In preparation for a proper return from hibernation, anonymous internet pal Le Chevalier has gifted the wires with this short holiday EP. It’s actually fitting that I share the EP today because I have been patiently waiting for some snowfall and today I woke up to flakes scattering the ground. So I am feeling particularly festive today, and this EP only enhanced what I was already feeling.
If you’re already familiar with Le Chevalier's music then you know to expect dreamy synth music with fragile vocals and the occasional pangs of bittersweet emotion. He says that this EP is "A Holiday album for those who don’t like the Holidays." So if you’re feeling slightly grinchy this holiday season, give it a spin and maybe it’ll melt your icy heart. (And don’t forget to be on the lookout for Le Chevalier's proper return next year.)
Over on my Facebook page I just posted the first of three album teasers that SoftSpot is releasing for their debut album Enso. Today the band released the second of these three teasers and it is absolutely gorgeous. Directed by band members Sarah Kinlaw and Bryan Keller, the clip is flowing, sensual, and monochromatic. It also confirms that this young band knows exactly the aesthetic they’re reaching for.
Here is a brand new track from my buddy Justin McNiff. I still remember when Justin sent me a handful of early scratchy Speedway Star demos last year. The tracks were certainly rough with crusty fidelity, but they also had a lot of heart from a guy who was earnestly searching for his songwriting footing.
With a cassette tape release and a year of experience under his belt, Justin has begun tinkering with the Speedway Star sound incorporating new influences and new sounds. His newest track “Cool As Molly” is not only named after the beautiful Molly Ringwald, but it also finds its bedrock in the music of her most successful decade: the 1980’s. He has smoothed out many of the project’s rough edges and embraced a dreamy early shoegaze sound. The track’s vibe, which is simultaneously sunny and melancholy, is a good fit for Justin. Here’s to hoping he has more stuff like this up his sleeve.
Wow, how did I miss this one? I had heard that Boy Friend occasionally busted this cover out at shows (to much adoration), but I didn’t know that the ladies properly recorded it until Christa Palazzolo sent it to me today.
Sure everyone knows the classic jam "Drive" by The Cars and there is no doubt that the track has had its fair share of cover versions over the years, but somehow Boy Friend manages to pick it up and make it sparkle like new again. Draping the track in reverb-soaked swaths of sheer sonic fabric, the ladies bring an atmospheric depth to it that only they could conjure. Listening to it now I’m realizing that this cover is the perfect respite from the onslaught of hardcore and metal that I’ve been featuring lately.
If you like what you hear here but have yet to check out BoyFriend's excellent debut album Egyptian Wrinkle then by all means, run out and grab it. It’s easily one of my favorite albums so far this year. It’s out now on Hell, Yes!
Tan Dollar // Diary of Our Journey to the Netherlands
I wasn’t really familiar with Tan Dollar when I downloaded this EP. In fact, I don’t even really remember downloading it in the first place, but there it was in my recently added folder in iTunes. So I listened, and I liked. I like a lot, actually. So I reached out to the very friendly frontman Chris Thorne via Twitter and then later e-mail and he gave me the scoop on this dreamy pop band from Tustin, California.
For being a relatively young band, Tan Dollar has not only quite a few releases under their belt, but they’ve also undergone more lineup changes than most bands will see in their lifetime. Chris Thorne remains the band’s sole founding member and he is now joined by three of his friends for their latest EP Diary of Our Journey to the Netherlands. After going back and listening to a few of their older releases it seems like Tan Dollar has been steadily shedding layers with each release. And on this EP it seems like this new skin of theirs is the softest, and most healthy yet.
The three tracks on Diary find ground that is very welcome to my ears. They successfully and effortlessly straddle the ground between dream pop and 1980’s shoegaze and they do so with two different guitar effects. It’s a great mashup of sound and it creates these pop songs that sound relatively timeless. Chris told me that the band is hopefully gearing up for a 12” release later this year. So now that I’m a fervent fan I’m definitely going to tracking that one.
Los Jardines de Bruselas // “Changing, Just Growing”
Early last year I highlighted the aptly title album Floating In Dreams by Argentian artist Los Jardines de Bruselas. Sole member Ezequiel de la Parra’s brand of quirky, hazy dream pop helped to whisk away some of the winter blues and now this year he aims to do the same with his brand new video for “Changing, Just Growing.”
In the video Ezequiel wanders around a forest in a starry-eyed, psychedelic haze as people in giant animal costumes creep around behind him darting from tree to tree. The whole ordeal is then filtered through Ezequiel’s orange-tinted glasses and while it’s very bizarre it seems to suit the music rather squarely.
Hailing from Austin, Texas the girls known as Troller have crafted an album that had I given it a more thorough listen when it came out last month it would have landed on my year-end list. And yes, it is that good. Now I usually try to avoid likening one band to another, but in this case I can’t really help but draw comparisons… well a comparison. When I’m listening to Troller I feel myself being pulled downward into the same smokey dreamworld that fellow Austin resident Sleep ∞ Over tapped into with Forever.
Where I see the difference here is that Troller is a bit more calculated in their approach. Instead of letting the music wander around following its own beats, things feel harnessed and controlled just enough here. The guitars create this slow-churning buzz that in conjunction with with the percussion set the foundation for the more ethereal elements represented by the synths and the otherworldly vocals. Everything together is utterly mesmerizing and feels distant yet somehow close enough to lightly run your fingers along.
I’m not sure if this album saw any sort of physical release, but I’d really like to know because I’d love to own a piece of this world. For now you’ll have to settle for streaming it on either their bandcamp or soundcloud.
Do you know those people that will post pictures of themselves but tag said photo with a caption like: “Ugh, I look so ugly in this photo.”? It’s a little frustrating because: A) In reality, if they honestly thought they looked ugly in the photo they wouldn’t have posted it; and B) they really don’t look ugly, in fact they could even potentially look rather nice. So why the caption? I’ll never truly know, but I’ve found that Le Chevalier has a touch of this sentiment when it comes to releasing his music. His own brand of self-deprecation is most evident via his Twitter account that will occasionally issue forth things that evoke similar ideas. No one will like this music, or no one will even care if this music gets released, or releasing the music at all might not even happen.
I’m not necessarily saying this as a negative thing. In fact a lot of it can probably be chocked up to apprehension to releasing this music at all (a feeling that many artists share). Also the very fact that he released it is evidence enough to suggest otherwise. I know deep down he believes that the music is good, and listening to it I am believing it too.
Clocking in under 20 minutes Little Baby is time well spent. It’s a loving wash of color and texture. Vocals, delicately yet expertly layered, enhance the ethereal qualities of his already dreamlike music. Everything going on here can only be described as gentle. The acoustic guitars, the signature synths with all their warmth, and the way that everything ties neatly together. It’s a true craft and it’s pulled off with aplomb. All joking and self-loathing aside, I really hope that Le Chevalier believes in his music as much as I think he does, because honestly it is something worth being proud of.
It’s been a good couple of months since we’ve heard anything from Rebecca Doerfer AKA Brown Bread. Her last track "Where Were You Last Night" really blew me away with its haunting beauty and also the growth that took place between the release of her EP Cucciola and that track hinted at a ton of promise. Taking further steps into that dreamy territory, Rebecca just shared with me this beyond amazing video.
The clip is literally nothing more than Rebecca sitting in her room wielding two weapons to devastating effect. The first in her arsenal is a simple looping machine. The second weapon happens to be her Excalibur: her voice. Watch the video as she slowly and meekly drapes layer after layer of ethereal vocals on top of each other. As it builds and swells it becomes a thing of staggering beauty. She claims that the video is “nothing special”, but if this is her just goofing off I can only imagine what her next release holds in store. It drops sometime this month so keep an ear to the ground.
I love when new bands only have one song to listen to. It’s not that I’m not willing to devote the time to a full release, but rather this one song is a short burst of sound that the band has carefully constructed. Then they send it out there as their primary representation. Dig the song, dig the band. That was the case with Children of Pop. They contacted me and sent me this track “Charge” which happens to be their only track to date. It also happens to be an amazing song. Check it out.
Although whoever is behind the music proudly proclaim that they are “an independent chillwave music idea from Houston, Texas" I wouldn’t peg them so narrowly. If anything that tag sells them short, because this track has a lot more to offer. Layered vocals of dreamy harmonies and synths so light that they could be issuing like vapors from a fog machine. The only thing I could build a chillwave case on would be what sounds like 1980’s casio beat/sample. If anything I would tag this as some lush dream pop. And if Children of Pop put as much love into all of their songs as they did on this one, then I imagine they’ll do just fine (with or without chillwave).
I’ve always found alot to like about Teen Daze's music. But in the back of my mind I was always waiting for him to blow me away in the way that I felt he was capable of. His debut album Four More Years popped up during the “chillwave” craze and got a little lost in the shuffle for me. So many artists were flooding in and searching for ways to fill the gapes between microgenre titans like Washed Out, Neon Indian, and Memory Tapes. And while the songs on Four More Years were cool, I felt like they were more like seeds of great ideas that just needed some water, sunlight, and some time to grow.
Fast forward to today, the release date of his newest EP A Silent Planet. Being a huge C.S. Lewis fan myself, I was stoked to learn that this EP was a reaction of sorts to Lewis’ book Out of the Silent Planet. It showed that there was more to the conceptualizing of this release than one might expect. On top of that his music has grown in leaps and bounds. Slowly drifting more towards the dream pop arena, it’s obvious that the music of his chums in Candy Claws have had more than a little influence on him. But where Candy Claws seem to build their music around more of an abstraction, Teen Daze takes A Silent Planet down a much more straightforward route.
Basically what he’s given us is a glimpse of some of the most beautiful dream pop songs of the year viewed through a cloak of morning mist. It’s delicate and beautiful but also very assured in its execution. In essence, this is the release that I’ve been waiting for Teen Daze to create. He’s pushed his songwriting to the stars and in doing so found himself on a beautiful new plane of music-making.
A Silent Planet is out today on Waaga Records. Don’t snooze on one of the best releases of the year.
One of the coolest things about being a music blogger is witnessing an artist’s evolution. This instance is one of those such metamorphoses. Way back in January I blurbed about the handful of demos that I found on the Youth Castles bandcamp. After the post went up, YC mastermind Dan Abary wrote me and thanked me for the exposure and it was from that point on that we had some sort of unspoken agreement/friendship. He penned the jams, sent them my way, and I’d post them up here for all you wonderful people to hear. Bing, bang, boom.
Along the way Dan has shown us several vastly different aspects of his songwriting prowess. He gave us some stripped down and deeply personal folk as Four Visions, then the sunny beach pop of Dorean, and even he flipped Youth Castles on its head and with the beautiful dream pop track "Sight Seeing" back in April. And apparently he isn’t done yet, not by a long shot.
Shifting his focus back to Youth Castles, Dan has assembled a full-time band, lined up some East coast shows, and (taking a cue from his last and most popular track) changed the name of the project to Sight Seeing. It’s a move that shows that this young band is gearing up for big things (including an upcoming cassette on Bleach Blonde Records), so stay ahead of the curve by keeping your thumb on their page. On their bandcamp you’ll find a handful of demos (some new, some old) all ready for you to sink your teeth into.
Title: all my friendsArtist: the bilinda butchers130 plays
The Bilinda Butchers // Regret, Love, Guilt, Dreams
Have you ever looked forward to something so much that when it finally came time to experience it your expectations weren’t met and you were left feeling sorely disappointed? Yeah those occurrences suck big time… fortunately that’s not the case here. When I say that I’ve been waiting for months to hear this EP I am being 100% serious. I was corresponding with these dudes this past spring about possibly being on Tears On My Pillow, but they were too busy working hard on this EP to contribute. At the time that news was disappointing, but now that I’m hearing the pure awesomeness that is Regret, Love, Guilt, Dreams I am so glad that they did not stray from the path for my sake.
Sinking their teeth deeply into the veins of 1980’s goth dream pop, The Bilinda Butchershave bled that influence dry while still managing to keep things sounding beautifully timeless. Every tiny aspect of this music is intentionally arranged to maximum effect. There is a hazy quality to these tracks and filtering its way through it all is a bright, shining light. If you feel like you are sitting alone in a graveyard at dawn watching the sun slowly pierce the morning fog, then you are definitely not alone.
Please don’t pass this one up. You can pay whatever you want for it on their bandcamp. So go! I can’t recommend it enough!
If for some reason you have slept on listening to Brown Bread, all can be forgiven by simply clicking play on this, her newest track. Rebecca told me that she just made this track with her friend Colin. I am not sure if it was a spontaneous burst of creativity between the two of them or not, but whatever it was that drove them to pen this track the result is nothing short of inspired.
Now on her most recent EP Cucciola, I felt like the tracks could have profited from a bit more cohesion. There seemed to be a dichotomy of two worlds that her music occupied: the dreamy pop and the experimental noises. On “Where Were You Last Night”, Rebecca seems to have let Brown Bread's music gel a little more resulting in this otherworldly jam that seems to occupy that dead space between consciousness and sleep. It's as if she is meditating through music and is allowing us to experience the free flow with her. So take her hand and let the inspiration ooze. I'm really hoping she builds on this sound for her next release because I am in L-O-V-E.
The music of Peopling is a jarring swan dive that sends the listener headlong into a world of jagged lines and sharp electronic noise. Gears squeak and crank and the vocals are trickled down through a filter of metallic fuzz. Primal screams crack through the atmosphere with the electric intensity of a bolt of lightning. Although this wasteland is littered with sharp metal and rusted hinges, there is something truly compelling about it. Hailing from Brooklyn, Peopling will take you to a place that you might not want to visit at first, but once you’re there you’ll find it hard to leave. Stream and/or buy this beast on their bandcamp site. Not for the feint of heart, but I’m really digging this delicious noise.
With no shortage of character, the tracks on Wallscenery Demos' Half Asleep. Half Awake are full of atmosphere and seem to float in on a cloud of dreamy psychedelia. Dabbling in folk, psych, and dream pop the band really does their best to set these songs up before the listeners with the care and precision of a studio set designer. Creating lush worlds for the listeners to explore, the tracks are accessible enough that a first listen is all that is necessary to fall in love; yet they also possess a quality of timed maturity that allows the tracks to grow inside the comfort of the ear canals. (Again) to stream or buy this thing, head to their bandcamp site.
The bedroom pop project of J. Blake Wood is an exercise in beauty through limitations. Recording under the name The Bird and the Radio, Wood purposely set up recording obstacles surrounding his EP. Establishing a “$100 rule” he decided that any instrument or piece of recording equipment had to be less than $100 or had to be received as gifts. It’s an interesting concept that steps dangerously close to being gimmicky, but the music stands as testament to capable hands. While the production smacks of obvious bedroom quality, the music itself has a charm that no amount of money can buy. Stream or download
Deep within Aster there are two churning black lungs puffing breaths of smokey air into the atmosphere. Then like a whirling dust storm they slowly take the form of these buzzing drone pieces. Sparks fly as power lines cross their path and anything not nailed down is sucked into the vortex. It’s the perfect storm. On their bandcamp Aster has three EPs each consisting of three tracks. It’s as if the music is acting as some sort of unholy trilogy of noise. If you dig it you can download all three EPs for free. They’re just a few clicks away, so get on it.