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22 February 2019

INTERVIEW: Colourway.

Fredericksberg, Virginia based Colourway is a relatively nascent project, as far as releases are concerned. A debut EP, Coming Undone, came out in October 2o18, and a follow up EP, Seed, emerged in December 2018. In this short span of time, Colourway has made a big impression on us. Happenstance brought us to Colourway’s Bandcamp page when Coming Undone was released, and frankly, we haven’t stopped listening since. The heavy, expansive squalls of guitar and catchy songwriting sound as though they’re being transmitted directly from the sludgy, downtempo heaven of our dreams. There’s a touch of 90s grunge around the edges, but don’t let that throwback tag limit your imagination – there’s a lot more going on here. Colourway’s melodic song structures are also the perfect backdrop for some seriously anthemic lyrics – the sort that beg to be sung along with in the privacy of your car or bedroom. Do enjoy getting to know more about this excellent new project in the interview below. We can’t wait to hear what Colourway drops next.

How and when was the band formed?
Colourway was an idea I had back in 2016. I didn’t have a particular sound in mind, but rather the idea to make music that moved me, that flowed and put it out as a project that had no deadlines or limits. I wanted to be able to write, record and release music at my own pace. I didn’t want the project to be hinged on the image of the band or the social media presence of the band. I just want to put out music and if people like it and want to listen then that’s fantastic.

Can you tell us what the band has been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (any new releases, tour, etc.)?
I am always working on music and running ideas and riffs through my head. There are no plans to tour or perform live any time soon. I have been jamming a couple of the songs with a few friends but there are no plans as of now for that aspect. I’d love to eventually play lives shows here and there. The plan is to keep writing, recording, and making releases.

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?
So I actually had never heard of shoegaze or dream pop until I started releasing little clips of videos and songs on the Colourway Instagram page. People would post things like “shoegaze revival” and shoegaze related comments so I obviously wanted to check it out and see what people were referring to. I’m happy to be associated with shoegaze or dream pop if that is what people feel Colourway relates to. I like a lot of what I’ve heard from those genres. In general, I think genres are good and bad. It helps us more quickly identify what like and dislike as consumers of art. At the same time that can keep us from experiencing new forms of art. I’m proof of this. I would have never heard of shoegaze if not for people telling me that’s essentially what I was writing. I also think being associated with a genre can lead artists to box themselves in and not stretch the creative muscles enough. For this reason, I probably still won’t listen to a whole lot of shoegaze and dream pop because I know that I will start subconsciously reaching for that sound.

What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?
I love it. I love that these genres seem largely untouched by modern over-production or commercialization. These seem like genres that have maintained their truth. I really appreciate that. I have been enjoying “sleeping in”. “Wither” is sick.

What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?
I’d have to say Garageband. The Garageband that came on my Macbook Air is what I use for recording, mixing, and mastering. I think it works well for now so I’ll be relying on that unless something else starts working better for me. I don’t want to give away too many of my secrets but my recording set up total costs me less than ~$600. I just stick with what works.

What is your process for recording your music? What gear and/or software do you use? What would you recommend for others?
My process usually starts with a small piece of a song, whether that be a riff, a lyric, a melody, etc., and then I just start building off of that. I try not to overthink the song. Like I said before, it has to just flow and move me. Once I have most of a song written and recorded I take it on a drive and test the drivability. If you can’t drive to a song then it might be missing something. I love songs that are driving songs. I think the newer song I’ve put out called “Sinking // Burning” is such a drivable song. Try it out.

As far as my software and gear; I use Garageband almost exclusively. I use a $200 interface that comes with emulation software. That’s all I wanna say. My mic is a Perception. It’s a cheap one. Maybe like $200. I also have some used monitors I bought from a friend like 7 years ago for about $150. I think they are BX5? My advice to someone when it comes to music in general, especially recording and writing, would be to just keep it simple. If you feel like you’re trying too hard, stop and reevaluate.

When it comes to label releases versus DIY/Bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any?
I’ve always believed that if you can get some financial backing, management and promotional help, all of which is allowing you to focus more on your music, then I see nothing wrong with that. I don’t care what anyone says, if you can make a living playing music then why would you not want to do that. I do see problems with losing your integrity as an artist. Don’t do that. That is not worth the money.

Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or mp3 format when listening to music? Do you have any strong feelings toward any of them?
I am fully invested in the mp3 and streaming life. I love Spotify. I do have a small selection of vinyl and a sweet record player that I definitely appreciate. I reserve my vinyl selection to my very favorite bands. I have a few from Dawes, Radiohead, and Gleemer that I cherish and listen to.

What artists (musicians or otherwise) have most influenced your work?
I’d say I get a large influence from attitudes and feelings associated with music. I get a lot of the darker aspects of my music from hardcore and death metal. If I had to name a band or two I’d point out Deftones, Radiohead, Superheaven, Gatecreeper, and Behemoth.

What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?
My biggest philosophy on life is to make as little impact on others lives as possible. I don’t want to bother anyone or get in anyone else’s way. Life is so hard and I don’t want to make it harder on anyone else. Like, I want to be a shadow in everyday life; existing but not really noticed.

I also try not to have expectations. I think it is unfair to expect anyone to live up to a standard that you have manifested in your own mind. Everyone is doing the best they know how to do and I believe that is okay.

NEW SINGLE: XO | Open Your Heart.

Los Angeles trio XO’s new single “Open Your Heart” can only be classified as jangly, noise pop perfection. The song is taken from their forthcoming sophomore LP, Wonder, which is set for release on April 19. It’s been five years since the band’s debut LP, the beguiling and much-beloved Heart, so it should go without saying that this release is highly anticipated. Pre-orders for the album are now being taken, so head over to XO’s Bandcamp page and set yourself up with a limited-edition cassette or a digital copy. While you’re there, grab one of the freshly printed T-shirts – they’re going to go fast.  

15 February 2019

WTSH Exclusive Single Premiere: Astragal | Moderne Luxury.

Photo by Disha Khakheria.
Astragal, based in Houston, Texas, offers songs with classic post punk bones fleshed over with shoegaze textures. Guitarist and singer Jimmy Bent’s voice and performance combine with production approach to result in a distinctive vocal sound, a space from which, in the trio’s new single “Moderne Luxury”, Bent projects both anguish (among other tones of emotion) and delicacy while keeping the hooks on board. The opportunity to give this track its official web premiere—closely following its broadcast premiere on the most recent episode of "When the Sun Hits" on DKFM Shoegaze Radio—truly makes us smile.

“Moderne Luxury” will appear on the band’s second EP, EP II, which drops as a digital release on March 1, 2019. The label, Houston’s Wallflower Records, is fast becoming a WTSH favorite. Expect more about Astragal and Wallflower here in the coming weeks.

04 February 2019

WTSH Exclusive Video/Single Premiere: Spotlight Kid | Shivers directed by Christian Davis.

For WTSH, a new Spotlight Kid release is a big deal. In our eyes the Nottingham, England quintet has played a leading role in the resurgence of shoegaze—if not in terms of massive renown, then for quality and sheer perfection of the genre. It’s been a very long time since the band’s last full-length, Ten Thousand Hours, came out on Saint Marie Records in 2014. So of course we’re thrilled—not just to premiere a new Spotlight Kid track and video, but also by the news that the single in question, the utterly lovely “Shivers”, will feature on a forthcoming digital EP release, the first of a series of three EPs to be collected in a vinyl edition in the fall.

The clip for “Shivers” was directed by the project’s drummer, Christian Davis. “When I’m not drumming,” Christian tells us, “I like to make films, music videos and documentaries. The video for ‘Shivers’ had been in my mind for a while. It was originally part of a short portmanteau horror film script that was gathering dust. I always think a great way to get things moving is to turn basic short film ideas into music videos, giving you the limitations to condense every idea into four minutes or so.

“With limited time and budget,” Christian continues, “I gathered together my longtime friend and stand-up comedian Duncan Oakley, his son, my son and five of their friends, a mountain of snacks, a drone and a pocket camera and we headed into the freezing January countryside for a day of filming. With the TV series Black Mirror and The League Of Gentlemen very much in my mind, we battled the cold conditions and the gloomy light and managed to put this together in about six hours—with one small interruption while I explained to the land owner of the private property we had stumbled on what we were doing! (She was very accommodating as it happens.) I hope this is the start of a trilogy of videos that will accompany the next two singles as well as 'Shivers'.”

A three-track EP led by “Shivers” will become available February 15th on Spotlight Kid’s Bandcamp page, while “Shivers” itself will also placed as a single across other platforms.

31 January 2019

Single Premiere: LLOLLYANNA | Goodbye Roby.

WTSH is especially pleased to offer this exclusive premiere of “Goodbye Roby”, the latest single from the somewhat cryptic New York City venture LLOLLYANNA. This project first crossed our radar by way of December’s ingenious “Down by Design”. Like its predecessor, “Goodbye Roby” takes various ‘gaze values—distortion, reverb, haze—and pushes them, as one might say, “up to eleven.” In the resulting sonic mayhem, a barbed guitar line provides canvas for catchy, pretty pop melodies while boomed arpeggios and thunderous percussion shake the sock-hop dance floor to a point just short of rupture and collapse. It’s a veritable pop storm, or perhaps a pop quake: if we were a pinball machine, we’d be crying “TILT!”, but in a good way.

The artist lets us in on the fact that “Goodbye Roby” takes inspiration from the Dion classic “Runaround Sue”. “Demo versions had lots of ‘Hey hey bum day day day day hey heys,’” he tells us. “I took them out because they never mixed right. But basically that’s it. A Dion song that would rip your head off.” Some of the melodies remind us of The Beach Boys, an influence the artist also acknowledges. “Goodbye Roby” will lead off an upcoming EP called Tarot Waltz. More on LLOLLYANNA very soon.

25 January 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Swervedriver | Future Ruins. Reviewed by Elizabeth Klisiewicz.

It’s so great to have a new Swervedriver album, Future Ruins, released today on Dangerbird Records. It’s like the Yule season has been extended for another round of gifts, and Adam Franklin and his bandmates have crafted another terrific record. It’s chock full of gorgeous hazy melodies and exquisite guitar lines courtesy of Franklin and his partner in crime, Jimmy Hartridge. These guys just keeping popping songs out of sterling quality, making it look dead simple when we know it’s not. I had the great privilege of seeing them perform on their last tour, and can only say that you owe it to yourself to get out there and see them on their upcoming tour. If this record is any indication, those live shows are going to be immense. 

So what of the album? Well, it’s magical and stirring. It puts me in a headspace removed from the current stream of time. I don’t really know how to explain it. The opening track “Mary Winter” just crushes it, I really dig the opening salvo of drums, bass, and guitar. It flows into a majestic melody with some trippy vocal lines. I find myself listening to it on repeat, and it mesmerizes me every time. It’s not a joyful song in the least. It reeks of escapism and outer space and offers bleak thoughts like, ‘Been floatin’ out here so long, And you know I'm not coming down, With planet earth long gone’. I cannot help but think at the rate we are destroying the planet, there will be nothing left within a hundred years. As I said, not a happy tune, but a startlingly beautiful one.


The follow up tune “The Lonely Crowd Fades in the Air” is stunning, and my favorite of this set. The opening guitars mesh tightly before the rhythm section kicks in and the song blasts off with a massive hook that will swallow you whole. As their press release notes, it sounds like an elegy, perhaps a sad tribute to days gone by as Franklin emotes, ‘Choose your colors wisely/Because things ain’t the same as in days gone by’. Just gorgeous through and through. The title track is slower and ominous, and could easily be talking about the state of affairs in the US or the UK: ‘We are ruled by fools/These are future ruins/That the king is insane/Is now old news.’ I like the pensive, somber overtones and the shimmering organ washing through the mix. Terrific, but rather despondent.


“Theeascending” mixes spaced out sonics with a somewhat upbeat melody, but when you dig in a bit, you realize nothing is as it seems. “Drone Lover” predates the last album and is a comment on the depersonalized nature of 21st century techno-warfare. It has the requisite elements we all love about Swervedriver: sharp observations and excellent melodies. “Spiked Flower” is an unexpected treat, a psych pop tune with a light, airy feel. Definitely one of my picks for the top song on this record. “Everybody’s Going Somewhere and No One’s Going Anywhere’ is spoken words coupled with a spaced-out backdrop and some lovely keyboard. “Golden Remedy’ is not as immediately gratifying as earlier songs, but stick with it and you’ll appreciate its intricate song structure and how deftly all the instruments are woven into the mix.


“Good Times Are So Hard To Follow” is another fine song with beautiful instrumental passages, while the final “Radio-Silent” meanders out to seven minutes and could perhaps use some editing. It’s certainly pretty, but not as concise or hard-hitting as some of the other songs. In summary, this is a great record from a long-time favorite group of mine and is well worth picking up.