Static Daydream – S/T (Saint Marie Records) is the master of my shoegaze universe 2015. Nothing static, but a lot of daydream here!
Wow, this was certainly a pleasant. I’d always really liked this Brazilian indie pop band and have previous releases by them on the Shelflife and Drive In labels. I believe the last we heard from them was on a Cloudberry Records release in 200 (in 2006 he also released the Road to Happiness ep on the Humblebee label). Also, when I say them I mean him as Postal Blue is basically a one man show from Adriano do Couto (though on a few songs he does get help on violin and a few folks help out on backing vocals as well). The sound is real breezy and jangly, but melancholy as well and will definitely appeal to fans of bands on the Sarah label (I definitely hear some Field Mice influence in the songs). Even the song titles reflect longing: “Bitterness is Sweet,” “Does It Really Matter” and “The Last Goodbye” are all odes to a certain someone. In addition to those cuts do Couto clocks in with some real gems here in “On and On,” “Still Blue” and “I Always Knew.” 10 songs in 35 minutes and no filler. I say give him whatever keeps Bobby Wratten going and demand a new Postal Blue record by the end of 2016!
The surprising thing is that Postal Blue sound so English, despite coming from Brazil. I would’ve expected hints of Tropicalia and Latino dance beats but this is as joyous, and indiepop, as it gets. There’s not even a word of Portuguese;Of Love and Other Affections is sung entirely in English.
It’s the latest release by the wonderful Jigsaw Records label and mail order company, purveyors of fine records, cassettes, fanzines, etc etc. Postal Blue have been around since the late 1990s, and while there’s been numerous EP’s released under the name, only one full collection of songs, and that was in 2004. It seems the band is now essentially one person, Adriano Ribeiro, who has a love of Sarah Records.
I’m transported back to north-east Scotland in 1986, listening to the Orchids, the Flatmates, 14 Iced Bears et al on the John Peel Show, staying up to 11pm, taping some of it on a mixtape that would have also contain sounds from Zimbabwe and Haiti.
All ten songs are gloriously harmonic, replete with groovy guitars and easy-on-the-ear hooks; I can’t readily pick out any particular songs, they’re all good.
Buy from here: jigsawrecords.bandcamp.com
An absolute mind-fuck of seductive electronic imagination, nothing much prepared us for this release in August on Saint Marie Records. Plumbing the depths of time while skimming along on the visceral edge of the modern, this Greek band came out of a kind of cosmic left field and left us flattened and exhilarated. “Consider Eno and Roedelius basking in a programmed, sundialed heat, their lizard tongues darting, lolling, darting some more” we said about one of the tracks (“Prismatic Sun”) and that’s but a fraction of the exotic-yet-musically-grounded work that was perfected half a world away on the island of Crete. Consider us mesmerized, ecstatic, and chilled out down to our very marrow. This record left us breathless in the very best way.
A simply unbelievable stroke of avant/guerilla art-rock, it was this record as much as any that made us just give up being surprised by the unparalleled pop experimentalism issuing out of that never-ending hotspot Athens, GA. Another Hannah Jones joint (as we had fun saying), she of The New Sound of Numbers among any number of other gooseflesh-raising outfits on the excited fringe of what we might call the ‘American Down Under,’ this release wound our clocks in every imaginable direction. Full of dense but adroit surprises at every turn, what choice did we have but to marvel. So far under the radar of most music outlets as to pass by without so much as leaving a shadow, we here at SEM were lucky enough to catch a mythical glimpse, and the DNA of our musical horizons were likely changed forever, and amen to that.
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Ende November erschien Dark Matter – das siebte Album der englischen Shoegaze-Band SPC ECO. Exklusiv für Popmonitor hat Ex-CURVE-Member und Multi-Instrumentalist DEAN GARCIA die neuen Songs kommentiert und einen Vorspann verfasst…
We are very of the moment when we record and write. We prefer to keep with something that has a certain feeling and mood regardless of its imperfections. Many people have the view the longer you work and explore something the better it will be. We say no to that theory. It’s all about the original capture and the moment for us. Rose always sings through a track in the moment without any previous melodic thoughts or lyrical content and forms an idea of the words as she goes. Sometimes we deliberately leave them like this. It’s a creative process that is not for everyone but it’s the only way we know how and want to write and record our songs.
CREEP IN THE SHADOWS
This track started with the drums which were hand filtered as a 4 minute recorded ‚on the fly‘ pass to create an arrangement. Bass was added next followed by a spacey keyboard touch and then left. Rose will often do a pass of voice without ever hearing the track before so it has an immediate and instinctive feel about it – similar to how the music is constructed. The vocal is the second pass in its entirety exactly as it was originally captured, lyrically unedited and of the moment. A keeper as we say.
Started from a drum and bass loop which goes throughout the track, filtered live as a pass to get an arrangement of sorts, another bass added as a cyclic patten, then drop the pitz string riffs, put to one side. Rose did a voice pass without previously hearing the track. What you hear is the first take exactly as she recorded it, lyrically and melodically unedited. Last thing to be added was the chime like bell riff that comes and goes. Done.
LET IT BE ALWAYS
At the heart of this track is the 16 bar creaking lofi A40 loop that you can hear at the front of the song. We added a pass of filtered drums and then big dark drone bass. The break section was next, made with piano bass and drums. We were unsure of this section at first but after the filtered lofi treatments it’s one of our fave moments on the record. The way it goes into and drops back out to the main track is piff. Rose’s vocal guidance was to pretend you are a human theramin, which you can hear throughout the song. Voice was made up of three passes, comped into place and then revisited to write the lyrics and then re-record the vocal take.
The sound pool loop that you hear at the front of this song goes throughout the track is another A40 16 bar loop that has odd charm. All of the musical changes and instrumentation were then added starting with the bass notes to get the arrangement, followed by drums and keyboard and FX oddities. Voice is made up of 2 passes, comped into a structure and then revisited for lyrics and re-record of vocal. This one was quite a while in the making due to it being taken off into a different direction and then heavily edited and culled to get it back to how it is on the record.
I WON’T BE HEARD
This track started out, went on a big journey and then arrived at where it is now. I think you can hear that from the many different textural sounds and elements that come and go, which generally means you’ve spent longer than you should have exploring, adding and deleting. The vocal was comped from three passes and then revisited for lyrics and re-record of voice.
We like to indulge ourselves with downbeat melancholic ballads.This started with the piano chords and the odd scratchy lofi drum beat. Rose did a pass of voice early on to get the structure and idea in place which then paved the way for the wavy guitars tones and strings. We then revisited the vocal to work the lyrics and re-record the voice. Last thing to drop on this track was the bass which is very sparse but works through the changes really well accentuating the melancholic sadness of it all. Lovely.
For the love of beats n bass, this is us having fun and pretending we’re in the studio with Dr. Dre, leaning heavily on the bass and filtered drum loop. The voice went on early to give the track an arrangement, followed by the various swoopy tones, odd FX and finally the big noise mesh and Latvian church choir that drops at strategic points. The outro section is there as an afterthought, but we liked it so it stayed. We were unsure if this track fitted in but reminded ourselves that we’re all about embracing different styles and genre bending so kept it in.
Another dip into the downbeat wavy zone. The overall feeling we wanted with this record was to be the opposite of our previous release “The Art of Pop” which is very 80’s electro-pop driven and almost happy. This time we wanted to make a deeper more notably downbeat and minor sounding record. This is us doing exactly that.
THE WHOLE WORLD SHINES
This came about from Rose lying down on the bed with a mic really tired after a heavy shift at the school. I had a drum beat and a filter app fired up ready to go. We made a pass of the two things together at the same time and got the track more or less arranged and melodically structured in one pass. The music is formed entirely around the pitch and melody of the vocal. The drums are the pass you hear and the vocal was revisited only for certain lyrics and fixes. It was one of those chemistry things that you only get when you really know the person you’re recording with.
UNDER MY SKIN
Started with the filtered steamed up piano chords, which is a filtered and morphed pass for 4 minutes to get a run for arrangement. What you hear is how it was originally recorded. Next was a pass of voice that didn’t quite work as well as it could have. I added a bass to help the changes and some strings. What followed is best described as a truly emotional earthquake between Rose and myself due to a personal ongoing issue which left us both scarred and in tears. One hour later I asked her if she would like to sing on the sad piano song again and she sang what you hear on the track. Driven to tears once again but for the polar opposite reasons, this song is the epitome of the unquestionable love and bond that only occurs between family. What a perfect way to end this record.
Although almost sixty years in, most of the best names in Rock and Roll have been taken, it still seems inadvisable to opt for certain ones if you’re embarking on a career hoping for an enduring career, lasting fame and more importantly, in the world we’re living in, internet hits.Stutter Steps are a case in point. Though I doubt whether any of those objectives are of the remotest concern to them. Taking their name from a manoeuvre in Tennis, Basketball or American Football, references to this are likely to land at the top of a Google search before you come upon mentions of the group itself and their debut album, also called Stutter Steps released a couple of months back.