27 February 2011
25 February 2011
"When we started I wasn't the singer. I was the drunk rhythm guitarist who wrote all these weird songs."
This particular guest writer is a certain Josh Davis, who hails from Milwaukee. He has written one piece for us before, reviewing the incredible Implodes cassette (read Josh's review HERE). Not only does he have excellent taste, he's also a musician, an eloquent and concise writer, and has been known in the past to answer to the mysterious name of The Fucking Wizard.
Below, Josh reviews //orangenoise's massive //veracious EP. We all unanimously agree that //veracious kicks all kinds of arse, and hope you'll enjoy reading Josh's take on the EP (for those interested, we also recently interviewed Talha Asim Wynne, of //orangenoise, which you can read HERE). The review follows bellow. Keep gazing.
Guest Writer: Josh Davis.
I'm always fascinated by a band's influences, and the effect it has on them, and me. Maybe it's from growing up reading rock criticism, who knows. I always like to know what a band listens to, though, and how they think it figures into their music. Culture isn't a vacuum, after all, and everything comes from something else.
Sometimes, a band manages to combine their influences into something that they've never heard, but that the listener feels they recognize. This is nothing new, of course. I remember asking Rose from Poster Children if the first record by their side project, Salaryman, was influenced by the mighty David Byrne and Brian Eno record, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. She denied any influence, and mentioned a kid who swore up and down that Pkids sounded exactly like the Sex Pistols. And the group of high schoolers we played with in Sacramento, years ago, that sounded like a less-dramatic Shudder To Think. They said they listened to Primus, mostly.
//orangenoise list a number of influences on their Facebook page, and guitarist Talha Asim Wynne shared even more of them in an interview on this very site. Very little of the list is what you'd expect to produce a perfect, twenty-years-lost-sounding British shoegaze EP. But that is exactly what they've done, with their debut //veracious.
Opener "Rabblerouser" brings a modern touch to a My Vitriol-esque song with burbling drum machine textures in the verses. "Trust" sinks the vocals into a drone stew, with a vaguely Indian feel, but busts out with a thudding 6/4 part. Rather proggy, and not in a bad way. "Veradicine" is a lovely slow drifter that reminds me of an old favorite, Canadian band Mean Red Spiders. And "On the Run" veers away from shoegaze, instead evoking the vocals of one of //orangenoise's explicit influences, Pink Floyd. Except it sounds as if Roger Waters is sitting in with Tsunami!
And then, finally, the masterpiece of this excellent record begins with a sound, to my ears, almost identical to "Slow" by My Bloody Valentine. Nothing wrong with that, of course. But in the midst of the first verse, the drums kick in. Not with the inexact snare rolls of Colm O'Ciosoig, but a perfect baggy beat straight out of the Stone Roses catalog! I'm assuming someone actually did this twenty years ago, and I missed it. It's too perfect of a combination not to have already been done.
Or is it? Yes, kids, the ecstasy has kicked in again...this is "I Know Everything," and it makes me desperately desire more. But that's where it ends, for now.
It's a towering achievement, particularly for a debut record. The touchstones I've used here may be older, but this isn't some retro tripe. The sound is warm and modern. Don't believe me? Well, you don't have to take my word for it.
Just point your browser at their bandcamp page, and download this record. It's free! Go ahead, do it now. There should be absolutely nothing to stop you. It's the first best shoegaze record of 2011, and I can't wait to hear what they do next. Oh! They've already put something else up?
For Free Download of //orangenoise's //veracious EP
19 February 2011
When The Sun Hits is extremely excited to bring you the second edition of our exclusive Record Label Spotlight series; our maiden voyage was taken with the psychedelia-drenched sounds emanating from Northern Star Records, which was essentially awesome and if you missed it, you should go read it and absorb it immediately. This new Spotlight focuses on a label that has released some of my favorite pieces of vinyl in my collection and is home to several bands that this blog adores: Custom Made Music.
Record Label Spotlights include an interview with the label, tons of information about the bands on the label (including in depth spotlights on 5 bands on the label), videos, links, photos, resources, and a FREE downloadable mini sampler put together exclusively for When The Sun Hits readers by the record label (downloads are in mp3 format). In short: It's a win.
Record Label Spotlight:
Custom Made Music.
From there, I noticed they were releasing other music from essentially all of my favorite bands at the time: There was a Ceremony/Screen Vinyl Image split LP (see left; yes, of course I had to procure that one from CMM as well), for instance (by the way - a split with those bands? Best idea ever), plus other SVI stuff and other interesting things. Custom Made Music also represents more When The Sun Hits faves like Ringo Deathstarr, Stellarium, Dead Leaf Echo, and The Sky Drops, to name a few (check their website for more info by clicking HERE). CMM's vinyl releases are always unique, collectible and high quality, packaging-wise. I've consistently admired and been impressed with CMM's output since the beginning, and the label just keeps getting better with time. Support this label.
Dave Allison of Custom Made Music.
Well, it's a really long story but Custom Made Music officially started in Fall of 2007. However, I've been making and distributing records for over 20 years. Back around '88 or '89 I was in a band in high school and we'd make demos on our 4 tracks and sell them at school.
A bunch of our friends' bands where releasing tapes too, so I got the idea to make a tape that had our entire demo on one side and 1 song each by all our friends' bands. We'd trade them around and lots of people would get to find out about new bands and everyone's shows got better turnouts and people made more friends.
Once I purchased a few fanzines from other parts of the country, I realized bands had been doing this all over the world for years, so I started writing people and making friends. I started trading tapes through the mail in other states and countries. Eventually I came across a New York area punk band called Sound Bite House who had a deal where if you called a number in their ad and left your name and address on their answering machine they would send you a 7" for free. I made friends with them and they eventually decided to send me a bunch of copies of their 7" to give out in Virginia.
Soon I was meeting and writing with more and more bands who where looking to get their records distributed. That's when I started buying and trading for tapes and records to sell at shows. By 1994 I was able to start helping bands press records and then it just went from there. In 2004 I took a break from releasing records to be the booker of a venue. Then in 2007 I had been helping out with a record store here in town, stocking used vinyl and booking shows in several local venues. I soon found that I really missed being a part of putting out records, so I started up Custom Made Music and by the end of 2007 I had released three 7" records and it's been growing ever since.
2. Would you consider Custom Made Music to be a shoegaze and/or dream pop oriented record label?
Well, I'd say many of the bands that we work with are heavily influenced by the shoegaze and dream pop genre. However, we are not specifically a shoegaze label. I'm a huge fan of stripped down garage rock and punk rock n roll and we've released several records by bands more influenced by stuff like The Stooges and The MC5 recently, as well as the shoegaze influenced releases. So yes, the shoegaze sound is certainly a part of CMM but we are fans of all types of music and are open to releasing anything that we find inspiring.
3. How do you choose the bands that are to be represented by your label? Is there a specific sound you are looking for?
I have to be really inspired by what the band is doing to want to put it out. When I see a band for the first time or when I first hear a band's recording, I usually decide if I like it by what type of thoughts and visions I come up with in my head as a result of what they are playing. That's really how I get into music. For me, music is something that takes me to another place. It's always been that way, since I was 5 or 6 years old. So first thing's first: I need to have that type of inspiration from the band. There is honestly no specific sound that I'm looking for other than I want to be inspired by what I hear.
4. Who are the 5 most recent shoegaze/dream pop acts to be represented by Custom Made Music?
The Sky Drops, Screen Vinyl Image, Pete International Airport, Dead Leaf Echo and Ceremony!
5. What do you think of the modern shoegaze/dream pop scene?
I enjoy it. I really love being exposed to more and more bands across the globe. I think what I enjoy most about it is the connection between so many underground genres that are intertwining with each other. You have bands meshing together the sounds of psych rock, shoegaze, noise pop, dream pop, goth, electro, drone rock and so on. It's great to have so many bands networking and playing shows together and making things grow. I am particularly happy to see that the lines are being blurred together more and more in recent years, as far as all of these little sub genres go. When I first got into underground music as a kid, it seemed like music was not as genre specific as much as an overall common feeling and attitude in the music and that's a direction I'm happy to see things moving back into.
6. Are there any other shoegaze/dream pop record labels (old or new) that you admire?
Creation and 4AD are obviously huge influences and labels that I greatly admire. When I was in high school in the late 80's my friends and I couldn't wait for the next thing those labels were going to release. In more recent years, I think Elephant Stone Records was putting out some great stuff with bands like Alcian Blue, Smashing Orange and others. Northern Star Records (hey, we know them!) are also a top notch label and I've really enjoyed the compilations they have put out in recent years!
7. Can you tell us a little bit about what's currently going on with Custom Made Music (new releases, new bands signed, tours, etc)?
There will be two new Screen Vinyl Image releases coming out very soon. One is a new 12" single for the song "Too Much Speed" and the other is a split 7" with the electronic artist Rude 66. We are also releasing a new 5 song EP from The Sky Drops, a split LP with Ceremony & Stellarium, a split 7" from my band (Last Remaining Pinnacle) and our friends Pan Galactic Straw Boss, and then the new Screen Vinyl Image album will come out later on this year. 2011 is going to be very busy for CMM and we're really excited about all the new stuff we have coming out!
8. What is your ultimate goal for Custom Made Music?
My goal is to continue to release records by bands that I enjoy and get it into the hands and to the ears of people that will also enjoy it. I've always been fascinated by reaching people through music and communicating with others all over the world about new sounds and new bands. I'm in the process of expanding the mail order part of CMM to include a catalog that contains non CMM releases, so we can help distribute a lot of other bands that we like. I really look forward to building that up. Each year CMM has grown and evolved and my goal is simply to keep doing that to the fullest extent.
9. What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?
I personally live to create and to contribute to the things that I enjoy! My philosophy on life is basically to do what you want to do as long as you're not hurting others in the process.
5 Custom Made Music Acts You Need To Know.
Ceremony consists of two members: Paul Baker and John Fedowitz. If you haven't heard Ceremony's music before, the fact that they are only a duo is almost hard to believe, considering the glorious (and gorgeous) cacophony they create. But then, these guys are masters at what they do; before starting Ceremony, they were both members of the highly lauded but now defunct Skywave (a band that also included Oliver Ackermann, currently of A Place To Bury Strangers, and the mastermind behind the effects pedal company Death By Audio). Ceremony is, without a doubt, one of the most talented and beloved contemporary shoegaze acts currently creating music. If you haven't heard their 2010 LP Rocket Fire yet, well, that's just criminal! It is beyond excellent (as is their entire back catalog), and certainly tops this blog's list for one of the best releases of 2010. (Read WTSH's interview with Ceremony HERE.)
The Sky Drops.
The Sky Drops are Rob Montejo and Monika Bullette, a duo based in Delaware, and their amazing sound is often described as "gaze-grunge". After releasing the impressive Clouds of People EP in 2006 and the even more captivating full length, Bourgeois Beat, in 2009, these guys have created quite a buzz about themselves in the shoegaze and dream pop scene. With another EP on the way in the Spring of 2011, The Sky Drops are sure to capture the hearts of even more fans; When The Sun Hits is most certainly looking forward to that release with great anticipation.
If you are thinking that the name Rob Montejo sounds familiar, you'd be right, as he was one of the guitarists of the classic gazer band from the early 90's called Smashing Orange - a shoegaze band that rocked harder than most, and that had a fabulous 60's psychedelic edge that other bands of the time simply couldn't touch. Legendary stuff. (Click HERE to read our interview with Rob Montejo.)
The Sky Drops. Long Way.
Stellarium is a four piece shoegaze/noise band from South East Asia, who's super fuzzed out, feedback laden sound is unforgettable once you get an earful. With one excellent full length self titled LP under their belt and a split 12" LP with Ceremony coming soon (to be released on Custom Made Music), Stellarium have already made quite the name for themselves in the realm of shoegazers and noisemakers alike. Their LastFm page states that the band members are "well-equipped to unleash a blissfully edgy assault on the senses...they might just want to melt your face." This is pretty much the best description of this (or maybe any?) band ever. And since I've heard their records, I know this isn't that much of an exaggeration. In short: they rule. (Read our interview with Az Kadir of Stellarium HERE.)
Dead Leaf Echo.
Dead Leaf Echo is a 4 piece from Brooklyn. The band recently released a 7” entitled Half-Truth (October 2010) on Custom Made Music, which featured an unreleased B-Side. Another release by the band was the excellent Truth (October 12th, 2010 (2&1 Records). It was mixed by legendary 4AD producer John Fryer (NIN, Depeche Mode, Cocteau Twins); that in itself is a major accomplishment. Impressively, the band also has regular opening slots for Ulrich Schnauss, and A Place to Bury Strangers. Recently, Dead Leaf Echo opened for legendary gazers Chapterhouse.
Atmospheric and moody soundscapes are only two of the many melodic textures Dead Leaf Echo incorporate into their music. They have been called highly textural. And they do it the way it's supposed to be done, which is as refreshing as it is hypnotic. This adeptness of multi-textural soundscapes, paired with LG's meandering and shimmering vocals, make for some intense and and clever music.
Dead Leaf Echo. Half Truth.
Screen Vinyl Image.
When The Sun Hits has been supporting this amazing band since the blog was born; and years before that, too. They are one of the most exciting bands creating music right now, in our opinion. (Click HERE to read our interview with the band). The band is based in Virginia, and their sound has been described as "a blend of electronica, psychedelia and intense sonic soundscapes...heavy sampling, Blade Runner-era synths", along with echoing guitars and vocals are the band's modus operandi, ranging from the darkest moments of Suicide & The Jesus and Mary Chain to the deep grooves of early Hank Shocklee productions, dub, and Can era kraut. If you are thinking this sounds amazing, you are correct.
Screen Vinyl Image features ex-members of the Washington DC shoegaze outfit Alcian Blue, who have also played in and with Ceremony and Skywave. (Also mastered the Disappear record by Ceremony). And if all of this wasn't enough, the two also run a record label called Safranin Sound - a must check out.
Screen Vinyl Image. Slipping Away.
Custom Made Music Mini Sampler.
(band name/song title)
1. Pan Galactic Straw Boss. Dialogue Between a Priest and a Dying Man.
2. The Sky Drops. Explain It to Me.
3. Last Remaining Pinnacle. Students of the V.U.
4. Pete International Airport. 21 days.
5. The Sky Parade. I Should Be Coming Up.
16 February 2011
Hot on the heels of one of When The Sun Hits top LPs of 2010 (see full list HERE), Keith Canisius' This Time It's Our High, comes a brand new release from him, which is already available now. This. Is. Awesome. News.
The Oceanic Voyage is the first in a series of experimental digital albums Keith Canisius plans to release.
1. How was band formed? How did you meet Courtney (Taylor-Taylor) and the guys?
Courtney and I had a mutual friend who worked at the Vancouver, WA Starbucks with me. I had expressed interest in being in a band, though I had absolutely no musical experience, somehow this guy thought I would be a good fit for Courtney's band. We met up about 6 months later (at another Starbucks, ironically enough).
The Dandy Warhols. Get Off.
It was very ragtag like a bunch of music orphans clinging together to keep warm. Grunge was getting old and it was time for something new. Time for a moody lighting and vintage suits, time for psychedelic lounge music that's good for making out and taking drugs.
Now it's like Austin or any medium size hip city with lots of clubs, lots of bands in sub genres and niches, but still a great place to live and be a musician.
3. Where did the name The Dandy Warhols come from?
You see, there's this artist name Andy Warhol, who had this cool space called The Factory, with this cool scene of fuck ups... (Laughter. Yeah, not exactly rocket science to figure that one out, we suppose...)
My biggest influences have always been my dad's record collection, my band mates and marijuana.
5. When did you start playing keyboard? Do you play any other instrument(s) as well?
I started playing keyboard the day I joined The Dandy Warhols. I'm learning how to sing and play guitar.
6. Tell us a little about what you are currently into (bands, books, films, etc)?
Films - documentaries mostly.
Books - I haven't been reading a ton lately, mostly Wired magazine, but I do love vintage sci-fi.
The Dandy Warhols. Nietzsche.
7. What sort of set up/gear do you use? What is the most important piece of gear for your sound (i.e. pedals, keyboard, guitars, drums, etc.)?
Most important piece of gear, without a doubt, is my Korg MS20, which is my vintage synth that I play all my bass parts on and plenty of other sick ass sounds.
I have a custom made bass cabinet that I also love very much. Oh and my Moog Voyager is super important, and my line 6 delay pedals too.
8. How do you guys write? Do you each bring in finished work, or do you write as a full band?
Courtney has written the vast majority of the music with us fleshing it out in rehearsals or the studio.
This current album however is all over the place, with all of us writing in all kinds of combinations. I'm very curious to see what comes of it.
9. What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop artists? Who are your favorite new shoegaze bands, if any?
Does Pete International Airport fit into that category? (I would say hell yes!~Danny)
If so, I guess he would be my favorite.
10. Have you ran into much chauvinism in the rock world? If so, how do you handle it?
I ignore that shit.
The Dandy Warhols. Nothin' to Do.
Being in any band (any intimate relationship can be hard) but I don't feel being the only girl made it harder. I'm pretty sure an all girl band would be the hardest for me....
12. Do you feel like you guys were represented fairly in the award winning rock documentary DiG?
I don't think fair is the right word. It's a story told from the view point of the film maker. Lots of stuff is missing but I still think it's pretty cool that it exists. It's just a shame that it's less about music and more about exaggerated drama.
Yes we are, as close as we can be with him in Berlin. I often think of a day in the future when we can do a world tour together.
14. What was the impetus for recording a version of The Runaways classic "Cherry Bomb"? Is there a release date yet?
We got asked by whoever it is that is putting the tribute album together, I love that we got asked to do "Cherry Bomb". Such an honor.
We haven't had any shows this year. :) (Zia started this interview in 2010)
But I know you've been waiting since last year for me to do this interview so I'll think back to 2010. We had very few stinkers last year. All the tours were a total blast and we're very much looking forward to getting our next album done and hitting the road again.
Our goal is to finish recording by end of March. Cross your fingers!
Post Script: Thanks so much, Zia!
15 February 2011
You will meet all the guest writers soon enough, but first up is Anas al-Horani, who resides in Amman, Jordan. Not only does Anas have a keen ear for great gaze, but he's also one of the smartest and coolest people we know. Welcome to When The Sun Hits, Anas!
Review by: Anas al-Horani.
Album Rating: (4 out of 5)
Artist: Secret Shine.
Album: The Beginning and the End.
Release Date: Dec. 25, 2010.
Label: Self Released.
Secret Shine’s latest effort, The Beginning and the End, is a good one. (Readers: How good, you ask?) It’s so good that this record could actually be called The Good Secret Shine Record. No, though what I’m saying might carry some hints of sarcasm, I want you to take the review seriously. This is everything you’d expect from a Secret Shine record, all in equally good measures. It’s not a flawless record however (this LP could not be called The Great Secret Shine Record) but its flaws are easily dismissible amid the overflow of recurring magnificence.
Subtlety was never Secret Shine’s strong point. The lead singer, Scott Purnell (read WTSH's interview with Scott Purnell HERE) even played in the Sarah Record’s 1995 farewell party in a handmade t-shirt reading “My Bloody Secret Shine”. It was a time when almost every relatively unknown band sailed right through the winds of the obscure and almost-unlistenable Shoegaze genre (yes, My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything was thought to be “borderline unlistenable” according to some mainstream reviewers, alas). Bands like The Field Mice picked up on shoegaze and dance music both, creating their own saccharine sound, while bands such as Lilys and Secret Shine attempted to turn the heavy fuzz of washed out noise and reverb into something slightly more listenable and approachable, not to the loyal fans of noisy, messy shoegaze necessarily, but to – well – the misunderstanding majority who thought that shoegaze was just another pretentious art-rock fad. Creating such a melodic mix of chaos and noise was a relatively novel idea at the time, and Secret Shine (along with Lilys) were amongst the first bands to take the first step in creating what is now known as “nu-gaze”.
In 1996, three years after they released their first album, Untouched, Secret Shine disappeared… In 2004, the band’s drummer, Tim Morris died. The band got back together again and recorded the 8-song, acoustic Morris album, which was lovely but unremarkable.
In 2008, they released All Of The Stars. By the time All Of The Stars was released, I’m sure most of the fans were delighted to hear again of a band they almost forgot existed, and the even more loyal ones had a what-the-hell moment when they actually heard the album. No, it wasn’t bad, far from that actually - but it was as if Secret Shine had been embalmed since 1996 and were brought to life in 2008. Their music was the same as ever. The same My Bloody Valentine plus Slowdive mix, with doses of fine songwriting and (many) original hooks here and there, but it was somewhat off-putting, I have to admit. As if their music was in a state of permanent paralysis.
In 2010, however, The Beginning And The End was released.
When I first listened to this album my thoughts were scattered, almost in a haiku fashion. The opening track, "In Between", follows the familiar track of heavy-synth-ridden shoegaze and an exquisite assault of loud guitars and drums, followed by equally charming but slower in pace "Perfect Life", which tells the story of a car-crash survivor, but one would swear the song’s meanings are way more universal than that. The album slows down, heavy on electronics and walls of noise, and the record is already sinking comfortably into your consciousness.
Secret Shine. Perfect Life.
"Run Around", though, is one of the album’s weaker moments, a try on something similar to MBV’s "Lose My Breath" in fashion, albeit the heavy electronics and the overly pronounced sound. "No More Inside" is a smart take on My Bloody Valentine’s minor key arrangements of "Empty Inside" (A friend of mine even called the similarity ‘scary’ – though it really isn’t. It’s simply smart); powerfully and effectively, the drums have the key role in riding this song through 3:50 minutes of bliss. "Harry" is a musical interlude that is both lazy and dismissible, followed by magnificent "Hole In The Heart", one of the best and most uplifting Secret Shine moments yet, along with the following "Windmill Hill", which is enigmatic yet surprisingly consistent.
Secret Shine. Every Thought.
But allow me to linger on the record’s faults, might it justify my rating and my harsh commentary on "Run Around" and "Harry".
In both "Run Around" and "Harry" the sound is so inflated and over-bloated that you can almost hear every instrument at work. In an art genre known for solemn subtlety (which My Bloody Valentine mastered on the other hand), this can be a very grave mistake, especially if every sound gesture seems to become a lecture, forcing its sleek production unto your ears. And before you yell ‘Capitalism made me do it!’ let me assure you that this technique works perfectly well in faster moments such as "No More Inside" and the opening track, "In Between", and it is exactly what makes this record the special one it is. However, on the final two closing tracks, "Touching Nothing" and "Trying To Catch The End" which are as close to pop as shoegaze can be, it falls short, sounding too slow, too derivative (I can almost swear that Neil Halstead of Slowdive was the one playing guitar on "Touching Nothing") … and too precious.
As I said earlier, this is not a bad album at all. It’s actually a very good and recommendable one. This is everything you’d expect from a shoegaze record, and a Secret Shine one to be specific. However, it’s a further proof to me that Secret Shine are way better when they play faster, and that they should definitely reconsider their production values.