In the world of shoegaze and psychedelic rock, 2014 has continued where its predecessor left off. With a host of great releases already in the bag, and the promise of so many more to come, it's been a great start to the year. Not surprisingly, there's also an array of upcoming events to put in the diary.
However, let's begin with a report from our first festival of 2014, Manchester's Cosmosis. Held in the ornate surroundings of the city's Antwerp Mansions on Saturday 15th March, it brought together some of the biggest names on the circuit. With three stages - two indoor and one in the garden area - there was never a dull moment for the entire ten-hour duration of the festival. Highlights included Mancunian outfits Kult Country and The Underground Youth, both of whom put on blistering performances in the early part of the evening. London duo The KVB also packed out the downstairs stage along with the colossal Cult Of Dom Keller while Creation legends The Telescopes brought together the past, present and future during their hour-long set. It was left to LA collective The Warlocks to bring the event to a close, and two hours and two sets later, they did just that and so much more. All in all, a resounding success that bodes well for Cosmosis in the future.
This coming weekend, one of our favourite labels Northern Star hosts its annual Weekender event at Brixton's Windmill. Taking place from Friday 28th to Saturday 30th March, the organisers have put together a mouth watering bill featuring some of the best names in shoegaze, psych rock and C86. Last year's Weekender was a complete sell out, and to commemorate it the label issued a live album Northern Star Live Revolution featuring tracks from The Carousels, 93MillionMilesFromTheSun, Air Cav and Deep Cut among others.
Stage times are now available for this weekend's event, with the running order as follows:-
Friday 28th March 2014
11pm White Noise Sound
10pm 14 Iced Bears
Saturday 29th March 2014
10.10 The Greencoats
6.40 of Arrowe Hill
Sunday 30th March
10pm The Wolfhounds
9.20pm Daniel Land
8.30pm Dead Rabbits
7.40pm One Unique Signal
6.50pm The Carousels
6.00 pm Lost Tapes
5.15 pm Spotlight Kid
Another of our favourite labels Club AC30 celebrates its 10th birthday in April with a show at London's Lexington. The line-up features Exit Calm, Adam Franklin & The Bolts Of Melody and Air Formation, who've reformed especially for the gig. Tickets are £10 plus booking fee and can be purchased here. Staying with Club AC30, they're also involved with a new festival taking place in the Portugese town of Valada. Entitled Reverence, it's set to run on 12th & 13th of September with a line-up that ranks among the best we've seen anywhere this year including **Hawkwind, Swervedriver, Psychic TV and The Telescopes.
Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia have also been busily assembling their line-up for this year's event. Taking place on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th September at the city's Camp & Furnace complex, it promises to be a highlight on the calendar. The people behind it are also launching a sister event in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. Eindhoven Psych Lab will take place on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th June, and already boasts the likes of Wooden Shjips, Hookworms, Suuns and Night Beats among an impressive bill.
Finally, here's Some Velvet Mixtape's pick of 30 artists we've been listening to incessantly since the year began. We hope you enjoy them as much as us...
Italian duo The Diaphanoids make electronic based psychedelia like Neu! as reinvented by Warp Records. The brainchild of experienced production duo Andrea Bellentani and Simon Maccari - the latter perhaps better known for his work with 1980s dance act Black Box. Their second long player LSME comes out on Tirk Records in June. Here's the effluent title track.
Hailing from the Devon coastal town of Falmouth, Pastel Colours are a five-piece specialising in swooning psychedelia reminiscent of West Coast outfits like The Byrds to the more structured exponents of C86 such as Felt or The Sea Urchins. Second single 'She Can't Decide' came out as a free download via Exeter's Art Is Hard Records and is well worth your time and attention.
Club AC30 have been one of our favourite labels for a decade now and it's easy to understand why when listening to previously undiscovered gems such as this. Eastern Hollows hail from Brooklyn yet sound like refugees from the Thames Valley circa 1991 via mid-eighties Manchester. This is 'Summer's Dead', their first single for the label which comes out on 5th May. Their self-titled debut long player follows two weeks later.
Staying with Club AC30, Melbourne quartet Flyying Colours also signed to them late last year. Having first come to the attention of DiS last summer, their debut EP Flyying Colours received its UK release earlier this month. This is lead track 'Like You Said' in all its hazy, reverb-laden glory.
Those of you at Liverpool's International Festival of Psychedelia last September will know that The Wands were one of the weekend's highlights. The duo of Christian Skibdal and Mads Gras, based in Copenhagen, first came to our attention at the tail end of 2012 via their excellent debut EP Hello I Know The Blow You Grow Is Magic. Now, with their first album recorded and ready to go, they're about to unleash new single 'The Dawn' through Levitation Records in April.
Southend four-piece Velvet Morning make dreamy psychedelia like a youthful Brian Jonestown Massacre jamming with Verve during their A Storm In Heaven phase. Debut EP Velvet Moon came out on Tree House Music last month. This is 'Paranoia', the lead track from the record.
The Battles Of Winter
With comparisons ranging from Public Image Ltd to Interpol and A Place To Bury Strangers, The Battles Of Winter certainly have a lot to live up to. Nevertheless, Standing At The Floodgates their first long player hints at a bright future, with none of the aforementioned references being wide of the mark. Alistair Gale's distinctive vocal combined with gushing waves of mellifluous feedback and militaristic rhythms make them one of the capital's most exciting new outfits for 2014.
As long standing fans of Youngteam; 2011's debut Daydreamer was one of our favourite records that year picking up an impressive 8/10 on these very pages; it gives us immense pleasure to announce the follow-up is set to be released this month. Entitled Fading Into Night, the album was recorded in their native Stockholm over the course of last year and if 'It's Getting Dark' - the first single to be lifted off the record - is anything to go by, heralds a distinct progression from its predecessor.
Staying with Northern Star Records, Swansea's Soundwire have featured on the label's Psychedelica compilation series in the past. Next month sees them release a split seven-inch double A side with labelmates The Electric Mainline. Fusing heavily krautrock inspired electronica with guttural Mary Chain-esque rock and roll, this is 'A Little Death', their contribution to the 45.
Children Of The Stones
The latest project from musician-cum-producer Mark Van Hoen, whose most recent collaboration with Slowdive's Neil Halstead yielded the excellent Black Hearted Brother record Stars Are Our Home late last year. The Stars And The Silence also features Halstead as well as Esben And The Witch's Rachel Davies. Here's the title track.
London based five-piece Anto Dust is essentially the brainchild of Italian singer/songwriter Anto Cossu. Her ethereal compositions remind us of Lush, Broadcast and Slowdive at their finest which can only be a good thing, of course. Here's '1955', the quintet's debut single.
You The Living
Husband and wife duo You The Living combine slabs of industrial tinged noisetronica with layered atmospherics and swooning vocals. Although presently unsigned, we suspect their scientifically arranged wares won't be a secret for long. Here's their latest composition, 'Wax', which is also available as a free download.
Brisbane's Roku Music have been steadily building a reputation for themselves back home in their native land. Having formed two years ago, their elegant take on classic dreampop has seen them attract widespread attention culminating in debut album Collider being granted a worldwide release this month. This is the delightfully woozy 'Ended', taken from the aforementioned long player.
Philadelphia quartet Bleeding Rainbowstarted out as a duo six years ago. However, since those embryonic years, they've progressed into an apocalyptic force to be reckoned with. Third LP Interrupt came out on Kanine Records in February, and we believe it's their finest collection to date. This is 'So You Know', the first single taken from the record.
Canadian collective The Auras have been raising eyebrows over the other side of the Atlantic in recent months. Having been likened to the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Allah Las and Pink Floyd among others, their West Coast flavoured psychedelia might just be the best thing to come out of Toronto since the Blue Jays halcyon World Series winning teams in the early 1990s. Here's their self-titled second EP, released late last year.
Barnsley's Pusher have emerged as one of the UK's brightest new guitar bands. Having been compared to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Verve and hometown bed fellows Exit Calm, new single 'Let It Break' looks set to catapult them to a wider audience and rightly so. Released this month on Genepool Records, here's the video.
Cult Of Dom Keller
Nottingham's Cult Of Dom Keller have been honing their sound since 2008, gradually harnessing their reputation as one of the psych rock scene's heavier outfits in the process. Think Spacemen 3 covering Black Sabbath or maybe even vice versa. New LP The Second Bardo came out on Cardinal Fuzz Records recently and is astonishingly good. Here's the album in all it's unbridled glory.
Flights Of Helios
Readers of Some Velvet Mixtape may remember us featuring Flights Of Helios previously. The Oxford five-piece release their new single 'Factory' this month and it's a corker. Inspired by Alejandro González Iñárritu's award winning 2010 film 'Biutiful', here's the video.
The Tower Of Light
Brooklyn based solo project The Tower Of Light may be shrouded in mystery, but if his self-titled debut is anything to go by, expect to be hearing a lot more from him in the future. Reminiscent of Interpol and Bad Moon Rising era Sonic Youth, here's 'Carrier', the stand out track from the album.
Poppy Seed & The Love Explosion
Also hailing from Toronto, Poppy Seed & The Love Explosion actually pre-date the current psych rock explosion by nearly two decades. Having released their debut album Days Dream Of You in 1998, it's taken nearly sixteen years and several line-up changes for the follow-up to finally see the light of day. Having first started working on Beyond The Seventh Sun in 2001, it was finally completed at the tail end of last year and is available to buy now directly from the band's official website. Here's 'Shooting Stars', taken from the album.
Lilies On Mars
Dreampop duo Lilies On Mars remind us of the first time we heard Broadcast's 'Book Lovers' or Stereolab's 'Jenny Ondioline'. Hailing from Sardinia but nowadays based in London, they released an album Dot To Dot via Saint Marie Records in February and it's rarely been off the stereo since. This is 'Dream Of Bees', the lead single off the record.
Strata Florida is the new project of Louise Trehy, formerly of early 90s 4AD outfit Swallow. Her new album Made Of Stars represents only her second collection of recordings in twenty years. Nevertheless, they say all good things come to those who wait, and this most definitely ranks alongside anything she's released in the past. Here's the effluent title track, 'Made Of Stars'.
Birmingham has shot to the forefront of the UK music scene over the past year, and with bands like Laced making sufficient headway it's easy to see why. With a sound mirroring the illustrious likes of Ride, Lush and Slowdive, big things are expected of the quintet over the coming months. Here's current single 'Celeste'.
Having just signed to Bella Union, London quartet Great Ytene have the world at their feet. Despite being together just two years, their elegant take on atmospheric lo-fi chamber pop is a breath of fresh air in the current climate. Their six-track, self-titled debut came out recently and is already one of 2014's must-have releases. Check it out for yourselves.
Nottingham's Spotlight Kid should need no introduction to readers of Some Velvet Mixtape. The five-piece put out their long awaited third LP Ten Thousand Hours this week and it's everything we expected and more. Here's current single 'I'll Do Anything'.
Although six years old, Folkestone's Magnets are something of a new name outside of the Kent seaside town. Last year's Scatter EP might have slipped out virtually unnoticed, but as hidden gems go it's up there with the finest. Musically four parts Mogwai and six My Bloody Valentine, they sound like a fusion from heaven and have the songs to back it up.
Portsmouth's Is Bliss seemingly get through more drummers than Spinal Tap. Currently down to a two-piece core of Jimmy Stuart and Dean Edwards, they're auditioning candidates to be the next sticksman as we speak. Which is music to our ears as we can't wait to hear their next recorded output. Here's 'Desire', their most recent single released at the end of last year.
Belgian duo Amatorski spent the last year travelling between their hometown of Gent, New York and Hamburg searching for inspiration. What they came back with was the blueprint for third long player From Clay To Figures. Out on Crammed Discs in April, its a glorious concoction of layered sounds and breathy vocals, effortlessly falling into the category of "classic dreampop." This is recent single 'Hudson'. Enjoy!
The Lucid Dream
Having released one of 2013's finest debuts in the excellent Songs Of Lies And Deceit, Carlisle four-piece The Lucid Dream have already started working on the follow-up. In the meantime, they've also put out a seven-inch as part of the Too Pure singles club. Here's one of the songs from that release, 'The Emptiest Place'.
Hailing from Philadelphia, Nothing take the heavier elements of shoegaze and combine them with a grunge aesthetic. Having already attained a reputation for being a ferocious live outfit, new long player Guilty Of Everything accentuates their capability at translating that sound to record too. Here's 'Somersault', taken from the album.