Welcome to the first Some Velvet Mixtape column of 2019. Once again, it's been an incredible start to the year with pivotal releases from the likes of Swervedriver, Tallies, A Place To Bury Strangers, and The Telescopes already in the shops for what's been a busy first two months.
Indeed it's been one of most exciting first quarters of any year in recent memory, and a selection of those are featured in this column along with a handful that came out towards the back end of 2018 to very little fanfare elsewhere.
We've also seen one of the shoegaze scene's most distinguished bands, Spotlight Kid, make a welcome return, playing two shows in the early part of February, and DiS were present at the second of these in the band's home city of Nottingham which is where we start our round-up.
Spotlight Kid @ The Maze, Nottingham.
It's three years since Spotlight Kid last played their home city of Nottingham alongside 93MillionMilesFromTheSun and Presents For Sally. With members based in Nottingham, London, and Amsterdam respectively, it's understandable that an occasional well-earned break turns into a three-year hiatus.
So it shouldn't come as a surprise that the two comeback shows planned last year eventually ended up being rearranged for February of this, mainly due to bass player Matt Holt's tour schedule with Desert Mountain Tribe and guitarist Rob McCleary's spouse giving birth to their first child. Indeed, with Holt on the road for the foreseeable future the band called upon original bassist Rich Davidson to return to the fold. Coupled with the return of guitarist Karl Skivington, who himself hadn't played with the band since 2014 it felt like a case of unfinished business.
With new material to promote in the shape of forthcoming single 'Shivers', a song which harks back to the band's Disaster Tourist halcyon era, tonight's home leg after the previous evening's show in London had something of a celebratory air about it.
Support band I Am Lono, themselves containing a member of Spotlight Kid in the shape of guitarist Chris Moore, are apt openers. Drawing on a set inspired by the colder side of post-punk - we're thinking Cabaret Voltaire, Pornography-era Cure and mid-period Depeche Mode here - they provide a perfect opening for the evening's headliners.
Choosing the intimate confines of The Maze to mark their return to the band's native city was an inspired choice. The low stage with no barrier immediately removes any boundary between band and audience, and for the next hour and a quarter, Spotlight Kid deliver a career spanning set that ably demonstrates why they became one of the scene's most-loved acts.
The diminutive figure of vocalist Katty Heath alongside the three-pronged guitar assault provided by McCleary, Skivington, and Moore makes for a formidable force. So even when live favourites 'Forget Yourself In Me' and 'Budge Up' are dispatched early, it ramps up the anticipation levels fr everything that follows.
While the majority of tonight's set is lifted off their last two albums, 2010's Disaster Tourist and 2014's Ten Thousand Hours, it was a welcome surprise to hear 'Seefeel' from the band's debut Departure reintroduced to the set. Aforementioned new single 'Shivers' received an acoustic rendition courtesy of Heath and Moore, while a closing gambit featuring four of the band's best-loved songs, culminating in an apocalyptic 'All Is Real' to close the show, ensured a perfect finale to what was an incendiary return.
Let's hope they don't leave it another three years.
Here are 24 more of the finest from the world of shoegaze, dreampop, psychedelia and noise...
Chloe Soldevila, Zach Irving, Miles Dupire-Gagnon and Gabriel Lambert are Anemone. Between them, they've concocted the latest in a long line of impressive dream pop records from the scene's current hotbed of Canada. Hailing from Montreal, the four-piece fuse post-punk, krautrock and shoegaze to create the nine songs that make up Beat My Distance, their debut LP for Luminelle Records.
A Place To Bury Strangers
As live experiences go, there are very few that beat A Place To Bury Strangers when it comes to engrossing, visceral intensity. Last August's set at Fuzz Club Eindhoven stands out as one of 2018's finest and they subsequently recorded a session for the label which came out earlier this month. Containing six songs in all spanning the band's entire career, their Fuzz Club Session ranks as one of the label's finest releases to date, and here's a brutal rendition of 'Ocean' taken from that very EP.
Salt Lake City duo BYSTS - pronounced "beasts" - first came to our attention in 2016 courtesy of three singles ('Killer On The Road', 'Taste' and 'Speed') released in the summer of that year. Their most recent EP Dreamland came out last month on The Rolling People label and this is 'Divine' taken from that release.
Michael Buckley and Desert Ships should be no strangers to regular readers of this column with 2014's excellent Skyliner EP being among that year's favourites here. Their second album Eastern Flow is finally ready and from what we've heard it was well worth the wait. Once again produced by Ride's Mark Gardener, the record comes out on 1st March.
Essentially the solo project of Toronto musician Linnea Siggelkow, Ellis makes expansive, widescreen dreampop that draws influence from the many sub genres across the shoegaze and electronica spectrum. Her debut EP entitled The Fuzz came out last year and having recently signed to Fat Possum, the record will now receive a physical release here. Here's 'All This Time', taken from the EP.
Günter Schickert has been making music since the early 1970s. His debut LP Samtvogel is widely regarded as one of the most pioneering records from the krautrock era, and ever since then he's been confounding both listeners and critics alike. Continually finding ways to push the envelope that bit further into new territories. His latest release Nachtfalter came out earlier this month on legendary Berlin imprint Bureau B, and this is recent single 'Ceiling'.
DiS has been championing the case for European showcase events over their UK counterparts for a while and Haiku Garden are one of the reasons why. Having first come across them at Slovenia's MENT Ljubljana event, we managed to track down a copy of their excellent debut Where If Not Now and it delivers on every promise their energetic live set suggests. Released last October on Kapa Records, it renders comparisons to the likes of Swervedriver, Cheatahs and The Horrors and comes highly recommended.
If you're going to name your new EP Zero Fucks then it's a bold statement that could go either way. Fortunately, Helicon already come with a reputation as being one of the most brutal yet at times soothing psychedelic rock bands on the circuit right now. So it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise Zero Fucks is another prized addition to an already majestic back catalogue. Released on the excellent Fuzz Club label, it concisely bridges the gap between the intensity of the band's live shows and precision of their recorded output.
Essentially the solo project of Austrian musician and composer Julia Hummer. Juleah's third LP Desert Skies is quite possibly her finest collection of songs to date. Hailing from Vorarlberg in the west of Austria, her soothing take on dream pop and psychedelia recalls the likes of Mazzy Star and Josefin Ohrn. Here's lead single 'Analogue'.
Hailing from Cambridge, Lemondaze are a four-piece inspired by the holy trinity of shoegaze (that's My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Ride) alongside more recent acts like Wolf Alice and Amber Arcades. Although they've been relatively quiet of late, their recent set supporting 93MillionMilesFromTheSun in Ipswich included a batch of new material and with an EP set for release later this year, they're definitely ones to keep an eye on. In the meantime, here's 'Caillou' from their self-titled 2017 debut.
Meet Kristina Florell, a classically trained multi-instrumentalist and vocalist based in Stockholm. She's been creating experimental dreampop records since 2012 and released her third LP Hatching The Egg earlier this month through the YEAR001 label. Having previously been compared to all manner of artists including Grimes, Cocteau Twins, Slowdive and Austra, recent single 'Crazy Heart' channels the spirit of all the aforementioned and more.
Linn Frøkedal and Richard Myklebust's music has regularly featured in this column over the years. Whether it be with The Megaphonic Thrift, or their current guise as Misty Coast, they've always delivered impeccably crafted songs that traverse the whole shoegaze, dream pop and noise spectrum. Their second album as Misty Coast entitled Melodaze came out last month on Brilliance Records and is a marked progression from 2017's debut. This is recent single 'Loophole'.
Money For Rope
Melbourne has produced some great music of late and psychedelic punks Money For Rope are no exception. Already endorsed by Courtney Barnett who subsequently took them out on tour, their second long player Picture Us comes out on 8th March and encapsulates numerous genres and styles throughout its ten pieces. This is 'Actually', the lead single taken from the album.
Hamburg based four-piece Seasurfer are a multi-national collective with one collective goal. To create their own genre which they've named "dream punk" by building their own unconventional method of sound. Songwriter Dirk Knight already has an acclaimed pedigree, having initially started out as the main force behind nineties shoegazers Dark Orange while bassist Steven Burrows also plays in acclaimed ambient outfit And Also The Trees. Their latest EP Vampires came out on Saint Marie Records at the back end of last year and is well worth a listen.
Anyone that's been to a music festival this past couple of years is likely to have stumbled across this East London outfit at some point. Normally resplendent in costumes that owe as much to 1970s kids TV show Rainbow as they do Super Furry Animals during their Guerrilla phase, Stunning Luxury is Snapped Ankles second album and arguably represents their finest and most eclectic body of work to date. Released on 1st March through the Leaf Label, they're also playing a handful of dates around the UK to coincide. Make sure you catch them!
Hailing from Asbury Park in the state of New Jersey, Sonic Blume are four teenagers bonded by a love of post-punk, shoegaze and psychedelia. Their self-titled debut EP came out at the back end of 2017 to widespread critical acclaim while last year's follow-up Beach Karma firmly cemented their intentions while highlighting them as rising stars in the making. Here's 'In The Sun' from the aforementioned EP and with more new music scheduled to come imminently, it promises to be an exciting year for the quartet.
Some things really are worth waiting for, and Soundwire's eagerly anticipated self-titled debut is one of them. The Swansea based five-piece first came to our attention via Northern Star Records, having played their weekender at Brixton's Windmill and had a couple of tracks featured on various compilations. However, last year's excellent 'UXB' single set pulses racing and the rest of the album more than lives up to expectations. Released earlier this month on Mine Mine Mine Recordings, here is the aforementioned lead 45 in all its dazzling glory.
One of the most prolific acts on the circuit having already put out an LP last year in the shape of the critically acclaimed Calm. SPC ECO released their latest long player Fifteen earlier this month and it's every bit as engrossing as we've come to expect from the duo. Recorded last year at their studio in Gŵyr, South Wales. Fifteen is comprised of fifteen brand new songs, and also features contributions from The Jesus & Mary Chain's Steve Monti.
New Zealand born Tamaryn Brown has been one of the shoegaze scene's most prominent acts this past decade. 2015's third album Cranekiss firmly established her as both an inspired songwriter and innovative composer of some merit, so it gives us immense pleasure to announce Tamaryn's fourth record, Dreaming The Dark, is ready to go. Set for release on 22nd March via the DERO Arcade label, Dreaming The Dark is a more electronic affair than its predecessor, with nods to Diamanda Galas, Kate Bush and the Cocteau Twins among others.
Yet another band discovered on our European travels, this time at last year's SHARPE festival in Bratislava. Slovakian four-piece The Ills have been creating experimental soundscapes for a decade now having initially got together in 2008. Fusing elements of shoegaze, post-rock and even free form jazz, Disco Volante/Mt. Average is their fifth album and one that firmly cements them as one of Eastern Europe's most pioneering outfits. The record consists of two sides written individually and almost entirely by the band's two guitarists, Miro Luky (Disco Volante) and Martin Iso Krajčír (Mt. Average). Here's 'Squarevoucher', the first single taken from the album.
We're big fans of The Janitors, as we are of Fuzz Club Records. Marry the two together and the chemistry is electric, so while the Swedish four-piece were touring the UK in September of last year, the label invited them in to record a session for them. As expected, the results were blinding, and here in all its glory is The Janitors' Fuzz Club Session. Comprised of four songs - two from 2013's second LP Drone Head, one from its successor Horn Ur Marken plus one-off 2014's Evil Doings Of An Evil Kind EP - it purposefully manages to capture the band at their malevolently, brutal best.
The Underground Youth
Arguably one of the most consistent bands to emerge from the 21st-century psychedelic rock scene, Berlin-based four-piece The Underground Youth return next month with their ninth LP entitled Montage Images Of Lust And Fear. Released on 29th March through the Fuzz Club imprint, it represents their most intense and honest record to date according to songwriter in chief Craig Dyer, and if first single 'The Death Of The Author' is anything to go by, could well be their finest collection of songs thus far.
Winter Gardens are another band DiS first stumbled upon at a festival earlier this year. Opening Saturday's programme at Rockaway Beach for what turned out to be only their fourth gig, this Brighton four-piece transfixed the room for the duration of the set, even throwing in an audacious cover of Cocteau Twins' 'Pearly Dewdrops Drops' to boot. That also features on the b-side of current single 'Coral Bells', out this month on Austerity Records. With another single set to follow in May ('Tapestry') and more shows scheduled throughout the year, 2019 is shaping up to be an important year for Winter Gardens.
Another outfit championed by this column in the past. Edinburgh's Wozniak released their excellent new EP The Space Between The Trees earlier this month. The long-awaited follow-up to 2017's debut album Courage Reels, The Space Between The Trees takes the listener on an evocative journey across its six compositions, drawing inspiration from ambient soundscapes and cinematic score pieces as well as the band's trademark sonic eclipse and shuddering wall of noise.
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