you resource for all things shoegaze & dream pop.

30 September 2010

Video: The Telescopes. Never Learn Not To Love You.

Interview: The Vacant Lots.

The Vacant Lots are Jared Artaud and Brian Macfadyen, a Burlington, Vermont duo making some of the coolest psychedelia-tinged gaze being released today. Having only gotten their start in 2008, they have already released 3 albums, the most recent being the very excellent Hypnotized (read Danny's recent review of it here), and have toured with an impressive roster of musicians such as Dean & Britta, Spectrum and The Fiery Furnaces. We expect more big things from this band in the future! Enjoy the interview, and definitely check out The Vacant Lots' newest effort and their back catalog. You won't regret it.

1. Can you tell us what you've been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future ?

We just put out our 3rd album, Hypnotized, and toured supporting Sonic Boom's Spectrum earlier this year. Right now - I am doing a lot of writing and working on a new album.

2. What is the most important piece of gear for your sound?

It's hard to think of one as being most important. It's not just one thing but how all the elements come together. Some nights the drums are played standing up, sometimes sitting down. Some nights I use a 12 string. I don't use any effect pedals, so for me the natural sound of the guitar and vibrato (speed and intensity) and the heart-beat drumming combined with the drone box, vocals, and live projections, it's more about the synthesis of all the pieces.

3. What artists have most influenced your work?

Lately, I have been listening to the new music of Double Feature Records. Particularly, Cheval Sombre and Dean & Britta. I really like what Dean & Britta are doing with 13 Most Beautiful. It's like a marriage of film and rock 'n' roll. When going to see the performance it's also like going to a movie theater. I think the songs and screen tests work well together. I wonder if Warhol would have ever made a movie of all his screen tests? There are definitely artists I have been continually influenced or inspired by such as Bo Diddley, Howlin' Wolf, Spacemen 3, Arthur Lee & Love, Suicide, and The Rolling Stones. But also a lot of obscure music that I've listened to from different parts of the world. It's interesting to see the continuity of influences over time. What influenced me back then inherently influences me now. I mean, for example I couldn't even begin to express what the music of The Stooges did to me when I was 15 - and I still can't now. I was also really into the sounds of Native American music and Chuck Berry. I would spend hours playing those chords in my room.

4. How long have you guys been together?

We formed in the summer of 2008. So that would make it 2 years now.

5. Where does the name "Vacant Lots" come from? Do you consider what you are doing "shoegaze"?

I got it from a William S. Burroughs novel. I liked the dual nature of the phrase. Well, I have heard people call us shoegaze before - but I think of us more as a rock 'n' roll band.

6. Can we expect to see The Vacant Lots on the road in the near future?

Yes - we should hit the road again soon. Our next show is in Brooklyn at Secret Project Robot on October 21st.

7. What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?

Work. Be true to yourself. Inspire others. Faith in art.

Album Review: Vacant Lots. Hypnotized.

Artist: The Vacant Lots.
Album: Hypnotized.
Label: Ancient Hills Music.

From the bands MySpace page:

Influenced by groups such as Bo Diddley, The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, Spacemen 3 and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Combining minimal drumming, hypnotic guitar riffs, electronic drones, poetry-driven lyrics, and live film projections.

The Vacant Lots are a psychedelic band hailing from the Northeastern United States (Vermont to be exact) and comprised of two members: Jared Artaud (vocals, guitars) and Brian Macfadyen (drumming). The sound these two conjure is a massive psychedelic wall of Indian raga and Velvet Underground drone/noise. They sound like Spacemen 3 had a child with Iggy Pop. They are just an amazing amalgam of all the right influences and originality. Totally classic,yet totally hip and relevant. In my opinion it's one of the top psychedelic releases of the year!

I usually go with a song by song description of what ever album I am reviewing, but on this occasion it just doesn't feel right. Mainly because the album is a solid statement and I feel it would take away from the overall work. It is indeed a rare thing these days for any band to release such a solid album, but The Vacant Lots have done just that. Hypnotized is like the soundtrack to the best 60s B movie you have never seen. It is film noir for the ears (these guys have to be huge David Lynch fans). At once dirty and forbidden, yet still refined and cerebral. A balance that most good psychedelic bands strive for, but rarely achieve ( The Brian Jonestown Massacre being one of the only bands in recent memory). Hypnotized is as druggie as Spacemen 3 and as brutal as The Stooges.

With song titles like "Confusion", "Highway", "When The Lord Comes" and "Revolution", The Vacant Lots take you on a wild ride of carnage and drugged out debauchery. What more could any discerning psychedelic connoisseur ask for in a release?!?! If you dig your music darkly tripped out with a touch of the ole ultra violence, this is definitely your album.

The Vacant Lots have managed to transcended time and place to the point that Hypnotized could have been released anytime between 1966 and 2010.It is classic songwriting with modern style,lots of style!How many bands can you say that about?With a definite debt to The Velvet Underground, Spacemen 3,Warhol and Burroughs the Vacant Lots have carved out their own niche in an age that is overwrought with pretenders to the throne. I get the feeling that The Vacant Lots are the real deal and I will definitely be keeping and eye on them.

gets 5 out of 5 stars. A solid, solid effort!

Review By Danny.

Oct 21 2010 9:00P
Secret Project Robot Brooklyn, New York
Oct 29 2010 9:00P
Langdon Street Cafe Montpelier, Vermont
Nov 6 2010 9:00P
THE BUG JAR Rochester, New York

Read more:

29 September 2010

Video: Presents for Sally. Catch Your Fall.

Top 5 Shoegaze Records of the Week.

Another weekly installment of our Top 5 Shoegaze/Dream Pop Records on When The Sun Hits! Music fanatics love nothing more than to make lists, of course, and we have some big ones coming up in the near future, including our top 10 classic gazer records OF ALL TIME (give us a few weeks, the internal debates are giving us major headaches) and the inevitable top albums of the year (naturally coming in December 2010). This year has been huge for shoegaze and dream pop, and we can't wait to showcase 2010's best gaze for you.

If you are new to the blog (oh, hi!), you can check the right side bar for an archive of the Top 5 lists from subsequent weeks, if you're so inclined.

*Danny's Top 5 Shoegaze/Dream Pop Records of the Week*

1. My Bloody Valentine. Ecstasy and Wine. Lazy Records. (1989)

2. Fleeting Joys. Despondent Transponder. Only Forever Recordings. (2006)

3. Astrobrite. Pinkshinyultrablast. Wavertone. (2004)

4. The Black Watch. Flowering. Doctor Dream Recordings. (1991)

5. Engineers. In Praise of More. KScope Records. (2010)

*Amber's Top 5 Shoegaze/Dream Pop Records of the Week*

1. Wild Nothing. Evertide EP. Warmest Chord. (2010)

2. Hartfield. True Color, True Lie. Clairecords. (2006)

3. Emeralds. Does It Look Like I'm Here? Editions Mego. (2010)

4. The Boo Radleys. Everything's Alright Forever. Creation. (1992)

5. Luna. Pup Tent. Beggar's Banquet. (1997)

Video: Underground Lovers. Promenade.

22 September 2010

Top 5 Shoegaze Records of the Week.

When The Sun Hits is now officially over 2 months old! We love doing this blog, and hope you love reading it. Remember, on the right side-bar are links to the previous 8 weeks of Top 5 lists, for easy perusal, if you want to check out our previous picks. On to the list-making festivities. Keep gazing!

*Danny's Top 5 Shoegaze/Dream Pop Records of the Week*

1. The Daysleepers. Waves of Creation. Rain Delay Music. (2010)

2. The Black Watch. Amphetamines. Gotta Go Records. (1994)

3. This Will Destroy You. Young Mountain. Magic Bullet Records. (2006)

4. The Ecstasy of St. Theresa. Sussurate. Reflex Records. (1992)

5. Sunsplit. Sing For Sunday. Self-Released. (2007)

*Amber's Top 5 Shoegaze/Dream Pop Records of the Week*

1. Crash City Saints. Glow In The Dark Music. Quince. (2010)

2. Bark Psychosis. Hex. Circa Records, Ltd. (1994)

3. Spacemen 3. The Perfect Prescription. Glass Records. (1987)

4. Claire Voyant. Love is Blind. Metropolis Records. (2002)

5. Mount Eerie. Wind's Poem. Tomlab. (2009)

Video: The Ecstasy Of St Theresa. Pistaccio Places.

20 September 2010

Interview: Jeff Kandefer of the Daysleepers.

The Daysleepers were formed in 2004 in Buffalo, New York, and since their first release in 2005 (the gorgeous Hide Your Eyes EP), the band has been blowing the minds of shoegaze/dream pop fans all over the world. 5 years later, with 2 excellent EPs and one full length under their belt, the Daysleepers are still going strong, having just released a stellar b-sides/demos/remixes collection entitled Waves of Creation (read Danny's new review of it here). When The Sun Hits was naturally thrilled to get a chance to speak with Jeff Kandefer, vocalist and guitar player for the band. We hope you enjoy learning a little about Jeff, and we couldn't recommend the Daysleepers more highly! This band is the cream of the crop, as far newer shoegaze/dream pop acts are concerned. Don't miss out!

1. How was the band formed?

It's really not that exciting or unusual, but we had all been friends for a while before we started the band. We had all been playing in other bands at the time, and after a long night of hanging out we just sort of started talking about what a band might sound like if we all played together. We decided to arrange a practice session to see what would come out of it, and after that first session we knew we were going to be a band. I also had another motive. I had a huge crush on Elizabeth, so I thought the best way to be close to her was to ask her to be in a band with me. It must have worked because 5 years later we got married and have been very happily married ever since....pretty sweet huh!
2. Where did the name "The Daysleepers" from?

People always ask us if we got the name from the R.E.M. song "Daysleeper", but the truth is I am not a big enough R.E.M. fan to name my band after one of their songs. I always have trouble coming up with names for bands. I came up with this one because most of us in the band are daysleepers...we stay up all night and sleep during the day. Night time has always been my most creative period. We would always practice late at night, and I wrote most if not all the lyrics to our catalog late at night. It was also the first name that I suggested that everybody else didn't we went with it.
3. Do you feel like you guys are a part of the Shoegaze/Dream Pop scene, or any scene?
I hate it when bands deny being in a scene that they are clearly in. Yes. We love shoegaze music and New wave music, so we tried to blend the two styles. That is the formula of the Daysleepers sound. We obviously listen to a lot of the Cure, Slowdive, Cocteau Twins and the Chameleons. If people say we are shoegaze or dream-pop I just usually say "well, if the shoe fits...". That's not to say that shoegaze is the only kind of music we listen to. We all love Jazz, Post-Hardcore, Indie Rock, Dance & Pop music, but for this project we are a shoegaze/New Wave band. I never try to hide our influences. They are what made us want to play music.
4. Can you tell us what you've been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (recording, tour, etc?)?
Well, we just put out a collection of Remixes, B-Sides & Rarities called Waves of Creation that we have been wanting to release for a while now. It is a digital only release, so it can be purchased form iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby and a few other Download sites. As far as new material, we know it is a long time coming. We have all been busy trying to earn a living, getting married and so on. We do plan on getting some new material out.It is just hard to say when it will be available. Money and record label support is another issue. We are working and writing new material, and we are going to try hard to get it out sooner than later. I did lend guest vocals to a track on the new Makara's Pen album too.
5. What is the most important piece of gear for your sound ? Any particular guitar/pedals/amps you prefer?
Oh yeah! Gear makes a huge difference especially in the spacey genre we are in. I am a huge Fender guitar advocate. I can't play anything else. I have used my Black Fender Jazzmaster on all of our recordings. I also use Fender Jaguars and a BASS VI Baritone Guitar. That teamed up with my army of BOSS pedals, vintage and new, give us the sound that we get. There is one particular BOSS Pedal that is the secret...but I'm not telling...and they don't make it anymore. Also, in the studio our producer (Doug White from Tearwave, Makara's Pen) does some really unique things to get our sound. He has this amazing chorus effect that he sometimes puts on the guitar that we mixed up himself. You can hear it in "Twilight Bloom" in the guitar solo at the end.
6. What Shoegaze/Dream Pop bands/artists (if any) have most influenced your work?
The Cure
, Cocteau Twins, The Chameleons, Swervedriver, Chapterhouse, Ulrich Schnauss, Slowdive, Catherine Wheel, Lush, Sigur Ros...all the usuals, pretty much.
7. Tell us a little about what you are currently into (bands, books, films, etc)?
I can only speak for myself but as far music goes: I am obsessed with Jaga Jazzist, Bonobo and the whole Ninja Tune label. I also like Beach House, Fever Ray and Best Coast. I am a technology junkie and a HUGE Apple fan, so iPods, iPads, iMac's...I love it all. I am a freelance Graphic Designer for a living, so I am interested in anything that is well designed.
8. Can we expect to see a new release in the near future?
I really hope so! We are trying our best.
9. What do you think of modern Shoegaze/Dream Pop artists, any favorites?
Oh I think a lot of the modern shoegaze/nugaze scene is great! It has changed and grown a lot from the 90's but that is a sign of a scene progressing. I love Airiel, I think they are great. Ulrich Schnauss, Amusement Parks on Fire, Pia Fraus...all these bands are wonderful.
10. What do you think of the state of music today? How do you feel about free downloading?
I think in order for things to be more accessible to more people change needs to happen. I embrace it. It is no use fighting it. I know certain people are getting screwed because of free downloading, but there are so many advantages. Could a garage band 20 years ago not tour and collect decent sized royalty checks monthly, while their music is selling around the world on iTunes. No way! You would have to work your butt off just to get 1/4 of that money. It is making it easier for artists to be heard around the world and get compensated for it. I think it's a good think in general.
11. What is your philosophy on life, if any, that you live by?
Be happy and be nice to people!

Album Review: The Daysleepers. Waves of Creation: Remixes, B-Sides & Demos.

Question: How do you say more about a band that has won praise from seminal Dream Pop icons like Robin Guthrie ("Lovely sounds ... lovely guitars." -- Robin Guthrie, Cocteau Twins), Rachel Goswell (Slowdive, Mojave 3), Neil Halstead (Slowdive, Mojave 3) and major music press alike?

: All I can do is try!It is easy to find positive things to say about such a great band. The Daysleepers are, without question, one of my favorite bands(so I am a bit biased!) and continue to be miles ahead of the modern Dream Pop pack. Not only do they write amazing, beautiful songs, but the production is impeccable. It is a continuous chill bump fest when I listen to their music. I don't know why they induce such an overwhelming sense of.......(awe?) in me, but they do. I liken it to hearing The Cocteau Twins, Slowdive and The Cure's Disintegration rolled into one. It is AMAZING stuff! While I would prefer a new full length album, this will have to satiate us fans for now, and it does so very well!

Waves Of Creation is a b-sides, remix and demo album and is available through CD Baby and The opening track is called "Alone In The Universe (Unreleased B-side demo)" and it is a stunner. Not sure if this was recorded for Drowned In A Sea Of Sound or one of the 2 EPs, regardless it is a winner! Wow, what a song to leave off ANY release! It opens with a synth- like wash of dreamy guitar and a pulsating dub like beat. Jeff's voice is full-on dreamy and is really a major part of their sound. The song just kind a wave. It is a ghostly, ephemeral daydream. Like watching a dandelion come apart in a summer breeze. Beautiful.

Track two is "Summerdreamer (Wave Plant remix)" and is quite startling at first listen. If you are used to the original version that appears on Drowned In A Sea Of Sound, you are in for a surprise! It starts with a pulsating trance-driven beat, and the guitar is sliced and choppy. It almost sounds like someone is using a kill switch on the guitar part, but I'm sure this is just the remixing (or sampling?Not sure-ed.). Elizabeth Kandefer's voice is as beautiful as ever. It has the quality to transport you out of the mundane, angry world into a sunset filled dream where everything is melancholy perfection. She is a fantastic vocalist and makes the song something else entirely. Magical. The remix, with its bleepy, video game like sounds, actually doesn't take away from the overall vibe of the original. Ace remixing! I would call it a bliss beat beauty. An A+!

Track 3,"Big Sleep (Soviet's New Wave Remix)", comes from the Hide Your Eyes EP and is another surprise! The original is a great Dream Pop song and has always been one of my favorites from the EP. This version, on the other hand, is now my favorite! It is straight up Post Punk/New Wave. It could have easily been released in the early 80s and would most likely been a smash hit. It has a definite Depeche Mode/Human League like vibe to it. I was amazed the first time I heard it, well.....more blown away really! Just a perfect remix to an already great song. Soviet really brought something else out in The Daysleepers sound. I am really,really impressed.

Track four is "Lovesparkles (Home Studio Version)" and sounds better than most band's proper releases! I actually like this version better than the Drowned In A Sea Of Sound version. It has an airy, less dense quality to it. I love the drum sound on this. It almost sounds like two snares on the intro instead of the standard bass/snare combination! Jeff's voice is more pure sounding and the guitar tone is very reminiscent of Lush. I have dubbed this guitar sound the "Christmas Tree Light" sound. It always evokes coloured, blinking Christmas lights in my minds eye. I don't know why, it just does. It is a combination of Chorus, Delay and Flanger and is perfect on this track. I can't imagine a better guitar sound. Something about the mix is less muddy than on the full length version. It improves on that interpretation by a mile. A+!

"Mesmerize (early studio demo version)" is up next and was originally released on the Hide Your Eyes EP. It is neat to hear these songs in the gestation phase. The mix on the "Mesmerize" demo is slightly less hot and the vocals aren't finished. I miss hearing Elizabeth's voice. Nonetheless, it is a great song. It is not as good as the version on the Hide Your Eyes EP, but interesting to hear in this early form.

Track six is an intsrumental entitled "Garden" and is an unreleased demo. You can definitely tell it's a demo too! It has a distorted, unrefined 4 track quality to it that I like, but some may be turned off by. Again, a great melody and a great vibe. The only thing that could make it better would be the quality of recording. As an unreleased demo it is fantastic! Actually, it's fantastic period. I love it.

The closing track,"Atlantic Drift (original demo version)" ,is the only track from The Soft Attack EP to make it onto this release. I again think this version is better than the released version. There is a purity in the demo that just doesn't come through on The Soft Attack EP. I have often read that artists have a hard time reproducing the original vibe of a demo, and the same may be true here. Whether this is the case, or not is a moot point when you hear either version of "Atlantic Drift". It is such an amazing piece of music that the mood of the song on both accounts is close to perfect. It definitely swallows you with its beauty and drowns you in sound. Drift you will in a gauzy dream. A great closing track. Another A+ effort.

With this release, The Daysleepers more than appease long time fans, but the wait until a new full length is going to be difficult!I guess this will have to assuage, and it does so nicely. It is great to hear these early demos and the remixes are just ace. I'm glad we didn't have to wait until a box set or anthology to get this stuff. Great job guys. This EP is an all around winner. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Review by Danny.

14 September 2010

Album Review: Bloody Knives. Burn It All Down.

Artist: Bloody Knives.
Album Title: Burn It All Down.
Label: Killredrocket Records.
Release Date: June 29, 2010.

Bloody Knives
is Preston Maddox and Jake McCown (both of whom were founding members of the psychedelic/shoegaze act The Joy Bus), and the band is based in Austin, Texas. Built on a foundation of psychedelia, punk, metal, shoegaze, and electronica, their music is a rollercoaster ride of amazing soundscapes and various neuroses not meant for the faint of heart. The band has one previous release, the excellent Bloody Knives EP (released in October 2009) and Burn It All Down is the band's first full length release. I tend to gravitate toward darker gaze, with gripping beats that could soundtrack a heart pumping chase through a back alley, and Bloody Knives certainly deliver in that capacity. With a name like "Bloody Knives", and an album called Burn It All Down, let's just jump right into the arson and sado-masochism, shall we? With this new full length, Bloody Knives take us for a trip into the darker, more dangerous side of gaze. Let's do this thing.

The album opens with "Tell Me I'm Wrong", an explosive electronic maelstrom that's both catchy and sinister. The lyrics consist of scorned realizations like: "Gave it away/gave it to you/and now it's gone/tell me I'm wrong" set against a backdrop of electronic programming that would be right at home in a horror-imbued video game. This first track certainly sets the tone for the rest of the album. Let's go further down the rabbit hole, shall we?

The album really starts to hit its stride by track three, "You Know You Will". Equal parts punk and electro, with an almost industrial edge to it, these guys aren't fucking around. They mean business. This track has so much attitude and energy, one almost needs to sit down. Or better yet, one needs to hop in the car and speed down a dark highway. An army of pissed off robots couldn't hope to make a racket this awesome. Nightmarish lyrics like: "Coming closer in/where you can't know you will" are delivered in an almost languid way amid the violent whirlpool of sounds, and the juxtaposition works so well. Despite the ever-growing bedlam, the shoegaze undercurrent still runs through it, some blurry sort of ambience that is buried deep but always there, and I think that's what I love so much about Bloody Knives. The craftsmanship is truly impeccable.

Track 5, "No One Hears", slows things down just a bit, and carries with it a sort of disquiet that is nothing short of unsettling, with a gloriously loud cascade of guitar noise and cold synth lines that certainly drive home the lyric "Your silent scream/no one hears" and also perfectly sets the stage for the next track, "Hands Around My Neck".

This is the halfway point of the album, and where things take an even darker turn. When a chorus is comprised of: "And now I've got my hand around your neck/and now I've got my hand around your throat/and now you've got your hands around my neck/and now you've got your hands around my throat", you know things are in full throttle turmoil. To some, this may sound off putting, but paired with the unbelievable soundscape, a pandemonium of electronic programming and distorted guitar, it works. Bloody Knives isn't afraid to lay it all on the table. This is art, and in art, there are no rules, no reason for propriety or for being politically correct - it's all about painting an honest picture about the human condition. Love and violence are often fevered bed mates; we all know it, even if we don't want to say it. This isn't the condoning of violence; it's simple honesty about human feelings. We don't have to do the dark things we feel, but we shouldn't ignore the fact that we feel them. That would be ignoring human nature, which is something we should all seek to understand.

Track 7, "Set Me On Fire", is 2:50 of controlled chaos, distorted guitar, heart pounding beats and a chorus of "Set me on fire/set me on fire" delivered again in that dreamy, almost detached way that works so well with the energy of the song. In fact, there isn't a track on the album that is longer than 3:52, another reason why these songs work so well. They are short, frigid blades forged in flames, and considering the subject matter, this approach works perfectly. One doesn't get bogged down in anything before moving on to the next whirlwind.

The album is quite narrative in nature: things are brought to light, pain and anger are explored, and then things start to come full circle with the last two tracks. It's not ALL chaos and self-destruction! The second to last track, "I Saw The Ghost That Follows You", is full on doom gaze, slowing things way down in comparison to it's preceding tracks. Eerie and grim, this track is a real stand out, and focuses more on the pain of someone else rather than the pain of the self, which, to me, means some sort of understanding of a situation is occurring. "I saw the ghost that follows you/watches everything you do/waiting for the right time to kill you/to pull the knife across your neck" is undoubtedly creepy, sure, but it's obviously a metaphorical stab at understanding someone else's pain, and an explanation of how two people can get into heated situations because of their own demons. A gorgeously unsettling track.

The closer, "Alone In Your Eyes", truly does bring the album full circle. Not exactly upbeat, but much moreso than the rest of the album, there is a glimmer of hope here, and of closure. This track would also be the closest the band gets to pure shoegaze; the energy is still there, but there is a true dreamy quality to this one, and a complete lack of the former angst and violence many of the other tracks carry. Well played, Bloody Knives. Well played, indeed.

Bloody Knives may not be for everyone. The themes the band explores are dark, the sounds are at times almost unbearably wrought with pain and anger, but if you are up for the trip, I highly recommend that you take it. There is catharsis in it, and something to be learned, and these are both things I look for in any worthwhile journey. Plus, there's the whole thing where they sound, for lack of a better term, bad ass. The compositions are simple, but precise and effective. The knives may be bloody, but you'll be in the hands of excellent surgeons. I'm very impressed with this band, and I look forward to seeing where they go from here.

Review by Amber.

Video: Candy Claws. Lantern Fish.

Review of the new Candy Claws album, Hidden Lands, in the near future!

Top 5 Shoegaze Records of the Week.

By now you guys probably know the drill; When The Sun Hits does this cool thing every week which involves Danny & I doing a posting of our 5 most-listened-to shoegaze/dream pop albums - classic or new, whatever we happen to have been spinning obsessively that particular week. We think it's a great way to get weekly exposure to new and old shoegaze/dream pop bands; plus, we are nerdy list-makers. Perhaps you have picked up on this by now...

There is a new feature on the blog, located on the right sidebar, which allows you to conveniently browse all of the Top 5 lists from previous weeks, if you happen to be curious.

*Danny's Top 5 Shoegaze/Dream Pop Records of the Week*

1. Crash City Saints. Glow in the Dark Music. Quince. (2010)

2. Glifted. Under and In. Martians Go Home! (2002)

3. Lemon's Chair. I Hate I Hope. Rocket Girl. (2010)

4. Hammock. Chasing After Shadows...Living With Ghosts. Hammock Music. (2010)

5. The Daysleepers. Waves of Creation. Rain Delay Music. (2010)

*Amber's Top 5 Shoegaze/Dreampop Records of the Week*

1. Fucked Up/Serena Maneesh. Here Lies Are/Opium Priest 12". Best of Both Records. (2010)

2. Monster Movie. Everyone is a Ghost. Graveface. (2010)

3. Hum. Downward is Heavenward. Martians Go Home! (1998)

4. Candy Claws. Hidden Lands. Twosyllable Records. (2010)

5. Slowdive. Beach Song/Take Me Down Flexi 7". Sunday Records. (1992)

Video: Lou Reed. Metal Machine Music.

13 September 2010

Interview: Britta Phillips of The Bell Tower, Luna and Dean and Britta.

Britta Phillips is a dream pop force to be reckoned with; from her beautiful past work with the exceptional bands The Bell Tower and Luna (both seminal dream pop acts) , and now the current work with her husband, Dean Wareham (of Galaxie 500, Luna), under the moniker of simply Dean & Britta, she is nothing short of sensational. When The Sun Hits is honored to feature an interview with Britta, as Danny and I have admired her work from the beginning. Talented, gorgeous, and bright-minded, she is a role model for women (and men!) everywhere. We hope you enjoy getting to know her a little better in this interview. We certainly did!

1. Can you tell us what you've been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (recording, tour, etc)?

Most recently, we've been rehearsing a lot of Galaxie 500 songs for upcoming tours. We've also got a new drummer so we are running through the whole Warhol Screen Test shots with him, as well. We have lots of touring coming up, both the Dean Wareham plays Galaxie 500 tour and the 13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol's Screen Tests tour. The dates are on our website.

I really can't wait to go down a rabbit hole and work on writing and recording new stuff, though. We are thinking about each doing a solo record as well as a Dean and Britta next. Maybe we'll release them all at the same time!

2. What sort of set up/gear do you use? What is the most important piece of gear for your "dream pop" sound?

I just bought a new bass. I'm in love with it. It's a 1966 Fender Mustang and it still has 3 of the original flat-wound strings on it from that year. The G string is from the '70s. I had to have it after I saw Air play their single "Love" on the Jimmy Fallon show. I have an Ashdown bass amp which I had to have after playing one at the Viper Room in L.A. about a decade ago. So, the combo gives a pretty retro sound. I use Logic to record.

Dean uses ProTools, but I do all the arranging and mixing so it all ends up in Logic. I run the bass all vocals through a pre-amp to give it warmth (tube!). It's not an expensive one. It's made by Studio Projects. We don't have expensive mics, either. You can get really great, affordable ones from Studio Projects, as well. But the most important piece of gear are my ears. Sometimes I mix for hours and hours, listening to the same song over and over, adjusting tiny things, levels, EQ, effects, until everything sits together just right. I really don't know what I'm doing, but my ears recognize when something sounds right. And if I'm lucky, I'll twiddle something and it will suddenly sound magical, like it's coming from it own planet.

3. What (shoegaze/dream pop/any other genre) bands/artists have most influenced your work?

Dusty Springfield, The Velvet Underground, Morricone, Serge Gainsbourg, Kraftwerk, Lee Hazlewood, Spacemen 3...

I really want to make a Gospel/Disco record next, though (The Staple Singers/Giorgio Moroder/New Order).

4. How did you originally become involved with Luna (which, of course, later evolved into your work now as Dean & Britta)?

I was touring with Ben Lee and our guitar tech was also Luna's guitar tech. One day he was up in Luna's manager's office and overheard them talking about needing a bass player for an upcoming tour, so he recommended me.

I learned about 20 Luna songs in 2 days and came in for an audition. Twice! After the tour, they asked me to join the band.

5. What is it like making music with your husband, Dean Wareham, rather than the more usual arrangement of being in a band with a group of friends or

The only difference that I can think of is that some of the songs are obviously more personal. And I'm probably happier if he really likes something I've done or prouder of something he's done that I love, then if it were just a friend or acquaintance. It's a lovely thing to share.

6. Tell us a little about what you are currently into (bands, books, films, etc)?

I like the band Papercuts from S.F. (they opening for us on the upcoming Dean plays G500 shows in L.A. and S.F.

I've been really into the Greek plays. Especially the Bacchae of Euripides (with intro by Martha Nussbaum, which is also really great).
7. What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?

I'm always excited when I find similarities in different philosophies and religions. The universal truths that are illustrated differently for different people. I love what the Bacchae of Euripides says about life. Its a bit too complex to explain quickly, but I like reading stories that express philosophy. I like much of what I've read about yoga, specifically the Tantric. People always associate sex orgies and/or Sting with Tantra, unfortunately, but it is really about balance and discrimination... lots of other things, of course. I hate the philosophy of "it's all good, man." It is not all good. I'm not talking about absolutes, of course, but each of us needs to find out what really lights us up.

I'm reading a book called Women Who Run With The Wolves, which I'm quite enjoying right now. There are themes running through this book that echo what I like about the Greeks and Yoga. Maybe I could boil it down to this, to oversimplify.... "everything in moderation, including moderation."