you resource for all things shoegaze & dream pop.

27 October 2017

INTERVIEW: The Morelings.

Photo by Bob Sweeney

The Morelings are the Philadelphia-based dream pop duo of Kedra Caroline and Matthew William. The pair just released their absolutely gorgeous debut LP, Same Century, on September 26 and frankly, we’re obsessed. We already knew and loved their No Sign EP, released in 2015, so we fully expected Same Century to be likewise excellent.

“Excellent”, however, is an understatement. The record is a perfectly crafted slice of bliss pop heaven. Many stylistic influences can be heard in their dynamic sound – 60s girl groups, early psychedelia, 80s and 90s dream pop, the softer side of synth pop, Disintegration-era production – but they never sound imitative or unoriginal. In fact, their unique blend of styles sounds nothing if not modern. 

One of our best reviewers, Elizabeth Klisiewicz, recently reviewed Same Century for our friends over at The Big Takeover, and she perfectly states our feelings with her typical aplomb and flair for finding just the right phrase. Head over there and read it!

We are very happy to share the following interview with you. Do check out Same Century – it will no doubt be one of the crowning jewels in our Best of 2017 list.

How and when was the band formed?
The band formed when Kedra and I began writing songs together, which was approximately 4 years ago.

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.)?
We’re currently writing songs for a new album, which we’ll begin recording soon. We’re super excited. Our sound has evolved a lot with the current configuration of our band. We’ve also been playing shows to support the release of our debut LP Same Century, which came out at the end of September. Our next show is in Philly in early December. We’ll also be releasing another video from the album soon.

16 October 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Miniatures | Jessamines. By Elizabeth Klisiewicz.

Miniatures - Jessamines (Saint Marie Records)

I’ve known about this album for a while. Back in 2016, I first communicated with guitarist Ché Walden and he was kind enough to send me a copy. He was also searching for a label and the band’s vocalist had left the fold (not sure if she ever came back), and happily, they are now on the venerable Saint Marie Records here in the US. Both Ché and vocalist Annemarie Duff hail from New Zealand but pulled up stakes and moved to Melbourne, the band’s home base. With the addition of Chris MacLean on bass, the band worked with renowned Melbourne producer Matthew Hosking on this debut release.

To say it’s a beauty of a record, full of shimmering goodness, is an understatement. It contains all the elements to send psych/shoegaze fans into aural overdrive. Annemarie’s cooing vocals perfectly suit this densely textured music, and Ché knows his way around a guitar. Hard to believe it’s only three people working in tandem, but the wonders of modern day studios make it all happen. This is no paint by numbers gaze as so many others are; they really have found a niche with their sound. Note that I put psych next to shoegaze above. To me, they go hand in hand with dream pop. It’s like a trifecta of cool, and Miniatures dips its toes into all three streams, though shoegaze is probably the primary genre explored here.

Starting out with the ethereal “Try”, you’ll be dosed with a touch of tranquil ambience mashed up with dreamy electronica. It’s not far off from the work Slowdive is producing now. The title track “Jessamine” is a barn burner with aggressive percussion that when peeled back, stands next to gracefully rendered guitar and Duff’s sweet vocals. “To the Lake” sounds the most like one of their influences (Lush), with guitars skittering lightly off the top of a towering stack of gauze. Hazy, dazy, and wonderful!

“Dust” has a rollicking beat that really appeals to me. “Without Saying” is like a dash of the Thames Valley 90s brought forward in time. It has a very determined focus on that classic sound, and I love skipping down memory lane as I listen. “Honey” is the obvious hit (to me), with its massive hooks and an instant head bobbing beat. Instant love! “What You Want” is another tune I’m fixated on, with its wall of fuzzed out gaze and Annemarie’s crystalline vocals.

No matter how much noise covers the main melody, you can’t keep it from soaring above all else. On this end, the somewhat ominous “Silent Tide” competes with the mournful wail of a distant train chugging by. I like the weather shift in mood, as this darker dream pop really suits the band. The final tune “Standstill” is contemplative and serene, bringing down the energy for a time before ending in fuzzed out bliss. A wonderful record from an emerging new talent! 

13 October 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: The Luxembourg Signal | Blue Field. By Elizabeth Klisiewicz.

The Luxembourg Signal - Blue Field (Shelflife Records)

This seven-piece band from Los Angeles is known among dream pop fans for their particularly delicious take on this genre. They also aren’t averse to mixing it up with psych either, as do their friends in Soft Science. The band's lineup of Beth Arzy & Betsy Moyer (vocals), Johnny Joyner (guitars), Brian Espinosa (drums) and Ginny Pitchford (keyboards) has been expanded with the addition of Kelly Davis (guitars) and Daniel Kumiega (bass). The septet worked with engineer Mark Rains on Blue Field, and the results are outstanding. With that housekeeping out of the way, let’s get to the music. 

I could throw out a bunch of names for comparison, but nothing really comes to mind. Meaning, nothing here is derivative, though it is evocative, drawing in different eras of classic music without borrowing heavily from them. Singers Beth and Betsy meld together seamlessly with their gentle, cool vocals laying perfectly on top of assured guitar signatures with tons of reverb and a massive soundscape. “There’s Nothing Better Than a Well-Made Machine” starts off with a riff that reminds me of classic Roxy Music, and the cool brush of technology with warmer vocals is a nice contrast. It all stays slightly alienated in that synthy 80s way we all remember. “Atomic No. 10” is a tune I am really keen on, with hints of psych in the mix. The sing along melody stays with me long after the song fades away, the mark of a great tune. “Antarctica” is a stunning, minor key masterpiece and I love how the vocals are layered. 

“Blue Field” is crying out to be a staple on modern radio stations in a perfect world, but then reality bites hard. A truly sublime pop tune. “Are You Numb?” swells with buzzing synths, metronomic percussion, and a pretty melody. “Fall Feeling” features Bobby Wratten (Field Mice, Trembling Blue Stars) on guest vocals, and its simpler construct works well with his introspective vocals. “Laura Palmer” is the first single, and I like its C86 cadence. In my mind, I see shadow figures dipping and weaving on the dance floor as this tune unwinds. Nice! “What You’re Asking For” is atmospheric dream pop of the first order, and has all the earmarks of another hit. Truly stunning work from this California group, and highly recommended by this writer!

09 October 2017

Gaussian Surfgaze: An Interview with Tara Milch of Pastel Felt.

Album art by Isa Beniston

Los Angeles trio Pastel Felt serves as vehicle for the songs of vocalist and guitarist Tara Milch. Alex Edgeworth of Bed Bits provides bass, while Evelyn Quijas, formerly of Pregnant, plays drums. The project’s debut full-length, Charming Lait, has been released on cassette by Lolipop and is available digitally on Bandcamp.

Pastel Felt’s sound melds elements of shoegaze, dream pop, surf, vintage girl group, post-punk, and even a touch of krautrock. Such blended territory has been worked by numerous projects in recent years; close points of reference for Pastel Felt would include, for instance, La Luz and Las Robertas. Like these peers, Pastel Felt slathers this mélange of influences in reverb while making adept use of fuzz—not to mention the lush flanger wash on Lait’s lead track, “Take It Out on Me”—and lo fi aesthetics. Somehow the resultant sound is nonetheless consistent and distinctive: set the tape rolling, and Pastel Felt immediately asserts its own identity. The dreamy haze that envelops the eight tracks of Pastel Felt’s debut is somehow very much of their own brand.

The band’s own apt self-classification is "groovy-mournful surfgaze." Their Facebook and Bandcamp pages additionally offer up the descriptor “Gaussian-blurred”, after Gaussian blur, a smoothing used in image processing that washes over the image, creating an effect resembling that of viewing something through a translucent pane. Here is a wonderful visual metaphor for the way sound is sculpted in shoegaze and dream pop. Such an analogy comes as no surprise when one knows that all three members of Pastel Felt are dedicated visual artists as well as musicians. (Check out Tara’s stuff here and Evelyn’s here.)

Attractive melodies and a gift for pop songcraft are evident throughout Charming Lait. While there’s a sweetness and charm to the band’s sound, minor chords and keys predominate; a cavernous sadness underlies the entire album even as moods and tempos vary.

The project, however, is hardly humorless. Check out, for instance, the video for “Take It Out on Me” (below), in which ancillary band member Jonny Kosmo takes the ride of his life. And last year, the band used a photo of an unidentified rear end for promotional purposes. More subtly, the album title plays on Tara's last name, Milch, German for "milk", "lait" in French.

Perhaps Charming Lait’s most outstanding feature is the gorgeously layered, reverb-shrouded vocal sound (definitely worth a few listens with a good pair of headphones). This aspect of the record utterly entrances even though the vocal tracks are somewhat back in the mix as per much shoegaze and dream pop. Easy intelligibility on the part of the lyrics is sometimes sacrificed to the lo-fi ethereality of the overall vocal sound, but the texture and feeling achieved is worth it.

04 October 2017

TONIGHT! WTSH airs on DKFM. Stream it live @ 10pm EDT/9pm CDT.

Tonight we have an exclusive premiere of The Daysleepers' brand new single (!!!) plus tunes by Fever Dream, Infinity Girl, Airiel, The Morelings, Gleemer, Softer Still, See Through Dresses, DEAFCULT, Pencey Sloe, Tús Nua, Leones, COLOUR OF SPRING + MORE! 

Stream it live 
10pm EDT/9pm CDT/7pm PDT 
Repeats 12 hours later

Stay tuned in for Muso Asia 1 hour after WTSH ends!