Stream the New Beach House Song "Sparks"

Posted by Billy Gil, July 1, 2015 04:43pm | Post a Comment

beach houseIf you needed any convincing that Beach House is one of the best bands on the planet, their new song "Sparks" is a strong argument. Ever since their first of two masterpieces was released, 2010's Teen Dream, every new song and album by the Baltimore duo feels like an event. After announcing weeks ago that Depression Cherry, their fifth album and first since 2012's Bloom, would be released Aug. 28 on Sub Pop, we've been waiting with bated breath to hear a new song, and now we've finally got it. "Sparks" first premiered first on a Spanish radio show RTVE and has now been made available to stream via YouTube:

beach house depression cherryI keep listening to it over and over again to figure out what the hell is going on. That first blast of heavily saturated guitar and Victoria Legrand's layered vocals portend something special, which is just what we get with this gorgeous track. Legrand's organ and voice drone in perfect unison over a corroded digital beat, while Alex Scally's guitar's lay back and add small bits of texture, unleashing that volcanic noise again at select moments. Legrand's voice is more restrained than on previous singles, heavily breathy like My Bloody Valentine's Bilinda Butcher but with her same unmistakable husky tone, which comes through more clearly as the song progresses.The chorus is subtle but lovely, like Neil Young by way of Broadcast, but the best bits are the details—that skip in the beat right before the chorus, those high sliding guitar notes that sound like reverb-drenched shooting stars. It's somewhat long and amorphous but never outstays its welcome. You could listen for days and find new things to like about it.

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The Top 10 Shoegaze Bands of All Time, or, The Godlike Genius of Shoegaze

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 20, 2015 06:11pm | Post a Comment
I'm still buzzing from the Ride show at the Warfield. "Cool Your Boots" has been running through my head non-stop for a week (although there was a break, at least in my sleep, when I had a dream which involved listening to Cedric Im Brooks). Since the show I've been listening to a lot of shoegaze (and a little chimp rock -- anyone remember that?).

Long sleeves, stripes, and androgyny
Long sleeves, stripes, and androgyny -- the alternative was San Diego Sizzler Chic

I've also met a couple of people since getting back from San Francisco with whom the subject of music arose. Two of them were on their way from Coachella to Brokechella and were talking about "soul" (in the sense that Maroon 5 are soul, I suppose) act, Fitz & the Tantrums. No one had heard of Ride or had the haziest notion of what shoegaze means. When I told them that Ride had played at Coachella they looked incredulous. 

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Ride rolls into the Warfield -- and their thirteen most massive tunes

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 13, 2015 10:42am | Post a Comment
I'm currently down in San Francisco (well, Richmond actually) to see Ride play. Ride, for those keeping score, were the best of a crop of bands known way back in the early 1990s as shoegazers. Like most British bands that survived into those dark years of the mid-1990s, when a collective craze for slow motion guitar solos and untucked shirts overcome white Britannia, Ride too went horribly wrong (i.e. Britpop) in the end before calling it a day in 1996. They only released one bad album (and it was awful) but then Andy Bell formed Hurricane #1, a truly horrendous (way) sub-Seahorses audition for Oasis. Bell went on to play in Oasis and then that other Liam Gallagher band who can't have been all bad as they covered World of Twist's "Sons of the Stage." 

Ride band

This is all a roundabout way of saying that the prospect of a Ride reunion made me, understandably I think, rather nervous. They released a clutch of fantastic EPs, three great albums, and only one steaming, stinker -- but it was their final album, and a direction Bell pursued with his following bands so would he insist that Tarantula haters like myself got it wrong and try to prove his point by subjecting audiences to "The Dawn Patrol" and "Starlight Motel" or worse, "Just Another Illusion"? All of my fears were put to rest when I listened to them play a short set on KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic," which included five songs from their brilliant debut, Nowhere, and its equally classic follow-up, Going Blank Again. They sounded great. I meant to dust off my old Ride T-shirt with the mud stains and holes but perhaps wisely forgot (it's really holey).
Ride band

Shoegazers were sometimes criticized for hiding their lack of songs behind walls of feedback... but listening to "Morning Becomes Eclectic" for the first time in fifteen years as I waited for Ride to play I was treated to a barrage of forgettable, tuneless, garblers in Native American headdresses singing whoa-oh-oh-y car insurance jingles (or at least that's what it sounded like to me). You know, Coachellacore or the stuff that plays during Spotify ads when sensible users remove their earbuds. Ride, on the other hand, wrote some of the tightest (I'll never use that word again to describe music, I promise) melodies, sang the pretties harmonies, channeled The Byrds, Love, and Buffalo Springfield, and then added a healthy squall of guitar noise that make me wonder why all the "nu-gazers" are so bland and limp (...oh yeah, Slowdive). 
Ride played at Coachella the other night, apparently. They're playing at the Warfield tonight. They're playing in Pomona at the Fox Theater tomorrow. 

Swervedriver Release New Song 'Autodidact,' New Album Due March 3

Posted by Billy Gil, February 4, 2015 04:13pm | Post a Comment

swervedriver i wasn't born to lose you lp

Original shoegazers Swervedriver have been back around for a while now, playing various festivals and releasing a new song, "Deep Wound," in 2013. But now they've announced a new album, I Wasn't Born To Lose You, due March 3 on Cobraside. You can preorder the album now on LP and CD.

Here's the tracklist:

1. Autodidact
2. Last Rites
3. For A Day Like Tomorrow
4. Setting Sun
5. Everso
6. English Subtitles
7. Red Queen Arms Race
8. Deep Wound
9. Lone Star
10. I Wonder?

You can hear the traditional aspects of Swervedriver's sound in the first song, "Autodidact," which they also unveiled today: beautiful, cascading guitarwork, loud, distorted power chords, thundering beats and Adam Franklin's throaty, chilled out tenor, fusing shoegazer aesthetics with the sound of the then-burgeoning alternative-rock scene. I'd say it was a return to form, if Swervedriver ever lost their form to begin with.

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Essential Records: The Jesus & Mary Chain 'Psychocandy'

Posted by Billy Gil, January 30, 2015 05:00pm | Post a Comment

essential albums jesus and mary chain psychocandy

Like many records whose reputations precede them, Psychocandy, the debut album by Scottish troublemakers The Jesus & Mary Chain, should be approached with caution and when you’re ready, not because someone told you to listen to it.

I picked up Psychocandy sometime in 2002 from Amoeba Hollywood, shortly after the store opened. I was going to school in San Diego at the time, and my friends and I would make trips up to Lou’s Records in Encinitas and Amoeba to binge buy used CDs. No one told me to get Psychocandy like Barry from High Fidelity, but I knew I probably should, judging by my growing obsessions with Sonic Youth, The Velvet Underground and My Bloody Valentine.

The first time I put it on, on my shitty car stereo, I couldn’t really hear what was going on. A car full of people talking didn’t help. It just sounded like static to me, but I was intrigued. I listened later on and, of course, became full-on obsessed.

“Just Like Honey” is the obvious entry point and still a hauntingly beautiful song that is universal in a Nirvana sorta way. But the album’s next few tracks are its best. “The Living End” isn’t just a song title that Gregg Araki would nick for his great movie of the same name; its overall vibe is so underground and elusive that listening always makes you feel a lot cooler than you really are. It doesn’t matter that I’m way too chicken shit to ever ride a motorcycle. Both “The Living End” and “Taste the Floor” introduce a sonic trick that other great bands would mimic, like the aforementioned Nirvana, their inspirations in The Pixies (who themselves would cover J&MC’s “Head On”) and shoegaze followers like Lush and Swervedriver, piling added distortion on what already felt like too much to begin with, like pouring chocolate syrup all over a chocolate cake. It’s overwhelming and awesome.

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