2015 has been another excellent year for music of the psychedelic variety with a hint of reverb, delay and distortion. Alongside heavily feted debuts from Pinkshinyultrablast and Spectres, Presents For Sally's career defining opus Colours & Changes and inspired returns from Swervedriver, 93MillionMilesFromTheSun and A Place To Bury Strangers, there's been a plethora of exciting new releases to keep us on the edge of our seats. And that's before we even get onto the subject of reunions, which is probably as good a place as any to start our run down. Kicking off this 30-song strong Some Velvet Mixtape we have the mighty Air Formation...
With the trend for reunions showing no sign of buckling, Brighton's Air Formation are the latest to hit the comeback trail. And what's more, Were We Ever Here, their brand new EP for Club AC30, ranks among their finest works to date. Guitars shimmer amidst succulent melodies across all four tracks, while the rhythm section tightly holds the backline forthwith. It's a welcome return, and one that will hopefully bare more fruits over the coming months.
Having been responsible for one of 2014's finest debuts, Cheatahs have followed it up in double quick time with a successor. Mythologies comes out on 30th October through Wichita, and if second single 'Signs To Lorelei' is anything to go by, promises to be just as engagingly bedazzling as its predecessor.
The latest band to emerge from Melbourne's vibrant underground scene. White Bleaches are a four-piece who specialise in surf-flavoured, fuzz-tinged psychedelia. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard frontman Stu MacKenzie worked on their previous single, and while 'New Age' perhaps owes more to fellow Australian psychgazers Flyying Colours, there's clearly something stirring round the Great Ocean Road.
Lilies On Mars
Born and raised in Sardinia, Lisa Masia and Marina Cristofalo are Lilies On Mars. Having moved to London over a decade ago, they've been creating electronic soundscapes fused with chamber pop excursions ever since. Having put out their first self-titled release in 2008, fourth album Ago hit the shops last month. Lead single 'Dancing Star' was produced by Tom Furse of The Horrors and reminds us of Ladytron, Stereolab and School Of Seven Bells in equal parts.
Gothenburg four-piece Zeit came top our attention a couple of years ago courtesy of their excellent Life Is Just A Blur EP. Prior to that in 2011, they released a self-titled, self-produced album that hinted at future greatness. The results can be heard on current single 'Your Eyes', which takes its cue from Slowdive's more melancholic musings.
London's Inheaven might be a new name on the circuit, but with two critically acclaimed singles already under their belts this year they're already being touted as ones to watch out for in 2016. Debut single 'Regeneration' and its flipside 'Slow' bare all the hallmarks of that classic Creation Records sound of yore as boy/girl vocals interchange over a melee of fuzzy, feedback-drenched distortion. Apparently, The Strokes' Julian Casablancas has even declared himself a fan too. Blimey.
Lights That Change
Flintshire in North Wales isn't the first setting that springs to mind when discussing ethereal dreampop. However, in the case of Mold based collective Lights That Change, that's exactly where their variety of blissful post-punk was conceived. Debut EP Rainbow On Your Shoulder and follow-up single 'Whispers In February' lit the touchpaper somewhat, culminating in recent 45 'Voices', released on newly established independent Raphalite Records in May. Channeling the spirit of Dead Can Dance and the Cocteau Twins, it sounds like a long lost relic from the 4AD archives, yet at the same time distinctly current too.
Hailing from Baltimore in the seaport of Maryland. Wildhoney first set pulses racing with last year's excellent Seventeen Forever EP. While the usual suspects (MBV, Lush, Mazzy Star) are cited as influences, there's a crisp air of freshness about this five-piece that makes them one of the most exciting prospects to emerge from the States in a while. This month sees them release a mini-album entitled Your Face Sideways and this is 'Thin Air', the standout track off the record.
Victories At Sea
Birmingham-based Victories At Sea might not fit the stereotypical mould for all things pastoral, etheral and distortion heavy. Which is just as well for a band equally at home fusing post-rock orchestrations or off kilter electronic elements with effects-laden guitars. Debut album Everything Forever comes out at the end of October on local imprint Static Caravan. The result of two years solid graft, it's a masterful work that draws comparison with bands as disparate as Foals, Slowdive, Q And Not U and The Chameleons. An eclectic mix then, and one that's sure to have permeated many households by the time 2015 draws to a close.
This Sheffield-based three-piece describe themselves as "psychedelic shamen" and play the kind of sprawling, riff dominated explorations in sound whose origins can be traced back anywhere along the previous five decades. Despite being relative newcomers, they've already established themselves as one of the most exciting bands on the circuit and rave reviews from recent support slots with Bo Ningen and The Underground Youth have enhanced that reputation even further.
This Bristol outfit have been favourites of Some Velvet Mixtape for a good while now. Part of the hyperactive Howling Owl collective currently enriching the city's creative hub, The Naturals have continually set out to push the boundaries while developing a sound of their own. Now, after a series of critically acclaimed singles and EPs, long awaited debut album Hive is finally ready to go. Released on the aforementioned Howling Owl Records in December, it promises to be a late contender for 2015's album of the year. Are we excited? You bet we are!
Hailing from Santiago in Chile, Trementina channel the spirit of bands like Lush, My Bloody Valentine and Drop Nineteens in their blissfully elegant make-up. Their songs have titles like 'Brilliant Noise' and 'Hazy Youth' which kind of sums up their ethos, and released their debut long player, Almost Reach The Sun in July. In the meantime, here's current single 'Fall Into Your Bed', which is possibly the most joyous slab of noise pop we've heard all year.
Italian duo Schonwald have been seducing audiences with their menacingly bleak darkwave for a number of years now. Debut album Amplified Nature came out on the band's own Lux label in 2009 and they've followed it up with a string of impressive releases ever since. Fusing minimalist electronica with dissonant rhythms, they've been likened to The Soft Moon, Suicide and The KVB among others. The duo's latest album Between Parallel Lights comes out in November on Anywave/Manic Depression Records, and promises to be their finest collection to date.
A supergroup of sorts, The Moonlandingz feature members of Fat White Family and Eccentronic Research Council among their ranks. If that wasn't enough, they're also currently recording their debut album in New York with Sean Lennon which should be in the shops early next year.
Sun, Sky & Echoes
Another supergroup currently in their embryonic stages are Sun, Sky & Echoes. The four-piece, a collaboration between Sun Mahshene's Nathan Henderson, Gary Hughes and Laura O'Brien of Helicon/Rise Of The Echo Drone fame and celebrated musician in his own right Francois Sky, only came together in the early part of this year. Here's the first fruit of their labours in the shape of sprawling epic 'For Tomorrow'. We await the next installment with baited breath.
Pure Phase Ensemble
Yet another collaboration, Pure Phase Ensemble are an international music collective that was initially set up in 2011 to play Gdansk's Spacefest. Last year's event saw a star studded cast including Ride's Mark Gardener and former Spiritualized member Ray Dickaty join forces with a host of Polish musicians and Pure Phase Ensemble 4: Live At Spacefest! was borne. The album was released in August on Nasiono Records, and this is 'Morning Rise' taken from the LP.
Limerick's Slow Riot fall onto the post-punk side of all things noise related. Citing bands like Interpol and Gang Of Four as influences along with halcyon Creation era artists like Ride and My Bloody Valentine. Their new EP Cathedral is out later this month on the Straight Lines Are Fine label. Produced by Kevin Vanbergen whose past credits include The Maccabees, Pixies and Biffy Clyro, it's a heady mix of layered atmospherics and fuzzy pop that bodes well for the future.
Fine It's Pink
Having formed two years ago in a karaoke bar in the Romanian city of Iasi, Fine It's Pink have built a reputation as one of the most enterprising young bands in their homeland. Ethereal vocals, winsome melodies and electronic dreamscapes all intertwine to form a sound that's drawn comparisons with Still Corners, Warpaint and the Cocteau Twins. Last month saw them release their debut single 'Young Burns', which I'm sure you'll agree is gorgeous in the extreme.
Regular readers of this column won't need any introduction to Ringo Deathstarr, arguably one of the finest bands on the shoegaze/noise rock circuit in recent years. Three years have passed since their last long player Mauve hit the shops, so it gives us great pleasure to announce the band's fourth record Pure Mood will be released in November. Once again combining the hard rocking dynamics of Swervedriver or Dinosaur Jr with the ethereal cuteness of Lush and Isn't Anything era My Bloody Valentine. It's a welcome return for Austin's most celebrated noise pop outfit and one that justifies the elongated gestation period.
Brave New Void
Brave New Void hail from Wellington in New Zealand. However, their inspiration truly lies here in the UK if debut album BNV is anything to go by. Wearing their hearts on Creation and 4AD emblazoned sleeves, it's a bold statement of intent and one that sets the scene incisively for what comes next.
And still the all-star collaborations don't stop. This time featuring members of Magic Castles, Is/Is and Daughters Of The Sun. Dead Gurus play a heady mixture of taut riffs, transient melodies and pulsating rhythms that invoke the spirit of Dead Skeletons or Wooden Shjips. Their debut album is set to be unveiled early next year. Here's a taster of what to expect.
Having first witnessed Barcelona's Celestial Bums at last year's Reverence Festival in Valada, we've been keeping a close eye on them ever since. Although it's been a relatively quite year so far, their new single 'Full Moon Nightmare' is ready to go imminently. In the meantime, here's their version of The Rolling Stones 'Child Of The Moon', released earlier this year as part of a various artists tribute compilation entitled Stoned: A Psych Tribute To The Rolling Stones.
Colchester's Nathan Smith, aka The Virgance, has been on the Some Velvet Mixtape radar for a while now. His instrumental soundscapes recall the ambience of Tortoise and Slowdive along with the urgency of Mogwai or Los Planetos Del Agua. Last month saw the release of his third album, Paradigm 3, and it's rarely been off the stereo since.
Chain Of Flowers
Chain Of Flowers are a six-piece from Cardiff whose schtick lies somewhere between the furious assault and battery of Eagulls and luscious soundscapes of MBV. Describing themselves as "Blown out melody for the dissaffected", their self-titled debut LP comes out later this month on the Alter label. This is 'Crisis', taken from the album.
One of this year's finest long players comes courtesy of Israeli outfit Vaadat Charigim. Sinking As A Stone came out in September on Burger Records and fully justifies the praise that's been heaped upon it from the blogosphere and beyond. This is current single and album standout 'Hashiamum Shokea'. Enjoy!
Lovebyrd are a duo hailing from Saarbrücken in Germany. They've only been together just over a year but are already creating a stir both at home and overseas thanks to their sixties-tinged orchestral psych pop. Their debut album is out this month on Dutch label Hairy Records, and this is 'Shot From The Sun' which features on the record.
Stockholm's Dolores Haze are comprised of four girls who create breathtaking slabs of occasionally swooning, sometimes violent noise. Their debut album The Haze Is Forever comes out in November on PNKSLM and is well worth a listen.
Continuing the trend for supergroups are Melting Hand, a collective featuring past and present members of Terminal Cheesecake, Gum Takes Tooth and Bong among others. Their album High Collider is out later this year on Golden Mantra, and they've put together this little taster featuring excerpts from the as-yet unfinished record. In the meantime, expect some live dates before 2015 draws to a close.
Chilean outfit Maff fuse elements of grunge,post-punk, shoegaze and electronica to create a sonic assault that's drawn comparisons with Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth and Weekend back in their homeland. Having formed in 2012, they've spent the ensuing three years honing their sound to the point they're at now, unleashing the incendiary nine-song Maff EP at the end of September. This is lead track 'Act 1', which sets the scene succinctly for the eight pieces that follow.
Purple Heart Parade
Finally for this Some Velvet Mixtape, we'll leave you with one of our favourite pieces of music released this year courtesy of Manchester's Purple Heart Parade. This atmospheric slice of psych pop is eerily reminiscent of early Verve (pre-"The") and makes us yearn for more of their wares, which I'm led to believe is on the way soon.
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