News updates for High Violets

High Violets at Treble Zine

Portland, Oregon’s The High Violets haven’t released an album in six years, 2010’s Cinema being their last. In that downtime, and even leading up to it, swaths of younger artists were taking a look back at music they were just barely old enough to absorb when released, channeling dream pop and shoegaze greats of the late ’80s and early ’90s and funneling both genres back into the forefront of indie rock consciousness. Labels such as Mexican Summer andCaptured Tracks flourished under the spotlight, while other equally talented groups churned out catchy tunes with incredibly textured instrumentation and never received the same attention. The High Violets is one such group in the latter camp, but their latest album,Heroes and Halos, is a welcome return from the veterans and an opportunity to right that wrong.

The High Violets have an incredibly well-rounded approach to shoegaze. It’s far too easy these days to turn up the reverb and delay and leave it at that, focusing narrow-mindedly on guitars and sonic tenets rather than crafting strong, enduring songs. Heroes and Halos, though, is incredibly sturdy, no doubt attributable to the fact that there seems to be no dominant emphasis here in terms of musician or part. Sure, Kaitlyn Ni Donovan’s voice possesses that pointedly entrancing and beautiful quality that other contemporaries strive to replicate, but a similar compliment could be paid to any other member on any of the album’s ten tracks.

Coming off more tempered and confident than ever before, the record plays out at mid-tempo for the first few tracks, each individual section of their songs’ structures flowing seamlessly together. Early standouts include “Dum Dum”’s chorus, with its four-on-the-floor rhythm and Donovan’s repeated “dum dum” refrain, and “Break a Heart” with its soft, lovelorn delivery and soaring guitar figure. The album steadily builds steam as it progresses; the title-track, just past the album’s midpoint, is a jubilant push and pull where each instrument in the band’s employ layers on top of the other, creating a perfectly executed cascade of starry sound. Closer “Hearts In Our Throats” is a soothing, drum machine-led waltz that provides an excellent cap to the album, with its comparatively sparse, open arrangement.

After years of silence, The High Violets return refined and deserving of the same praise awarded to acts some ten years their junior. Introductory hype-cycles, over saturation and tabloid-worthy press ordeals shouldn’t be the key to listeners’ awareness, but so often that’s the case. For consistent quality, though, look no further than these Portland gazers, whose Heroes and Halos is yet another great addition to their already superb catalog.

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High Violets at Stereo Embers

Sometimes the problem with being local heroes is eventually you get taken for granted, washed over by the ceaseless tide of the new. Ironically, this is especially true, it seems, when you’re as consistently excellent as the High Violets have been.

Jump-started back in 1998 by Clint Sargent and Luke Strahota following the collapse of also popular Portland band Bella Low, the Violets present their fourth studio album Heroes and Haloes amid a long-established, constant – and constantly high – level of expectation and of course it’s an exemplary forty minutes of shoedream gazepop, sculpting away at all those loftily-erected contours as usual, but by all means don’t let that predictability preclude your curiosity. That would be unwise, that would border on the tragically negligent. Not toward the band but toward yourself, as you’d miss the instant career-defining dynamism of “How I Love (everything about you)” as it blasts off from two sharp, treated snare slaps into a jetstream of roilingly ecstatic romanticism, singer Kaitlyn ni Donovan presiding with supernal calm over a ringing roar full of bright burbling synths, a passing ghost chorus of background vox and the guitar riff of the year, a simple two-toned slide pattern that bestows upon the track instant classic status and that’s just the first cut.

You’d also miss “Dum Dum”‘s sweet but heavy pop sway as it deftly layers Donovan’s damning lilt of a vocal over Sargent’s dark shards of guitar, the smoothly pulsing “Longitude” the melody of which attaches itself unshakably to that hook-craving part of your brain that insists on humming it back to itself without end, the shimmering assault of poignant loveliness that is the title track, sweeping over you in shudders and pounding waves, its sound a thing you succumb to and more-than-willingly. You’d miss all that and more and we are quite very sure indeed you do not want to do that.

Matured yet as fuel-injected as ever (check out the tumultuous beauty of “Comfort in Light), as capable of bewitching mystery as ever (the shoegazey gauze of “Ease On”), as imperishably groove-melodic as ever (“Break A Heart” is St Etienne fronted by Dusty Springfield only with a John Squire guitar break), on Heroes and Haloes (available April 1st on Saint Marie) the High Violets return full force as the band again reach effortless crests that all the new(er)comers would be wise to aspire to.

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High Violets at Philthy Mag

Although they may not quite be a household name, Portland, Oregon’s The High Violets have been kicking out wonderfully lush and fuzzy dream pop and shoegaze jams since the late ‘90s, and this Friday, April 1st, will see the release of their fifth full-length, Heroes and Halos, courtesy of Saint Marie Records.  The album would seem to be their most accomplished yet and in a recent chat with The High Violets’ mainpeople/songwriters Clint Sargent and Kaitlyn ni Donovan the two tell me that the album is essentially the culmination of both all the processes and sounds they’ve worked with over the years.

Izzy Cihak: I’m just realizing that you’ve been together for almost 20 years now, which is sort of insane:  What have been some of the biggest highlights of the band over the past two decades, whether it be experiences, reactions to your work, or anything else that really stood out to you?

Clint Sargent: There have definitely been some good highlights, but I would say the overall reaction to our work has been the most satisfying. With fans continuously reaching out and letting us know they appreciate what we do. That, as much as anything, keeps you going.

Izzy: What do you think is the biggest difference between the mindset of the band now, compared to when you first got together?

Clint: In the beginning we viewed the band as a solid collective. We had regular rehearsal nights in Luke’s basement and considered everyone involved with the song writing. As time went on and people came and went and came back it became clear that Kaitlyn and I were composing the majority of the music. And this was certainly the case on Heroes. So this is our mindset currently.

Izzy: How is Portland’s music and arts scene at the moment?  There always seems to be tons of really cool and really diverse things going on there.

Clint: In years past it has been the case for sure, but honestly at the moment I wonder myself. We barely got this album done before I could no longer afford my rent. The last few years have seen so much change with people moving there and the cost of living going up. Many artists have moved out to the suburbs or are crowding into houses. Anyway, it’s a good question. The scene will always live on in some capacity.

Izzy: You’re about to release Heroes and Halos.  How do you feel it compares to previous releases?

Kaitlyn ni Donovan: I feel Heroes echoes the maturing between our beginnings in traditional shoegaze and our last release, Cínema. Cinema leaned more into straight dream pop. Heroes… seems to bridge the two. If you listen to the first side of the LP, you may noticed a distinctly dream pop feel, while the second side lends a darker tone with our shoegaze background.

Izzy: What would you consider to be the album’s most significant influences, both musical and otherwise?

Kaitlyn: I try my best not to be influenced by other’s music when I write, but rather images that arise as if in a dream, fictional story, or film whilst, forming the first melodic foundations of a song. To me it keeps the music pure and not overly influenced by trends or other’s muses.

Izzy: I especially dig “Longitude,” which just reminds me of so much of the mid-90s’ best alt rock, so I’m curious how that particular track came about.

Kaitlyn: “Longitude” came into fruition at a lightning pace, though I was disabled with a back injury and unable to play any instruments. Consequently, for the first time in my musical career, while laid up on a couch, I turned to composing with a drum machine and sang the vocal melody in one pass that you hear on the album. It all very happily stuck. The lyrics came later, (not so quickly) which are from the perspective of a bee, but also reflect the feelings of one in a manic phase of bipolar disorder. In the final fleshing out we included analogue drums, synthesizers, and Clint’s gorgeous guitar.

Izzy: Finally, what are you planning and hoping for in 2016?  Any chance we might get to see you on the road in the near future?

Clint: We’ve put the album out and we’ll see what comes down the pike? What might be? It’s been so long since we played live. No plans at this time. Perhaps at some point we can dust off the hiatus?

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High Violets at Collapse Board

Through my job, I’ve seen more gourmet cakes in six months than in my 25 years of admiring cakes. The real luxury in these confections usually isn’t the cake itself, but the two-inch glove of gummy fondant frosting, often curled into pink ribbons atop the solid white base. Now, most guests just can’t handle that much sweetness at once, and so we wind up trashing dozens of icing crusts and sugar ribbons. That’s the risk that some musicians face when they take on the sun-drenched side of their art – too much bliss, and the listener could tune out. But as veteran purveyors of dreamy indie rock, The High Violets know how to temper their dulcet tones, and Heroes and Halos, their fifth LP, showcases that finesse. Granted, it’s no three-tier wedding cake, but it’ll still sate a crowd.

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High Violets at Dagger Zine

I’ve never been a hardcore shoegaze disciple or anything but I do like the genre and this American label, out of Texas, has quietly been releasing some of the best stuff the past few years (also check out the new EP from New Jersey’s Deardarkhead). Anywho, funny thing about this band is that they’re based in Portland , a place I lived from 2002-2012, and I remember seeing this bunch once live and liked it ok and all but didn’t dig deeper for some reason. You go the their Bandcamp page and they’ve got a ton of records for sale, at least one dating back to 1999 (and it looks like the band’s most recent release prior to this was 2010’s Cinema). Which brings us to Heroes and Halos which I really like. I’ve been listening to it quite a bit lately, pulling it out of the stack of cds when other ones I like are right beside it. The band still adds a bit o’ mystery and intrigue to their lush, dreampop songs mostly thanks to vocalist Kaitlyn ni Donovan who has this goddess-like voice from the heavens (think the gal from Lush or Rachel from Slowdive…two bands who I’m reminded of while listening to the High Violets). Also, let’s not forget guitarist Clint Sargent bringing the noise with some tasty ax work . First cut “How I Love (everyting about you)” is a terrific opener with swirling guitar, rock-solid rhythms and Donovan’s fluttery vocals while “Dum Dum,” still with Donovan’s vocals out front, is where the mystery comes in (same on “Bells”). The title track almost created this dizzying effect on me (luckily I was sitting down) and ‘Ease On” has these great whispery (and wispy) vocals before bursting into a glorious chorus. All the way through Heroes and Halos the High Violets never forget the importance of the song, heading into orbit at times, but never getting lost in the outer space. This one’ll have plenty more plays on my house.www.saintmarierecords.com

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High Violets at Impose

 

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High Violets at Drowned in Sound

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High Violets at Primal Music Blog

With the sheer momentum of Slowdive, splendid melodies of Cocteau Twins, the ethereal sounds of Secret Shine, and smooth outpour of musical purity of The Sundays, the band beloved by so many in their home town of Portland, Oregon grace the music scene once again and blow our minds with truly beautiful sonic bliss. This musically inclined four piece is also well known for creating grand spectacles of guitar skyscraping sound akin to bands like The Sleep Over Disaster and Solar Powered People.The High Violets have it all!

Unequivocally the essence of categorical dream pop and shoegazers, this super group has been consistently making remarkable music over the course of two decades. Since the first two band member’s inception as The Bella Low back in 1996, Clint Sargent and Luke Strahota briefly made music with lead singer Violet Bianca Grace, before disbanding in 1998. It has been said that things happen for a reason and as providence would have it within a year they reunited in 1999. This time the two original band members struck gold with the life changing addition of Kaitlyn Ni Donavan on lead vocals and guitar also with Colin Sheridan currently on bass guitar – to form The High Violets. This is a band that even critics have widely praised over the years due to their sustained dedication to the purest of shoegaze and dream pop sound. From their first EP entitled “Dream Away” released in October of 1999 these incredible musicians have proven their innate ability to create irreproachable music with every following full length album and remix collection within the shoegaze, dream pop and alternative rock genres.This latest release will be their fifth since their last sonic wonder “Cinéma” released in September of 2010. Band members decided to take a well deserved hiatus not long after their last full album release; but you would have never known they were temporarily quiet after listening to their latest creation. If you have ever wondered what the voice of an angel sounds like, one listen to Kaitlyn Ni Donavan on lead vocals and you will know. Clint Sargent is the mastermind behind The High Violets’signature guitar sound, synthesizer and sings lead in specific tracks as well.

Heroes and Halos is the latest magnum opus created by the dream pop and shoegaze masters. To the long time fan of this outstanding band Clint Sargent’s trademark, lingering, beautifully drawn out guitar riffs coalesced with Kaitlyn’s highly melodic singing, ring true right from the first track.  The new listener will become blissfully ensnared right from the opening song entitled ‘How I Love (Everything About You)’. This Love ballad is one for the ages. When the sonic magicians begin to play they already know how to grab your senses and get you hooked on more aural ecstasy. The first track appropriates you by the ears and commands listening time. The masterfully crafted sonic bliss will promulgate to your auditory cortex right from the awesome intro. The shoegazed out dream guitar laced with fuzz filled goodness is permeating. Then Kaitlyn begins to sing and time stands still. The exceedingly perfect melody of Kaitlyn’s singing is an inbred part of accomplished sound The High Violets have mastered. Goose bumps will ensue and everything around you will fade into a blurry background when Kaitlyn evokes deep emotion through her proclamation of Love, singing lyrics like “Belladonna Eyes, I love everything about you” infused with all the band members singing backup vocals in the chorus, and like a human metronome Luke’s drumming is perfectly in sync in every track. It is very easy to see why fans of this band are absolutely in love with them.

The clever onomatopoeia opening sounds of the track ‘Dum Dum’ have a message to convey in this semi ballad about the tensions experienced in a relationship when a counterpart is actually dumb enough to lie about infidelity. I love the more than catchy beat and the deep sonic waves of guitar sounds in this track mingled with poignant lyrics that are almost playful yet straightforward, awesome track! Up next, ‘Long Last Night’ Reminiscent of a sweet low whisper in your ear Kaitlyn sounds soothing, giving us more beautiful melodies. The signature guitar Clint performs in this track consists of a long perfectly executed, climbing skyward, feel which is just mesmerizing. Kaitlyn’s voice is masterfully mixed with her own in the chorus and a fluently, sinuous bassline played by Colin. This song embodies true High Violets dreamy perfection. ‘Break A Heart’ is an awesome ballad about the woes of being in love with someone that just might break a heart. Truly feverish and dizzying heights are reached when this track is launched into orbit with the guitar solo which is incredible! If you ever heard bands like The Sleep Over Disaster with their catapulting, majestically huge guitar riffs you will love and madly appreciate the guitar playing of The High Violets. Track 5
‘Bells’, begins with great reverberated drum beats and Kaitlyn singing almost immediately. The highly melodic and guitar drenched chorus of Bells is very easy and pleasing to music receptors. This track is a densely packed sonic experience an inspirational, lyrically infused, dynamo!

The title track ‘Heroes and Halos’ is without a doubt epic in sound and scope and just as awe inspiring are the lyrics from the refrain which indicate “It’s hard for me not see the beauty in our troubled lives/minds” Kaitlyn reminds us “don’t become something cold”. These lyrics are of course a testament inciting the hope that there still are Heroes with Halos visible to those of us who still search for the good in others. Kaitlyn’s voice really shines like the sun in this track. The deep reverberated guitar and flowing, swirling trademark sound throughout the track is classic High Violets sound kicked up many notches.This is my favorite song on the album. The very majestic Inspiration and hope given to us in this track is marvellous. The guitar sound flows like an ominous river, along with a drum beat that sustains a bold almost minacious impact to the song, yet very outright gorgeous. The presaged and at the same time emancipating lyrics, add to the luster of this sinister sounding track. The band brings a bold, dark experience in ‘Longitude’ while maintaining that awesome High Violets neo-psychedelic bliss. If you are familiar with bands like Whispering Sons and/or Nervous Light, you will be overcome by a mad rush of precipitous pleasure upon listening to this haunting loveliness.

Track 9 ‘Comfort in Light’ is bathed in a lovely dream enhancing sound. Wow! The intro transports your mind to shoegazer dream land then Kaitlyn’s ethereally mesmerizing voice is actually very comforting to absorb into your psyche. Comfort in Lightis a masterpiece in dream pop and shoegaze amalgamation. I love how the albums closing track ‘Hearts in Our Throats’begins with the sound of the musicians picking up their instruments then as the guitar and flute become audible they coalesce into an acoustic heaven. Kaitlyn’s voice fades into join in and is beyond ethereal, it is sensationally angelic and if anyone could sing in a tone reminiscent of a whisper and have the same impact as singing loudly Kaitlyn accomplishes this with ease. Her voice in this track is strikingly enchanting. And when you truly absorb the gravity of this track you will feel that “lump in your throat” of gently flowing deep emotion. This is a gorgeous slow motion track consisting of heartrending lyrics with an incredibly talented lead at the helm, breathing pure sonic bliss into the brain of the super fortunate listener.

It is of no surprise and monumentally apparent that Heroes and Halos has brought the gorgeous sound of The High Violets to full realization. This Venerable group of talented musicians are not only making music again, they are re-writing dream pop, shoegaze and alternative music history. Their new album is a mass inspiration not only to long time fans, but will also gain this brilliant four piece a myriad of new admirers. Long Live the legendary musicians that are The High Violets.

5/5

‘Heroes and Halos’ gets it’s official release on the 1st April 2016 via Saint Marie Records and is available to pre-order right now from: www.saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com/album/heros-and-halos

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High Violets at Fadeawayradiate

The High Violets are our favourite high-priests of Dreampop! They have been around since 1998, way before the “second wave” or nugaze, and have risen to somewhat of a Sainthood by now. The fact that they haven’t released anything since 2010 just adds to their already legendary proportions ( esp. in the US), and I would rather put them in the same shrine as shoegaze idols Slowdive, Pale Saints and Chapterhouse than with our so-called nugaze acts.

Since their last album Cinema was released in 2010 things have been a bit quiet. Frontman Clint Sargentexplains what they did in the meantime and if the think the time has influenced their sound in any way :
Basically we had been active nonstop mostly since we started when we came out with Cinema. So we took a little break for a year or so. We then decided to make a new record and it was at that time too that St. Marie approached us. So we began work and it took 3 years to make.

As far as the sound changing. Things were done differently. We moved into other areas working more in some cases with minor chords and also in our approach to writing. We were more experimental with the technologies at our disposal. This was also the first time all the songs were recorded before any had been performed.”

“Heroes and Halos” starts with a bang : the single “How I love (everything about you )” has Kaitlyn ni Donovan confessing her adoration backed by divine organs and blissful guitars.  In “Long Last Night” Kaitlyn sounds equally rapturous and pure over gossamer layers of shimmery  jangle & delay.

The religious imagery continues in “Bells” ( We are all beautiful & in your eyes It’s not a reason to covet or despise To be a photo of grace I can try it)  where ringing guitar patterns a la Johnny Marr are set against baggy drum-beats.

Heroes and Halos” is a lofty Cocteau Cathedral that reminds of the soaring experience of  the Telescopes’ “Flying”.  I hear shards of  “Life’s what you make it”( Talk Talk)  and “How Soon is Now” ( Smiths) in “Comfort in Light” where emotions rise and guitars crash and shimmering effects whirl around us and  Kaitlyn’s diaphanous voice summons “call my name”……

The medieval waltz “Hearts in our Throats” sounds like the morning after the a Holy Battle: morning sun rising;  eyes blinking,  surrounded by the dead we take stock, collect our strength and go home with dragging, slow steps and a heavy heart.

Heroes and Halos” is a resplendent epic that would still very much appeal to lovers of dreampop, 4AD etc, but Slowdive and Lush were certainly not the most obvious references that came to mind, as shown above. I think their scope is much broader these days: more mellow, more poised. The legendary High Violets have returned to take their place in the canon of Dreamgaze.

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High Violets at Northwest Music Scene

We’re more than excited to be able to exclusively share with you a brand new music video from Portland shoegaze outfit The High Violets, for their latest track, “Bells,” an advanced track off Heroes and Halos, their forthcoming LP, set for release through Saint Marie Records.

The bands’ first full-length LP in six years, Heroes and Halos is the much-anticipated follow-up to their well-received 201o album Cinema. “Bells” follows in a similar vein, taking most of its influence from some of the more pleasant and less abrasive names in early dream pop music, most obviously Cocteau Twins and Slowdive. The track is gently wrapped in a lush and comfy atmosphere, and is as light on the ears as it is catchy.

Heros and Halos will be made available on the first of April, and promises a big splash in the worlds of contemporary dream pop and shoegaze. Check out the music video embedded below, and pre-order the LP through Saint Marie Records’ online store if the sound entices you. Expect huge things from The High Violets in 2016.

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