With 2013 about to draw to a close, it's been a phenomenal year for the psychedelic rock and shoegaze scenes. January ushered in a new My Bloody Valentine LP after twenty-two years of waiting, while the following month saw the emergence of arguably the greatest debut album by a UK band in over a decade. Hookworms' Pearl Mystic may have worn some of its influences on its sleeve, but everything about it captured the essence of a band firmly in control of their destiny.
Running through the rest of the year, Exit Calm released an incredible follow-up to their debut in the shape of The Future Isn't What It Used To Be. Neils Children returned to confound their detractors who'd seemingly written them off as a spent force with the sublime Dimly Lit, while Manchester outfit The Underground Youth wowed us with their second long player The Perfect Enemy For God.
Across the pond, both Weekend and Nightmare Air released splendid records. The Warlocks released their first new material in over five years and A Place To Bury Strangers returned to the live circuit, tearing the Shacklewell Arms in two over the weekend of the 9th & 10th November. Elsewhere, homegrown talents Temples took giant leaps towards future mainstream success, Splashh emerged out of nowhere to release another of 2013's finest debuts, while young upstarts such as Telegram, Whistlejacket and Spectres also look set for an incredible 2014.
And we still haven't mentioned the numerous events such as Austin Psychfest, the Northern Star Weekender, Liverpool's International Festival Of Psychedelia and the Bad Vibrations/Fuzz Club week long calendar of shows entitled 'The Trip' that have elevated the psychedelic rock scene into being the most vibrant of its kind in music's latent underground.
However, rather than look back, the final 'Some Velvet Mixtape' of 2014 picks out twenty-five artists we're pinning high hopes on for next year. From homegrown newcomers like Parlour and The Kaleidoscopes, or overseas acts such as The Janitors and Fantasy Prom, to the more established name of Joel Gion, we've selected our pick of those most likely to be talked about in a similar light to Hookworms et al twelve months down the line.
Toronto three-piece Odonis Odonis first blew us away at 2012's Great Escape in Brighton. Debut album Hollandaze came out the same year, its frenzied assault of reverb, feedback and distorted white noise rivalling the likes of A Place To Bury Strangers in the sonics department. Since then, they've put out the Better EP in April of this year, followed by the apocalyptic 'Are We Friends' single two months ago. Here's the video for the latter, in all its acerbic glory.
Although still relative newcomers, Parlour have been making waves across the capital city in recent months with their ethereal live shows. So much in fact that Drowned In Sound has only gone and booked them to play at our DiSmas Party on 18th December at The Miller. New single 'Devil's Eyes' is out now. Listen here...
The Kaleidoscopes are a three-piece hailing from Birmingham, a city whose musical exploits this year have seen it firmly placed on the map. New single 'Summer Daze'/'Kitty' mixes swirling early 90s influenced shoegaze with pop sensibilities not unlike fellow West Midlanders Swim Deep. Here's both tracks in all their echo-drenched glory:
One Unique Signal
Back to London; experimental combo One Unique Signal have been around for over a decade now. In more recent years they've performed as The Telescopes with Stephen Lawrie, providing an aggressive musical accompaniment worthy of reenacting his band's Taste opus. However, it's long awaited second album Aether, the follow-up to 2009's Villains To A Man that's got us all hot under the collar here. Here's lead track 'Lunar Attractions', which I'm sure you'll agree is one of the finest openers to an album this side of Hookworms' 'Away/Towards':
We know little about Edweena other than there are three of them in the band and they hail from Stockholm, so when debut long player Solar Days And Lunar Nights landed on our doorstep a few weeks ago we were both intrigued and mesmerised in equal amounts. So were the folks at Northern Star Records; they've just licensed the album over here in the UK and will be bringing them over for their first British show next March at their 2014 Weekender event.
Not to be confused with any other band using the word "Reverend" in their title, this four-piece originate from Atlanta and make incendiary psychedelic rock sitting somewhere between The Black Angels dynamic orations and classic Pink Floyd/Grateful Dead. This is 'You Don't Wanna Know':
It's nearly Christmas so what better way to bestow gifts upon all and sundry than releasing your first brand new material in over fifteen years? Yes, that's right, Swervedriver are putting out a new single just in time for the festive season. 'Deep Wound' also features Mark Gardener both on mixing duties and backing vocals, and is quite frankly, wonderful. Welcome back!
Rivalling Birmingham in providing 2013 with a plethora of new sounds is the south westerly port of Bristol. While The Fauns aren't exactly new kids on the block - their self-titled debut came out way back in 2009 - they've delivered one of 2013's finest records in the shape of follow-up Lights. Here's the luscious title track:
Born and raised in Toronto, Tess Parks moved to London six years ago to study photography. During that time she met Creation Records legend Alan McGee. Despite returning to Toronto in 2011, she kept in touch with McGee and after recording a handful of demos, which she then sent on to him, she has become one of the first artists to have an album (Hot Blood) released on his new 359 Music imprint. This is 'Somedays', the lead single off the record:
Also from Stockholm, The Janitors were another unknown quantity outside of their native city this time last year. Although formed four years ago, it wasn't until the arrival of second album Drone Head this summer that people started paying attention. Some of those attentive ears belonged to the Reverb Conspiracy collective. Their two performances over the first weekend of October at Dalston's Shacklewell Arms proving a major talking point ever since. This is'Nevereverism':
Death Of Lovers
A shoegaze "supergroup" of sorts, Death Of Lovers are comprised of members from Whirr and Nothing respectively. Their first EP, Buried Under A World Of Roses features four slices of hazy, melodic post-punk put through an array of pedal-induced effects. This is the title track and is well worth the admission fee alone:
Based in Italy and including a former member of Sea Dweller among their ranks, CYMBLS' Farewell Said I Rising, their five-track debut release for Upside Down Recordings, just happens to be one of the most intriguing records we've heard this year. Mixing experimental pop nuances with avant garde overtures of the film score variety, it's a welcome diversion from any pre-conceived norm reminiscent of Hype Williams, Ennio Morricone and Broadcast at various, irregular junctures.
London four-piece Brazil remain something of an unknown quantity. Nevertheless, the promise indicated by their first ever recorded track 'Hide Away' can only bode well for the future. Fusing post-punk leanings such as The Cure or McGeoch era Banshees with a psychedelic pop sheen, expect to hear more from these over the coming months.
Samuel Toms is perhaps better known as the drummer in Temples. However, as the singer/guitarist in his other project Secret Fix, he adopts the role of frontman and if the three tracks currently available on their Soundcloud page is anything to go by, he pulls it off with considerable aplomb. Although still essentially a work in progress, expect a release from the Kettering-based five-piece sometime in the new year.
Staying with the Temples theme, it was on the Nottingham date of their tour in October that DiS first stumbled across Telegram, opening for the headliners that evening. Imagine if Pink Floyd had emerged from the London punk scene at the tail end of the 1970s or Haight Asbury was a suburb of East London and you'd be somewhere near Telegram's ethos. Debut single 'Follow' is undoubtedly one of 2013's finest releases. Here's the video:
London four-piece Moksha Medicine only formed earlier this year. Named after Aldous Huxley's writings on psychedelic visionary experiences, their demo recordings remind us of Grace Slick fronting the Juju era Banshees. Indeed, none of the songs we've heard so far even have titles yet. Nevertheless, the early signs are promising, and with a date already confirmed for February's Psychedelic Tea Party at Stoke Newington's La Culotte venue, we strongly recommend checking them out.
Sisters are a three-piece hailing from Limerick. Although still barely out of their teens, first single 'Hush Hush' reminds us of the summer of 1992 which was probably before any of the band were even born. Echoes of Madder Rose, Drop Nineteens and Smashing Orange pulsate through its reverb drenched core fuelled by the dual vocals of cousins Niall and Aoife. Having just completed a tour of the UK with Big Deal, we're expecting bigger things next year.
Shacklock Meth Party
A name like Shacklock Meth Party would suggest musical affiliations before so much as a note is heard. Hailing from Christchurch in New Zealand, debut long player Domino Room is one of the most pulsating records we've stumbled across in recent months, from sprawling opener 'Chavez' (which clocks in at six seconds under ten minutes), to the raucous drone of '3D Bitchckt'. Check it out for yourselves below:
Has A Shadow
Guadalajara isn't renowned for producing experimental noise bands of a psychedelic persuasion. However, local three-piece Has A Shadow are an exception to the rule if new LP Sky Is Hell Black is anything to go by. Drawing comparisons with artists as diverse as A Place To Bury Strangers, Big Star and The Grateful Dead, it's a compelling assortment of styles and sounds that also features Alberto Gonzalez from Lorelle Meets The Obsolete on drums. Out now on Captcha Records. Here's the album in all its widescreen glory:
Having released our favourite EP this year in the shape of the excellent Hunger, Bristol's Spectres are undoubtedly a name to look out for in 2014. Follow-up single 'Lump' was one of the most pernicious pieces of music to grace our stereo this year, bludgeoning its way through what senses remain with a vengeance. Their next release ('The Sky Of All Places'/'Sooky Eyeball') is scheduled for January 2014 as part of the Too Pure singles club. In the meantime here's a beat-heavy remix of 'Lump' by The Situation entitled 'Stuation Relump':
Vancouver four-piece Fantasy Prom only formed in the latter part of this year, yet already they've created a buzz around them thanks to debut single 'Wildwood', released in September. Since then they've followed it up with a four-track EP entitled Glistening (which came out at the start of November). Comparisons to Scar era Lush or even Subway Organisation bands like The Charlottes and The Flatmates remain valid, as the awesome 'Glisten' off their new EP amply demonstrates.
Staffordshire's Epic 45 aren't exactly newcomers, having formed in the early part of 1997. However, forthcoming EP Monument, released in February 2014 through Wayside & Woodland Recordings is among their finest works to date. Here's the video for the title track:
Parisian quartet Venera 4 are another bunch of relative newcomers, having only formed around this time last year. Nevertheless, their output so far has bee nothing short of flawless, with new EP Deaf Hearts possibly the pick of the bunch so far.
Afor Gashum originate from the unlikely surroundings of Tel Aviv. With a sound inspired by Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine, their album From The Inside - largely the brainchild of founder member and creative force Michal Sapir - took over two decades to construct. Thankfully, it was worth the wait.
Joel Gion & The Primary Colours
As the longest serving member of The Brian Jonestown Massacre after Anton Newcombe, Joel Gion needs no introduction. He's put together a new band, The Primary Colours, with an album and tour imminent in the new year. Here's a recording of a new composition entitled 'Yes' featuring members of The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Dead Skeletons that is currently being rehearsed by Gion and The Primary Colours. If this is anything to go by, it's fair to say we're in for a treat!
Also this month we asked Ola Fiedorczuk from Ola’s Kool Kitchen to interview Nevin Domer from Maybe Mars Records and The Brian Jonestown Massacre's Ricky Maymi about the "China Wave" scene currently taking Beijing by storm. You can read the interview in full here.
Some Velvet Mixtape: 2013 in Drones, Reverb and Feedback - Part One.
Some Velvet Mixtape: 2013 in Drones, Reverb and Feedback - Part Two.