Some Velvet Mixtape: 2013 in Drones, Reverb and Feedback - Part One
The shoegaze scene (and its many associated sub-genres) also continues to go from strength to strength. Aside from the return of My Bloody Valentine both live and on record, a plethora of new bands have emerged from all around the globe in recent months. At the same time, labels such as Club AC30, Northern Star, Sonic Cathedral, Saint Marie, Twin Lakes and Fuzz Club continue to flourish - many having released - or about to - some of 2013's finest records.
...And it doesn't stop there (or else there wouldn't be much point having a column dedicated to this 'sound'). Last weekend, Northern Star put on their own three-day event at Brixton's Windmill venue headlined by The Telescopes, The Lost Rivers and 93MillionMilesFromTheSun. While next month, the sixth Austin Psych Fest will take place from 26-28 April. The line-up for this year's Austin Psych Fest is nothing short of incredible, featuring the likes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Warpaint, Deerhunter and The Raveonettes among a host of impressive others. A Place To Bury Strangers and Metz will also be playing a pre-party show at the city's Mohawk venue on 25th that's free to Psych Fest pass holders. Weekend tickets priced $150 and day passes at $60 per day can be purchased here.
Staying with festivals, The Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia) announced its first round of artists this week. Ty Segall's Fuzz, Clinic, Psychic Ills and Jacco Gardner are among the first batch of confirmations, with many more to follow in the coming months. Taking place at the city's Camp And Furnace venue over the weekend of 27-28 September, tickets priced at just £30 for both days can be purchased here).
So, onto the first Some Velvet Mixtape of 2013. Forty of the finest tracks to grace our stereos this year. Starting with this mouth-watering appetiser from a band most of you already hold dearly...
Not strictly shoegaze, psychedelic, drone or noise, but undoubtedly a major influence on many artists associated with each of those genres. Last week, Sigur Rós announced they'd be releasing a new album, Kveikur, on 17th June. They also confirmed a host of new tour dates at the back end of the year including UK shows in Nottingham (November 19), Brighton (20) and Wembley (21) in addition to their headline slot at End Of The Road and Jodrell Bank performances in August. They also unleashed a taster of what to expect. Here's 'Brennisteinn'
The Boxer Rebellion
Another band who've been away for far too long are The Boxer Rebellion. Having been relatively quiet since 2011's The Cold Still, the band announced recently that they'd completed recording their fourth album, Promises. Set for release on 14th May, here's the video for 'Diamonds', the first single to be taken from the new record. Enjoy...
Oslo based outfit Izakaya Heartbeat remain relatively unknown outside of their native Norway. However, when the excellent Enter - Rainbow Lake; their second long player for Handmade Records; landed on our doormat in January of this year, it's fair to say we were instantly hooked. This is 'Enter', taken from Enter - Rainbow Lake.
Montreal duo Valleys mix lo-fi experimentation and psychedelic folk with an ethereal wall of sound reminiscent of Beach House or early Blonde Redhead. Despite releasing debut long player Sometimes Water Kills People as far back as 2009, they've spent the entire interim period honing and developing their sound save for the odd EP here and there. The results can be heard on Are You Going To Stand There And Talk Weird All Night?, their forthcoming album out on 29th April through Kanine Records. This is 'Undream A Year', the first single to be taken from the record.
Depth & Current
Oklahoma's Depth & Current call their forthcoming eight-song EP Transient "A full length album for a modern attention span." We'd rather call it a concise lesson in controlled aggression. Here's 'You're Alive'.
Texan five-piece Holy Wave have been regulars on the Austin psyche circuit for a few years now. Currently signed to The Reverberation Appreciation Society label which just happens to be run by the same people responsible for Austin Psych Fest, they've just released an excellent compilation entitled Evil Hits, which marries together last year's The Evil Has Landed EP with five selections from 2011's debut Knife Hits. This is 'Golden Truth'.
One of our favourite labels is the excellent Fuzz Club ran by Keith Milla, also founder of Bad Vibrations club night. Southampton's Dead Rabbits have been regular favourites at the night since its conception, and this month finally sees the release of their debut long player The Ticket That Exploded. On Fuzz Club of course. Listen to 'When I'm Blue', one of the standouts from the record.
Followers of football and in particular the Champions League may have heard this billowing from the Old Trafford speakers at half time recently. Having commented as far back as 2006 that Exit Calm were a band destined to play stadiums, maybe that time is upon us? Here's the video to recent single 'The Rapture' that came out in February on Club AC30.
Hearts Of Black Science
Swedish duo Hearts Of Black Science may have been dormant in recent years, but last month's excellent We Saw The Moon EP was an undoubted return to form. Reminding all and sundry why they were considered such an exciting prospect upon the release of 2007's debut The Ghost You Left Behind, HoBS' Daniel Änghede and Tomas Almgren are currently working on their long-awaited as-yet-untitled third album. Excited? You bet we are. This is 'College Dreams' from the recent EP.
Former Curve man Dean Garcia along with daughter Rose Berlin have been wowing London audiences as SPC ECO with their noise-laden trancetronica for a good few years now. Their most recent EP Push, released in January, highlighted why they've become such an enticing live proposition and arguably represents their most fluent body of work to date. Here's the title track, 'Push'.
Girl One And The Grease Guns
We don't know much about Girl One And The Grease Guns other than they go under the mysterious names of Sissy Space Echo, Charles Bronson Burner, Warren Beatamax and Bruce Lee Fax. However, silly names aside, current single 'Driving Without Headlights (Once Again)' sounds like Suicide, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Dubstar and Miss Kittin all rolled into one.
The History Of Colour TV
Based in Berlin, The History Of Colour TV fuse gloomy atmospherics with a propensity for euphoric soundscapes. First long player Emerald Cures Chic Ills came out on Saint Marie Records in January, and here's 'Suddenlines', taken from the album.
Montreal doomgazers No Joy release their long-awaited second album Wait To Pleasure in April. Out on the Mexican Summer label, the follow-up to 2010's Ghost Blonde shows a more refined sound than its predecessor, as demonstrated on recent single 'Lunar Phobia'.
Fonda are a boy/girl LA based duo that bonded over a shared love of Farfisa organs and Jacques Demy fifteen years ago. Band members came and went, and after a long hiatus of eight years they're back with gorgeous fourth LP Sell Your Memories, from which 'Seeing Stars' is taken.
Borne in Philadelphia but now based in Chicago, Panda Riot have been making ear shattering noise rock since 2011. Debut album Northern Automatic Music came out on Saint Marie Records in February, and this is 'Black Pyramids', one of the choice cuts off the record.
Little is known of Catenine except that the project's creator Dylan Connor is based in Massachusetts and adores Sarah Records artists The Field Mice and The Wake along with UK post-punk bands such as The Cure and The Chameleons. However, his self-titled debut, released four days prior to Christmas last year, remains one of the most beautiful collections we've heard in a long while. This is 'Wonder'.
Somewhat unfairly thrown together with the current spate of Topshop indie bores and grunge revivalists, London-via-the Antipodes quartet Splashh have more in common with early nineties Creation or 4AD if their recorded output to date is anything to go by. Last year's 'All I Wanna Do' and 'Vacation' brought to mind the likes of Adorable or The Boo Radleys pre-Wake Up Boo. This week, they've made live favourite 'Sun Kissed Bliss' available as a free download via their Facebook page. Go on, it would be rude not to.
Californian trio Nightmare Air were once described by one critic as being "LA's loudest band." Not being ones to argue, we thought we'd check out their latest LP, High In The Lasers. We weren't disappointed. Here's 'Icy Daggers'.
The Electric Mainline
Devotees of ace London label Northern Star Records will know its founder and sole proprietor Scott Causer also fronts his own band, The Electric Mainline. What's more, they're actually rather good, as forthcoming single 'Don't You Know' ably demonstrates.
Sounding like a cross between a modern day Gong or Butthole Surfers, New York's Psychic Ills have been at the forefront of the psychedelia revival long before many of their peers were out of high school. Currently celebrating their tenth year as a going concern, fourth long player One Track Mind, released in February, represents their most consistent body of work to date. Listen to 'One More Time'.
San Francisco's Echodrone decided that the best way to combat writer's block would be to record an album of their favourite cover versions. The results are Songs For Duckie, and this their quite elegant take on Gary Numan's 'Are Friends Electric?'
London-based duo The KVB's sound could best be described as synapse crushingly loud. Heavy on reverb and feedback against a backdrop of processed beats, their Immaterial Visions long player ranks among this year's finest while their live shows have left a trail of carnage and destruction across the UK. Here's 'Shadows', the first single taken from the album.
The brainchild of former Six By Seven skinsman Chris Davis, Nottingham's Spotlight Kid have established themselves as one of the country's most consistent bands these past few years. 2011's second album Disaster Tourist came out a string of rave reviews including a well deserved 8/10 on these very pages. Currently finishing off the follow-up, here's 'Budge Up', the first release from their as-yet untitled and soon-to-be-ready third long player.
The Cosmic Dead
The Cosmic Dead may hail from Glasgow but their music sounds as if it were created in another universe altogether. Not averse to partaking in two hour jams and then recording them for posterity, new LP Inner Sanctum contains four tracks that clock in at a mammoth seventy-four minutes and is indebted to all things Can, Hawkwind, Loop and Pink Floyd. It's also astonishingly good. Listen to 'Orbiting Salvation'.
London four-piece Sulk float incandescently between the classier side of Britpop and melodic shoegaze. Comparisons range from Ride's more soothing elements to a Southern Charlatans. Either way, last year's epic single 'Back In Bloom' was a huge favourite on the shoegaze circuit and follow-up 'Flowers' has the potential to be the same. Debut album Graceless is out on Perfect Sound Forever in April. Here's the video for 'Flowers'.
United Ghosts may sound like they've emerged from mid-seventies industrial Germany but there's a heady mix of effects-laden electronica at the heart of the Californian quartet's make-up. This is 'Holes Into The Night', taken from their self-titled debut which came out earlier this month.
Essentially the brainchild of Brooklyn based Rich Bennett whose 2010 mini-album on Hidden Shoal Recordings counts as one of that year's most understated. Monocle's debut long player Outer Sunset is a transcendental exercise in ambient dream pop where melody rules supreme. Lead single 'Chances Glide' features a vocal contribution from Dead Leaf Echo's Ana Breton and is frankly, sublime.
Philadelphia's Bleeding Rainbow have been kicking up an unholy racket for the past five years now and new album Yeah Right follows a similar path. This is 'Waking Dream'.
Tropical Popsicle hail from San Diego but could quite easily have sprung up in San Francisco circa 1967 or around the Thames Valley district twenty years later. Fusing West Coast psychedelia with feedback, reverb and all kinds of affluent droning sounds, their Dawn Of Delight long player is one of the finest 2013 has bestowed upon us thus far. This is 'Ghost Beacons'.
Then Comes Silence
Then Comes Silence, the noiserock project formed by Sad Day For Puppets' Alex Svensson caused a stir at the tail end of last year with their excellent self-titled long player. With a new SDFP record on the horizon, Svensson's parting shot for the first chapter of Then Comes Silence is a new single, 'Sweet Curls', that most definitely isn't for the faint of heart.
One of this column's favourite releases of 2012 was Weekends by Portland-based PacificUV. The follow-up, After The Dream You Are Awake is expected to be with us in May. In the meantime, here's the video for 'Funny Girl', the final single off Weekends released earlier this year.
Here Is Your Temple
Gothenberg's Here Is Your Temple cite Beach House and Velvet Underground chanteuse Nico as influences. We'd like to add The Brian Jonestown Massacre sprinkled with a little Jefferson Airplane to that list if debut single 'So High' is anything to go by. Listen here for yourselves.
Presents For Sally
Presents For Sally have been diligently crafting melancholic dream pop since 2008. Debut long player A Touch Of Joy, A Touch Of Sadness alerted Saint Marie Records to their wares, and although quiet of late, new single 'Anything Anymore' was released on the Distant Noise label at the beginning of March and is as breathtaking as they come.
Seattle's Grave Babies are another anomaly here in that they're somewhat averse to align themselves with any one specific genre. Nevertheless, their take on effects driven noise rock is a welcome addition to any Some Velvet Mixtape. Here's 'Skulls', taken from their recently released LP Crusher.
London's Whistlejacket are a bit of an unknown quantity at this moment in time. We suspect that anonymity won't last for long if their recent batch of Slowdive influenced demos are anything to go by. Listen to 'Shimmer', arguably the pick of the bunch.
This time last year we knew very little of Ttotals. Now, having listened to the excellent 'Life Thus Far Out' off the excellent Psych For Sore Eyes EP more times than we'd care to mention, it's fair to say Some Velvet Mixtape can't get enough of them. New EP 'Spectrums Of Light' comes out in April on the Twin Lakes label. Here's 'Sometimes You Just Are'.
Stockholm outfit Culkin first came to our attention via 2012's Several Sundays long player. February saw them return with a new six-track EP, the aptly-titled Sphynx. Listen to the EP in full below.
Some Velvet Mixtape love this Bristol quartet's Hunger EP so much that we haven't stopped playing it morning, noon or night since its arrival. Part of the Howling Owl imprint that features other up-and-coming West Country acts like Oliver Wilde and Velcro Hooks - look out for the awesome Record Store Day 12 inch EP featuring all of the aforementioned plus The Naturals entitled Music Is Dead - ; this is the explosive 'Rattle The Cage'.
Californian trio Weekend have long been favourites since their excellent Sports debut dropped towards the end of 2010. Since then, they've put out the equally splendid Red EP before hibernating with the intention of putting together the follow-up to Sports. That record is finally finished, and the band's second long player, Jinx, will be out on 23rd July through Slumberland Records. In the meantime, here's 'Mirror', the first single off the album.
The Soft Moon
Finally, one of last year's finest albums was the excellent Zeros by San Francisco noise terrorists The Soft Moon. They're in the UK this month for a brief visit, playing at Islington Academy on 16th April. Here's the video for 'Insides'. Enjoy!