Posts Tagged ‘colours & changes’

Presents for Sally at the JangleDrop

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Presents for Sally at Sound & Vision

A Presents for Sally no le han hecho tanto ruido en la prensa en estos últimos años. Normalmente no se les toma en cuenta cuando se habla de los cuatro o cinco nombres importantes para la nueva oleada del shoegazing. Pero es injusto. Los ingleses no le piden nada a Beliefs, Ringo Deathstarr, Power Pyramid, Cheatahs o The Stargazer Lilies, al contrario, pueden presumir de atributos que otros no dominarían tan fácil como el tener sus preceptos musicales bien cimentados, las raíces bien identificadas y el respeto a un concepto sonoro más claros que muchos de sus colegas allá afuera.

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Presents for Sally at Drowned in Sound

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Presents for Sally at Primal

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Presents for Sally at Razorcake

Very accurate ‘90s shoegaze dream pop that pairs well with cooler temperatures and falling leaves and insert-favorite-autumn-thing-here. Too much of a copycat band for me to really get down with them, but they’ve got charm. “We Fought Lucifer (And Won)” and “Sleep Tight” could easily soundtrack your “College Dorm, 1993”-themed Halloween party.

Presents for Sally, Static Daydream, Pinkshinyultrablast at Shoegazer Alive 9

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Presents for Sally at Dagger

So it’s on the Saint Marie label which I like so that was a plus and I like the minimal cover of all orange with a few drawings of black birds and the words Presents for Sally in block letters at the bottom got me interested as well. Put it on and it didn’t grab me immediately, but I liked it enough to play it a few more times and by play number three or four I really began to like it. They hail from the UK , are a trio (2 guys and one gal) and fit in nicely on the Saint Marie stable, which is to say sticky melodies buried beneath mounds of fuzzed-out guitars. In fact, a few of the song titles give you an idea of what the band would sound like: “Wishawaytoday,” “The Sun Dehydrates” and the closing “Softly Spoken/Outside Honey” (all good songs, too). Opening song (the awesomely titled “We Fought Lucifer (and won)” is a good way to start off a record and also don’t miss “Everything I Said” and the melodic “Sing” (which could/should be a single). These guys obviously have some stuff on the Creation label in their collections and me assuming that is fine as these folks know what they want to accomplish and how to go about it. Nothing wrong with that.

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Presents for Sally at Performer

Lost in atmospheric euphoria is where you will find yourself when listening to Presents For Sally’s latest release, Colours & Changes. The album itself is rooted in spacey guitars, swelling feedback and echoing vocals. There is ample room to breath, and the album feels befitting of a long move away from home. “Anything Anymore” succeeds in this space, while “Sleep Tight” operates in more constrained territory — the band is seemingly at their best when they’re reining it in (ever so slightly). This is for when finding your way is exploring more space.

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Presents for Sally at POP! Stereo

You know you’re old when you’ve lived through a movement long enough to see kids fascinated by it and decide to imitate and embrace it wholeheartedly. Such is me and the case of Presents for Sally. This band so encapsulates the Oxford and Leeds shoegazing scenes from the 90’s that it makes me feel like a proud parent. The scene that celebrated itself 20 or so years ago has had kids and they’re taking after their parents and that’s well pleasing.
Anyway, Presents for Sally’s album Colours & Changes is an amalgamation of everything that made Ride and the Pale Saints fantastic. There’s enough hazy vocals, phase shifted guitars, floor staring, and epic riffs that stretch on to infinity to make any fan blush. Colours & Changesis a brilliant album that layers harmonies upon harmonies, processes guitars into the stratosphere and leaves things just rough enough so that it all seems like it was recorded shortly after 7am on a Monday morning. Presents for Sally have really done a great job of embracing the past and fondly trying to make it sound like something different. They succeed for the most part as certain aspects of this record seemingly want to venture into US indie rock territory while firmly utilizing enough effects to reign in the bombast.
From the opening waves of, “We Fought Lucifer (And Won)” to the epic psychedelia of, “Softly Spoken/Outside Honey,” Colours & Changes is a gauzy treat of sonic bliss. I know bands like this are a dime a dozen now days but so few are honest and sincere in their approach; Presents for Sally are sincere and it shows on how each of the songs here rings true. They may be called Presents for Sally but the real gift is us being able to enjoy Colours & Changes.

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Presents for Sally at Drowned in Sound

Presents for Sally may have only formed in 2009 but their music could quite easily have been crafted two decades earlier. Heavily influenced by Creation Records’ halcyon period and the many bands spawned from that era, the trio – Matt Etherton, his wife Anna and Phil Russell – have been honing their sound over the past six years. Having released their debut single ‘Catch Your Fall’ in 2009 followed by inaugural long player A Touch Of Joy, A Touch Of Sadness a year later, they’ve spent the ensuing period building up to what could be considered a defining moment in their career. The two releases that followed, 2013’s ‘Anything Anymore’ 45 and the Sing EP that preceded it hinted at a more experimental approach than their earlier recordings. Not that Presents for Sally could ever be considered revivalists. On the contrary in fact, as the long awaited second album Colours & Changes ably demonstrates.

Conceived over a three-year period, its 11 tracks take the listener on a journey that takes in a diverse range of sonic elements from all out sonic attack to acoustic laments about waking up in the morning. Ambitiously formulated and purposely executed, Colours & Changes sets out to achieve what it states on the tin. Opener ‘We Fought Lucifer (And Won)’ kickstarts the record in explosive fashion. Layers of distortion introduce the song before a cavalcade of drums crash in around the 90-second-mark. Matt Etherton’s vocals ar deceptively low in the mix provide a haunting aftertaste while effects-heavy guitars swoon then erupt around him.

So it’s to their credit that ‘Wishawaytoday’ takes the opposite path when it would have been easier to bludgeon the senses. Instead, Presents for Sally show their sensitive sides, preferring to take a more traditional poppier excursion that’s drenched in melody rather than reverb. The vocal interchange between Matt and Anna Etherton on ‘Anything Anymore’ creates a tension similar to Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher’s demure exchanges on ‘Never Say Goodbye’ from their often disregarded ‘Strawberry Wine’ 12-inch.

It’s on ‘The Sun Dehydrates’ that the rulebook goes out the window. As layered guitars compete with discordant slabs of electronica, Colours & Changes reaches beyond the stars for another galaxy entirely. Not for the first time conveying two songs trying to escape from one another, it represents their boldest statement of intent to date and would probably be many artists’ pinnacle were it not for the indigenous company perched alongside here.

Having often been compared to Ride , ‘Sleep Tight’ perhaps treads closest to what could be described as archetypal shoegaze, mainly due to the Ethertons admittedly flawless harmonies, it passes the test if not with the same tenacity as its predecessors here. However, ‘Everything I Said’ once again warrants epic status, pushing the boundaries beyond traditional dance/rock hybrids by way of its playful melody and insistent back beat that takes on a mechanistic urgency.

Both ‘Sing’ and the closing ‘NSIC’ find Presents for Sally at their most reflective. While the former’s soothing tones pull the decibel count a little closer to earth, the latter’s declaration of “Did you wait for the lights to go out?” set to a backdrop of acoustic guitar and church bells makes for a goosebump-inducing finale. In between, the title track rides along like a heavily accentuated steam train of noise and confusion while ‘Floor Faller’ could be Pale Saints covering McCarthy’s ‘Red Sleeping Beauty’ in a parallel universe.

As with ‘The Sun Dehydrates’, ‘Softly Spoken/Outside Honey’ combines two songs into one, forging the record’s most grandiose seven-and-a-half minutes in the process.

While Presents for Sally’s eyes may have been focused towards their feet, their minds were clearly fixated on the stars. Colours & Changes: Boldly going beyond the realms of possibility.

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