With the release of her eponymous debut album, Ashley Shadow has at long last taken center stage after a decade of valuable contributions to highly regarded, diverse musical acts. Though bestowed with a strong voice both lulling and bracing in its quality, Ashley spent the first five years of her musical career playing bass guitar for rock-noir outfit The Organ before recording and/or touring with Bonnie Prince Billy, Pink Mountaintops, The Cave Singers and Lightning Dust.
Her self-titled debut endeavors to find certainty amidst incessant change and ensures that her talent -- a secret long known around her home of Vancouver, British Columbia -- will be shared with the rest of the world's melody lovers. Enlisting the help of producer and multi-instrumentalist Josh Wells (Black Mountain), guitarists Ryan Beattie (Himalayan Bear) Peter Le Grand and Darcy Hancock, Ashley Shadow has asserted an independent stake in the musical community she has enriched for so long.
Prior to focusing on her own songwriting, Ashley has given much of her heart and energy to working with the marginalized, at risk population in Vancouver. When she stepped back to reflect on these experiences, songs were inspired by both relationships during that time and the unique emotional work and struggles she involved herself in.
Sydney's Au.Ra, a duo composed of Tim Jenkins and Tom Crandles, are set to release their new full length Jane's Lament, a work which carefully envelops the listener in dreamy hues of sound. Made over the course of two years, the LP was birthed from improvised jams the pair play over droning guitars and looped drum beats. Tracks like "Sun," and "Pyramid" emerge slowly out of interplays between simple melodies and layered, reverbed instrumentation.
Au.Ra's "emotive soundscapes" perfectly encase their nontraditional pop songwriting, like on highlight "Morning," where shimmering guitar riffs transport you to a serene, meditative realm. Their repetitive lyrics belie this easy transcendence, sometimes even verging on incantation. These songs evoke a languid drive along a bending highway in autumn, the scenery and light shifting ever so slowly out the windows. As the sun sets earlier, this is an album to savor with the dying light.
We've all been there before: stuck in the wrong place at the right time. In Au.Ra's case, Tom Crandles and Tim Jenkins both walked to the wrong Sydney campus for a TAFE class on audio engineering. Once they realized no one else was going to show up-- and the fact that the right classroom was in another neighborhood--the future collaborators were forced to talk about their shared interests. As the conversation wore on, Crandles and Jenkins both realized they were at a crossroads musically. And since they seemed to be on the same page sonically, the potential for a new project felt particularly strong. Limitless even, so they started rehearsing to see where some improv sessions would lead. The duo didn't want to rush their first record, though. It took two years to wrap 2015's acclaimed Jane's Lament album, a prolonged creative process that paid off when several key outlets praised its heady hooks. The Guardian, for one, wrote, "After succumbing to the riptide pull of the opening track, 'Morning', you stay submerged, sound-bathing in layers of sublime guitar tones and effects that evoke a bevy of shoegaze legends like Slowdive, Ride, and Pale Saints. Two years in the making, the gradual build of Jane's Lament paid off in its drowsy unhurried air."Au.Ra took a similar approach with this year's Cultivations LP, embracing spontaneity on several vastly different songs (see: the intricate, slow-moving guitars of "Dreamwork" and the disjointed dance loops of "Blue Chip") and exploring the outer limits of experimental pop elsewhere. That goes for everything from the shimmering keys and steely percussion of "I Feel You" to the lush, melancholic melodies of "Set the Scene"-- tracks that take cues from King Tubby's dub-wise delays and murky synth-pop. Not to mention "Nowhere," a humid number that channels such richly woven reference points as the surreal '90s program Wild Palms and the artful duets of David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto. And to think it all started with showing up to the wrong class. Fate moves in mysterious ways indeed.
A sliver of strings, a squeal of feedback, pulsing drums, sheets of steely guitar and sonorous bass, and a rough, declamatory voice - from these primary components, Leeds, UK quintet AUTOBAHN unfurl their second album, The Moral Crossing, which adds more finesse, dynamic color to the commitment and energy shown on their 2014 debut, Dissemble. To capture the new sonic details of the band, lead singer and principal songwriter Craig Johnson, guitarists Michael Pedel and Gavin Cobb, bassist Daniel Sleight and drummer Liam Hilton decided to give up their practice room that doubled as a hardcore/punk venue and build their own studio space (in Holbeck, Leeds' red light district) and record it themselves with Craig leading that charge. It took a year to finish from ripping out the existing contents to finishing the album which was then mixed by Ben Greenberg (Uniform, The Men). Johnson's lyrics on The Moral Crossing combine to form a whole: the theme of a birth, "but that person had no choice in the decision. And then it's about the different outcomes that could happen. Which could be glorious or torturous."
AUTOBAHN have checked their own moral compass, and chosen the hard way, but their music is infused with the joy of exorcising the darkness: to be there, and rise on through.
Chasms crafts ethereal, percussive dirges that are sparse in arrangement and potent with emotion. Comprised of producer, vocalist, and guitarist Jess Labrador and bassist Shannon Madden, the duo layers meditative guitars and electronic drum samples with Labrador’s entrancing soprano to create an otherworldly sound.
The band’s Part Time Punks session was recorded over the course of an afternoon in 2017 after recently relocating to Los Angeles from San Francisco. It features four songs from the duo’s 2016 debut LP ‘On the Legs of Love Purified’ released on Felte as well as the previously unheard ambient swell “Touched.”
Chasms is the San Francisco based project of Jess Labrador and Shannon Madden. The duo crafts percussive dirges that are at once beautiful and menacing. Labrador's haunting vocals and hypnotizing guitar work wade between rhythmic bass lines and bursts of Madden's stinging feedback, laid on a bed of pummeling drum programming. The band's affinity for industrial rhythms, swelling textures, precise minimalism, and chaotic eruptions of noise sounds as equally informed by shoegaze as drone and doom metal - to choose just one would be a disservice. On the Legs of Love Purified is the band's proper debut full-length album. Written over the course of several years, the album explores the healing force of love and the exorcism of pain that inescapably accompanies it. Light cannot exist without dark, bliss without suffering.
It can take years to find your voice. In the case of the Winnipeg born, Brooklyn based musician Devon Church, it took the dissolution of a decade long marriage and creative collaboration ( Exitmusic, a nightmare pop project co founded by Church's ex wife) to send him down the road of discovering his own singular, rough hewn yet elegant style.Exitmusic is known for haunting soundscapes and hair raising emotional climaxes. With his remarkablyassured Felte debut, We Are Inextricable , Church applies his experience as a producer, multi instrumentalist and songwriter to an equally absorbing solo project - one that plunges his Cohenesque pop poetics into an ocean of drone, psychedelic minimalism, harmonic noise, and distortion tinged,angelic ambience. The result is a wellcrafted exploration of samsara and nirvana, heaven and earth, two states seemingly coexisting in the songs themselves. It's an entrancing listen.Sensuous, surrealist lyrics - touching on themes of romantic obsession, religious ambivalence, dysfunctional families, and the ineffable strangeness of human existence - are delivered in a ravaged, soulful baritone, approximating some chimeric offspring of two cigarettes at once Tom Waits, a tripped out David Bowie, and John Maus. Trance inducing, tape saturated echoes of minimalist and ambient composers like Terry Riley, Pauline Olivera, Steve Reich and Grouper fill the spaces left by post punkified chord structures, primitive drum machines, shakers, tambourines, and delirious, overdriven synthesizers.
The music of Brooklyn duo ERAAS creates an entirely self-contained world â€“ an illusory, mysterious, at times supernatural realm that conjures a sense of suspense while being seductive. From the brief dialogue that precedes the pummeling beats of opener "Looking Glass" to the closing hiss and crackle of the title track, Initiation represents a coming of age for the band. For anyone who’s heard their 2012 self-titled debut album, Initiation is the culmination of the different themes explored there, honed, refined, pushed further and fashioned into its own unique world; a weird and alluring junction of ghostly atmospheres, punishing percussion, spectral vocals, phonography and sound design, all interwoven into a captivating atmosphere that is distinctively ERAAS' own.
With Initiation, the band seem to be looking for a sign of hope within the emptiness that surrounds them, trying to make amends with those in their lives, but not quite sure how to. A struggle we can all identify with. Listening to this record feels like a journey of sorts — faceless intruders, dreams of non-existent lovers, ghosts in the doorway, immortality, betrayal, and revenge â€“â€“ trying to make sense of it all.
This sense of creating art that can spirit you away somewhere else entirely is something that most definitely also informs the self-titled debut album from Brooklyn-based band ERAAS. In 2011, the band's founding members, Robert Toher and Austin Stawiarz, both ex-members of New England-based project Apse, were gravitating more towards ritualistic and darker themes not fully explored in their previous incarnation. In searching for a place to translate this mood to record, the duo settled on a rambling, atmospheric mansion in Western Massachusetts outside of Northampton. ERAAS decided to retreat to an area steeped in history and its own distinct atmosphere — all deserted hill towns and melancholy beauty — to make this record. The decision paid rich creative dividends — this is an album that's heavy with both an ominous mood and a certain orchestral grandeur.
While many couples can trace the real time rise and fall of their relationship back to social media feeds and harried phone calls, Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church have channeled the highs and lows of their storybook courtship into something else entirely: the explosive, discomforting confessionals of Exitmusic. The mercurial project started the year they got married (2004) and allbutimploded during their recent divorce, but not before the duo wrapped its most fully realized collection of beautifully damaged music yet titled The Recognitions.It wasn't easy, though, for the band has always had to balance its writing and recording sessions with Palladino's career as an actress in such acclaimed television shows as Halt and Catch Fire, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, arthouse films like Storytelling and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead."'Recognitions' has always meant the realization of painful truths for me," adds Palladino. "I thought releasing the record was the only way to let it all go - the final act, the last thing we made together. This album captures that change, the lapse of time in leaving one life to the next, which is what Exitmusic always represented." Aleksa is presently filming a role alongside Robert De Niro on Martin Scorsese's The Irishman while Devon Church is working on a solo record.
Flaamingos were formed in Los Angeles by Jerry Narrows (vocals, drum programming) and Daniel Koontz (guitar, bass, synth). The two played together in psych and shoegaze bands as youngsters then parted ways for a time. After bumping into one another at an Echo Park party spot in 2011, they decided to try collaborating again, this time crafting a new sound that would include traces of their past psych/shoegaze inclinations as well as a newer-found love for krautrock, post-punk, synth pop and new romantic shimmer. LA’s infamous Part Time Punks night took notice and the band have spent many a nights there performing and crafting what is their self-titled debut album which is due to be released worldwide in Summer 2013 via felte.
There are few voices of meaningful dissent left in rock music. Even fewer play with the savagery, subtlety and melody of Melbourne-based newcomers Gold Class. Gold Class formed quickly. Guitarist Evan James Purdey recruited fellow creative-writing students Mark Hewitt (drums) and Adam Curley (vocals) to elaborate on guitar ideas he’d recorded to a Dictaphone over the course of a summer. Jon Shub, who worked late-night bar shifts with Purdey and Curley and who builds and fixes guitars out of a workshop, made an instrument for himself and joined on bass.
Armed with only a handful of songs, Gold Class quickly drew heads to their live shows when they appeared mid-2014, just a couple of months after getting together. Characterised by attacking rhythms, bristling garage guitar lines and the deep vibrato of singer Adam Curley, the band were soon mixing art-space and basement gigs for their debut seven-inch, “Michael”. In the autumn of 2015, Gold Class recorded ten songs to tape. The result is the band’s debut album, It’s You. Political protest meets Australian kosmische; proud perversion rubs against lo-fi jangle, and outsider longings become rallying choruses as Gold Class play out the push-and-pull of their first album’s title.
Drum is the bold second album from Gold Class. The follow-up to 2015 debut It’s You, Drum is a brasher, vivid widescreen account of a band hitting its stride while betraying the complex signs and scars of a life since lived.
Formed in 2014 by a union of workmates and friends from a Melbourne bar and creative-writing course, Gold Class' string of lean, explosive live shows culminated in It's You - distillation of the then-fledgling group's wiry punk, carried by Curley's booming baritone and themes of personal politics, sexuality and identity. Recorded at Melbourne's Head Gap studios and co-produced by Gareth Liddiard of The Drones, Drum sees Gold Class explore new territory in both songwriting and sonics. Liddiard was instructive in helping the band capture these new moods. "We wanted to take a risk," says Curley. "He was the one person everyone felt could do something interesting with the album." Drum distils the messy scope of life into a brave, sometimes brutal but beautiful new document. Whatever will come, the beat - at least - goes on.
(Insight on Drum by Adam Curley, singer/lyricist for Gold Class)
The week we started to write Drum, my relationship ended and I was left alone in a draughty old house, which belonged to a friend of a friend. In the house, I sat around with my notebook, the quiet hours cut with news from friends and the TV: the suicides of musicians and writers I'd known and queer kids I hadn't; the systematic abuse of vulnerable people, the constant mockery of anyone on the outs.
I knew what the purpose of the album would be when I wrote the repeated line in 'Get Yours': "There’s none left here and all I need." I wanted it to be a record of defiance, a resistance to the idea of scrambling for a place at a table that wasn't set for you. A sort of a love letter to anyone who not only can't meet the standard but doesn't want to. I wanted it to be a record of rage and ecstasy and endless nights and sex and dumb fun and ventures in solidarity. Not just an album of urgency and longing, but one of abandon and a reclaiming of a self beyond boundaries.
But I couldn't avoid what was immediately happening in my life, either, that the end of my relationship had uncovered a lot of the feelings of isolation I experienced growing up. And so it turned out that the album is also personal, and I think is in conversation with queer histories of silence and evasion and transgression, which I was revisiting through the writing of James Baldwin and Cocteau. Childhood imagery kept creeping into the lyrics. Maybe I was trying to come to some peace with the past and to stand up and find some agency in the present. I suppose it was the most defiant thing I could think to do: not to write as some act of catharsis but in an attempt simply to document and claim my existence; that I am here.
San Francisco's Houses of Heaven is the latest project of Keven Tecon, Adam Beck and Nick Ott. Mixing drum machines, analog synths, ambient guitars and live percussion the band blends their musical love of shoegaze, dub, krautrock and electronic music into their debut EP, Remnant.
The EP was recorded at Ruminator Studios by producer Monte Vallier (Weekend, Soft Moon, Wax Idols). Remnant will be released on felte records May 19th.
Lushes are a band born of tensions - between art and math, order and chaos, planning and chance. You can hear it in their songs - taut, twitching art-punk that balance anxiety and elation, often within the space of a few bars. Album opener "Harsh" glides along slowly, feeling like a moody and measured art-rock meditation until you zero in on the words in the chorus: "Harsh on my ears, that's the way I like it." This is push-pull music, songs that temper the jagged fitfulness of groups like June of 44 and Slint with the soft-focus sweetness and open-ended song structures of The Sea & Cake and The Notwist.
That moods so diametrically opposed can peacefully coexist is part of Lushes mystery and allure. That duality extends to the group's background. and musical backgrounds were different: James grew up on bands like Nirvana, Wu-Tang Clan and Fugazi. Joel was formally trained, loving classical music but almost completely oblivious to rock and pop. The fusion of their disparate influences is what animates Lushes - the anarchy of punk and hardcore colliding with the precision of classical to create music that is marvelously ordered while still feeling seconds away from detonation. That tension pulses throughout What Am I Doing, the group's warring influences making for music that feels brittle and vital.
Brooklyn based duo Lushes have thought long and hard about the pros and cons of quitting their day jobs and they are confused. Don't you worry. They're not looking for an answer. They have an album for you, though - Service Industry - out October 16, 2015. The album is a rollercoaster through the maze of modern living. It was recorded and mixed by Sonic Youth's long time engineer Aaron Mullan at Echo Canyon, during a period of intense money, work and life stress. The record also includes some guest appearances from Zs front man Sam Hillmer, Justin Frye of PC Worship (Upright Bass on "You Only Have") and Jonathan Schenke (Parquet Courts' engineer and member of Eaters).
Service Industry extends the tensions begun with Lushes' debut album, What Am I Doing. In their first album, the themes of anxiety were often held back in pursuit of serene moments, brief escapes from our mundane lives. With Service Industry, Lushes give you something more raw, more guitar-and-drum driven, more primal.
The album throws a wrench in things. It stands as a map of a crisis, a bleak and gorgeous snapshot of our world, and a question: why continue living like we do?
Mysteries is just as it implies. A few months ago the felte label received an anonymous demo accompanied by a photo of 3 figures, faces covered like some sort of futuristic druids. To this day the label still doesn't know the group's origin, but the joy of discovering this music unimpeded renders this fact almost irrelevant.
There's a sense that the band would prefer to keep your focus on the music and not who they are, where they come from or what you might perceive them to be before hearing a single note. If you need glorious mug shots and preamble to capture your intrigue, then this is not for you. The album's title, New Age Music is Here, could even be a sarcastic shot at the new listening habits dictated by the constant noise all around us, but is more likely a simple invitation to engage with the music on its own terms, in its own universe.
One thing is certain, New Age Music Is Here glows with exotic, crunchy, muscular, expressive pop music built around vocals and drums, rather than the big synth or guitar riffs prevalent today. Almost like a psych-rock, cyborg, 50's doo-wop Alice Coltrane if you will. Is it truly new age? We definitely haven't heard much like it.
Like the chorus on "Come Down" that makes the downward trajectory sound ornate and beautiful, the debut LP, Depersonalisation, from Nite Fields is sparse and cold yet inviting and intimate at the same time.
The results are rich with character-full sounds. Deftly crafted and sonically diverse, within the nine tracks you'll find noisy percussion, jangly guitars, potent bass and hypnotic synthesizers, all polished with producer Nigel Yang's (of HTRK fame) signature electronic sheen.
Poetic and personal, you need only to listen to the record's lyrics and atmosphere to understand where the title Depersonalisation comes from. Recurring themes include disassociation of reality and dissipation of love, with Venzin's understated and at times unsettling vocal delivery almost as hard to forget as the album's unique mood.
Numb.er is the sonic brainchild of Los Angeles based photographer and visual artist Jeff Fribourg. With a background in graphic design, Fribourg imbues his work with a sense of architectural composition, layering angular guitar riffs and analog synths over throbbing drums and driving bass.Fribourg developed his love affair with synthesizers and his openminded approach to music as a founding member of LA psychkraut favorites Froth. However, it was only with the creation of Numb.er that he was able to fully explore his eclectic musical inclinations. Combining elements of punk, shoegaze and postpunk, the project never commits to a singular worldview, allowing Fribourg's vision to go anywhere without sounding ironic or forced.With the release of Goodbye, the band's first LP due in late May on felte, Numb.er offers a genredefying sonic document that finds them maximizing the creative potential of the studio while always remaining true to their dynamic and arresting live sound. Mixed and mastered by Mikey Young of Total Control, Numb.er takes a carefully orchestrated approach to chaos and adds Fribourg's own subtle knack for memorable hooks and soft, melodic passages.
Toronto underground staple Odonis Odonis broke out in 2011 with their scrappy, blown out debut, Hollandaze. The dynamic trio instantly began turning heads with their signature "industrial surfÂgaze" sound. On their Polaris Prize nominated followÂ up, Hard Boiled Soft Boiled, Odonis Odonis masterfully crafted a sonically divergent record that pushed their sound into new territory.
Odonis Odonis' latest epic, Post Plague, delivers a powerful blend of industrial, electronic and SciÂFi. Odonis Odonis' post--apocalyptic anthems construct scenes of sci-Âfi horror and saturate them with industrial strength synth beats. Dean Tzenos’ vocals sit clear and upfront, delivered with a foreboding intensity accented by his synth motifs and soundscapes. Denholm Whale's carefully crafted bass figures / electronic percussions are strategically placed like demolition charges throughout the sonic foundations of each track that Jarod Gibson, like some futurist architect, constructs. On Post Plague, Odonis Odonis delivers the kind of hypnotic, pulsing destruction that you can't wipe away.
Since their blown-out 2011 debut Hollandaze, Toronto trio Odonis Odonis has continued to push their sound further into the depths of post-apocalyptic experimentation. Following 2016's foreboding Post Plague, No Pop is the band's starker, more dance-floor-friendly fourth LP. Executed with precision, every sonic component of No Pop commands attention. Stripping down instrumentation to a handful of synths and an electronic drum kit, the band worked quickly to write and record, bringing demos and improvised takes into the studio and completing the recording process over the course of three days. The result is a focused blend of hard-hitting industrial, techno, and noise - but each track on No Pop is never just one of those elements. Pulsing rhythms lay the ground for textural soundscapes masterfully woven together to create a palpable sense of doom that is thick and satisfying. Taking its name from the anti-commercial No Pop movement, which infers that there "is no expiration date on music nor is it limited by geographic or regional boundaries," No Pop is raw with emotion that's elevated by deft production. Each hypnotizing meditation captures an uncomfortably honest cynicism with a brush of humor, emphasized by sparse vocals that taunt the current dystopia of technology, human emptiness and the mundane. No Pop is the soundtrack of a sinking ship, and we're all happily aboard to go down with it.
Public Memory is the solo project of Brooklyn's Robert Toher, recorded over the course of a year as he lived in Los Angeles temporarily. Previously of the group ERAAS, Robert places a greater emphasis on electronics in this new project. Rhythm is at the forefront, with the tone informed by stripped down, narcotic impressions of krautrock, hypnotic percussion, and subtly layered atmospherics. Spectral vocals meld with delicate piano against hip hop beats and a dub sensibility, conjuring clouded lights, foggy glass in empty buildings, urban wraiths.
To call it minimal would, on the surface, seem appropriate. Wuthering Drum does not need an abundance of flashes and frills to illustrate its point, nor does it need smoke and mirrors to mask a lack of vision. However, repeated listens yield layers of tonal variations, textural nuance, and tastefully placed overdubs.
There is a slightly religious or spiritual element at Wuthering Drum's core; a sense of being in an existential crisis, while simultaneously being uplifted, in the face of change. This is the search for redemption in a far away place, away from comfort; it is adjustment to an inner dissonance, rather than the washing over of past fears and regrets with sterile holy waters.