Tag: shoegaze

Over the past couple of years, I’ve managed to write a bit about JOVM Matthew Messore, who’s an Orlando, FL-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. best known as the creative mastermind behind the rapidly rising bedroom recording project Cathedral Bells. Since the release of 2018’s self-titled EP, which received support from David Dean Burkhart and praise from The Line of Best Fit, Messore has released a handful of singles from his highly-anticipated Cathedral Bells full-length debut Velvet Spirit, which is slated for a March 6, 2020 release through Good Eye Records.

The JOVM mainstay begins 2020 with “Disconnected,” the latest single off his forthcoming debut, and much like its predecessors, the new single continues to cement the sound that has won the attention of the blogosphere, including this site: centered around Messore’s ethereal vocals, delicately shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars and a motorik groove, “Disconnected” is a shoegazer-like take on New Wave that recalls early 4AD Records and others but while possessing a swooning urgency.

 

Advertisements

Austin-based shoegaze/dream pop act ThunderStars, comprised of longtime Margot & the Nuclear So and Sos multi-instrumentalist Erik Klang (vocals, guitar), Sven Bjorkman (drums) and Omar Richardson (bass) can trace their origins back to when Bjorkman posted a random thought about a creating a band named ThunderStars, a term coined by his toddler daughter, during a stress-fueled trip to the hospital. And while marking Klang’s return to music, the band has had a art-out-of-chaos theme hanging over them since their inception back in 2018.

After their second-ever live show, Omar Richardson was assault by a vagrant outside of the venue, which resulted in a severe concussion and a subsequent trip to the ER. The incident was covered extensively by Austin-bass news outlets — and as a result the band’s profile rose unexpectedly. Additionally, their early demos were well received publicly with the band receiving radio and podcast airplay, as well as show bookings with a number of national touring acts.

Building upon a growing profile, the Austin-based shoegazers’ latest effort Number Stations is slated for a Friday release through Mariel Recording Company. Interestingly, the album’s latest single is the slow-burning and shimmering “Not That Far.” Centered around Klang’s plaintive vocals, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, the track manages to recall 4AD-era shoegaze, as it possesses an ethereal and feverish quality.

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Blackwater Holylight Releases a Gorgeous and Feverish Visual for Doom-laden “Jizz Witch”

Led by founding member Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass), the acclaimed Portland, OR-based heavy psych act Blackwater Holylight can trace its origins to when Faris’ previous band split up. And at the time, Faris started the band as a way to experiment with what her own version of heavy should and could be both sonically and emotionally — while celebrating vulnerability in all of its forms. Secondly, Faris, who was frequently the only woman in many of her bands, desperately wanted to see how it was to work exclusively with women. 

Blackwater Holylight released their critically applauded self-titled, full-length debut last year, and as a result of extensive touring to support it, the band has managed to hone their sound and identity — with their sound evolving to the point that their live show has become about the slow build.  Interestingly enough, as a heavy band, the Portland-based JOVM mainstays sonically and structurally manage to do something unlike any of their peers in the scene: their material generally isn’t anchored to riffs, but rather riffs come and go in rippling and undulating waves that surface through meditative and entrancing songs, while focusing on building tension and intrigue. 

The band released their sophomore album Veils of Winter last October through RidingEasy Records, and the album finds the band with a different lineup — Faris (bass, vocals), Laura Hopkins (guitar/vocals) and Sarah McKenna (synths) along with the band’s newest members Mikayla Mayhew (guitar) Eliese Dorsay (drums). And perhaps s a result of their new lineup, their sound and writing process has changed dramatically. “The process of this album was vastly different from our first record,” Faris says in press notes. “One, because we recorded it over the course of a few weeks, whereas the first record was over the course of about a year. And two, this album was a true collaboration between the five of us. Each of us had extremely equal parts in writing and producing, we all bounced ideas off each together, and we all had a say in what was going on during every part of the process.”

“One of our favorite things about this album is that because it was so collaborative, we didn’t compartmentalize ourselves into one vibe.” Faris continues. “It’s heavy, psychedelic, pop, shoegaze, doom, grunge, melodic and more. The whole process was extremely organic and natural for us, we were just being ourselves.”

Now, as you may recall over the course of last year, I wrote about two of the album’s previously released singles — the one part doom metal, one part shoegazer “Motorcycle” and the nuanced, yet more straightforward shoegazer-like “Death Realms.” The album’s latest single “Jizz Witch” is an ominous track that further cements the band’s reputation for crafting a doom metal take on shoegaze — or better yet a shoegazer take on doom metal. In any case much like its predecessors, it’s a slow-burning and nuanced dirge that you can simultaneously light incense to and sway and headbang. 

Directed by Phoenix Wolfe, the recently released video is a gorgeously shot yet surreal and symbolic fever dream that features powerful women. 

Loudmammoth is a Newcastle-upon-Tyne-based shoegaze act — currently comprised of Sophie, Will, Liam and Declan — that can trace its origins back to August 2018, when its founding members bonded over a mutual appreciation of shoegaze, DIY recording and Ian Curtis. With the release of their self-produced debut single “Enough,” the Northeastern English band caught the attention of Scottish indie label Last Night From Glasgow, who signed the act seven weeks later.

Building upon a growing profile, the members of Loudmammoth released their second single “Let Go” last summer, which they followed up with a sold out hometown show at Newcastle’s The Cumberland Arms with labelmates L-Space and Stephen Solo. The single helped the band land praise from The Crack Magazine, who described the band as “purveyors of the very finest jangle,” while receiving airplay on BBC 6 Music‘s The Tom Robinson Show and a feature on the BBC Introducing Mixtape.

Since the release of “Let Go,” the band has been rather busy:  they’ve spent the past few months in intensive writing sessions  — and in that same period of time, they’ve gone through a slight lineup change. Interestingly enough, those past few months of intense writing have helped to produce the rising British act’s latest single, the shimmering one part jangle pop, one part shoegaze, one part dream pop number “In Blue.” Centered around shimmering and jangling guitars, Sophie’s ethereal vocals and a soaring hook, the track — to my ears, at least — brings The Sundays and Slowdive to mind, complete with an unfussy yet clean production and a yearning ache at its core.

Talinn, Estonia-based shoegazers Pia Fraus — currently comprised of founding members Kärt Ojavee (synths), Rein Fuks (guitars, vocals) and Reijo Tagapere (bass),  along with their returning longtime drummer Joosep Volk and newest members Eve Romp (vocals, synths, met allophone) — can trace its origins back to 1998, when the band’s founding sextet were all art school students. Since the band’s founding, they’ve gone to release five full-length albums and a handful of EPs of material that have cemented their sound — a mix of dream pop, shoegaze and electronica with layered male-female harmonies.

Slated for a January 20, 2020 release through Vinyl Junkie Records in Japan and Seksound Records globally, Pia Fraus’ John McEntire-produced sixth album Empty Parks was recorded at Nevada City, CA-based Soma Electronic Music Studios with album title track  “Empty Parks” being recorded in two separate kitchens, a windowless basement and Reijo Tagapere’s barn. “This is the poppiest album we’ve ever made. It’s melancholy and happy at the same time – definitely happier than our latest Field Ceremony album,” the band’s Rein Fuks says in press notes. “To work with John McEntire was my teenage wet dream.  I have been a massive fan of John’s work over the years, and I never thought that one day I have a chance to sit next to this guy and make my own record. Of course, it was quite challenging and stressful for me.”

“Although the process of making this album wasn’t been the easiest, I associate this album relates mostly with the feeling of happiness and positivism,” the band’s Eve Komp says in press notes. “The awareness of being able to be hopeful and make jokes about life even if everything seems to going downhill.”

The band’s Joosep Volk adds “Personally, Empty Parks means a lot. It’s sort of a homecoming to me. 16 years has past since I last played with the rest of the group and when Rein asked me to return, I never thought twice. Understanding that sometimes things do fall apart and you just have to pick yourself up and deal with it. Life is deviously clever, we just have to endure.”

Album single “Love Sports” is a decidedly upbeat song, centered around jangling guitars, propulsive drumming, ethereal male-female harmonies and soaring hooks. And while continuing their long-held reputation for meshing shoegaze and dream pop, “Love Sports” finds the band adding a bit of Flying Nun Records-like jangle pop — but with a subtly modern production. Album title track “Empty Parks” is a more contemplative and seemingly wintry affair, centered around layers of reverb-drenched, shimmering and  jangling guitar, hushed male-female harmonizing. Both songs are gorgeous and kind of bittersweet in a way that acknowledges what life really is: full of heartbreaking losses, minor victories, brief moments of transcendent beauty and all of its important and necessary.  We find a way to endure somehow — and that’s what matters.

 

 

New Video: Los Angeles’ The Know Releases a Hazy and Nostalgia Visual for Shimmering “143”

The Know,an up-and-coming Los Angeles-based dream pop/shoegaze act comprised of married duo Daniel Knowles and Jennifer Farmer, can trace they origins to late last year, when Knowles suggested to Farmer, that instead of traveling home for the holidays — the UK and Texas respectively — that they stay put in Los Angeles, and try to write music together, just to two of them. The material that they’d spend writing would be their gift to themselves. 

For the next few weeks, they isolated themselves in their home studio with no real plan — but they shared a mural love of Beach House, Julee Cruise, Ye Ye, The Jesus and Mary Chain, 60s girl groups, Patsy Cline and The National. The first bit of material they wrote together wound up being their latest single “143,” will appear on their forthcoming debut EP. Inspired by Tom Waits’ “(Looking for) The Heart of Saturday Night,” “143” finds the duo meshing the autobiographical with the fantastical, as the song focuses on a the hazy recollections of a night out. Sonically, the song is an atmospheric fever dream, centered around shimmering synths and guitars, Farmer’s ethereal crooning and a soaring hook. And while seemingly indebted to Beach House and 60s girl groups, the lush song is imbued with a hazy nostalgia and aching longing. 

Directed by the band’s Jennifer Farmer, the recently released video for “143” focuses on a wild night out through a series of hazy, seemingly drug and alcohol fueled recollections of a party and wandering through the neon-lit streets of Los Angeles with a group of friends before ending with a young couple cuddling while watching the sun rise over the city’s skyline. And although its set in Los Angeles, the video captures something intimately familiar — young people hanging out, goofing off and being carefree. 

l

I’ve written about and have photographed the Northeastern Pennsylvania-based shoegazers and JOVM mainstays The Stargazer Lilies quite a bit throughout this site’s nine-plus year history. The act, which is comprised of founding duo and married couple John Cep (guitar, bass, vocals, drums, production) and Kim Field (bass, vocals) and a rotating cast of live drummers can trace its origins to when Cep’s and Field’s previous band Soundpool broke up.

Soundpool had built up a national profile, touring with Chapterhouse, Ulrich Schnauss, A Place to Bury Strangers, School of Seven Bells, Black Moth Super Rainbow, TOBACCO, and a list of others, but despite the fact that there was growing buzz surrounding them, Cep and Field desired a chance in sonic direction. And with their Stargazer Lillies full-length debut, We Are The Dreamers, the duo quickly established a signature sound, which meshed elements of dream pop and shoegaze — but with a muscular and forceful insistence. Their sophomore album, 2016’s Door to the Sun firmly cemented their sound and approach while expanding upon it.

Since the release of Door to the Sun, Cep and Field have been relentlessly touring as both an opener and headliner, frequently with JOVM mainstay TOBACCO and his Black Moth Super Rainbow, among a list of others.

Now, as you may recall, the JOVM mainstays long-awaited, third full-length album Occabot is slated for a November 1, 2019 release through Rad Cult Records — and the album finds Cep and Field collaborating with their frequent tour mate TOBACCO (a.k.a Tom Fec). Interestingly, this collaboration can be traced back several years ago to a Stargazer Lillies show that TOBACCO had attended. “It just hit me they were way heavier than they seem,” TOBACCO explains in press notes. “And that wasn’t translating in their recordings. Their old stuff is panoramic and smooth; I wanted 3D and bumpy.”

Wanting to help get the duo where they all felt they wanted to be, Fec signed the band to his Rad Cult Records imprint and agreed to work on their third album. But he didn’t start working with the band right away. He let Cep and Field work on the material in their own idiosyncratic image first.  When the members of Stargazer Lilies had completed things on their end with eight raw and primal tracks, Fec then stepped in to distort, bend and burn the material’s overall sound even further.

Cep likens the creative process behind Occabot to what Andy Warhol did with pop art prints and The Velvet Undgeround and Nico. “Lou [Reed] said Andy was the best producer because he basically let the group do whatever the fuck they wanted. Tom did a similar thing with us; he let us have complete creative control, then added splashes of color and made it rough around the edges. Those embellishments make his artistic stamp on the project unmistakable, but leave the essence of our music very much intact.”

Occabot’s first single “Living Work of Art” found TOBACCO scrubbing the material with sandpaper than mangling Field’s and Cep’s work in a blender for a bit, then throwing it into an acid-bath –and while becoming heavily distorted and whirring batch of broken machinery and instruments, with skittering hi-hats, the song manages to retain the gauzy quality of their previously recorded work. Interestingly, the album’s second and latest single “Dizzying Heights” finds Field’s ethereal vocals floating and fight through a viscous haze of heavily distorted guitars, shimmering hi-hat and wobbling drums. It’s a woozy and dizzying swoon of a song that evokes the decay and disorder of the impending end of everything.

 

 

 

 

New Video: French Shoegazers Dead Horse One Releases a Languid and Cinematic Visual for Shimmering “Saudade”

Valance, France-based shoegazers Dead Horse One, currently comprised of founding trio Oliver Debard, Ludovik Naud and Antoine Pinet, with Maxime Garcia and Ivan Tzibousky can trace their origins back to their formation in 2011. While recording their full-length debut, 2014’s Without Love We Perish, the members of the French shoegazer act reached out to RIDE’S Mark Gardener, who wound up taking up production duties. 

Following the release of their full-length debut, the band spent the next three years touring across the European Union, sharing stages with the likes of The Telescopes, The Wands and Sound Sweet Sound, and they made an appearance at Liverpool Psych Fest.

After a busy period of touring, the band went into the studio with Fleeting Joys’ John Loring, who produced the band’s sophomore album, 2017’s Season of Mist, which they supported with a tour that included a handful of opening dates with RIDE during the legendary shoegazer act’s European tour. And building upon the growing buzz surrounding the band, they shared the stage with The Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Philadelphia-based band NOTHING. 

Since then, the band went back into the studio to work on their forthcoming third, full-length album The West Is The Best. Slated for a November 22, 2019 release through Requiem Pour Un Twister, the album finds the French shoegazers continuing their ongoing collaboration with John Loring — while marking a second time they’ve worked with Mark Gardener, who mixed the album. Thematically, the album as the band’s Oliver Debard explains is “a collection of thwarted love songs in the spirit of Sparklehorse and other such 90s bands.” 

“Saudade,” The West Is The Best’s first single is a slow-burning track, centered around layers of shimmering guitars and plaintive boy-girl harmonizing, which gives the song an aching yearning — while nodding heavily at classic late 80s and early 90s shoegaze. “This song is a special song for us because it was written by Rorika Loring, her husband John and ourselves,” the band told Northern Transmissions. “Rorika and John play in Fleeting Joys, which is none less than one of the best shoegaze bands of the second wave, post 2000. From another point of view, the song joined the title of the album since it is a French, English collaboration by the presence of Mark Gardener at the mix table, and American, the Loring family is from Sacramento.”

Directed and edited by Pedro Wilde, the recently released video was filmed in a gorgeously cinematic black and white on location in the Portuguese cities of Porto, Gaia and Aveiro and stars Carolina Marques. Languidly shot, the video evokes the old-world and old-fashioned charm of Europe as Marques wanders around with a lute — but there’s also a desire to be contemporary without losing that sense of connectedness to one’s roots.