L.A.-based dream pop band Haunted Summer cast their spell over Amoeba Hollywood Sept. 10, their autumnal music like a collective signifier of summer moving into fall. Their gorgeous “1996” saw them sending out cool waves of reverbed guitar while singer Bridgette Moody cooed an ode to nostalgia. The band moved from a four-piece to a duo of voice, guitar and synthesizers for a couple of hypnotic songs—including an even dreamier version of Animal Collective’s “Bees,” which they dedicated to the problem of honeybee colony collapse disorder—in which Moody’s voice would move from a whisper to a wail, occasionally masked with underwater effects. The band’s bassist and drummer came back for a couple more, plus their producer, who played a wicked theramin on their closing song.
L.A.’s Haunted Summer make intoxicatingly beautiful music. The duo of John Seasons and Bridgette Eliza Moody craft music that waltzes and sways in the summer sun, as Moody’s lilt and soft orchestration carries you through unfolding dreamscapes. Fans of Beach House, Mazzy Star and Twin Sister will find themselves getting lost in the band’s upcoming Something in the Water EP, due in September.
Amoeba Hollywood is proud to sponsor the band’s music video premiere show at The Satellite Aug. 1. Amoeba has a free ticket to the show to the first 10 people that buy their self-titled EP at the store while supplies last. The show starts at 9 p.m. and also features Tashaki Miyaki, yOya and The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers. You can grab the first single from their EP, "All Around," as a free download from Amoeba.
I sat down with John Seasons and Bridgette Eliza Moody to discuss their exciting new project.
PST: How did the two of you start playing together?
Seasons: Bridgette and I were friends for eight years, I admired her as a fellow musician and friend for that period. We fell in true love last year and started making music together shortly after.
The band consists of brothers and Princeton members Matt and Jesse Kivel (the latter also of Kisses), on guitar/vocals and drums/vocals, respectively, plus Abe Burns on guitar, David Lewis on bass and Mark Nieto on synths and other noise. Their self-titled debut, out now on Easter Everywhere, calls to mind swirling shoegaze maestros like Ride, Chapterhouse and Swervedriver, but with more of a willingness to explore synth-laden textural landscapes, akin to modern shoegazers like Airiel, Film School and The War on Drugs. Songly like “March of Gold” create inviting aural fields of sound with lovelorn melodies before igniting them with guitar fireworks.
Burns says the band formed when he and Matt Kivel worked at Daily Variety. (Hey, I worked there too! Ages ago though.) Burns says they practiced once before their first show, writing all of his parts during that first practice. Later, they added members, fleshed out the songs with more sonic texture, with Lewis of Gentle Hands coming on board last to add low-end sound.
“Chillwave” in 2010 is as embarassing a genre tag as “Shoegaze” or “Grunge” was in 1991. It sounds more like a vile blue-colored slushy drink from a convenience store than a musical genre. I feel bad for the contemporary Dream Pop bands that have to endure being cast as such. Chillwave is the new Nu-Rave, i.e., nothing more than loosely similar bands being forced into corners by lazy bedroom bloggers. While many young bands, as of late, have been heavily borrowing sonic textures, recording aesthetics, and ideas from those bleary bands of the late ‘80’s and early 90’s, Virginia’s one-man band of Jack Tatum, aka Wild Nothing, has succeeded in making a record that pings the right amount of lilting and forlorn nostalgia via its familiar Dream Pop haze yet is complex enough not to fatigue attentive ears. Gemini, released this week, has all the shimmer of early Cocteau Twins, the bounce of mid-era Cure, and the rough charm of a C86-era mixtape. This is the sort of record I wish Beach House would make.
Gemini’s success as a great Dream Pop album is also highlighted by what it is lacking. Tatum avoids the cloying cutsey tweeness of last year’s retro-darlings The Pains of Being Pure At Heart and instead delivers a breezy melancholy. Sincerity is a breath of fresh air here as well -- while essentially postmodern because of its pastiche, Gemini obviously springs from Tatum’s heart, carefully avoiding the irony so many young bands rely on and hide behind. On the slow-crawl of “Pessimist,” Tatum wears it on his sleeve with the line “Boys Don’t Cry/They Just Die” without a hint of a grin. However, the album is never oppressive or dreary, even when Tatum is bummed out; it truly is a great feat to make a record that plays perfectly on a summer drive to the beach or home alone on a rainy day.