you resource for all things shoegaze & dream pop.

29 October 2010

Interview: Ceremony.

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 the year. When The Sun Hits absolutely adores Ceremony, having followed them since the Skywave days, and we are beyond stoked to feature an interview with them. We hope you enjoy this in depth interview with both members; they are legends in the making, make no mistake about it.

1. Where did the name "Ceremony" come from? Both Danny and I have always assumed that it is likely a reference to the classic Joy Division/New Order track of the same name. Is there any merit to that?

Paul - Yeah, John and I had just started playing as this new group a while after our old group Skywave sort of dissolved, and we had a gig lined up, but we didn't have a name. We used to play that song as a cover in Skywave and always loved it, so it was just meant to be a little tribute to a song we liked. Then we had another gig and used the same name, and so on and so on. We had no idea there was a hardcore band from California with the same has caused some confusion, but I think we started first.

2. How was Skywave formed, and what was the evolution from Skywave to Ceremony?

Paul - Oliver Ackermann and I started Skywave when we were in high school. A few months after we started, we got John to play drums for us. I could write a book about this, but whatever... We did the Skywave thing until about 2003, when I really just lost my motivation and inspiration. Oliver moved to NYC and started A Place To Bury Strangers. I was fine with just recording songs for myself, but John had a bunch of songs he wanted to play live, so I said I'd play guitar for him. Then we just kept going, with the mentality that if it ever stopped being enjoyable, we would just stop. Either of us can end this at any time, no harm done. It's like I used to feel that I was fighting the world when it came to music, especially during the Skywave days. Then, right after we split up, it seemed like this sort of music had a resurgence in popularity, and we missed the boat. But this way it's good, we only answer to ourselves, and I think we're our own worst critics. I could be wrong about that.

John - I think Paul is right about "we're our own worst critics" that's with Skywave and Ceremony but I'm still having fun with Ceremony. When Skywave started I was the new guy and I never really spoke up about much. I just started playing drums. Paul and Oliver were playing different CDs for me of music I hadn't really heard before, and saying "play beats like that" but almost all of the stuff they were playing was stuff with drum machine and it's hard to play on time all the time. After playing with them and touring a lot it started to feel like work. Some of our songs were so fucking fast. After playing 8 songs I would throw up outside the club. The throwing up I do now with Ceremony is at band practice and I'm okay with that. Ceremony in the beginning we were just having a good time. The only time we played a show is if someone asked us and for the most part that's how we still do things.

3. Is it strange to the see the now-defunct Skywave grow more legendary as time goes by? Of course, you've all gone on to your own separate and successful projects (you guys with Ceremony and Ackermann with APTBS), but would a Skywave reunion in any capacity (a show, an album, etc) ever happen?

Paul - It's kind of strange, because it felt like we played for so few people and now it seems like 100 times that amount of people remember seeing us. And they know the songs, own the albums in one form or another. I'm certainly not opposed to playing as Skywave again sometime, but it's not really a priority for me. And I just don't know when we would get a chance to practice or work on things.

John - Yeah, it's too bad that Skywave isn't together anymore because Oliver, Paul and I could have made a real impact on music. With us splitting up and creating two different bands it's sort of diluted the whole effect of what we had in mind. It's really neat to hear people tell us they'd like for us to reform, but by now a new album would never happen. Or it would take ten years for anything to materialize, if ever. I would love to play a tour as Skywave in the future.

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

Paul - We've got a new split LP with Stellarium, a great band from Singapore, coming out soon on Custom Made Music. We've also got close to enough tracks for another album just about completed. We're always working on new songs, and since we don't play live all that often, it leaves us with lots of time to record.

5. What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps/synths you prefer?

Paul - I like Fender Jaguars and Jazzmasters for cool tones, as well as hollow and semi-hollowbody guitars for making feedback. I have an old Magnatone from the 60's that sounds really great, too. I use an Alesis Nanoverb for the combination chorus/reverb setting it has. I've used that since Skywave. As for amps, I am torn between Fender tube amps and my Marshall JVM half-stack, so if the venue is big enough I'll play through both. And I like playing with various fuzz and distortion pedals, and my Dunlop Zakk Wylde wah. Basically most of what I use anybody could find in a Guitar Center or something.

John - I don't record or play live without my Nanoverb and Big Muff. I try to get my live sound on bass to sound like a heavy rhythm guitar by playing chords and using two guitar amps, one transistor and one tube. That's because our drum machine and samples include low-end bass frequencies. I wish left-handed people had more options for guitars, I'd like Gibson to make me a Custom ES-137, sunburst with a black pickguard, pearl inlay, silver hardware, and a Bigsby.

6. What artists have most influenced your work?

Paul - I think there are the obvious ones, like the the Cure, My Bloody Valentine, and the Jesus and Mary Chain, and then the less-obvious. Hank Williams Sr. was an amazing songwriter. The Misfits were probably my favorite punk band. I love 60's girl groups like the Crystals and the Ronettes, and bands like the Byrds and Tommy James and the Shondells. "Mirage" is an awesome song. All kinds of stuff, like Leonard Cohen, Linda Draper, whatever hits me as good, I guess.

John - Stuff that I listened to before I met Paul and Oliver was more punk, like the Ramones and the Misfits. My songwriting has definitely been influenced by Sonic Youth. Their songwriting formats are not the normal verse-chorus-verse-chorus and I think that's where some of my songwriting has been influenced to do different things. I've definitely confused Paul with some of my song structures. On the other hand, I really love some of that early shoegaze stuff, I just got into it on its way out.

7. Do you consider what you are doing to be "shoegaze"? Do you feel that you are part of the shoegaze/dream pop scene, or any scene?

Paul - Not really. I mean it's an influence, but mostly the rocking side of it. I get bored by groups that just have some chorus and delay and play long songs that don't really go anywhere. I mean, it can be okay on recordings, but not in a live setting. Slowdive were an amazing group, but a lot of people took what they were doing and just made it boring. I don't really know what the scene is. If we lived somewhere else, maybe I'd know more. We're just sort of making music in our own little world.

John - I don't know where we fit in. Maybe that's a good thing. We're too noisy for the pop crowd, too poppy for the noise crowd, not shoegaze-y enough for that crowd, and where is everybody else like me?

8. What do you think of modern shoegaze bands? Any favourites?

Paul - Well, I don't know if they consider themselves "shoegaze" or not, but my favorites are Screen Vinyl Image, A Place To Bury Strangers, the Lost Rivers, and Stellarium.
9. Would you tell us a little about what you are currently into (bands, books, films, etc)?

Paul - The Raveonettes and Ladytron are some of my favorite groups that aren't "shoegaze" oriented I guess. I recently saw "The Lives of Others" again and was reminded of how good it is. I lived in Germany before and after the wall came down, so maybe that makes it more interesting to me, I don't know. And I've been working on a book called The Age of Social Catastrophe for a while. It's really interesting, but reads like a textbook, so it's taking me a while.

John - I like to watch World War Two documentaries, I'm always interested in learning more about that period in history. I don't know how Big Star escaped me before, but I've recently gotten into them. Also, I'm always down with watching The Fat Boys on Youtube. Stick 'em!!!

10. If you had to choose one Ceremony track that would be the ultimate definition of your sound and aesthetic, which would it be?

Paul - Um, maybe "Stars Fall" because it's very noisy, but has a really pretty melody going on, I think.

John - I like "Don't Leave Me Behind", I feel like it's rock and roll to the extreme.

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

Paul - I don't know, I'm just trying to not make this world a worse place because I'm here.

John - Don't dwell on regret, you can't change the past. Always try to do the right thing.

27 October 2010

Halloween Edition Video Post: Cranes. Starblood.

Top 5 Doomgaze Records of the Week: Halloween Edition.

Doomgaze Edition.

In celebration of Halloween, When The Sun Hits is making our weekly Top 5 Shoegaze Records of the Week list with a special focus in mind: DOOMGAZE. Yes, we've trolled the murky waters of fringe shoegaze for you in order to drag up the darkest mire possible. Black out the windows, grab your headphones, and go down the rabbit hole listening through this list. I've always held fast to the theory that inside every shoegazer lies a secret goth; our lists might be the proof. Either way, we aren't responsible for any subsequent nightmares you may have. Enjoy All Hallow's Eve.

*Danny's Top 5 Doomgaze Records of the Week*

1. Lycia. Cold. Projekt. (1996)

2. Third Eye Foundation. Ghost. Merge Records. (1997)

3. Jesu. Opiate Sun EP. Caldo Verde Records. (2009)

4. Alcest. Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde. Beneath Grey Skies. (2007)

5. Lou Reed. Metal Machine Music. RCA. (1975)

*Amber's Top 5 Doomgaze Records of the Week*

1. The Angelic Process. Weighing Souls With Sand. Profound Lore Records. (2007)

2. Sunn O))). Black One. Southern Lord. (2005)

3. Cranes. Fuse. Bite Back! Records. (1986)

4. The Telescopes. Taste. Cheree Records. (1989)

5. Swans. Children of God. Caroline Records. (1987)

26 October 2010

Shoegaze Quote Of the Month: Kevin Shields on his playing style. From Guitar Player, circa 93.

GW: But that type of bridge became a cornerstone of Kevin's style! That quavering, underwater effect you get with the wang bar taped halfway into the socket.

KS: Yeah.

GW: How did you discover that anyway?

KS: I was trying to imitate string bending and slide-playing, which I couldn't really do. I thought maybe if I tuned two strings to nearly the same pitch and then bent them with the wang bar, maybe it would sound like I was doing that. I borrowed a nice Jazzmaster from a friend, but it had a re-made tremolo that was really big. So I put tape on it to keep it from going all the way into the socket.

25 October 2010

Gear Feature: Robin Guthrie's (Cocteau Twins) set up!

Interview: Dave Hawes of Catherine Wheel.

When legendary shoegaze bands are being discussed, one name that will inevitably come up is Catherine Wheel. Getting their start in 1990 in Great Yarmouth, England, the band was a four piece consisting of Rob Dickinson (guitars/vocals), Brian Futter (guitars), Dave Lawes (bass) and Neil Sims (drums). After being approached by both Creation Records and Opal Records (Brian Eno's label), the band signed to Fontana and made an immediate splash with their debut record, the highly celebrated classic Ferment. Always included in the shoegaze scene, but standing out from the other bands by sheer individuality and a heavier sound, Catherine Wheel went on to record 5 full length albums spanning the next decade, leaving in their wake a multitude of now-classic shoegaze anthems and quite a legacy before disbanding in 2000. When The Sun Hits was absolutely thrilled to have the chance to speak with former bassist Dave Hawes of Catherine Wheel, who is a truly talented musician, an integral member of a now-legendary music group, and part of the first wave of this genre we all love so much. Enjoy the interview!

1. How was the was band formed?

I saw an advert in a local record store looking for a bass player "into the House Of Love, the Stone Roses and My Bloody Valentine." I certainly was into those bands and was in between bands at that time so phoned the number and spoke to Rob and arranged a rehearsal. Rob, Brian and Neil had been friends for some time. So after a couple of rehearsals I was formally recruited into the band...that being said, I don't think they had any other applicants!!

To elaborate a little more, Rob and Brian had played in a couple of bands prior to CW. Rob played drums. And Neil was a friend from school days I think.

2. Where does the name Catherine Wheel come from?

As most people know, a Catherine Wheel is a firework in England (and also a medieval torture device) and from memory Rob came up with the name. The only thing I can remember is we were conscious of the fact that there were so many one syllable name bands (Ride, Lush, Blur, etc.) that we wanted a longer name.

3. Do you feel like you guys were a part of the original Shoegaze scene?

Initially, yes. But as time went on I think we distanced ourselves from that scene. Certainly, Chrome (our 2nd LP) was a lot harder than what the shoegaze bands were doing. Plus the shoegaze thing was very London-orientated and clique-y. The music press also dubbed it "the scene that celebrates itself" which was quite apt. There used to be a weekly club in London called Syndrome which we went to one night as we happened to be in London and it was like a who's-who of indie bands. But coming from Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth we were very much outsiders of that group and we were quite happy about that.

4. Will there ever be a reunion?

Rob called me a couple of years ago and I said yes but Neil and Brian said no. It is unlikely but I say never say never. From a personal perspective, as I was not there at the very end, I feel like I would like to do another tour at least to have some kind of a proper ending.

5. What artists have most influenced your work?

Personally, I grew up with the UK punk groups and then got heavily into the likes of Joy Division, the Velvet Underground, the Sisters Of Mercy, the Cure, etc. Then the Jesus and Mary Chain, House Of Love, New Order, etc. The others were more into Queen, Rush, Pink Floyd, ELO (one of Brian's faves!) but I know Rob and Brian went to see the House Of Love one time which blew them away and I think that was the catalyst to getting Catherine Wheel together.

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

I'm terrible at keeping up with new music but I recently started listening to Pandora radio which has got me listening to newer stuff. The Bird And The Bee I really like. Also, the Gossip, and Tegan and Sara. But I often revert back to my older stuff. Kind of going through a Kraftwerk and early Human League thing right now.

The last movie I went to was Pirate Radio which I thought would be good because it was based on Radio Caroline which was a pirate ship off the coast I would listen to as a kid. But it wasn't good.

7. What sort of set up/gear do you use? What is the most important piece of gear for your sound (i.e. pedals, guitars, drums etc.)?

I am the most non-tech guy which I know comes as a disappointment to some people as they think I would know so much about equipment. But if it sounds good, then that's all I care about. I think it stems from my punk roots. I steer clear of music stores if I can. But from memory, I always used Ampeg amplifiers and Fender basses.

8. What do you think of modern Shoegaze/Dream Pop artists, any favorites?

I really don't know any to form an opinion. Sorry.

9. Why did Catherine Wheel split up?

Well, I wasn't there for the last year/tour so I may not be the best person to ask. I was "let go" prior to the recording of Wishville and it seemed the whole thing was going in a downward spiral. Disappointing sales, record company internal problems, egos...a concoction of things. It's a shame how it ended and I personally was hurt how I was dismissed. However, 10 years later I received an out-of-the-blue and very unexpected apology from our manager saying it was a mistake to let me go.

10. Do you think modern bands realize who Catherine Wheel are and your importance to the world of Dream Pop and Shoegaze?

I do think CW has a legacy that is embraced by some bands today. I went to see the Airborne Toxic Event last year and the singer told me he plays "Black Metallic" every day. And when I see comments on YouTube and etc. it is humbling to think that nearly 20 years since Ferment came out people are still enjoying our stuff. Even I listen to CW again...occasionally!

11. What is your philosophy on life, if any, that you live by?

Keep positive even in adversity.

Gear Review: Xaviere Jazzmaster XV-JT 40.

The Fender Jazzmaster is an electric guitar that was first introduced at the 1958 NAMM Show and was designed as a more upmarket instrument than the Fender Stratocaster, which was originally to replace the Telecaster model. As its name indicates, it was initially marketed at jazz guitarists but was more commonly played by surf rock guitarists in the early 1960s and, more recently, by indie rock artists. It is frequently confused with the similar looking albeit tonally different Jaguar(See video post below!-Danny).

There are a wide array of budget-priced overseas Jazzmaster imitations, particularly from the 1960s and '70s. Dillion, Yamaha, Framus, Teisco, Aria, Jansen, Harmony, National, and Demel are just some of the companies who indulged, mainly to capitalize on the surf rock sound of the 1960s. Many of the modern copies replace the Jazzmaster's bridge and tremolo setup with a Stratocaster-derived assembly, altering the character of the guitar considerably but making it more palatable to players used to the Strat.

The vintage copies are rising in price, with guitars costing under $100 as little as 5 years ago now selling for as much as $600. Fender eventually got the offset-waist body shape patented, putting an end to the 'copy era'.

That is where the Xaviere XV-JT40 from Guitar Fetish comes in. The Xaviere XV-JT40 is aesthetically no different than a regular Fender Jazzmaster; the exception is in the tone knob configuration. The excess switching has been removed. This way you don't have the extra roller knobs and switching at the top of the pickguard. That was a plus in my book, as I am always bumping them during performances! The guitar is slightly smaller than a "real" Jazzmaster and some of the screw alignments will not match (i.e. pickguard,pickups etc ). For the price of $209 + shipping ($49 USD to be exact! Too much in my opinion) you get a real Alder wood guitar (sort of real anyway) that looks like a Jazzmaster! I thought I would give it a go! I have been wanting another Jazz for some time now. With the economy being the way it is and no signs of it letting up, this seemed like a well made, cheap "fix". Boy, was I ever wrong!

For starters, I had to wait for what seemed like forever to get one. They were back ordered 6 months! I was so excited to finally place the order, I could hardly contain myself. As the saying goes, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.".... and it was. The only positive thing I can say is the shipping was fast thanks to UPS.

The XV-JT guitar is produced in The People's Republic of China (which I have a problem with, but I ignored my beliefs to get one for the price. Typical consumerist behavior. I should have known better!). This Jazzmaster style guitar, in my opinion, isn't even good enough for a beginner! As I am a veteran guitar player of 22 years, I was more than disappointed (I was pissed off actually!). The guitar looks great (sea foam green paint is flawless.), don't get me wrong and the pickups sound Ok (Guitar Fetish Vintage wound P90s).The pickups sound like cheap single coils.They buzz and are fairly thin.They sound better clean, as distortion makes them hum like a sewing machine! Better than some, worse than most. Aesthetically, I couldn't be happier. The problem is in the quality control department.

Opinions on the XV-JT 40 are all over the place online, but there were enough positive reviews for me to feel confident about my purchase. The company, Guitar Fetish, states on their web site, "Each Xaviere guitar undergoes our rigorous quality control process at our Boston shop." All I can say to that is: YEAH, RIGHT! The guitar I received was almost unplayable: fret buzz, horrible roller bridge buzz, uneven frets, dead spots, severely high action,barely shielded (that's about as close to Kevin Shields as you'll get with this guitar!), unadjusted neck and to top it all the routing for the "floaty tremolo", as they call it, wasn't finished! If you touch the tremolo it sticks on the wood of the guitar! WT@?! I have never known of,or had a guitar (in any price range) with this problem. Not even the no-brand Superman guitar our singer won for his son at Six Flags has this problem!

The tremolo is the main reason I wanted this guitar. As all shoegaze guitarists know, using the tremolo is part of the playing style of Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine) and I, like many others, wanted the tremolo to get that sound. BIG LET DOWN!

All I can say is: buy this thing at your own risk. You might, like a shoegaze musician friend of mine, get lucky and receive a good one. I did not. Guitar Fetish will not refund your money either! You only get to trade it in on a different guitar ,which is a whole different headache, not to mention a crapshoot. As I cannot afford to get a proper Jazzmaster right now (thanks Wall Street!) I decided to keep the guitar and try to alleviate its myriad of problems. With any luck I just might be able to (pardon the term) polish a turd!

Overall a huge waste of time and money! The old adage "you get what you pay for" couldn't be more appropriate for this experience. The reasons I'm giving it 2 stars instead of 1 are: the P90 pickups are ok ( just!) and the look of the instrument is passable. 2 out of 5 stars.

: I have read that after this batch of XV-JT 40S are gone Xaviere will end production of this model. Probably too many complaints and returns, huh? Good riddance.

Review by Danny.

22 October 2010

Interview: Presents for Sally.

Presents for Sally are Matt Etherton, Anna Etherton, and Luke Feierabend and the band is based in the UK. After getting immediate positive recognition in 2008 for their track "Flowers Falling Sideways" (a contribution to a shoegaze compilation called The Secret Garden), fans have been waiting for a release from them, as the song is utterly gorgeous (you can hear the track here). Good news: the wait is nearly over, as Presents for Sally's stunning full length debut, A Touch of Joy, A Touch of Sadness will be out November 22nd on Laser Ghost Recordings (read Amber's recent review of the record here). This band is definitely one to keep on your radar. Please enjoy learning a bit about the band, and make sure you get yourself a copy of the new album next month; it's fantastic.

1. How did you come up with the name "Presents for Sally"?

To be honest I think the name came up one drunken evening a fair few years ago, way before we started any serious recording or anything and then it just kinda stuck. I guess we need to work on this answer!! Find something super imaginative!!

2. A Touch of Joy, A Touch of Sadness is the band's first full length release, but I remember the track "Flowers Falling Sideways" on The Secret Garden nu-gaze compilation creating quite a stir in the shoegaze scene in 2008. How long has the band been together?

Presents for Sally started out as just Matt recording some ideas at home on a 4 track recorder, these ideas eventually became songs. After "Flowers Falling Sideways" came out we had a good response and realised people wanted to hear more, so we sorted out playing some of the songs live. We were lucky enough to generate quite a bit of interest and were really pleased with how well the single did.

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

Well the album is out November 22nd and we are currently in the process of organising a UK tour this winter to promote it. Then the title track “A Touch of Joy, A Touch of Sadness” from the album may be coming out as a single but nothing is set in stone regarding that yet.

4. Presents for Sally have certainly been considered part of the new wave of shoegaze artists by fans. Do you consider what you are doing to be shoegaze? Do you feel that you are a part of this new shoegaze/dream pop scene?

People can use any genre they want to describe us but hopefully Presents for Sally have a unique sound which can be liked by people into more than just one sort of music. As a band we are all into different kinds of music, Matt is the only one who is into stuff that could be classed as shoegaze, but at the end of the day scenes come and go, where music lasts forever.

5. What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps you prefer?

I suppose you could say our fx make a big part of our sound and without this, we couldn't create the layers we have that make the songs sound like us. Saying that though, we could also just play most of the songs on an acoustic guitar or piano so I suppose you need the songs there, however you intend them to sound in the end.

6. What artists (musical or otherwise) have most influenced your work?

We have all been influenced by different bands and different people over time.

7. What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop artists, any

To be honest, we're not overly familiar with many of them. Anna and Luke aren't really into shoegazey stuff and I just haven't really had a chance to hear as much as I would like. I'm sure there are plenty of good new bands about, whatever the genre.

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

: Motocross, working out, buying men's health magazines. Probably more interested in punk music than most other stuff.

Matt: The best album of the year so far has been Nothing Hurts by Male Bonding on Sub Pop. No Age is probably the best band I have seen for a while, as well.

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

We wouldn't say that any of us have a "philosophy" on life only that we enjoy making new sounds and having a good time doing it, with a few drinks...

Album Review: Presents for Sally. A Touch of Joy, A Touch of Sadness.

Artist: Presents for Sally.
Album Title: A Touch of Joy, A Touch of Sadness.
Record Label: Laser Ghost Recordings.
Release Date: November 22, 2010.

It's quite uncommon to hear a single track from an unknown band on a random compilation and still remember them 2 years later, having not heard anything new from them in that time; however, that is precisely what happened for me with Presents for Sally. By some combination of their unique band name (When The Sun Hits just interviewed the band, which you can read here, if you're also curious about the band name's origin) and the high quality of that one track, entitled "Flowers Falling Sideways" (listen to it here), I simply never forgot Presents for Sally, and over the past 2 years have repeatedly revisited that track, played it on the radio, and wondered if they were to ever release an album. Only recently did I learn that the band was gearing up for their debut full length, after releasing a limited edition 7 inch single of the gorgeous "Catch Your Fall" (also on the new LP). Excitement for the new record was reaching swoon levels when I finally received it from the band earlier this week. And, just as I'd hoped and imagined, it is a beautiful thing to hear.

A Touch of Joy, A Touch of Sadness kicks off with the track "Smell Your Scent", an incredible, lilting piece of dream pop that starts off gently and builds into a massive orchestral bit of shoegaze heaven. At around the 4 minute mark, the song becomes so beautiful, it's almost difficult to listen to. Matt's vocals are right on the mark, and the guitar distortion nears psychedelic proportions before the song leads you out the same quiet way you came in. An absolute stunner.

Next up is "Smooch" (which was also the b-side to the "Catch Your Fall" 7 inch), a more upbeat track with lovely sounds of all kinds (I especially love the chimes) traversing through it. The beat in itself is so catchy, it's impossible not to love this song; sonically, this track is extremely diverse and accomplished, with the soundscapes building upon themselves until the track is overflowing with them. Presents for Sally know exactly what they are going for in terms of sound, and that precision is evident in every cut. I wouldn't say that they sound like My Bloody Valentine, per se, as they very much have their own sound, but in terms of how they use soundscapes to their advantage, the band is every bit as impressive as MBV. This track is a personal favorite; I've listened to it countless times this week.

By the time I've reached track 3, "Catch Your Fall", I'm pretty much in love with this band. This track is a slow burning sonic masterpiece; a near perfect piece of music. It's hard for me to pigeon hole these guys as shoegaze/dream pop (while this element is most definitely there), because a lot of what I hear is psychedelia-influenced. Granted, I think much of shoegaze is psychedelia-influenced, but for whatever reason, Presents for Sally have a true knack for creating otherworldly sounds. "Catch Your Fall" is a good example of this, as it's built around a solid shoegaze-y foundation, but sonically there is a lot more going on. The guitar work is especially gorgeous on this one, truly psychedelia-inspired. Every note is pitch perfect. I'm having a difficult time actually comparing this band to others, just for a point of reference for the reader, which speaks volumes about their unique sound, although I'll say that on this track I can certainly hear the faintest bit of Slowdive.

Matt's vocals on "Sunsets In Your Eyes" are especially lovely, as are the lyrics: "We sat there talking about the skies/When I saw the sunset in your eyes/But I don't care because I saw you first". A slow, beat-driven bit of dream pop perfection, you'll love this song.

Track 5, "Alone", is an atmospheric and dreamy instrumental, much in the vein of Hammock. Once again, Presents for Sally impress with their diversity and masterful control of sounds. Mostly quiet and slow, the track has an incredible psychedelic outro not to be missed.

On "Your Hand in Mine" we finally get to hear more of Anna's vocal work, with Matt on backing vocals, and they sound excellent together. With a slowish, head bobbing beat and awesome guitar work, this track is incredibly catchy, and I'm in love with Anna's voice. As with many of the band's tracks, the sounds are experimental, almost trippy, and the track builds to loud, awesome payoff around the 2:15 mark. Exceptional.

Track 7, "Chug", has an experimental, electronic-based sound, very slow and atmospheric, almost haunting. Matt and Anna are singing together on this one again, and their harmonies are used to a very powerful effect here. Clocking in at over 6 minutes, every moment is riveting. While "Smooch" has the "touch of joy" (see record title), "Chug" is certainly carrying the "touch of sadness", with it's disconcerting sounds, gorgeous melodies, haunting soundscapes, and psychedelic vibe. A truly impressive song.

Track 8, "I Don't Know Why", brings us back up with an upbeat and happy bit of more classic shoegaze, with a very The JAMC vibe; an almost surfer rock feel to it. Most definitely a jam for driving around with the windows down.

The album closer, "Point", clocks in at just over 8 minutes, and it's another slow burning piece of epic sonic perfection. This is very much a true shoegaze song, but again, there is just so much going on sonically; I almost want to compare them to A.R. Kane, as far as mastery of atmosphere is concerned. This is a track for a dark room and your best pair of headphones.

Quite honestly, I couldn't be more impressed or delighted with this album. Not many things are worth waiting 2 years for; Presents for Sally's debut record most definitely was. In this year of amazing releases, this trio from the UK jumps straight into the game right at the end of the year, creating one of my favorite records of 2010. Full of mindblowing sounds, gorgeous melodies, truly accomplished guitar work, perfect vocals, and so much more, it's a near-perfect record, and one that I highly recommend. Come November 22, buy this record (out on Laser Ghost Recordings, also home to When The Sun Hits faves the Fauns). With the gorgeous songs and awesome packaging, complete with excellent photos by the band's third member, Luke, you'll be very glad that you did.

Review by Amber.

Video: Heaviness. Not Yet.

20 October 2010

Video: Hartfield. Girl Like You (Pia Fraus Remix).

Top 5 Shoegaze Records of the Week.

When The Sun Hits brings you another weekly installment of gazer obsessions. Enjoy! Don't forget, you can quickly and easily browse the archive of previous Top 5 Lists on the right side bar, if you are so inclined.

Next week: our Halloween edition of the Top 5 Shoegaze Records of the Week! We'll bring you our top 5 picks drawn from the murky waters of what we lovingly refer to as DOOMGAZE. All black attire is required.

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

1. Should. A Folding Sieve. Words on Music. (2002)

2. The Boo Radleys. Giant Steps. Creation. (1993)

3. Echo & the Bunnymen. Ocean Rain. Sire. (1984)

4. The Ropers. The Ropers. Slumberland. (1994)

5. Lilys. Eccsame the Photon Band. spinART. (1994)

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

1. Ifwhen. Null Set. Three Cubed Records. (2010)

2. All Natural Lemon & Lime Flavors. Turning Into Small. Gern Blandsten. (1998)

3. Keith Canisius. Ferris Wheel Makeout. Darla. (2008)

4. thisquietarmy. Aftermath. Basses Frequences. (2010)

5. Slowdive. Pygmalion (Reissue/Remaster). Cherry Red. (2010)