Posts Tagged ‘strange weather’

deardarkhead at AllMusic

Active since the late ’80s, New Jersey-based dream poppers Deardarkhead only have a handful of releases to their name, and merely one of them is a proper full-length. That album, Unlock the Valves of Feeling, appeared back in 1998; since then, the group’s original bass player and vocalist Michael Amper departed from the group in 2009, and the band soldiered on as a vocal-free trio along with replacement bassist Kevin McCauley, who joined in 2010. Following Captured Tracks’ 2011 anthology of the group’s early-’90s EPs (Oceanside: 1991-1993), Strange Weather is Deardarkhead‘s first newly released material of the 21st century, and it reveals them as an impressive instrumental unit with no apparent need for useless, empty words. The EP is far more focused than one might expect of an instrumental EP from a band that formerly had a vocalist. The group’s music has often had an urgency to it — they’ve never been the type of shoegaze band to stick to hazy, stoned-sounding slow tempos — and here they sound positively energized and vibrant. There’s a bit of a post-punk, Cure-esque jangle to the guitars, but they don’t drown them in effects. The melodies are clear and upfront, and strangely enough, it almost seems like the band has gained more of a pop sensibility since losing its vocalist. All of the tracks sound different, from the thundering toms of “March Hares” to the slightly heavier, more psychedelic guitar textures of “Thinking Back,” so the songs all have distinct personalities rather than just sounding like variations on a similar groove. There’s a tinge of wistfulness to the melodies, but overall they sound bright and summery. Deardarkhead are commendable for their preference of the EP format, as their releases usually don’t wear out their welcome. Strange Weather feels like a fresh new start, even if it’s been at least half a decade in the making.

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deardarkhead at Ringmaster Reviews

Rousingly fascinating is probably the best way to describe Strange Weather, the new EP from New Jersey trio deardarkhead, that and gloriously suggestive. Across six tracks as cinematic as they are emotionally intimate upon the imagination, band and release immerses the listener in its and their own sculpted exploits. The release is an anthem to the conjuring of bold imaginative adventures and a tapestry of creative virulence for ears to bask in.

The beginnings of deardarkhead go way back to 1988 since when the band has released five recordings on their own Fertile Crescent Records label with a retrospective of their early work additionally released in 2012 by Captured Tracks. Their distinctive fusion of post punk, indie rock, shoe gaze, and dream pop has been greedily devoured by an increasing many whilst their live presence has seen the band play with the likes of Supergrass, The Psychedelic Furs, Everclear and The Lilys amongst numerous other. Despite numerous compilation appearances, and that 2011 retrospective  Oceanside: 1991-1993 since last album Unlock the Valves of Feeling was released in 1998, you might say that deardarkhead have been a ‘forgotten’ treat by many; if so that is set to inescapably change with the release of Strange Weather.

Always luring inquiring interest with each release, the band has probably ignited the strongest intrigue with the new EP as it is their first without long time singer/bassist Michael Amper who left the band in 2009. His departure only seemed to ignite a hunger to explore their instrumental side as remaining members, guitarist Kevin Harrington and drummer Robert Weiss proceeded to move in that direction and perform instrumental shows after linking up with bassist Kevin McCauley the following year. The suggestion is that the band is looking for the right vocalist to bring in but on the evidence of Strange Weather, and its empowering potency, you wonder if it will be any loss not finding the right man.

From its first track Strange Weather has ears and emotions enthralled, the imagination just as swiftly ignited as Falling Upward emerges from chilling winds within a dank atmosphere. It is pulled from the wasteland by a nagging guitar, its sonic lure soon colluding with the resonating bait of the bass and crispy textured beats. With them comes a tenacious catchy resourcefulness which infectiously lines the post punk hook and bass groove which subsequently entwine and enslave ears. All the tracks to the EP spark ideas and mental imagery, ones sure to differ person to person, but a cold war like landscape is ours adventure for the opener no doubt helped by having recently watched Deutschland 83. There feels a cinematic kinship between the band’s sound and those visuals with every leap into the sonic tapestry of the song pushing the story along.

With a touch of Leitmotiv to it, the track is a riveting start, leaving ears and pleasure lively and ready to embrace the warmer jangle of Sunshine Through The Rain which follows. There is a calmer air altogether to the song, a melodic radiance which wears the scent of eighties indie pop yet contrasts it with a steely proposal from bass and hypnotic beats. Again captivation is a given to its My Bloody Valentine aired persuasion though it is soon outshone by the thrills and dramas of both Juxta Mare and March Hares. The first of the pair unveils a sultry atmosphere around a delicious melodic hook and bassline which would not feel out of play of a sixties/seventies TV spy thriller. Its lean but thick lure is the spring for an evocative weave of sonic enterprise and suggestive melodies, all courted by the dark shadows of bass and the persistently jabbing swings of Weiss.

As outstanding as it is, it too gets eclipsed by its successor, March Hares stealing the whole show. From the pulsating rhythms of Weiss to the snarling tone of McCauley’s bass, the track has ears and an already lustful appetite enslaved. Their irresistible bait is then entangled in bewitching tendrils of sonic imagination from Harrington; the song subsequently swinging along in the web of their united craft and invention to entice body and spirit further. In full stride, the track has a great feel of The Monochrome Set to it, indeed Harrington’s stringed adventure carries a touch of the English band’s guitarist Lester Square to it as a House of Love shimmer and Birdland like rowdiness add to the slavery.

Ice Age immerses the listener into chillier post punk climes next; its nippy atmosphere and almost bleak ambience tempered by the sonic elegance seeping from the guitar within the anthemic tenacity of the drums. Again it is fair to say that the song lures physical and emotional involvement with ease before Thinking Back explores a maze of reflective melodies and evocative grooves within another addictive rhythmic frame. There is an essence of Echo & The Bunnymen and Bauhaus to the track as post punk and gothic lit shadows and depths spread through sound and thoughts.

The track is an imposingly mesmeric end to a spellbinding release. Strange Weather will have you breathless, excited, reflective, and going on a myriad of imagination bred adventures with its suggestive incitement. We are no experts on deardarkhead and their releases to date but the EP has to be up there as possibly their greatest moment yet.

The Strange Weather EP is released March 25th via Saint Marie Records on Ltd Edition vinyl (100 Black / 150 White with Red Blue and Black splatter) and as a download @http://saintmarierecords.limitedrun.com/products/567260-deardarkhead-strange-weatherand http://saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com/album/strange-weather

 

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deardarkhead at Raised by Gypsies

There comes a time in every person’s life- I believe- where they have to admit that music does not need vocals/words to be good.   You can go all the way back to classical music if you really want to, but if you prefer to stay closer to the present then I suggest not looking any further than Deardarkhead’s “Strange Weather”, an EP full of instrumental numbers which are more powerful than a lot of songs with words I’ve heard before.

Of course I struggle to find a genre to put Deardarkhead in simply because they don’t have vocals and I tend to feel like the singing style of someone can dictate where to put them if you, say, own a record store.   For the most part, these songs are a throwback to earlier years but not too long ago- maybe the 1980’s or early 1990’s.   It’s what I would call post-punk if I believed punk was dead, pulling influences in from Thursday (without the -core) and in their own way Deardarkhead even manages to sound a bit like an upbeat version of The Cure.

Aside from the fact that you could think of any number of bands such as Modern English to compare this with- depending upon your own personal influences growing up- I think you just have to sit back and admire the pure musicianship of it all.   The fourth song really begins to sing on its own, even without vocals, and that’s something not many bands can or have ever been able to pull off.

It should go without saying that the musical instruments are the stars of this EP (Well, the humans playing them technically) but if you don’t feel these thunderous bass lines, infectious guitar riffs or just the all around stellar drum work on “Strange Weather” then you are really not listening to it properly.   It’s not like you have to find it hiding behind vocals about whatever– it’s all just right there, in your face (specifically your ears) and it’s very easy for me to have this serve as a soundtrack to my life.

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deardarkhead at Examiner

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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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deardarkhead at AllMusic

​Long-running New Jersey shoegaze band deardarkhead gives us an exclusive first listen, plus a track-by-track rundown of their new EP, Strange Weather. Now an instrumental act, the band delivers six new tracks of propulsive, psychedelic rock, with plenty of big, ringing guitars and driving drums. So press play, then scroll down for commentary from drummer Robert Weiss. Strange Weather is due out March 25 on Saint Marie Records.

When our vocalist/bassist, Michael Amper, left at the end of 2009, Kevin Harrington (guitars) and myself were unsure about the future of the band. Although we had been seeking the right person to replace Mike, we had no luck finding anyone that could hold a candle to him, let alone make it to the audition. By the fall of 2010, Kevin McCauley had joined as our new bass player and we were determined to move forward as an instrumental, three piece. We’ve always done instrumentals in the past, but the lack of a vocalist is a constraint that has forced us to work harder in order to make things interesting. The guitar has to do all the heavy lifting melodically and I think the songs have become more complex because of that. Ultimately we try and write songs that we find entertaining, so we like to change it up from song to song.

The great thing about instrumental music is that you can decide what the songs mean to you as the vibe is the crucial thing. Usually when we write, one of us will create a rough Garageband demo and present it to the rest of the band. After that we all work on the song together, exploring ideas, adding new parts and finalizing an arrangement. The finished song is an evolution of the initial concept and it’s a collaborative, creative process. The end result is often very different from where we started. You can hear some of the demo work at ourSoundCloud page.

“Falling Upward”

This track started off as demo that Mr. Harrington created. He typically records many different lead sections and subtle variations on a theme, which he then refines down to his final parts. This one immediately felt like the opener for the EP, with the long and building guitar intro. We ran that part through a filter effect and added in some further atmosphere using more effects on a whistling tube that you twirl around at different speeds to create different pitches. The driving rhythm of the song, coupled with all the different section changes, creates a trippy, disorienting, dynamic tension. When we play it live I imagine the floor giving way and everything falling upward.

“Sunshine Through the Rain”

The title of this song is named after a segment from Akira Kurosawa’s movie Dreams. It’s a bit like a dark fairytale. There is an old legend in Japan that states that when the sun is shining through the rain, the kitsune (foxes) have their weddings. They do not like humans observing their ceremony. I felt the dreamy Cocteau Twins-esque quality of the chords worked well with the imagery from the film, which ends unresolved, on a somewhat sinister note. This is one of the first songs we did after going all instrumental. The guitar leads in the middle make me think of a Bond song for some reason.

“Juxta Mare”

“Juxta Mare” is Latin for “by the sea.” I’ve always lived by the Atlantic Ocean and it has been an underlying influence on me since I can remember. It’s expansive, dark and mysterious. We’ve often used underwater imagery in the past and this song is no different. Mr. Harrington plays a 12 string on this track and I especially love the long leads that he plays during the middle of the song, which propels everything towards the climax. It has a bit of a Cure/Echo and the Bunnymen feel to me. It came out a lot more hard driving than I had imagined. I picture being in a small boat that’s tossed about by crashing waves, narrowly avoiding being dashed on the rocks.

“March Hares”

I’m huge fan of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and I’ve always been intrigued by the phrase “mad as a March hare”.

“A long-held view is that the hare will behave strangely and excitedly throughout its breeding season, which in Europe is the month of March (but which in fact extends over several months beyond March). This odd behavior includes boxing at other hares, jumping vertically for seemingly no reason and generally displaying abnormal behavior.”

Something about the pounding drum beat suggested marching or perhaps hopping wildly out of control, hence March Hares. It’s a bit unrelenting and somewhat anthemic in tone. The main part of the song is basically a blues progression, but with the guitar played in a droning, psychedelic, sitar-like manner it takes on a very different feel.

“Ice Age”

Not necessarily about a geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere, but more of a personal cooling down. As one gets older, and hopefully wiser, the passion of youth settles down a bit. Things change, but that doesn’t mean you have to go quietly. I think that’s what it’s all about. The melodic bass line Mr. McCauley plays is a big part of the song. When we were demoing this, we kept adding more and more guitar leads toll the song just grew. It definitely has a dramatic, sense of urgency.

“Thinking Back”

Much like Falling Upward, this one automatically sounded like the closing track. Mr.Harrington worked tirelessly on this one, arranging and rearranging things till I was totally confused. There was a method to his madness though and I’m glad he persisted, as this is one of my favorite tracks. Going into the studio I was a bit nervous on this one, but I think it came out beautifully. It sounds shimmering, expansive and perhaps a bit nostalgic. It makes for great driving and sounds like classic DDH to me.

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deardarkhead at Stereo Embers

Spooky. Liminal. Wrapped in gleaming smoke while twisting mirrors into ribbons. Vast of inference, flocked with spires of melody, circling you like a sonic Möbius strip, the noise Deardarkhead make invites more mystery than it solves which is almost certainly the point but what’s that matter when they sound as beguilingly gorgeous as this? History is arguably irrelevant when you have timelessness pouring out of the headphones in real time but the band in fact have one, stretching back to their inception in the post-postpunk year of our shoegazing lord 1988. Back then they had a singer. They don’t now. He left in 2009 and rather than find a replacement they instead found a new strength in his absence, continuing on their not-so-humble mission of seeking transcendence via bass drums guitar (handled respectively by Kevin McCauley, Robert Weiss, and Kevin Harrington), a phalanx of pedals and a shared intuition that burns at every turn.

Just six tracks because any more – based on the too-much-of-a-good-thing model – might cause the listener psychic damage, Strange Weather is a whirlwind of intensity, density, space, and melody. “Falling Upward” looms up out of some metallic mist and immediately seats itself in your solar plexus as a humming thrumming bass and a bright trance of guitar do this hypnotic Kevin-to-Kevin contrapuntal thing that disarms with utterly charming force, “Sunshine Through the Rain” glistens immediately with its title’s promise, a kind of vernal energy made electric, drums pounding like life itself, “Juxta Mare” has a skipping light heaviness to it as if Ride were the Stranglers or vice versa, “Ice Age” is what every post-punk instrumental both retrospectively and henceforth should be mandated to sound like, its basic bass groove and sky-spiking guitar lines suggesting an actually joyous Joy Division and which I nominate for track-of-the-month if not -year. That leaves two I haven’t mentioned and indeed I leave those for your own discovery since I strongly suspect that what’s been said here thus far will have you looking for your own copy of Strange Weather (try here starting 25 March 16) before you’re even done reading this sentence.

Not a word spoken on this album from pillar to post but in the end they are profoundly unneeded. This music moves in paragraphs of its own language anyway and in truth I’ve never, in a rock context, missed words less. Highly recommended.

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deardarkhead at This Is Book’s Music

Not sure if this is what I should be hearing but Deardarkhead (“dear dark head”) sound like they are firmly immersed in their new wave influences, or at least they either grew up listening to a lot of 80’s music and are taking in some of the best elements before examiming, destroying, and re-forming it into something that will develop into their own sound. That’s what I hear on their new 6-song EP Strange Weather (Saint Marie) and what I love is how their songs carry me from start to finish without ever wanting to go do something else or make me wnat to stop listening. Not bad for a group who are vocal-less but do it in a way to where it doesn’t matter, their music carries you through during the duration. I’m curious to see how others will react to this and what places they’ll head to in the next few years.

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deardarkhead at Just Off the Radar

Click through to stream!

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deardarkhead at Primal Music Blog

Experimental, cinematic post-gazers ‘Deardarkhead’ formed in Atlantic City, New Jersey, back in 1988. The band have released five recordings on their own label ‘Fertile Crescent Records’ & will release the sensational  ‘Strange Weather’ , their latest 6 track instrumental, via the wonderful ‘Saint Marie Records’ on March 25th 2016. The band consists of Kevin Harrington on Guitars, Robert Weiss – Drums & bassist Kevin McCauley, who came on board in late 2010 after the departure of longtime singer/bassist Michael Amper! Influenced by Cocteau Twins, The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Chameleons, Joy Division, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Church, The Psychedelic Furs & The Beatles, to name but a few, the overall ‘Deardarkhead’ sound can be described as a stunning mixture of old school melodic post-punk, intrinsically intertwined with driving moody psychedelic shoegaze & edged with a beautiful euphoric dream pop swirl. Although completely instrumental, ‘Strange Weather’ oozes style & structure. It soars in just the right places & sulks like a scorned love sick teenager when required.

‘Strange Weather’ opens up with the impressive ‘Falling Upward’. A swirling drone precedes a monstrous build as we’re treated to a post-punk masterclass. Immense drums & throbbing bass lines lead the charge as shimmering reverberating guitar progressions loop and arc all over the musical canvass. Up next, a steadying drum beat that ushers in the jangling early 90’s sounding ‘Sunshine Through The Rain’. This track is packed full of stunning melodic guitar lines that swirl & coil around that impressive drum & bass progression with ease. Although instrumental throughout, you can actually hear in your head just where the vocal parts should be & for me this lets my imagination run wild and adds to the overall expectancy. Track three‘Juxta Mare’ explodes onto the musical ether with stunning effect. Musically reminiscent at times to the heavier soundscapes created by ‘Lush, Bleach’ or ‘For Against’, ‘Juxta Mare’ swerves through heady shoegaze inspired peaked crescendos & no nonsense hard hitting post-punk lows. A thundering drum pattern firmly fixed to the earth but holding firm to layered, soaring guitars heralds the arrival of ‘March Hares’, track four on this impressive release whilst track five ‘Ice Age’ has soaring atmospheric flair & hints of experimental ambient post-rock coursing through its inner core. The albums closer ‘Thinking Back’harkens back to the early 1990’s with its sweet, shimmering guitar lines & cymbal heavy drum progressions. Again you can hear the ‘apparitional vocal line’ quite clearly through the intense but insanely beautiful production.

‘Deardarkhead’ collectively create beautiful, hazy, experimental soundscapes. The band have previously mentioned on various social media sites their desire to employ a vocalist again at some stage in the future. Im not too sure they need to? For me, I just loved imagining the vocal melody as the music looped and soared through every single chord progression & I personally think that instrumentally they have something really special going on.

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