Tag Archives: shoegaze

Winter – “Supreme Blue Dream”

Here’s some fun, summertime pop with a little bit of a different edge to it. Sure, all the hooks are here, with sweet melodies, ambient synths, a danceable beat, and bright guitars, but if you listen close there are quite often some interesting little twists and turns in those melodies. A little bit of shoegaze, a little bit of dream pop, and non-stop catchy melodies in finely crafted tunes.

In the track above, “Someone Like You,” the last line of each consequent phrase (like “tryin’ to figure it out”) hits the absolute perfect note. It takes everything in such an unexpected direction; that one unresolved suspension really gives the entire song a whole lot of character. The bouncing synth line at the beginning is another nice element that carries the listener along as well.

“Crazy” throws a whole lot more grit into the mix, pulling “Supreme Blue Dream” off in a little more of a new-wave direction. The video, which you can see below, captures the 80’s vibe of the song perfectly, and it also captures singer Samira Winter’s Tiffany-esque dance moves and side-ponytail. “Crazy” also calls to mind Vivian Girls tracks like “Walking Alone at Night” or “I’m Not Asleep,” in that they are both firmly rooted in their pop sensibilities, with a little bit of an edge.

The band is finishing up their last couple shows with a couple of shows in L.A. Look for them on Jun 27th at The Echo, playing Lolipalooza, and on Sep 3rd at The Roxy where they’ll be playing with Work Drugs. Check out the video for “Crazy” below, and head over to the Lolipop Records site to pick up “Supreme Blue Dream.” The album is currently available on vinyl, cd-r, cassette, or as a digital download from Winter’s bandcamp page, where you can listen to the rest of the album, and purchase “Supreme Blue Dream” as a digital download.

Westkust – “Last Forever”

Apparently I’m putting together a summer mixtape, because I keep coming across gems like this that I just have to post about. Westkust is a band from Gothenburg, Sweden and they’ve captured perfectly that sun-soaked careless summer vacation vibe. Catchy, soaring melodies backed with that hazy, shoegaze type of guitar-as-wall-of-noise thing that I’m pretty sure that we are all quite familiar with by now.

The latest single, “Dishwasher,” is a perfect exemplar for the rest of the album. A little surfy, a little poppy, a little shoegazey, a pretty fun tune all around. The dual vocal is a pretty underused effect in my opinion, and in this song it just fits so perfectly with Julia Bjernelind’s voice creating a smoother more legato counterbalance to Gustav Andersson’s slightly more clipped delivery. Both vocals combined manage to capture that blurry photograph memory of years past feeling, with the incessantly upbeat rhythm section refusing to let those good memories fade to melancholy. There’s a really crunchy guitar noise in there in between the verses that gives us a little bit of something unexpected too, which is always appreciated.

The other songs that the band has released ahead of their full-length–which will be available digitally at the end of June, and as a physical release on vinyl July 7th–continue the same trajectory with as many sunny and fun songs crammed onto one album as possible. You can check out “Summer 3D” and “Weekends” below courtesy of the band’s own soundcloud page.

The album, “Last Forever,” is set to be released by Run For Cover Records. You can also check out some of the bands previous material, like the now sold out “Junk EP” over on their soundcloud page as well. You can pre-order the album here.

Stream: Fleeting Youth Records + r/cassetteculture – “Blooming”

I mean, how could you even go wrong? Fleeting Youth Records, one of our favorites and based out of Austin, Texas, has put together a compilation of 33 bands that clocks in at over 90+ minutes. Every single song is a noisy, feedback and fuzz soaked garage-rock stomper ready and waiting to be loaded up onto your tape deck and blared until the speakers add yet another layer of distortion.

It’s hard to tell even where to begin. Covering such a substantial paean to garage rock is not something that can be taken down track for track. A (relatively) random sampling is going to have to suffice.

First off, true to it’s name this compilation truly is “fuzz-fucked.” Every track seems to be following the same production standard of no production standards. Appropriately, the opening track, “Vent” by the band Weak Nerves, comes screaming out of the gate with a few squeals of feedback before introducing some super crunchy and fuzzed out riff-rock. There is a mix of garage-rock noise with groundswells of shoegaze awe. Somehow Weak Nerves are able to float between these two worlds, creating a really interesting and expansive sound that adds significant depth beyond just fuzzed out noise.

I’m also happy to see Chat Logs getting some space here. They had a pretty exciting release on Already Dead tapes a while ago that I still enjoy. Their jittery, aggressive approach with Earth-shaking low end violently contrasted by screeching guitars fits perfectly amongst the garage-rockers and punks that fill out the rest of the album.

There really isn’t a bad track across this collection. It’s all just perfectly amped up rock. Post-Child’s “Stop What You’re Doing to Me” cuts the noise with pop hooks and bouncy synth sounds, while Goners intone their teenage depression before cutting into an extended guitar solo; and toward the end of the album The Void bring us back to the mid-90’s with the fuzzed out, Smashing Pumpkins-esque bliss of “Summer.”

I could probably just go on all day, moving through each track one at a time, but instead I’ll leave you to it. Start with these tracks and just keep listening from there. While you’re at it, grab a copy. Limited run blue cassette with full-color 3-panel j-card featuring amazing hand drawn art from Valentino Tettamanti.  Head over to the Fleeting Youth bandcamp to pick one up, and to listen to the compilation in its entirety.

Stream: The Microdance – “Moopy Moop b/w Skulduggery”

I can’t tell you why I’ve been sitting on this one for so long. I think that either my mind is slowly (or quickly) decaying or I’m just really disorganized, or maybe it’s a little from column A and a little from column B.

The Microdance is a band based out of London that is creating some really great, textured rock. Shoegaze elements play an important part, to be sure, and are combined with a heavy new wave influence. Think The Cure and MBV getting together to create an album. Really, it isn’t quite as simple as that, there is more to it, of course.

There are a few things that stick out to me in “Moopy Moop.” The first of these is the way that to vocal goes from gently pleading in breathy gasps, to a straight up blood-curdling scream that makes my own throat hurt in sympathy. The other thing is that there is one particular chord change that reminds me of something off of The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Machina II” album. The Microdance captures that really bombastic and expansive guitar drenched sound in a similar fashion to Corgan and Co., but as I mentioned before they tend a little more toward the shoegaze side of things. It only makes sense, though, one listen to Gish and you’ll hear some of the same new wave/shoegaze interminglings going on. It wasn’t until Siamese Dream that the wall of aggressive, distorted, metal-ish guitars came into play.

“Skulduggery,” has a bit more of a shape to it than it’s flip-side. Dynamics play a more important role, and the vocal delivery maintains its breathiness throughout.  The latter third of the track, before returning to the chorus, shows the band willing to play a little bit within formal song structure, stretching out the loud-soft-loud template.

This double-A side single is currently available for download from The Microdance’s bandcamp site. You can also find out more about them on Facebook and their soundcloud page.

Stream: Nothing – “Guilty of Everything”

Add another band to the list of “ungoogle-able bands.” They’re in good company though. I mean, Women is one of my favorite bands of all time and they are tricky/impossible to do a google search on.

So many thoughts and memories came rushing to mind as soon as I started listening to this Nothing album. Shoegaze is, to start off generally, one of the first and most noticeable characteristics of Nothing’s sound.  But it’s not all just a My Bloody Valentine cloud of distortion. Inside that wall is a concentrated core that contains so many recognizable elements.

Hum, The Smashing Pumpkins, Longwave, all of these emerge from Nothing (the more I mention the band by name the more it sounds like I am making some lofty philosophical statement: “they all emerge from Nothing.” Or maybe it would be better to say “they all emerge from the sound of Nothing.”)

The hushed vocals, thick power chords, persistent focus on one long drawn out harmony like the band is carving a path through a thick, dense fog, all coming out of the shoegaze tradition. But, this isn’t a bad thing. No bands are out there really doing the same thing. I suppose We Were Promised Jetpacks is going for an approximation of the same aesthetic, but really the details are quite different. Nothing re-presents shoegaze in much the same way that Yuck re-presented grunge with their first album.

“Guilty of Everything” is dark in tone, which is unavoidable given the parameters. There is something slightly sinister, or at least ominous about that combination of relaxed, whispered vocals and a barrage of loud guitars. One can’t help but have a visceral reaction. You get pulled into the music listening intently to the vocal, which in turn results in getting lost inside the sound of that barrage of guitars.

And the quieter moments shouldn’t be overlooked. I’m reminded of some of the more introspective moments on “Siamese Dream” like “Mayonnaise”  or the end of “Hummer,” throughout the titular track of this album. Moments that work to just pull the listener in with ringing open strings that cut through the wall of guitars; feedback that squeals uncontrollably for a few seconds in the background–it’s all here. Another distinct connection comes in the form of “You’d Prefer an Astronaut” era Hum that comes out loud and clear on “Dig” (listen to “Little Dipper” below to compare).

“Guilty of Everything” is certainly an entrancing debut that will resonate strongly with listeners who grew up listening The Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine, but I’m sure it will also manage to draw a new crowd that may have missed the chance to experience those bands when they were first around (and not a shell of their former selves like they are today). Nothing still has a few shows coming up in March, while their debut album is set for release on March 4th through Relapse Records. Check the links below to pre-order the album and to connect with the band all over the internet.


Upcoming shows:

Mar 12 Austin, TX Relapse SXSW Showcase @ Dirty Dog

Mar 16 Dallas, TX Spillover Music Fest @ Club Dada & Three Links w/ Ty Segal

New Release: Psychic Teens – “Come”

Psychic Teens - "Come"
Psychic Teens – “Come”

This album was brought to my attention through the Permanent Records email list, my favorite record store in Chicago (they have recently opened shop in Los Angeles as well). “Come” is Philadelphia’s Psychic Teens’ second full length record. Part psych rock, part garage rock, part abrasive noise. From the sneering vocals and angular guitar bending of “NO” to the buzzsaw dissonant counterpoint of “RIP” and the feedback assault of “BUG” the entire album creates beauty through hazy, gritty guitar noise and a punchy bass with punk-rock drumming.

The hooks are there, just below the surface. The mix and overall aesthetic of Psychic Teens reminds me a little bit of The Telescopes, or even My Bloody Valentine mixed with White Hills in parts. An element of shoegaze is present, but not as a rule. Take, for example, album closer “VEIL.” That song’s slow dirge, with gently chorused guitar, holds back the flood of a Russian Circles’ circa “Enter”-like thick wall of bass heavy distortion. During moments like this it’s difficult to determine whether this should be categorized as straight up metal.

The standout for me, however, is the hypnotic half-step foundation of “LUST” that is periodically broken up with a slightly out of tune 2nd guitar. The entire thing shifts considerably upon the entrance o a heavy dose of feedback squeal and a metal power-chord crunch that leads into a four-on-the-floor stomp.

I guess you could call it whatever you want as long as you listen. The band can readily move between and beyond categorization with very little effort. They seem to be placing themselves right at the edge of several intersecting styles. Another great example of the diverse Philly music scene.

Take a listen to the album above or on the SRA Records bandcamp. Albums are available in a variety of formats including CD, oxblood colored vinyl, and cassette with a few bundles that include a variety of other things thrown in for good measure.

Bandcamp//Purchase//Permanent Records//

Album review: Yuck – "Yuck"

Finally, after all the hype of indie culture coming to the mainstream, with Arcade Fire winning the Album of the Year Grammy and every band everywhere looking for a unique sound, we get an album that gives us exactly what we need. Yuck has delivered an album that has garnered a lot of attention for its fresh sound that, ironically, is captured by going back to sounding like the music of the 1990’s.

It is funny to think that we can actually refer to this music accurately by saying that it sounds reminiscent to the songs of late last century. A time when MTV actually played music. When shows like “120 Minutes” would showcase music that was up and coming, college radio fare that was not getting much, if any, mainstream attention. I’m sure I am not the only one that remembers staying up late as a kid to catch a glimpse of all the cool, obscure music that was coming out so that I could slyly reference it later in school when talking to my friends. Man, they would think I was so cool. Not that Yuck’s music embraces obscure acts of a bygone era. On the contrary, it captures the essence of the indie rock scene of the 90s that we all know and love but may have passed by those who were not paying attention. This music is a celebration of a time gone by, though its return is more than welcome.

I read a description online of Yuck as a “rock revival” act. Though I know the point that this particular review was getting at I still find it frustrating that the very people that listen to and love rock music are constantly claiming that it is a dead artform. Take for example every time that The Strokes, or any member of The Strokes, releases an album. The magazine covers seem to always ask, “Can The Strokes save rock?” as if it is a genre that is gone, or at least deteriorated and in need of rescuing. I don’t know if Yuck has the power, or even the willingness to “rescue” rock music but they have crafted a beautiful album that is large in scope and certainly charming in its reminiscence of music that music fans of my generation grew up listening to.
Yuck - "Yuck"
Strands of early Sloan, early Smashing Pumpkins, Thrush Hermit, Hum, Sebadoh, The Burdocks and Dinosaur Jr. (in the album’s noisier moments) shine through track after track. The album doesn’t come off sounding like some unearthed relic, nor does it feel or sound old or stale in the slightest. Ideas and sound taken from the 90s are developed a bit with tighter rhythm section behind the initial wall of shoegazey noise.

I’m sure that there will be plenty of people tossing around the term “post-modern” in reference to Yuck. Sure, if the shoe fits, but those that dismiss this album as a simple throwback are missing the point. This album and this band seem to be reminding a tired, fractured and disenfranchised indie-rock fan base, that is constantly pulled from one direction to the next, of where we have come from. Perhaps this album can serve as a reset point where we can ponder the roots of all that is coming out today. Or, perhaps this album can serve as a direct line connecteing the music of today to the music of twenty years ago as an alternate reality where an overabundance of easily reproducable, easily attainable music never came to be and therefore never forced fans to choose one of a mulitude of made up genres to which they pledge their unflagging allegiance. Imagine good music stripped of hipster culture. This, I believe, is the world in which Yuck longs to exist.

The album is an “album”. By that I mean that it is a complete journey from beginning to end. Noisy rockers such as album opener “Get Away”, “The Wall” and “Holing Out” are broken up by quieter, more contemplative material such as “Stutter”, “Suicide Policeman” and “Rose Gives a Lilly”. All the songs feature prominently catchy hooks and layered guitar work. “Shook Down”, with its duetting boy/girl vocal, is especially effective as is the up-tempo distored folkiness of “Georgia”.

It seemed to come at us out of nowhere but now we are 20 years past the Seattle “grunge” explosion and just as far are we from the surge of great music that came out of the Halifax scene around the same time. It seems that this is just about the perfect time for a band like Yuck to bring us right back to the comfort of our indie-rock roots.

Soundgarden has reformed, Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr. have been playing shows, and Beavis and Butthead is returning to television. It seems that a full on 90s reboot is taking shape. It’s a good thing that a band like Yuck can make something new amidst all this looking back.
[audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/01-Get-Away.mp3|titles=Get Away]
[audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/04-Holing-Out.mp3|titles=Holing Out]