Tag Archives: dream pop

Catching Up on 2019: Neon, Special Friend, The Comes Reissue, Modern Nature, Daisies

The Comes, No Side (La Vida Es Un Mus)

Great reissue from the always fabulous La Vida Es Un Mus label of classic, Japanese hardcore from the early 80s. Must admit I’d never heard of The Comes, but was unsurprised to discover they came up alongside bands like GISM, who I’d run across in years’ past on various comps (notably, this). The Comes seem similar in sound and overall feel, as the tracks on No Side share a penchant for strident/batshit crazy vocals paired with music that tilts and twirls like someone’s changing the record from 33 to 45 (and back), mid-track. Fantastic record and a welcome introduction.

Out now, courtesy of La Vida Es Un Mus.

Web: label 

Daisies, What Are You Waiting For?, 2 (Perennial Death; JGAP) 

Daisies are an Olympia, WA-based trio, featuring members of CCFX and TransFx that, over the course of four releases, have quickly become something of an obsession. Their two long-players from 2019 – What Are You Waiting For? (which included previous singles, “Just Yesterday” and “Anyone’s Style”) and, fittingly, 2 – provide a musical roadmap through most of what was interesting on the dancier end of 90s indie. What? is a glorious run through Madchester/‘baggy’, druggy trip hop and swinging, jangled sophsti-pop. 2 hits a bit harder, adding jungle and drum and bass snap and crackle to the still heady mix. Valerie Warren’s multi-layered vocals are pitch perfect and the arrangements bring moments of absolute bliss – plus, 2’s “Paradise” pairs d’nb’s tactile energy with lyrics from “Pure Imagination”. St. Etienne, Primal Scream (esp. Screamadelica), Goldie, Baby Fox, The Rebirth of Cool series – if any of these mean something to you, do yourself a favor and dig into Daisies.

Both albums are out now, What Are You Waiting For? courtesy of Perennial Death and 2 via JGAP.

Web: label label bcamp twitt

Modern Nature How to Live (Bella Union)

Featuring members of Ultimate Painting, >Beak and others, Modern Nature’s debut, How to Live, is a slow burning walkabout. Throughout, the band expertly molds a color palette involving motorik, trip hop, jazz, drone and psych – squishing them through one of those Playdoh contraptions that kind of looked like a mini meat grinder and was used to style rainbow ‘hair’. Vocalist Jack Cooper’s voice has a kind of hushed, tremulous quality reminiscent of Syd Barrett and Colin Newman, while the arrangements call to mind bands like Spiritualized (“Turbulence”), Radiohead (“Peradam”), and Pink Floyd (“Criminals”). At its best, as on the aforementioned “Turbulence”, Modern Nature’s music creates a mood so tangible it seems inhabitable, with a cinematic quality that makes the melodies visual as much as aural. Punchier tracks like “Nature” blow out the cobwebs, a bit, while retaining the pleasant haze. Very much recommended.

How to Live is out now, courtesy of Bella Union, and Modern Nature are in the midst of a tour in the US of A, dates here.

Web: label bcamp fbook twitt

Neon, s-t (self-released) 

Neon is an Oakland, CA-based quartet who presented us (and the world) with some of the best, most thrillingly messy punk to cross our radars last year with their self-titled album (cheers to Bryony Beynon for including it in her year-end wrap up for Maximum r’nr and, thereby, reminding us). Piercing feedback gives way to post-punk angularity while rhythms start, stop and wreck like bumper cars. The spoken/sung/wailed vocals pair diffidence with strident takedowns of our glorious modern times, including the effects of corporatism on art creation/consumption (“everybody/likes to see/money on the walls”, from ‘Modern Art’) and gentrification (“build it/tear it down/build it…those poor people/crushed by the weight of their own hard work”, from “Contained”). There’s threads of Olympia-bay area synergy in the arrangements, hints of bands like The Fall in the antagonistic repetition – and it’s exhaustingly affecting. Must be a treat to catch live.

Out now and available on Neon’s bandcamp.

Web: bcamp 

Special Friend, Special Friend EP (Hidden Bay; Howlin’ Banana; Buddy; Gravity Music)

Special Friend are a duo comprising Guillaume Siracusa (guitar, vocals) and Erica Ashleson (drums, vocals). Their debut, self-titled EP is a beautifully lo-fi work, showcasing a dexterity with both the wistful lushness of jangle and dream pop as well as the rugged stomp of garage rock. Tracks like opener, ‘Before’, feel like a walk on a northern beach on an overcast day, and calls to mind the less bombastic side of Prefab Sprout. Uptempo cuts like ‘Mean Street’ are the upturned collar on a black leather jacket, bearing traces of bands like The Vaselines, The Raveonettes or early White Stripes. The lack of gloss on the production and resulting demo feel lends warmth and intimacy, allowing the dueling male/female vocals to take center stage. Great set of songs – can’t wait to hear what they do next.  

The Special Friend EP is available now, a joint release of French labels Hidden Bay, Howlin’ Banana , Buddy Records, and Gravity Music.

Web: label label label label fbook  

New Year, New Decade, New Playlist

Here are some tracks we’ve enjoyed over the last several months (and that were on soundcloud)!

Here, Hear Some Great New Tracks from OMD, The Orielles, Routine Death, Katy J. Pearson, and Siamese Twins

It’s been a long time, we shouldn’t have left you, &etc. Please accept our apologies for the wait between posts, in the form of some phenomenal new tracks.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, “Don’t Go” (Universal/UMG)

“Don’t Go” represents the 40th, and most recent, single from new wave legends Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), whose music has been a constant companion to yours truly for longer than I care to admit. “Don’t Go” glides in on an arpeggiated melody that carries with it a whiff of Yaz(oo), but the achingly romantic textures are quintessential OMD. Andy McCluskey’s voice (which is in amazing form) remains as shot through with desperate emotion as ever. Paul Humphreys’ arrangement is stellar – the fill at the 1:25 is tear-inducing, either from the wistful tug of memory or the fresh pain of something more recent. Feels like it would fit equally well alongside tracks like “Hold You” (from 1985’s Crush) as with more recent tracks like “Metroland” from 2013’s English Electric. Gorgeous.

“Don’t Go” serves as 2019’s musical corollary to 1988’s “Dreaming” – i.e., the new track appended to OMD’s new (and massive), greatest hits collection, Souvenir, which is out now.

Web: site fbook twitt 

Routine Death, “Tubeway Revolution” (Fuzz Club)

Routine Death are the husband/wife duo of Lisa and Dustin (also in Holy Wave) Zozaya. The track “Tubeway Revolution” is taken from their sophomore long-player, 2 Weeks to 4 Months (the follow-up to 2018’s excellent Parallel Universes), and it’s a great mélange of the hypnotic and the terse. Tensile synths and a woozy bassline lull you in before a jagged guitar scrawl jars you awake – while Lisa’s multi-tracked vocals beguile throughout.  There’s a bit of a “lost 80’s” vibe in the arrangement, its icy cool goth-new wave veneer peppered with with exhales of psych vapor. The press release accompanying the track mentions a shared drive through a desert as a catalyst for the song, and it feels apt for anyone who’s experienced time in such vastness.

From 2 Weeks to 4 Months, which is out now on Fuzz Club.

Web: label fbook

The Orielles, “Come Down on Jupiter”

The Orielles are, without doubt, one of our favorite new(er) bands here at tgh hq. From the first time we heard 2017’s “Sugar Tastes Like Salt” we were hooked, and the band haven’t let us wriggle free since. Excitement, then, for “Come Down on Jupiter”, the (now) quartet’s dizzying new track – and it proves justified. While adding depth in its arrangement, the track happily retains the insouciant charm of earlier efforts. As with those previous tracks, “Jupiter” sees the band donning several musical styles over the span of 5 minutes or so – bouncing back and forth between cinematic psych that sounds like the soundtrack to an impossibly cool, 60s bohemian movie, the dreamiest, Lush dream pop, and a full-on freakout of an extended outro – and doing so seamlessly. It’s marvelous, each member in top form – though, for my money the (not so) secret killer is Sidonie Hand-Halford’s drumming, which rearranges each of these scene changes with aplomb. Can’t wait for the record.  

Taken from forthcoming long-player, Disco Volador, due February 28, 2020 from Heavenly and available for pre-order here.

Web: label site (store) fbook twitt insta

Katy J Pearson, “Tonight”

Bristol, UK’s Katy J. Pearson recently released the brilliant single, “Tonight” – billed as her first solo effort following the end of a joint project with her brother.  Arriving on an inspired, strings-based melody, the track weaves a vignette in which the characters are made to choose whether to take the proverbial leap, in spite of all while being “so vulnerable/in the eyes of our beholder”. Pearson’s voice is sweet without being saccharine and, while carrying a bit of a twang, the song isn’t country – I kept hearing a bit of Gwen Stefani, a dash of Kirsty MacColl. The chorus will follow you around for days, and you won’t mind a bit. It’s light (but not lightweight) indie pop that should be popular – make it so. 

“Tonight” arrives November 15, courtesy of Heavenly, and will be paired with a cover of “Poison Cup”, by M. Ward.

Web: label fbook bcamp twitt insta

Siamese Twins, “Listless/Second Skin” 7” (self-released)

Siamese Twins are a “cross-continental” band, currently based out of Leverett and Cambridge, MA and Chicago, IL and featuring members of bands including Ampere and Libyans (a personal fave). Their bio suggests that the group “don’t get together often”, which helps to explain why new 7” single, “Listless/Second Skin” is arriving roughly five years on from their debut full-length, Still Corners. However long it took, it was well worth the wait for these two new tracks. Both feature haunting vocal interplay and guitar melodies reminiscent of early Cure under heavy washes of synth. Slight edge goes to the b-side, which adds rockabilly noir to an otherwise wistful beauty. Death-dream rock? If Beauty and the Beat had been produced by Martin Hannett? Ladytron goth? You decide – I’m going to keep listening. 

Out now – get yours here.

Web: fbook bcamp site

Fade Into “Gun” and “On the Attack”, from Moon Panda

Moon Panda, “Gun”; “On the Attack” (self-released)

Moon Panda is a quartet based in London and Brighton, UK. Led by vocalist/bassist Maddy Myers and guitarist Gustav Moltke (George Godwin and Alfie Webber round out the set), the band features members from the US, Denmark and the UK. They’ve self-released a trio of singles over the past year plus, including the two latest – “Gun” and “On the Attack”.

The group describe themselves as making ‘dreamy space pop for dreamy space people”, and you can’t accuse them of false advertising. The gauzy feel of “Gun” pushes the band towards a sound reminiscent of trip hop bands like Morcheeba or Zero 7, as well as Parachute-era Coldplay. Myers’ fragile, whispery vocals complement the mood, a pleasingly dark undertone provided by lyrical musings on the non-greeting card aspects of love (‘even the sweetest thoughts/get twisted’). The slightly more in focus “On the Attack” comes off a bit like a velvet-gloved PJ Harvey, a psych nibble on quietly lush chords invoking Bête Noire-era Bryan Ferry.

Both tracks illustrate Moon Panda’s aptitude for building engrossing tunes on serpentine grooves and echo-laden melodies. The band’s website mentions that these tracks, together with others, will be released as the Pastel Pools EP later in 2019. Looking forward to it.

Web: site fbook soundcloud youtube bcamp twitt

Fa la la list!

We’re back with another list, featuring songs that have our tinnitus-riddled ears ringing like so many silver bells. Have a listen, won’t you?

Songs for a “Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness”, or Something – Enjoy!

New lists, featuring some of our favorite tracks carried along the blustery drafts of the changing seasons.

The first:

And, if you dare, a sequel:

Here’s Some of Our Favorite Tracks of the Last Few Weeks

In the latest installment of thegrindinghalt.com‘s ongoing  series, “oh crap, we’re behind on a lot of writing”, please enjoy our musings on several of the tracks we’ve been loving these past few weeks (or so…stop judging!). F

Sink Ya Teeth, “Substitutes” (Hey Buffalo)

We love, love, love Sink Ya Teeth, the dynamic duo of Maria Uzor and Gemma Cullingford. “Substitutes”, their latest dancefloor megablast, is a cowbell- propulsed tour d’angleterre. Hypnotic vocals soar above Detroit techno ‘dugga dugga’ synths and a rough and rugged bass line that reminds a bit of Timezone. The 80s electrofunk influence paired with the insouciant cool of peak Ladytron. Taken from Sink Ya Teeth’s debut album on Hey Buffalo. Divine. De-lovely. Diva voce. 

Innocence Mission, “Green Bus” (Bella Union; Badman; P-Vine)

Taken from Sun on the Square, the most recent long-player from long-running dreamy folk-pop group the innocence mission, “Green Bus” is a beguiling new track. Karen Peris’ vocals play like dappled sunlight through an intricate canopy woven by heavily arpeggio’d guitars and lush strings; the overall effect spiritual. Absolutely lovely. Sun On the Square is out now on the veritable Bella Union, Badman Recording (US) and P-Vine Records (JP).

Free Love, “Synchronicity” (Full Ashram)

Free Love – the band formerly known as Happy Meals (we loved their 2014 debut, Apero, via 2016’s glorious Fruit Juice EP) – graced us with “Synchronicity”. Following a detour into trance-like meditiative music, the track – happily, not a The Police cover –  sees the duo of Rodden and Cook return to the wellspring of divine, club-friendly new wave/late disco/electric r&b. Rubber bass, squelched keys and breathy vox.  Out now on the band’s Full Ashram label.

Totally Mild, “Take Today” (Chapter Music)

“Take Today” features on Her, the latest release from Melbourne’s Totally Mild. Opening with the strummy charm of early Ocean Blue dreampop, vocalist Elizabeth Mitchell’s halcyon lilt incorporates a bit of a Gallic touch, bringing in hints of St. Etienne or the poppier side of Stereolab.  A warm embrace of a song, blooming into a veritable endorphin rush of a chorus. “Why wait for a slow decay/take today”. Her is out now on Chapter Music.

Oh Sees, “Overthrown” (Castle Face)

My youngest enjoys the components of a burrito, but not wrapped up together.  In a bougie/“we watch a lot of Cooking Channel so I can” reaction to this, we’ve come to refer to this dish as ‘deconstructed’. Queue hard segue to the latest track from John Dwyer’s mighty Oh Sees (f/k/a Thee Oh Sees), “Overthrown”. The track’s raucous, main portion slashes and burns like a deconstructed thrash opus – the parts are there (jigga-jigga guitar, intense vox pitched up to a scream), but freed from a traditional thrash metal tortilla, er, song structure by virtue of a swinging beat and shards of hazy psych. New album, Smote Reverser, was released last week, courtesy of Castle Face.

The Sueves, “Stare” (Goodbye Boozy)

The lastest from Chicago’s The Sueves, who never fail to disappoint. “Stare”, the a-side to new 7” on the Goodbye Boozy label, is another storming slice of razor-sharp, earworm-worthy garage/punk/rock ’n roll. Vocalist Joe Schorgl sounds a particularly incensed Bon Scott, strangled shouts over brutally downstrummed guitars and a watertight rhythm charge. It’s a fantastic follow on to the band’s spring ’18 full-length, R.I.P. Clearance Event.

Fröst, “Record Still Spinning” (Lost Room)

Fröst is the duo of vocalist Johanna Bramli (who also sang with Stereolab offshoot, Imitation Electric Piano) and Fujiya & Miyagi’s Steve Lewis. Taken from their debut long-player, Matters, “Record Still Spinning” is the first taste, and the influence of the principals’ other projects is evident. The heady mix of a steady, motorik beat augmented by urgent driving bass, minimal synths and breathy vocals call to mind the aforementioned bands, as well as Broadcast and Hooverphonic. Matters releases September 28, courtesy of Lost Room.

Exploded View, “Raven Raven” (Sacred Bones)

Exploded View is an intercontinental project comprising Annika Henderson, Hugo Quezada, and Martin Thulin. “Raven Raven”, taken from the group’s forthcoming sophomore release, Obey, is a vertiginous slab of shuddering, danceable (read: swaying) psych. The lyrical flow reminds a bit of Suicide’s “Cheree”, though here the watcher has become the watched, the titular bird sitting on Henderson’s shoulder, eyeing her ‘every move’. Obey is due for release September 28, courtesy of Sacred Bones. 

 

New (To Me!) Band of the Day: Britain

 

First things first: I count myself a massive Cocteau Twins fan.  So much so that when I read/hear bands compared sonically or otherwise with them, it’s met with a healthy skepticism.  Few, either during the contemporaneous rise of dream pop and shoegaze or during their more recent revivals, seem to match the visceral thrill, the desolate euphoria, gleaned from the original.  While I grew to like many of these bands over time it was in spite of, rather than due to, their supposed level of “Cocteausiness”.

Which leads me to Britain, the duo of Joey Cobb and Katie Drew that I recently stumbled across (thanks to an email blast from the good folks over at Heavenly).  They come bearing Cocteau comparisons – and it’s easy enough to see why on first listen to the demo for track, “Day by Day”:  the glistening guitar cascades, crisp drum machine patter, even an ending that sounds as though the song’s been suddenly unplugged – it’s all there.  Yet, in spite of my decidedly caveat emptor approach to such things, I was immediately swept up and carried off by “Day by Day”.

Much of this is down to Drew’s vocal performance, which matches not only the wispy end of Elizabeth Fraser’s delivery but, more importantly, its soulfulness.  So, yes, it does sound like the Cocteaus – but “Day by Day” is no mere pastiche.  The light and dark in the track’s woozy melody gives a feel like the reveal of sun through a slowly lifting fog.  It’s also incredibly fully-formed for a ‘demo’ – so hopefully, if included on their forthcoming debut, it won’t be messed with.  A second track, “Tried to Call”, can be heard by watching their “Stay Fresh” session over at theskinny.  Building from a similar 4AD building block, “Tried to Call” ratchets up the psych in a way that reminds of Lost Souls-era Doves (a band Britain name check as an influence in the corresponding interview).

Per the bio on fbook and the twitt, Britain are currently working on their debut, which will be released on Heavenly.  Stay tuned, and catch them out on tour with Jane Weaver this autumn in the UK (dates here).

Review: “Candle Power”, by Rat Columns

Rat Columns, Candle Power (Upset the Rhythm)

Rat Columns is the project of NYC-by way of Western Australia’s David West, whose previous work with bands such as Total Control, Rank/Xerox and Lace Curtain, as well as his solo material (most recently, last year’s great Peace or Love), explored different musical territory, from noirish post-punk, new wave imbued rhythmic explorations and dazed and confused psych.

Candle Power, his latest release with Rat Columns, finds West stitching together these various elements into a seamless and truly wondrous indie pop gem.  “Blinded by the Shadow” expands on the Hot Chip (and their 80s antecedents) stomp of Lace Curtain, burnished with the addition of backing vocals from bassist Amber Gempton (featured throughout) and the inspired use of violin to add texture.  “Northern Soul” weds the jittery, gothic post-punk of West’s work with Total Control and Rank/Xerox (I also kept hearing Lords of the New Church) with hazy psych.  The album is shot through with moments of sublime, pop bliss.  Opening one-two, “Someone Else’s Dream” and “She Loves the Rain”, jangled perfection in the spirit of classic Flying Nun on through to The Byrds. Closer, “Dream Tonight” a dancefloor ready mashup of New Order and Prefab Sprout (“Time’s No Vessel” also reminds of a less blissed-out Sprout with a shot of Orange Juice).

A dreamy, sepia-tinted melancholy hangs over the album, showcasing West’s ability to coalesce wide-eyed melodies with urbane, sometimes caustic lyrical takes on love and relationships, which are at variously “like driving a motorbike straight into a wall” (“Is This Really What You’re Like?”), an ephemeral, ‘did that really happen?’ experience (“Someone Else’s Dream”), and portentous “dark cloud that rains down from above” (“Time’s No Vessel”). It’s brilliant.

Candle Power is out now, on Upset the Rhythm.  You can follow along with all things David West on his bandcamp and fbook page.

Highlights include: “Someone Else’s Dream”, “Time’s No Vessel”, “Blinded by the Shadow”, “Dream Tonight”.

 

Glasgow’s Lush Purr Deliver Lo-fi Beauty on Cuckoo Waltz

Lush Purr, Cuckoo Waltz (Song, by Toad)


Lush Purr are a ‘new to me’ band hailing from Glasgow, and Cuckoo Waltz their debut long-player.  Having described their sound as “[l]ike having a party under the sea”. and quoting Spinal Tap in a recent interview with The List, the band clearly enjoys playing up the goof (song titles such as “(I admit it) I’m a Gardener”, “Jamiroquai at the Karaoke” and “Stuck in a Bog” bear this out).

But, where much similarly “jokey” content often leaves me wanting to run screaming, all I seem to do when listening to Cuckoo Waltz is smile – and I’m not what you’d normally refer to as an “up person” (queue this).  The overarching reason for this is down to a feeling conveyed across the record’s 13 tracks, each of which carry many styles – kitschy pscyh, C86-style indie sha-la-la, early 90s emotive lo-fi (shades of The Pastels, Flatmates, The Wedding Present, on through to newer bands like halfsour or Snail Mail) – but one constant:  beautiful, dreamy melodies.  Seriously, try to get through the floating harmonies of “Suits” without bobbing your head to and fro, a wistful grin smeared across your face – you won’t even know you’re doing it, you dour shit.

As for the submarine soiree, while there is a certain beach-like or surf quality to some songs (see, “Gardener” and, predictably, short intro, “Wave”), this would be beach music for those of us familiar with the shores of more northern climes. Walking along a strand strewn with rocks, sea glass and driftwood, feet sinking into sand more the texture of dark clay than white powder; sea spray and the embracing damp of a rolling fog, nestled in a worn sweater or anorak.  Grab your tipple of choice and settle in.

Originally released on cassette last August on Fuzzkill Records, Cuckoo Waltz now available, digitally and on vinyl, via Song, by Toad.  Stalk Lush Purr on fbook and the twitt, and catch them on their upcoming tour dates.