Tennessee-based 4-piece Lacing first caught our attention last
year, after releasing their majestically dense debut EP, Honey Glow.
Equal parts narcotic sludge and ‘90s nostalgia, Lacing’s sound packs a
distortion-heavy punch that you won’t soon forget.
“Summer” is the lead single from the band’s
forthcoming debut LP, Bummer. Their
crunchy fusion of shoegaze, slowcore and noise pop is irresistible on this
heavy groove. Despite the song’s title, this isn’t an easy-going, sunny tune
for your morning jog on the beach (well, unless epic feedback makes you want to
do cardio). If the intense riffs and shrieking feedback on “Summer” don’t get
your attention, the nuanced and atmospheric moments of great
beauty certainly will. If this strong single is any indication, Bummer will be anything but.
Highly recommended for
lovers of stonergaze, slowcore, sludgy pop, swirling noise, as well as to those
who generally enjoy having their freakin’ faces rocked off with controlled
blasts of raw beauty.
is slated for release in the coming weeks, but no firm date
has been set, so keep your eyes and ears peeled. A forthcoming split with WTSH
faves Lazy Legs (the perfect pairing, no?) is also on the docket for Lacing.
This year’s full-length from noisy Japanese
guitar-pop quartet taffy is
called Nyctophilia. The word means love of darkness, or of night. Many artists
and musicians love the night and feel they do their best creative work in the
wee hours. And for those of us deeply passionate about music, night life—as the
context for so much of live music—is a setting for discovering exciting new
sounds and for transcendent performances we’ll never forget. So nyctophilia is
a sentiment many WTSH readers can no doubt connect with, and Nyctophilia an
album they’ll very much appreciate.
The title of taffy’s immediately preceding release
offers a similar nocturnal allusion. The wonderful coined titular word for this
2015 EP, Darkle, immediately suggests the sparkle—or the allure—of the dark. It
brings to mind things that sparkle in the dark, like stars, fireflies, and
ordinary objects silvered into mystery by moonlight.
Such iridescence is amply present in the sparkling
sound of Nyctophilia, one of the most exciting records of 2017 so far. The
first track, “RunicWade,” opens with complex rhythms, an intricate guitar
ostinato, and a concisely angular bass pronouncement, elements that almost seem
like they could be signaling the commencement of a prog epic. Then Iris’s
clear, simple vocal line begins, providing a perfect contrast to the complexity
behind it, deftly taking command of the strange groove for purposes of pop. The
defining combination that makes this album such an enjoyable and often
surprising ride has been established: Iris’s straightforward, inspired pop
melodies, delivered with simple ease and grace, in partnership with the
surging, luxurious, complex noise of the band’s sound.
Taffy’s history stretches back into 2011; the band
played live in London in December of that year. Debut single “SO LONG”/”in the
fields i lay” was released in February of 2012, followed by debut full-length
Caramel Sunset in May. The following year saw the release of two singles and an
LP called Lixiviate. A collection of B-sides and early material called taffy
plus+++ came out in 2014, while 2015 brought us the Darkle EP, featuring a
remix of “Young Tines” by The Brain Jonestown Massacre that we posted here.
The project’s label home has long been London’s wonderful Club AC30, which has released material by
a number of bands celebrated in this space including Flyying Colours,
Pinkshinyultrablast, Ringo Deathstarr, and Exit Calm. The present lineup
features Iris on vocal and guitar, Asano on lead guitar, Ken on Drums, and
Takeshi on bass. The members prefer not to capitalize the band name, and we
have followed suit here.
We’re very excited to feature the following
conversation with Iris, who, in addition to her vocal and guitar duties, writes
all the songs for the project. Many thanks to manager Hiroaki Hayashi for
arranging this interview.
and when was the band formed?
I gathered my friends who might be interested in
playing the songs I write. Many people have come and gone and I can't quite
remember when this journey began...
you tell us what the band has been working on and what you've got forthcoming
in the near future (new releases, tour, etc.)?
We have just released our latest new album,
Nyctophilia, and are now getting ready for the upcoming UK tour in July.
you consider your music to be part of the current shoegaze/dream pop scene, or
any scene? Defining one's sound by genre can be tiresome, but do you feel that
the band identifies closely with any genre? How do you feel about genres in
music, in a general sense?
A lot of people call us shoegaze, grunge-gaze,
dream pop, psychedelic pop, etc., but I don't really mind what genre we are
called. I think it's all up to the listeners however they take it. We're only
playing and making whatever sounds suit us at the moment, not intending to
categorize anything, so…what comes out from us is the taffy sound. We have bits
of this and that in our sound but the bottom line is, I like to put melodic
song along with it.
In general, it might be better and easier to
understand if your band can be categorized in a certain genre, but personally,
I am proud that taffy can't quite be categorized because, in a way, it means
that we are doing our original sound, the taffy sound.
do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?
As long as they have good melodies, melodic lines
that make me want to sing, I like them. There are so many nice bands and music
that’re hard not to like.
"I'm sure everything I have listened to, even the noises and sounds of everyday life, have influenced my music."
is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular
guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?
Something to create distortion so that the sound
is not too clear, but clear enough to flow. If there are any pedals for that
and two guitars, a bass guitar, and a drum set, we can pretty much make the
There was this one time that we arrived at a venue
in Manchester without any of our gear—I mean none, nothing!—and we borrowed
everything mentioned above and still were able to do a show just like we always
do. That was quite an experience, and taught that it's all about the people who
make the band sound, not the instruments.
Chicago’s premier dream gazers have dropped their self-released album.
With 18 tracks, it runs out to 50 minutes or so and is chock full of great
tunes. The band contacted me about a month ago and asked me to review the
album. I guess they liked the last review I concocted for their Saint Marie
release, so there you have it. I would have gladly reviewed the album anyway,
as it’s a stellar piece of work. Engineered by guitarist and audiophile Brian
Cook in the band’s East Garfield Park studio, it gave Cook lots of time to
obsessively construct complex and carefully conceived sonic layers, some of
which sample other tracks on the album. He even built his own guitar pedals to
create the perfect tone when things weren’t working in his mind. The end result
of a four year wait is this sonic marvel of an album. To say it surpasses their
last record is an understatement. This release is dreamy headphone music that
will send you soaring as its layers unfold and reveal themselves.
Opening track “Aphelion” contains all the classic
shoegaze hallmarks, including distorted guitar patterns, woozy veils of sound,
and Rebecca Scott’s cooing vocals. “Helios (June 20th)” is another classic burn
down the house tune, with guitars reminding me a bit of Smashing Pumpkins on
the main chorus. “Latitudes” is a short, spacey instrumental ambience, and it’s
a lovely interlude.
“Ghosting” is catchy as hell, with luminous vocal
and guitar interplay. Simply wonderful! “Chimera” shimmers and shines like all
the best shoegaze, and its mesmeric wall of sound will entrance even the most
jaded listener. “Double Dream” is edgy and borders on post punk; the downcast
tempo married with murky synthesizer works well. “Arrows” is bright, cheerful
dream pop, and it morphs silkily into the piano driven, minimalist piece
“Parachute”. It’s another melodic break from heavier material, and I find that
I enjoy these interludes. It showcases another side to the band, and indicates
a possible direction for future ventures. “Night Animation” is chiming and
soft, heavenly at its heart and gauzy at its edges. It is floating in the
clouds music. “Parallels” is a ridiculously pretty and trippy short break,
revealing that psychedelia is also not far from the band’s core sound.
The title track “Infinity Maps” is crunchy,
swooning shoegaze that lasts little over a minute! I want more! Beautiful work.
The instrumental “Niagara” is even shorter at 33 seconds and it will snare you
instantly. “New Colors” is splendid ear candy, while “Aurora Shift” is a chilly
synth pop break. The marvelously titled “Glass Cathedrals” is too short at 40
seconds, but thankfully it merges into the less ephemeral and solid “Gold
Lines”. It’s another entrancing tune, with guitars that will dash away any
foggy thoughts. “Otherside” dips into vintage dream pop a la Beach House, and
then the record shuts down with 55 seconds of psychedelic noodling and sweet
crooning from Rebecca on “Magic Numbers”. It’s a shorter record than I would
have liked, and while I really enjoyed the shorter songs, I could have also
used longer, more substantive tunes. The group has done a fine job with this
record, and it’s sure to please old fans and new fans just exploring the
shoegaze and dream pop genres. Well done!