

New VIdeo: Montreal’s The Besnard Lakes Release a Surreal Visual for Enormous “Our Heads, Our Hearts On Fire Again”

oAs 2020 mercifully came to a close, I wound up writing a bit about the acclaimed acclaimed, multi-Polaris Music Prize-nominated Montreal-based indie rock act The Besnard Lakes. The Canadian sextet — currently, husband and wife duo Jace Lasek (vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keys) and Olga Goreas (vocals, bass), along with Kevin Laing (drums), Richard White (guitar), Sheenah Ko (keys) and Robbie MacArthur (guitar) — formed back in 2003, and since their formation, the band has released five albums of atmospheric and textured shoegaze that some critics have described as magisterial and cinematic.

After the release of 2016’s A Coliseum Complex Museum, the members of the acclaimed Montreal-based act and their longtime label home Jagjaguwar mutually decided that it was time to end their relationship and go their separate ways. And although the move was amicable between both parties, the band began to question whether or not it made sense to even continue as a band. But fueled by their love for each other and for playing music together, the members of The Besnard Lakes settled in to write and record what may arguably be considered the most uncompromising effort of their catalog to date, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings.

Unlike their previously released material, the members of the Montreal-based went with a much more patient creative approach, taking all the time they needed to conceive, write, record and mix the album’s material. Interestingly, some of the album’s songs are old and can trace their origins back to resurrected demos that they had been left on the shelf years prior. Other songs were woodshedded in the cabin behind Lasek’s and Goreas’ Riguard Ranch, with the band relishing a rougher, grittier sound.

Thematically, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings finds the band contemplating the darkness of dying, the light on the other side, and coming back from the brink of annihilation. And while touching upon the band’s own story, the album also is a remembrance of dear loved ones, who are no longer with us — particularly Lasek’s father, who died last year. From what Lasek observed of his father’s death, being on one’s deathbed may be the most intense psychedelic trip of anyone’s life” at one point Lasek’s father surfaced from a morphine-induced dream, talking about how he saw a “window” on his blanket, with “a carpenter inside of it, making objects.” All of this manages to imbue the album’s material with an almost fever dream-like quality.

So far I’ve written about two of The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings’ singles:

“Raindrops,” a slow-burning shoegazer with a painterly attention to gradation and texture, centered around shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, twinkling and arpeggiated keys, thunderous drumming, ethereal boy-girl harmonies and a euphoric hook.
“Feuds With Guns,” a dream pop-like synthesis of Prince and Beach House featuring thunderous drumming, anthemic power chord-based riffs, twinkling keys and a soaring hook.

The Besnard Lakes begin 2021 with their forthcoming album’s third and latest single “Our Heads, Our Hearts On Fire Again.” Clocking in 6:39, the expansive song is centered around two alternating sections: a slow-burning and atmospheric section featuring ethereal female lead vocals, glistening and atmospheric synths that slowly build up in intensity with the addition of chugging power chords, thumping tribal-like drums and layered choral-like vocals. The end result is a song that’s a prog rock meets Beach Boys-like take on shoegaze that feels oceanic.

“The track started as an Oggy Film Song,” the band shares in press notes. “A skeletal version of the song had been in the Besnard vault for several years after we initially rejected it for a film soundtrack. It went through a couple drafts before we tore it apart, rejiggered some parts and resurrected it to its new form. The song is an ode to logic and intuition and being able to learn from the past.”

Directed by Dr. Cool, the recently released video for “Our Heads, Our Hearts On Fire Again” is an animated and lysergic fever dream that features divers projected onto city buildings, electrical outlets turn into signing houses moving across the horizon and a horse runs across the changing skyline. It’s a mind-bending and gorgeous visual.

The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings is slated for a January 29, 2021 release through Fat Cat Records here in the States and through Flemish Eye in their native Canada.

The Besnard Lakes have announced 3 livestream shows in support of the forthcoming album. Hosted by Noonchorus, the band’s live streams will be February 5, 2021; March 6, 2021; and April 3, 2021. The streams will go live at 7:00pm EST for each show and tickets are available here: https://noonchorus.com/the-besnard-lakes/

New Video: The Besnard Lakes Release a Lysergic and Feverish Visual for Shimmering and Slow-Burning “Feuds With Guns”

Deriving their name from Besnard Lake in North Central Saskatchewan, the acclaimed, multi-Polaris Music Prize-nominated Montreal-based indie rock act The Besnard Lakes — currently, husband and wife duo Jace Lasek (vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keys) and Olga Goreas (vocals, bass), along with Kevin Laing (drums), Richard White (guitar), Sheenah Ko (keys) and Robbie MacArthur (guitar) — formed back in 2003. And since their formation, the Montreal-based sextet have five albums of atmospheric and textured shoegaze that some critics have described as magisterial and cinematic.

After the release of their fifth album, 2016’s A Coliseum Complex Museum, The Besnard Lakes and their longtime label home Jagjaguwar mutually decided that it was time to end their relationship and go their separate ways. And as a result, the members of the band began to question whether or not it made sense to even continue the band. But fueled by their love for each other and for playing music together, the acclaimed Canadian act settled in to write and record what may arguably be the most uncompromising effort of their catalog, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings.

Unlike their previously released material, the members of the Montreal-based went with a much more patient creative approach, taking all the time they needed to conceive, write, record and mix the album’s material. Some of the album’s songs are old, tracing their origins to resurrected demos left on the shelf years before. Other songs were woodshedded in the cabin behind Lasek and Goreas’ Riguard Ranch, with the band relishing a rougher, grittier sound.

Thematically, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings finds the band contemplating the darkness of dying, the light on the other side, and coming back from the brink of annihilation. And while touching upon the band’s own story, the album also is a remembrance of dear loved ones, who are no longer with us — particularly Lasek’s father, who died last year. From what Lasek observed of his father’s death, being on one’s deathbed may be the most intense psychedelic trip of anyone’s life” at one point Lasek’s father surfaced from a morphine-induced dream, talking about how he saw a “window” on his blanket, with “a carpenter inside of it, making objects.” And as a result, the album’s material is imbued with a surreal and ethereal quality.

Earlier this year, I wrote about The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings’ first single “Raindrops,” a slow-burning shoegazer with a painterly attention to gradation and texture, centered around shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, twinkling and arpeggiated keys, thunderous drumming, ethereal boy-girl harmonies and a euphoric hook. Interestingly, the album’s second single is the slow-burning, dream pop-like “Feuds With Guns.” Centered around an atmospheric and spacious arrangement featuring thunderous drumming, anthemic power chord-based riffs, twinkling keys, plaintive vocals and a soaring hook, “Feuds With Guns” sonically speaking, is one part Prince, one part Beach House.

“‘Feuds With Guns’ is one of the first songs written from our upcoming LP. This one is a good slow-dancer!” The members of The Besnard Lakes explain to Under The Radar ” Written almost entirely in the Cabanon at The Rigaud Ranch, this one started out as an organ and drum idea that morphed into a little OMD-style pop song.”

Directed by Dr. Cool, the recently released animated video for “Feuds With Guns” is a lysergic fever dream that features divers taking a dive, flying airplanes, cars and vans in front of a bright yellow sun. “I rotoscoped a couple of the big dives from a video of an extreme high-diving contest that took place in the 80s. About a week after I had animated the first guy’s big jump, I returned to the video to check out some other usable clips,” Dr. Cool explains in press notes. “I realized I had never watched the full clip of the first jump — I had just stopped once he hit the water. I found out that after he lands in the water he floats back up unconscious and then gets taken away on a stretcher. So now what was I supposed to do? People in the comments were asking what had happened but no one knew the answer. After a bunch of snooping around the internet I found the guy’s Facebook and he’s TOTALLY alive. His name is Pat and he lives in Florida. I messaged him but he hasn’t answered.”

The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings is slated for a January 29, 2021 release through Fat Cat Records here in the States and through Flemish Eye in their native Canada.

LIve Footage: Brazil’s WRY at Febre Festival 2020

With the release of their first five albums, 1998’s Direct, 2000’s Heart Experience, 2007’s Flames in the Head, 2009’s She Science and 2018’s National Indie Hits, the Sorocaba, São Paulo, Brazil-based psych rock quartet WRY — Mario Bross (vocals, guitar), Luciano Marcello (guitar), Ítalo Ribero (drums) and William Leonotti (bass) — have been at the forefront of Brazil’s contemporary rock scene while developing a sound indebted to Brit Pop, shoegaze and post-punk.

The members of WRY have also spent several years living and working in London, and as a result of a growing internationally recognized profile, they went on several tours across the UK and Continental Europe, eventually making their rounds of the European festival circuit with a notable stop at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound. Additionally, along with their recorded output and profile, the members of the Brazilian psych rock act own a popular club, which has frequently hosted their internationally acclaimed countrymen, JOVM mainstays Boogarins.

The Sorocaba, São Paulo, Brazil-based psych rock act released their sixth album Noites Infinitas earlier this year, and the album’s material touches upon themes of anxiety, despair and unconventional paths towards hope, while living in our fractious and divisive world. The band released a handful of singles off the album, including two singles I’ve personally written about:

“Travel:” Brit Pop-like single centered around a motorik groove and a rousingly anthemic hook.
“I feel invisible:” a shimmering New Wave meets shoegaze-like track featuring shimmering guitars fed through reverb and delay pedals that captures a narrator, who’s been oppressed and hemmed in by a society that won’t allow him to live his life in a truthful fashion.

Recently, the members of WRY played a career-spanning live-streamed set for Febre Festival that featured my two favorite songs off their recently released album, as well as some other material. Check it out.

Birmingham, UK-based multi-disciplinary artist, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Jess Webberely is the creative mastermind behind the rising solo recording project Graywave. Inspired by acts like Men I Trust, Slowdive, Crumb and Widowspeak, Webberley’s work pairs dreamy chords, shoegaze-like guitar leads and powerful vocals in an attempt to create music that makes you feel as though you were floating away to someplace else.

Since the release of Webberley’s debut single “Afternoon Escapism,” the Birmingham-based artist has played shows across the West Midlands region with Slow Crush, Petal, and VENUS –– with a live band that helps properly convey the project’s sound on stage. Adding to a growing profile, Webberley has played shows in Bristol — and “With Me,” which was released back in June, has received radio airplay, including Brum Radio A List and Coventry and Warwickshire BBC Introducing. The track has also seen positive reviews across the blogosphere.

Building upon a growing profile, Webberley will release her debut EP, the five track Planetary Shift, an effort that reportedly finds the Birmingham-based artist making a bold step forward in her songwriting and production. The EP’s first single “Like Heaven” is a slow-burning and brooding track, centered around layers of heavier and muscular guitars played through reverb and feeddback, thunderous drumming and a soaring hook paired with Webberley’s achingly plaintive vocals. Seemingly indebted to Slowdive and A Storm in Heaven-era The Verve, the song reveals a push towards a grittier and more forceful direction.

“‘Like Heaven’ is ultimately about the struggle of light and dark within oneself,” Webberley explains in press notes. “The lyrics aim to capture a sense of self destruction and a strange urge to self sabotage. The song is about that darker side of myself that pushes doubt and lack of self worth to the forefront.”


Singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer Christopher Goett may be best known for his work in Silo Halo. After a decade stint in Washington, DC. Goett returned to Los Angeles — and he quickly amassed a growing collection of songs. Interestingly, Goett credits his longtime friend, Sleepmask’s and Dreamland’s Adam D’Zurilla with encouraging him to further explore and expand upon those early song ideas. The end result is Goett’s latest project, the post punk/shoegaze act Blackout Transmission.

With the addition of Kevin Cluppert (bass) and Teenage’s Wrist’s Anthony Salazar (drums), the band’s lineup was solidified, and their sound and arrangements were fleshed out. Late last year, the members of Blackout Transmission slated playing live shows, developing and harnessing their live chemistry before they went to Long Beach-based Dream Machine Studio to record most of their Scott Holmes co-produced, eight song, full-length debut, Sparse Illumination. “Scott pushed me in the best way to reimagine elements of my approach” says Goett, “as such we captured the vibe and feel that I was seeking with these songs.”

As a result of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, Goett was forced to finalize his overdubs at his home studio, Twin Dragon West — and where he wrote and recorded two of the album’s eight songs. Despite where the material was written and recorded, the end result is an album that finds the band crafting material that’s a seamless lysergic journey seemingly influenced by Echo and the Bunnymen, The Verve, and others.

Sparse Illumination‘s latest single is the brooding and expansive “Portals.” Centered around a sinuous bass line, thunderous drumming, swirling reverb and delay pedaled guitar and Goett’s lyrics offering meditations on space, time and love, “Portals” possesses the sort of painterly and lysergic textures of A Storm in Heaven but paired with a widescreen, cinematic quality.

Sparse Illumination slated for a February 19, 2021 through Etxe Records.

New VIdeo: Hamburg’s Seasurfer Releases a Surreal and Brooding Visual for “SOS”

Dirk Knight is a Hamburg-based songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and grizzled scene vet. Knight’s musical career began back in the 90s: his previous band Dark Orange was a pioneering act in the Heavenly Voices scene — and as a result, he collaborated with Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie. With his latest recording project Seasurfer, which he started in 2013, the Hamburg-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist eschews the traditional rock band set up and collaborates with a rotating cast of vocalists and musicians, who help flesh out the project’s sound. Through his first two critically applauded Seasurfer albums, Knight has worked with members of Trespassers William, Whimsical, Jaguwar and Last Leaf Down.

Knight’s third Seasurfer album Zombies was released last month through Reptile Music and the album finds the Hamburg-based act refining the sound that has won them fans internationally: while still retaining the fuzziness and layers of reverb, the German, there has been an increased focus on drawing from cold wave and dark wave influences — with the material employing the use of synths, motorik-like grooves, and synthetic beats in what the act has dubbed “electrogaze for dancers and dreamers alike.”

Written and recorded during tight pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, Zombies thematically crafts a dark and murky portrait of a society on the brink of annihilation. Interestingly, the album is the first Seasurfer album that features Knight playing and recording all of the instrumentation and contributing some vocals. The first part of the album finds Knight collaborating with singer/songwriter Apolonia. As the duo were putting the finishing touches on Zombies, they both had the distinct impression of the world completely losing its mind: Of course, there’s the fear and uncertainty of COVID-19; but there’s also self-serving political leaders ruled by greed, corruption and lust, as well as the largely ignored, yet unavoidable global climate catastrophe. And the entire ordeal made the duo feel as though they were zombies stumbling through a lost world.

Zombies also will feature a digital only eight track mini album release, The Dreampop Days, which finds Knight collaborating with Kirilan Camera’s Elena Alice Fossi. But in the meantime, Zombies’ latest single, is the dark and brooding “SOS.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, motorik grooves, thumping and skittering beats and industrial clink, clang and clatter, paired with Apolonia’s ethereal cooing. Arguably one of the act’s more dance floor friendly and seductive songs, “SOS” immediately brings 80s post punk and goth to mind — but while reminding me a little bit of No Swoon, Lightfoils, BLACKSTONE RNGRS and the rest of St. Marie Records roster.

The recently released video by JH Rochereuil.is spilt between gorgeously shot footage in black and white, stock footage, psychedelic imagery, digital fuzz, ubiquitous COVID-19 virus and color footage of a political protest/uprising. And it manages to further emphasizes the bleakness of its accompanying audio.

New Video: Brazil’s WRY Releases a Trippy Visual for Shimmering and Anthemic “I feel invisible”

Through the release of five albums, 1998’s Direct, 2000’s Heart Experience, 2007’s Flames in the Head, 2009’s She Science and 2018’s National Indie Hits, the Sorocaba, São Paulo, Brazil-based rock quartet WRY — Mario Bross (vocals, guitar), Luciano Marcello (guitar), Ítalo Ribero (drums) and William Leonotti (bass) — have developed a sound that’s heavily influenced by Brit Pop, shoegaze and post-punk, paired with lyrics written and sung in English and Portuguese.

But most importantly, the Sorocaba, São Paulo-based quartet are integral members of Brazil’s growing indie rock scene: along with their five albums, they own a popular rock club, which has frequently hosted internationally acclaimed Brazilian psych rock act, labelmates and JOVM mainstays Boogarins. The Brazilian act spent also several years living and working in London, going on several tours across both the UK and Continental Europe, eventually making their rounds on the European festival circuit, with a notable stop at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound.

WRY’s sixth album Noites Infinitas was released earlier this year through OAR, and the 10 song album finds the band’s work touching upon anxiety, despair and unconventional paths towards hope while living in our fractious and divisive world. The band has released a handful of singles off the album, including the rousingly anthemic Brit Pop meets shoegaze-like ;”Travel.” Since then, the album and three of its singles have begun to receive attention here in the States, with the album landing on a couple of indie radio charts.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding the band and their recently released effort, the album’s latest single “I feel invisible” finds the band meshing shoegaze and New Wave, with the track being centered around shimmering guitars fed through reverb and delay pedals, a propulsive bass line, a rousingly anthemic hook and Bross’ plaintive vocals. While sonically recalling Slowdive, A Storm in Heaven-era The Verve and Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell,” the song captures a narrator, who’s been oppressed by a society that won’t let them live their life in a truthful fashion.

Directed by the members of the band, the recently released video follows its protagonist, who boldly defies society norms while pursing a passion for tango — but because of the pressures put upon him by those who misunderstand our sensitive and talented protagonist, he snaps and starts carrying a gun.

New Video: Los Angeles’ Sleep Still Releases an Enchanting Visual for Slow-burning “The Panoramic”

Los Angeles based dream pop act Sleep Still, led by Mariam McCarthy (vocals, keys) and Scotty Whelan (vocals, guitar) and featuring Kelly Ehrenberg (bass), Chris Kellogg (guitar) and Jeff Darcy (drums, production) can trace their origins to the two separate paths its leaders began before they met:

McCarthy led Detroit-based Silent Violet, an act that shared bills with Yo La Tengo and Bittersweet, contributed three songs to the Rosie O’Donnell-produced film America. received praise from NPR and landed a spot on the West LA Digital Mixtape.
Whelan was a member of alternative rock act Haste The Day, an act that toured nationally along some of the genre’s top artists while working a day job as a music therapist.

McCarthy and Whelan met in 2017, bonding over a mutual love of Explosions in the Sky, Slowdive, The Cure, The War on Drugs and other acts. The duo started writing and recording material under Sleep Still. “With the fast-paced nature of modern culture, we rarely have a moment to breathe, reflect or recharge,'” Sleep Still’s Mariam McCarthy explains. “With Scotty being a music therapist, I was fascinated by this concept. So rest became a central theme for us.”

McCarthy recruited the Detroit’s Kelly Ehrenberg to join while Whelan recruited Chris Kellogg and Jeff Darcy to complete the band’s lineup. Playing around Los Angeles, the members of Sleep Still quickly developed a natural chemistry.

The Los Angeles-based dream pop quintet’s latest single “The Panoramic” originally played over the end credits off Amazon Prime’s The Protestants, a film for which McCarthy was interviewed on-screen. “The Panoramic” is a slow-burning and cinematic track centered around a lush arrangement of shimmering synths, reverb washed guitars, dramatic drumming that sounds as though it were inspired by Slowdive, paired with McCarthy’s vocals, which are imbued with an aching vulnerability and strength. But at its core, the song is a contented sigh of a narrator, who has achieved a brief but necessary moment of stillness and connectedness.

“I took a short trip to Palm Springs [CA] and stayed at a hotel where the view was so panoramic, I felt swallowed by it,” McCarthy recalls. “I was holding my baby daughter on my hip, and I felt so at rest. All of my muscles relaxed. I wrote the song and brought it to Scotty. It’s about feeling honest and at ease. It’s also about understanding what we can handle and what we can’t handle, being okay with it, and knowing you need someone beside you in those moments.” McCarthy adds, “It’s ok to take time to drop everything. It’s ok to not need validation on social media. It’s ok to not feel like you have to accomplish some ambitious goal. You can take a minute to rest and be okay with whatever’s happening in the present.”

Directed by JWH, the recently released visual, features dancer and choreographer Xin Ying, who came up with enchanting and expressionistic moves to accompany the song. And much like the song, Ying’s movements are fluid, delicate, graceful and haunting.

With the release of their debut EP I Used to Love You, Now I Don’t, the rising Brighton-based dream pop act Hanya — Heather Sheret (vocal, guitar), Benjamin Varnes (guitar), Dylan Fanger (bass) and Jack Watkins (drums) — received attention nationally and across the blogosphere for a sound that meshes elements dream pop and shoegaze.

Much like countless other bands across the globe, Hanya had plans to build upon a rapidly growing national and international profile: earlier this year,. they released their acclaimed sophomore EP Sea Shoes and they made their Stateside debut at New Colossus Festival back in March. Without having shows or tours, the Brighton-based JOVM mainstays have been busy writing new material, which has included “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.

Hanya’s latest single, the hazy and meditative “Monochrome” is centered around Sheret’s gorgeous yet plaintive vocals, shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths and a soaring hook, the new song finds the Brighton-based act boldly crafting a sound and approach that sets them apart from a crowded field of challengers.

“With a break from live shows, each of us had a chance to reinvigorate our songwriting. It’s difficult when you’re always rehearsing for the next show to really mess around and make music with no real direction,” the band says in press notes. “‘Monochrome’ started off this way, a hazy-pop ballad written on a midi-keyboard. Now we’re all back together, we fleshed out the chaos together and developed the track’s full dream-pop potential. It’s a song about re-connection with what makes you happy, taking pleasure from the little things”.