Posts Tagged ‘dagger’

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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Witching Waves at Dagger

This U.K. trio’s 2014 debut, Fear of  Falling Down completely passed me by, but this one, a domestic release on HHBTM, surely didn’t. Along with bands like Joanna Gruesome and Veronica Falls they’d seem to have some cacophonous brethren in their homeland and I also hear bits of Sonic Youth, The Vaselines and Shop Assistants to name a few elder statesmen (mostly S.Y.). In other words Emma, Mark and Ed might be young but they know their history and cuts like “Twister,” “Red Light Loop” and “Make It Up” show a band that blast on their foot pedals when they want to and show a little restraint whne thee time’s right (sometimes in the same song….especially “Make It Up” …his vocal even remind me a lot of Thurston Moore). Keep listening and make sure ntot to miss ace cuts like “The Threat” and the record-ending “Flowers.’ Not sure if they’ve made it to our shores in the past but 2016 is shaping up to be a great year gig-wise and if these guys make it over then it’ll make the year even better.

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deardarkhead at Dagger

My initial thought was, “Damn….no vocals sooo… it’s an instrumental record?!” I wasn’t real happy, but after several listens I really like this. Oh sure, I wish they still had a vocalist (their previous vocalist Mike Amper left several years ago and has yet to be replaced)  but I’m not complaining (too much). This South Jersey band (from my hometown of Linwood…woot woot!!) have been at it since the late 80’s and have weathered all sorts of things that a band goes through (line up change, addiction to Cheetos, their official vehicle, a ’74 Pinto, contstantly breaking down, etc.) It’s still drummer/founding member Rob Weiss, longtime guitarist Kevin Harrington and Kevin McCauley on bass (the new guy though he’s probably been in the band for 5-10 years for all I know). The Captured Tracks label released a terrific compilation of early stuff a few years ago, but this is the bands first new material in quite some time. Their influence comes from all things UK  and if you dig bands like the Pale Saints or Ride then what the DDH boys do will be ok with you. Cuts like the excellent moody opener, “Falling Upward”, the icier Sunshine Through the Rain”, the varied “Ice Age,” are as good as anything the band has done previously and to be honest, there’s not a bad cut among these six tunes. If you’ve never heard the band before give ‘em a listen, especially if you’re an anglophile searching for some new juice. I’m happy to say that Strange Weather is just great. www.saintmarierecords.com

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Great Lakes at Dagger

Records by the Great Lakes have been a bit sporadic, 5 in the last 16 years but it’s ok as I know one will appears sooner or later. The “band” is basically the work of one Ben Crum though for each record he gets a ton of friends to add their magic. Early on, when he was based in Athens, GA he was loosely a part of the Elephant 6 collective (Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, Apples in Stereo, etc.) and even had a record out on the Kindercore label (wayyy back in the day). Crum moved to Brooklyn, NY about a decade ago and , as stated somewhere previously, his music “made a darker turn” (from his early poppy records…these days themes seem to be about birds and nature). I wondered how he could top his previous record, 2010’s Ways of Escape, definitely my favorite by him. Not sure if Wild Vision has topped it but it’s at least as goodwithsharp songwriting and all kinds of wild playing. He enlisted the help of friends Kevin Shea on drums, David Lerner on bass, Phillip Sterk on pedal steel and man about town Joe McGinty on keyboards (he’s played with everyone) plus some backup vocalist (Crum handles guitar and the main vocals) and it’s wild ride. Crum’s guitar speaks several languages (reminds me a bit of Neil Young as I’ve stated in previous reviews)  and cuts like “Swim the River,” “Kin to the Mountain’ and the amazing “Wild Again” will just destroy everything in your house while you’re sitting there listening to it (you didn’t need that stuff anyway). He slows it down a bit on cuts like “ I Stay, You Go” and “Blood on My Tooth,” and “Nature is Always True” but those songs lack no power, staying or otherwise. My only real complaint is that he doesn’t record often enough, otherwise, another terrific Great Lakes record.

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Postal Blue at Dagger Zine

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!

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Try the Pie at Dagger

One thing I’ve always liked about Athens, GA’s HHBTM (Happy Happy Birthday to Me) label is that though it does release plenty of indie pop music it doesn’t just stick to that one genre (like a lot of indie pop labels do). With HHBTM you never really know what you’re gonna get. Take this band for instance, I was initially curious about the band name (especially since I love pie) and then found out that it’s the work of one Bean Tupou (who had previously been in Sourpatch and Crabapple). These songs are mostly acoustic, folky and confessional and on a lot of the songs you can hear the sound of fingers going across the strings of the acoustic guitar (like on the early Palace Bros record Days in the Wake). Cuts like “A Lot of Things,” “Willing,” “Bunkbed” and “The Hottest Day of the Year” should make you a fan. It’s a real personal affair and it almost sounds as if you’re listening in on a conversation that you’re not supposed to be listening in on. I first got turned onto this kind of stuff in the late 80’s when I heard some of the earliest Sebadoh recordings (these tunes were recorded in 2008 in San Francisco as it says ion the back cover). I’m  curling up with this record tonight and probably tomorrow night, too.

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Static Daydream at Dagger

First off, I had wondered what had happened to the shoegaze bands Skywave and Ceremony (not the Matador Records one) and well, I’ve found out. The man behind both of those bands, Paul Baker has resurfaced as Static Daydream along with his ladyfriend Jamie Casey. Oh sure, from the first few notes you can tell that they have (multiples) copies of Psychocandy in their collections as well as Isn’t Anything (some Slowdive records, too) but who cares, this 11-song/ 47-minute outing kicks from start to finish! At times there’s not much deviation in the songs, with relentless, pounding rhythms and guitars set on stun but the mix of Baker n’ Casey’s vocals add a little sweetness to the proceedings (especially Caseys’). Not sure what Baker’s lyrics are about but I’m guessing they’re pretty desperate (some song titles: “Just Stay,” “Until You’re Mine,” “When She Fails,” “I’ve Destroyed Everything”, etc.). Speaking of “Just Stay” is one of the few songs that take a reprieve from the pound with an almost dub-like synth outing, otherwise, most of this will put you in trance, like it did me, until I snapped out of it, got hungry and went to make some breakfast (pancakes, if you care). Whew.

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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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Mind Brains at Dagger

Man, you never know what you’ll get coming out of Athens GA. You’ll recognize a few of the names here form other bands (ie: Eric Harris) and this is all over the map. Weirded-out psych pop one minute and Krautrock the next.  (check out “Body Horror”). A bit too out there for me, but it may be your bag.

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Fireworks at Dagger

I loved the single and was waiting with bated breath for the full-length. Well, here it is and it’s a doozie. Matthew and Emma run the show here, he on guitar/vocals and she on vocals/tambourine. Isabel and Shaun (Charman, he of the Wedding Present and Popguns) round out the rhythm section) and the songs come at you fast and furious with plenty of all of my favorite things in the world: reverb, distortion, feedback and hooks, man, HOOKS! Right from the opener, “With My Heart” (with Emma on lead vocals) heaping waves of melody and soot come blasting at you. Same with song number two, the instant classic “Runaround.” Keep listening folks because a little later on “Which Way To Go” will bury itself in your noodle as well. The record, however, isn’t all a furnace blast, they slow it down a bit on the lovely “Let You Know” and the closing, tender “In the Morning” but most of Switch Me On is turned up to 11. Of all of the bands on Shelflife that I love (pretty much all of  them) this is the one I’m most excited about. Suffice it to say if bands like The Razorcuts, Buzzcocks or the Shop Assistants were ever on your radar then you’ll be ok with this (and it’s already on my short list for best of 2015- even though 2015 is only a few weeks old).  www.shelflife.com

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