Posts Tagged ‘Shoegaze’

A Place To Bury Strangers announce the release of their sixth album See Through You on 4th February 2022. It’s not just a return to form for the band, but also a return to their fiercely independent, DIY roots on their own label, Dedstrange.

Outpacing even their own firmly blazed path of audio annihilation, this 13-track album repeatedly delivers the massive walls of chaos and noise that A Place To Bury Strangers are renowned for. It’s an explosive journey that explores the listener’s limits of mind-bending madness, while simultaneously offering the catchiest batch of songs in the band’s discography. It’s a nod to the art school ethos of the band’s origins, while forging a new and clear direction forward.

The first single ‘Let’s See Each Other’ is an intimate and disarming love song from a forgotten future. Syncopated memories and deconstructed fantasies of lovers lost in a city that doesn’t know their names. The accompanying video, directed by David Pelletier, features the band destroying the song while imploring people to reunite.

Watch the video here:

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Photo by Ebru Yildiz

Italian shoegaze and post-rock project led by Gianluca Divirgilio, Arctic Plateau have just revealed a music video for a brand new track titled ‘Saturn Girl’, which is taken from their third album Songs of Shame, due out on December 3rd via Shunu Records.

Watch the video here:

Emerging from an eight-year hiatus, songwriter Gianluca Divirgilio brings his darkest and most introspective thoughts to light with Arctic Plateau’s Songs of Shame. Recorded by Fabio Fraschini at PlayRec Studio,mixed and produced by Gianluca Divirgilio at Arctic Plateau Studio, the follow-up to 2012’s second effort, "The Enemy Inside", is an album of intimate and powerful performances that serve as the first steps toward a healing that has been decades in the making. Pre-orders are now available at this location.

Formed by Gianluca Divirgilio in 2006, Arctic Plateau is a post-rock and shoegaze project from Rome, Italy. Having signed to Prophecy Productions in 2008, Divirgilio recorded his first studio album On a Sad Sunny Day in 2009, followed by a split-release with Les Discrets in 2011. 2012 saw the release of his second full-length, The Enemy Inside, which allowed him to open for Anathema on their Italian tour.

The newest record called Songs of Shame will be released in late 2021 by Shunu Records, and distributed by Season of Mist.

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Christopher Nosnibor

The clue’s in the name: Bdrmm started out as a bedroom-based solo project for Ryan Smith in 2017, but soon transitioned to being a proper gigging band. Like so many bands, their progress was severely hampered by more than eighteen months of no live activity, something that seems to have hit bands in the early stages of their careers the hardest, since they rely on performing in grassroots venues and supporting larger bands to build their fanbase.

This was one of many shows that got booked, rescheduled, and rescheduled over the course of the last eighteen months, during which time they’ve maintained a steady flow of releases, including their debut album and an attendant set of remixes and a number of singles, which have clearly done no harm to their profile, garnering glowing reviews from across the spectrum from NME to MOJO via Line of Best Fit. The Fulford Arms, then – sold out, although still operating at reduced capacity for ticket sales – is pretty busy even early doors.

It’s an interesting demographic, too, probably around a 60/40 split of twenty-somethings and forty-somethings – which isn’t entire surprising given Bdrmm’s referencing of the music that the older fans were listening to when they were around the age of the younger ones.

Having just two bands on the bill works well – not only allowing time to ventilate the room between acts – but to give the punters and their ears a rest, time to recharge glasses without a crush at the bar, and an early finish. After so much time out, it might take some time to rebuild the stamina for late nights for a few of us, and for those slightly further afield, public transport isn’t what it was a couple of years ago (or more).

Manchester’s crush – another band who, having formed in 2018 have a lot of early-days ground to recover – are on first. I was pretty sure there have been other bands called Crush, and it was only later I recalled Donna Air and Jayni Hoy’s short-lived pop career and the early 90s project featuring John Valentine Carruthers (formerly of Siouxsie and the Banshees) and Killing Joke drummer Paul Ferguson . The young four-piece are nothing like either. The set makes a shuddering launch into mid-tempo post-rock shoegaze with two guitars. Their sound is reminiscent of melodic 90s indie with a dreamy style, but still some drive too. There’s lots of texture and occasional bursts of noise. They may be lacking that slickness that playing often develops, but they can really play, and the closer comes on like Dinosaur Jr being covered by Slowdive, and it’s ace.

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Crackling distortion yields to a driving motorik riff to announce the arrival of Bdrmm, and it’s immediately apparent that they’re a cut above, and that any hyp is entirely justified. The sound is immense. The drums are half-submerged beneath a heft wash of guitar. It’s a dense, throbbing, shimmering wall of sound. The percussion is a mix of traditional and electronic drum pads, and everything comes together magnificently. New single ‘Port’ drops early as the third song and it’s a brooding synth-driven beast, part My Bloody Valentine, but probably more A Place to Bury Strangers. There’s all the reverb, and all the volume: in fact the sound is great, and sound man Chris Tuke gets a deserved shoutout from the stage during the set. Because while it’s nice on record, and all the comparisons to Slowdive and early Ride are entirely appropriate, live, it really needs to be heard – and felt – at organ-trembling volume.

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Bdrmm

‘Happy, is a synthy swirl meshed with a gritty bass, and as the set progresses, we see the band peeling off blistering sheets of noise. Bent over, guitars practically scraping the floor, they don’t only do shoegaze but they also properly rock out. Near the end of the set they treat us to an immense, slow-building crescendo climax worthy of I Like Trains.

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They leave us overheated, breathless, and stunned by the sheer power of the blistering noise of the guitars that howl and melt. No way should we have been able to experience this in a venue with a capacity of around 130, and I rather doubt we will again. Bdrmm are a Brudenell band at the very least: they have not only the songs, but that indefinable ‘fuck yeah!’ quality that comes from the wild exhilaration of seeing a band who simply blow you away.

Christopher Nosnibor

The return of live music remains on a balance beam of managing finances and staff / punter safety, especially in terms of what people are comfortable with. Every gig, therefore, is a gamble, and tonight’s is no exception: for while The Fulford Arms had spent lockdown not only working on making nots own space as safe and accommodating as possible, as well as campaigning hard for other local venues and live music in general, they’ve used the time to make improvements that had been longer-term plans, they still face the challenge of bringing punters in.

Tonight’s event benefits from a Lottery-funded two for one offer on tickets, which has encouraged a respectable showing for a wet Thursday night. It’s all good, but PINS have been struck by (non-Covid) illness and are two members down, and so are playing a stripped-back set as a foursome without a drummer. But they’re troopers, and so the show goes on, and Tides walk on to crashing waves and crystalline ambience, before launching into a set of jangly, melodic indie with a distinctly late 80s / early 90s vibe. The foursome are young, and while not especially outgoing in their performance, play with an assurance that comes across well, and they’re tight and solid, but still with much to learn.

They land the slowie early, with the emotive ‘You’ being third in an eight-song set. Revelling in their poppier leanings is a cover of Lizzo’s ‘Juice’, and it’s well-played, but bland, although well-received by their friends down the front. But two covers in such a short set isn’t best form: either they’re yet to accumulate enough original material or lack the confidence in what they have, but the less said about their competent but characterless rendition of Shania Twain’s ‘Man, I Feel Like a Woman’ the better, as well as the sixth-form handbag dancing it inspired. They feel like a band who haven’t fully decided their identity yet, swinging between a slick contemporary pop and more of a female-fronted Smiths or Wedding Present. Given time, they’ll hopefully figure out how to combine the two, but in the meantime, they prove to be a fun and competent support act.

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PINS are one of those bands I feel I should know but simply haven’t got to for various reasons, and so I won’t claim in any sense to know the tracks from their three albums – but the strength of any band is to deliver a set than has the capacity to not only please established fans, but to convert new ones from among an impartial crowd.

Admittedly, I took little convincing: the first song of the set lifts a 3-note motorik looping bass groove from Suicide’s ‘Ghostrider’, and they hold that insistent repetition into the second. It’s an instant grab. It actually sounds a bit like 90s indie / shoegaze / goth act Sunshot, who I revisited just the other week. It’s certainly no criticism, so much as an indicator of their post-punk/ shoegaze / crossover sound, propelled by sparse percussion with a vintage drum-machine sound. Landing in at the third track in the set ‘Bad Girls Forever’ brings a country / gospel vibe to the thumping new wave sound that’s counterbalanced by an abundance of electropop sass, while ‘Ponytail’ sashays and swishes through an easy pop that carries a sentiment of girl power 2020s style. They do political, too, with the stomping ‘serve the Rich’ snapping and sneering over a thumping bass groove.

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In terms of performance, PINS are the epitome of cool, with Faith Verne’s oversized shades positively screaming ‘pop icon’ and Lois MacDonald guitarist affecting the best bored face as she treads on the spot throughout the set.

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If the sound itself is a well-realised take on preexisting forms, it’s the multi layered vocals that really make PINS stand out here, and it all makes for an engaging show. The women who’d spent the set dancing down the front were up on stage for the final song, and there sense of togetherness was palpable. If any reminder was needed that there really is nothing like live music to nourish the soul, then PINS provided it here tonight.

Vinyl Eddie Records – VINED006 & VINED007 – 9th July 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Opposites and opposition – and the way in which those contrasts are core to our understanding of the world and our place in it – have been key points of exploration in art for centuries. The concept of either / or, light / dark, heaven / hell is the foundation of Judaeo-Christian religions and those polarities became the core tropes of Elizabethan poetry, at the dawn of modern literature. Sir Thomas Wyatt’s ‘I Find No Peace’ cements these tropes that have come to define both internal conflict, the turmoil of love, and the fundamental dichotomies of the human condition.

And yet it’s Earth’s Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light, released in two parts that comes to mind when presented with Soma Crew’s new offering, a twin vinyl release capturing two days’ intensive recording to collectively forge one monumental document of the band’s creative work since the release off 2019’s F for Fake in 2019.

I know, I know I always say the same when writing of Soma Crew – which I have done often since they formed under the guide of Muttley Crew back in 2013 – that they get better with every release, with every show. But that’s the simple fact of the matter. They tend not to deviate far from their psychedelic drone style that’s most reminiscent of Black Angels, but that isn’t to say they don’t push their limits in the execution. But most importantly, they know how to batter away at a riff for an age and whip up a psychedelic haze.

Out Of Darkness / Into Light is a slow-burner, and marks something of a shift, and on first listen, I was a shade concerned by the lack of motoric beats and shimmering walls of distortion and delay rippling over cascading riffs. But this is the new direction: the beats are still motoric, but simply more minimal and subdued, and the emphasis has shifted toward a more understated and minimalist sound.

The first track, ‘Phantom’ starts off simple, plugging away at a four-chord riff with a hint of swagger that’s almost Primal Scream. The guitar sound is clean, shimmering, and Si Micklethwaite’s vocal is pretty low in the mix, meaning everything blends together gently. There are heavy hints of early Fall about the six-and-a-half-minute ‘You’re So Cool’ – the easy-tripping clean guitar with its naggingly repetitious riff is straight off Live at the Witch Trials or Dragnet. It’s simple, it’s immediate, and the fact it was recorded on the spot only accentuate these qualities.

Soma Crew don’t do short songs: of the twelve here, only two are under five minutes, with the majority clocking in around the six-minute mark. There’s plenty of throbbing bass runs and repetitions and spacey slide guitar going on here, and these qualities are integral to the Soma sound. They’re not a ‘chorus’ band, but a band who create a hypnotic atmosphere through their endlessly cyclical riffs and the plod of the percussion – by no means a criticism here, as drummer Nick understands that less is more – using a setup consisting solely of snare and floor tom for the duration. This minimal ‘Bobby Gillespie’ setup works well, meaning the instruments occupy the space – or don’t – instead of the conventional sound whereby crashing cymbals fill the sound the a load of top-end mess that so often sounds crap.

‘There’s a Fire’ steps up the urgency eight songs in, but instead of going all guns blazing with distortion and a blast of cymbals and snares, Soma Crew hold steady. The slow down again for the forlorn country meandering of ‘Broken Matches’ and counterpart ‘Machines’ with some nice lap steel work, and there’s no question that Out Of Darkness / Into Light is a more ponderous, reflective set of songs, and rather than being a set of two distinct halves, it’s very much a coherent and unified work.

If anything about Out Of Darkness / Into Light intimates production values that eschew slickness and polish, that’s one of its real selling points: recorded live over two days in January 2020, this is a band at work, and it’s an album that captures what they actually sound like, rather than a studio-based tweaked and fiddled fantasy version of what they might sound like if they were another band entirely. Hearing them stripped back and sparse, they sound musically confident even while Micklethwaite’s plaintive vocal navigates seams of self-doubt and introspection through the lyrics, and this album shows that plugging away at simple, cyclical chord structures is as effective and hypnotic without the deluge of effects as with.

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Dedstrange Records – 16th July 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a while since we last heard from New York’s purveyors of treble-blasting psychedelic post-punk noise – they slipped album number five, Pinned out back in the spring of 2018, since when they’ve been relatively quiet. Not that one of the contenders for the ‘loudest band in the world’ tag ever do quiet, in terms of volume of output, with an EP and self-released single in 2019.

The Hologram EP is the first release with a new lineup, whereby core member Oliver Ackermann is joined by John Fedowitz (bass) and Sandra Fedowitz (drums) of Ceremony East Coast, and comes from a difficult place at a difficult time, ‘with songs addressing the decay of connections, friendships lost, and the trials and tribulations of these troubled times, Hologram serves as an abstract mirror to the moment we live in’, details the press release. The tone is pretty apocalyptic: ‘Written and recorded during the on-going global pandemic and in the midst of the decline of civilization, Hologram is a sonic vaccine to the horrors of modern life.’

And if Pinned was perhaps their most overtly 80s-sounding release, Hologram pushes the experimentalism that began to become pronounced from Transfixiation while amalgamating all of the elements that have featured across their career to date.

Previous singles ‘End of the Night’ and ‘I Might Have’ provide the opening salvoes: the former’s murky percussion-driven blast of noise is a bassy, booming, raw slice of fucked up psychedelia. Everything is warped, melting, overloading, like MBV covering The Monkees, and the latter being pretty much classic APTBS, a blur of three-chord rock ‘n’ roll riffing – the Jesus and Mary Chain as filtered through Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – minus any desire for even the slightest hint of polish.

‘Playing the Part’ is short, a melodic indie jangle with a light, easy melody and a melancholy that belies the breeziness as it emanates from the frayed edges. ‘In My Hive’ revisits the form of ‘Now It’s Over’ from Transfixiation, only it goes somewhere else – and if Transfixiation pushed the boundaries of songs that felt incomplete, fragmentary, as if the structures are only partial and prone to cracking and splintering apart as they go, then the Hive is being used as a piñata by some crazed maniacs, and all the while the insistent beat hammers away like a palpating heart in the midst of a panic attack.  

Things gets slower and dreamier with the slow-unfurling shoegaze wisps of closer ‘I Need You’. With a Cure-like wistfulness, it’s again familiar territory, particularly in context of Pinned, but also songs like ‘Dissolved’ from Worship. Where this differs, again, is in the production: the brutal shards of feedback still swirl and soak the bass and vocals and at times almost bury the sparse drums, but whereas before the EQ was geared toward the top-end and walls of ear-splitting treble, there’s a lot of mid- and lower-range present here, which creates a more subdued and less attacking sound.

As with everything APTBS do, it sounds distinctively like ABPTBS, but once again, sounds and feels different, and the mood on Hologram is as much the departure as any aspect of the songwriting or sound itself. Whereas there has historically been a sense of obliterative catharsis about the shattering noise that defines their catalogue, Hologram feels darker and more introspective, and it feels fitting.

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A Place To Bury Strangers share new single/video ‘I Might Have’ from their forthcoming Hologram EP out 16 July on founding member Oliver Ackermann’s label Dedstrange. Following lead single End Of The Night‘, ‘I Might Have’ is a fuzz-soaked sonic disaster in the best possible way. Past reflections collide with the brutality of a disintegrating world, stories of personal trauma, acceptance, and human failings emerge from the rubble of noise and destitute motorik rhythms. This is A Place To Bury Strangers at its most honest and unfiltered. Hologram serves as an abstract mirror to the moment we live in and ‘I Might Have’ smashes that mirror into a thousand pieces.

‘I Might Have’ is about the insecurities of life and growing up and when you just have to turn around and say ‘F*ck it,’” says Ackermann. “Life sucks so we may as well have a good time.” The accompanying video visualizes this mentality as it shows the band raucously hanging out together in New York City.

Watch the video here:

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A Place To Bury Strangers 2022 Tour Dates – Tickets on sale NOW

Wed 09 March – Hafenklang – Hamburg, Germany  

Thu 10 March – Beatpol – Dresden, Germany

Fri 11 March – Klub Poglos – Warsaw, Poland

Sat 12 March – Futurum – Prague, Czech Republic
Sun 13 March – Randal Club – Bratislava, Slovakia

Mon 14 March – Durer Kert – Budapest, Hungary

Wed 16 March – Control Club – Bucharest, Romania

Thu 17 March – Mixtape5 – Sofia, Bulgaria
Fri 18 March – Eightball – Thessaloniki, Greece

Sat 19 March – Temple – Athens, Greece
Mon 21 March – 25th of May Hall – Skopje, Macedonia

Tue 22 March – Club Drugstore – Belgrade, Serbia

Thu 24 March – Mochvara – Zagreb, Croatia
Fri 25 March – Freakout Club – Bologna, Italy

Sat 26 March – Largo – Rome, Italy
Sun 27 March – Legend Club – Milan, Italy

Tue 29 March – Bogen F – Zurich, Switzeralnd
Wed 30 March – Backstage – Munich, Germany

Thu 31 March – Caves Du Memoir – Martigny, Switzeralnd

Fri 01 April – La Trabendo – Paris, France
Sat 02 April – Lafayette – London, UK
Mon 04 April – Kayka – Antwerp, Belgium
Tue 05 April – Gleis 22 – Munster, Germany
Wed 06 April – Melkweg – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Thu 07 April – Vera- Groningen, Netherlands
Sat 09 April – Hus 7 – Stockholm, Sweden
Sun 10 April – John Dee – Oslo, Norway
Mon 11 April – Pumpehuset – Copenhagen, Denmark

Tue 12 April Hole 44 – Berlin, Germany
Wed 13 April – MTC – Cologne, Germany

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Big Stir Records – 4th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Well here’s a wakeup: The Speed Of Sound are into their fourth decade, yet are so underground they’ve bypassed me all this time. I feel a certain sense of both guilt and shame for this. Obviously, no reviewer can know everything about every band going, but sometimes, a band will slip under the radar and leave you kicking yourself. The Speed Of Sound is one such band.

The fact they’re releasing a double A-side says something about their vintage. 7” singles may still be a thing, but they’re a niche, collector thing rather than the thing you’d experience as a youth. I was in my early teens – perhaps younger – when I’d go into town and visit WHS or Boots or perhaps Woolworths and pick up a 7” single for 99p, and the B-side would often be as integral a part of the experience as the A-side, while a AA said sometimes meant the second A-side – the one less likely to be played on the radio – was the better one. Hearing it would be a revelation after you slipped it over the spindle and onto the turntable. It was a magical experience that words struggle to convey.

The two tracks on this release are thematically-linked in that they’re all about the band’s love for sci-fi soaked in reverb and with some hints of dappled sunlight mellowness.

The inspiration behind ‘Replicant’ probably requires little explanation as it draws the comparisons to the world of Bladerunner and the contemporary corporate world. The Hearing Ann-Marie Crowley enunciate ‘Replicant’ calls to mind Johnny Rotten emphasis on ‘Pretty vacant’, but more than anything, the uptempo acoustic guitar that leads the track has a distinctly 90s indie flavour to it, and it jangles along nicely.

‘Melancholy Rose’ is a spacey indie-psychedelic folk effort with the jangle of the early 90s and some mellow shoegaze meanderings, sort of like The Fall covering The Charlatans. There are hints of sleepy, summery funk to the track, too.

Together, it makes for a nice single that does very much evoke the experience of yesteryear’s 7” purchase.

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The Speed Of Sound Artwork

Pennies By The Pound present classic/psych-rock-imbued ‘Indigo Screams’ ahead of new LP, mastered by Ride’s Mark Gardener. 

With comparisons to Bob Mould, And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Marillion, and Jethro Tull being tossed around – and not wrongly – there’s a hint of early 90s Dinosaur Dr in the mix, too. Check ‘Indigo Screams’ here:

Hailing from Helsinki, Pennies by the Pound was formed in 2016 by Johannes Susitaival as a solo project, but it quickly became a three-piece involving musicians from his past bands.

While still part of a punk rock band, Johannes began exploring some quite different musical avenues, which led to the self-produced ‘Bloodshed and the Blinding Sunlight’ EP in 2018. Having found their ideal producer after several years of searching, they began recording demos in 2019 for what would become this album. Due to the pandemic, they were finally able to record these tracks in autumn of 2020.

Pennies By The Pound’s sound blends ’80s prog rock and ’90s-early ’00s alternative rock – essentially heavily guitar-driven with a touch of keyboards… Big choruses, quite a few guitar and keyboard solos and grandiose arrangements.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Ahead of their debut album, Little Pictures Without Sound, due out on 16th July, SENSES offer a second taste of what’s to come with ‘Drifting’. On the one hand, it’s a slice of quintessential indie, drawing heavily on the sound of the late 80s / early 90s jangle – it would be almost impossible to not mention The Stone Roses by way of a touchstone – but on the other, there’s a lot more going on here than some direct and derivative copy.

The chiming guitars emerge through an atmospheric haze and some samples of dialogue, and soar away on a wash of dreamy shoegaze vibes. The song’s certainly appropriately titled, as it floats along… it’s less about verse/chorus dynamics and hooks than it about the overall sensation, as layered harmonies lift the listener and carries them through hues of golden sun and a sense of time without time. It’s blissed-out and mesmerising, and under four minutes is nowhere near enough.