you resource for all things shoegaze & dream pop.

you resource for all things shoegaze & dream pop.

21 June 2017

TONIGHT! When The Sun Hits on DKFM. Stream live @ 10pm EST/9pm CST.

TONIGHT!
When The Sun Hits airs on DKFM 

Stream it live
10pm EST | 9pm CST | 7pm PST

EXCLUSIVE TRACK PREMIERE: Lacing | Summer.


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.


Bummer 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. 
 

19 June 2017

INTERVIEW: Iris of taffy.


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.


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How 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...

Can 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.

Do 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.

What 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."


What 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 taffy sound.

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.

14 June 2017

09 June 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Panda Riot | Infinity Maps.

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!