Category Archives: Shoegaze

Orchid Tapes Angeltown II Showcase

We all express a sense of uniformity when we discuss niches, eras, and begotten circles of social inquiry and debacle. Whatever the hell you would like to refer to the intestines of culture and mass society, these places and times and people are kept preserved in solid moments in time by certain people, collectives, and instruments to progressing this sensational philosophical shift, paradigm change. Orchid Tapes, a label who was created by the impeccable team of Warren Hildebrand and Brian Vu, has come a long way since its beginning and Saturday Night’s Angeltown Showcase exemplifies that enthusiastically. As people cued for a place inside the compact warehouse, a considerable amount of the goers were already inside as I journeyed to the back of the line. In fear that I wouldn’t get to see the first act I showed up about half an hour early and noticed a beautifully placid man standing outside by a tree. This man was none other than Mathew Cothran (Coma Cinema/Elvis Depressedly). A good way to gauge how a show might be is to see how the musicians look, and whenever I talk to an Orchid Tapes band they are more thrilled to be performing than the audience is to see them perform. When an atmosphere like that is spawned, it not only radiates positive creativity that should be harbored but, it also dissuades one from thinking that music has become something it has fiddled with being over time; Better than its audience, celebrating itself, and trying to be gaudy in intellect. The reason Orchid Tapes remains one of the most emotionally impactful and intelligible labels is due to its artist roster. Ricky Eat Acid, Foxes In Fiction, Elvis Depressedly, Alex G, The Bilinda Butchers, RL Kelly, Happy Trendy, to name a few, have all built repertoires around some of the most poignant, sophisticated, and profound works I have heard in my life. I have failed to not become emotional over any one of the act’s pieces. It is impossible, and I feel that sentiment is shared in abundance with the rest of their audience. Their musicians are so artistically captivating and intelligent that, dare I say it, Orchid Tapes has become the new 4AD. I’ve never salivated so much over showcases and releases since Captured Tracks was conceived. Saturday’s showcase was yet another testament to the foundation that Warren and Brian have built. It touched upon their prolific catalogue, and gave insightful compositions to their young audience; Who I’m glad to see have picked up the torch from the first generation of listeners that spurred when Orchid Tapes began. Four Visions was enigmatic, giving hauntingly devoted orchestrations that seemed to creep up with bombardment and subtly wash the painstaking gaunt of tortured mentality. Foxes in Fiction’s performance was more than just a fantastic set, it transcended and showed off Hildebrand’s music genius. Which so serenely fits in between Shoegaze, Dreampop, and indie pop. All of which create a verbose array of personifying tonal melodies that fill the room with warmth, glow, and self-reflection. The Bilinda Butchers kept the ambience flowing , with bopping, swooping Shoegaze that made the entirety of the warehouse begin moving like intricate mechanics. A traditionaly Shoegaze band who have the essence and minds for the genre. Something that fixs but, finds itself growing and experimenting with itself. The Butchers are a compliment to their Creation and 4AD contemporaries. They were so brilliant, it started to rain. To end such a beautifully etched night of music, Elvis Depressedly/Coma Cinema undertook a clenching set. Beautiful and short, Cothran orchestrated a wellcrafted set, for which matches the one he played almost a year ago at the first Angeltown Showcase. Thus, we now stand with our last two musicians of the evening. Rachel Livy and Alex G. Unfortunately I could not stay for Alex G, and I’m eternally in regret over that, luckily he may (heavy emphasis on the may) return to Los Angeles *hint, hint*. Rachel Livy is one of my favorite performers and seeing half of her set was still a privilege I won’t forget. Any time I see her she livens a room, and drags energy out of people. To this, I’m sure Alex G accompanied a great set after her’s. As I said once, Alex G is one of the best songwriters, comparably to that of Elliott Smith, James Murphy, Ian Curtis, and label mate Mat Cothran. Speaking in assumptions, I can only imagine that his set was nothing short of emotional and outstandingly impeccable. Thank you Warren, Brian, and the bands for curating, again, another Showcase which will be reminisced and discussed for many years to come.

Four Visions

Four Visions

Four Visions

IMG_1300

Foxes In Fiction

Foxes In Fiction

Foxes In Fiction

The Bilinda Butchers

The BIlinda Butchers

The Bilinda Butchers

Elvis Depressedly/Coma Cinema

Elvis Depressedly/Coma Cinema

R.L. Kelly

R.L. Kelly

Alex G

Alex G

Alex G

Photos: Destiny Moran

Triptides: Colors

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Triptides: Colors Triptides hails from Bloomington, Indiana – not the first place that comes to mind when listening to their latest EP, Colors, a six-track psychedelic symphony. Triptides consists of Glenn Brigman on vocals and guitar, Josh Menashe on bass and vocals and Josh Morrow on Drums. Colors is a substantial addition to the band’s discography, a set of shoegaze-infused tracks (it is also available on cassette tape, a relic of the past).

The first song and title track, ‘Colors’ kicks the EP off with hyper tempo and relentless drums. The vocals remain barely distinguishable throughout, and the song truly takes off when they submit completely to a tripped out bridge, full of feedback and reverberating echoes of Brigman’s guitar. ‘Destiny’ follows, a significantly slower song, reminiscent of the Flaming Lips circa At War With The Mystics. ‘Destiny’ may be the EP’s strongest song, and most indicative of Triptides sound – heavily ambient, a little rock and always a bit weird.

‘Throne of Stars’ continues the acid-washed sounds of its predecessor, a track of ambient psychedelia. Reverberating guitar riffs float over the steady drums, vocals carrying over the top like a cloud. A schizoid bass line rings throughout, the grounding force of the song as the vocals build in layers of echo and digital enhancement.

The EP’s fourth track, ‘Moonbeams’, earns its title with successful execution of ambient rock and shoegaze bliss. Drums hold their place in the song, but allows for the soaring bass and vocals to shine through, although like ‘Colors’ the vocals in this song are barely audible as words, but emerge more as an instrument itself.

The fifth track, ‘I Don’t Know’, steps away from the complacent ambience of the previous tracks and presents itself as a song of psychedelic rock purity. It begins with a lazy bass line and shiny guitar riff. The layers of sounds within the track individualize it from the rest.

Colors concludes with ‘Lullabye’ another track in the style of the Flaming Lips. The vocals sing, “Summer time can get the best of you” a melancholic testament to the dangerously lazy days of summertime. ‘Lullabye’ carries out like a lullaby, a sleepy track that speaks to the bittersweet sadness that comes with the end of summer, echoed by its place at the end of the EP.

Colors shows Triptides greatest strength: creating tracks that allow the listener to lose themselves within the music completely, to be fully submerged in the tripped-out ambient bliss of their music. A perfect selection for summer, Colors maintains this other-worldly sound throughout. It’s quiet beach rock, music to watch the stars or float down the coast…8/10

Lullabye

Pattern is Movement: Pattern is Movement

Pattern Is Movement

Pattern is Movement: Pattern is Movement – After six years of silence, Pattern is Movement emerge from the darkness with a shiny, new 10-track self-titled LP. The duo, hailing from Philadelphia, consists of Christopher Ward on drums and Andrew Thiboldeaux on everything else – vocals, bass, synth and a Fender Rhodes. With substantially smaller numbers than the five-piece the band was founded with, one may expect Pattern is Movement to be weaker than past albums; one would be wrong! Pattern is Movement (the band) has solidified into an unbreakable sound – strong, determined and utterly original.

The album’s first track is ‘River,’ which begins with what I can only assume is a xylophone (don’t quote me on that) so lightly played across to sound like drops of rain hitting the pavement, gathering in puddles – little rivers. From the start of Pattern is Movement, the genre of their sound is indefinable. Synths, strong drumming and Thiboldeaux’s vocals, which is truly an instrument itself, collide with the variety of sonic elements integrated into the music, producing a sound so distinct. ‘River’ closes out with heavier synths and artistically auto-tuned vocals (which evokes a more James Blake–esque sound).

Following the trickling drops of ‘River’ is ‘Climb to Me’, which starts off strong with jumping bass and quickly sinks into a funky folk-pop track, submerged in synths and something that sounds like a violin. The sound remains relatively constant throughout the song, contrasting the previous track’s schizophrenic jumps in pacing and melody.  ‘Climb to Me’ is an easy invitation into the album’s third track ‘Rum,’ which begins with Thiboldeaux’s vocals, before resurrecting the sound of that strange xylophone heard in the first track. At this point in the album, Pattern is Movement’s sound is still genre-defying, but comparable to some combination of bands like Maps & Atlases and Dirty Projectors. But as the pace of ‘Rum’ picks up, it is undeniable that Pattern is Movement has a sound that is truly their own.

‘Little by Little’ follows, and carries the quirky, experimental-rock/pop tone of the tracks preceding it. The song starts with a little diddy that should be featured in Bambi, before falling into the melody of the song, where for once, Thiboldeaux’s vocals are readily comprehended. He sings, “There was gonna be a fair/By the mountain side/ There was to be drumming”, before falling back into indistinguishable auto-tuned gibberish (once again, reminiscent of James Blake). Forceful staccato drums complement the airy, surrealist (hence, Bambi) melody of the track.

The album’s halfway point finds itself with ‘Suckling’, a synth-heavy track that utilizes in full the artistic auto-tune change of tone to Thiboldeaux’s voice. Auto-tune is a dangerous beast – disregarding its standard, accepted use in top-charting pop music – but to the indie musician, it can be a tool of great success or terrible failure. Pattern is Movement without a doubt won their battle with Auto-tune, as evidenced by this track and also dispersed throughout other tracks on the album. ‘Suckling’ closes out with some creative drumming, which leads into ‘Gone my Love,’ a total shift in tone for the album. True to the title, ‘Gone My Love’ is a love song of sorts, maintaining mainly in the high-pitched sweetness of the melody. “Say yes to me/Say yes to me/Like you should,” Thiboldeaux sings over an almost absent melody, (now the James Blake comparison makes sense, yes?). ‘Gone My Love’ is an airy, pleasant track, building slowly with more drums and layers of vocals. It may be my personal favorite song on the album, perhaps the climax, considering the song that follows.

‘Let’s Be Done’ seems to be more of an interlude for the album than an actual song. All the schitzoid jumps in melody and layers of sound and instrumentation that carry throughout the album so far are lost in ‘Let’s Be Done,’ whose only intelligible lyrics are featured in its title. It’s repetitive, a smidge irritating and definitely the album’s weak point. Let’s move on.

Thankfully the album’s last three tracks close out strong. ‘Make it Right’ picks up the peppiness ten leaps, and Ward’s skilled drumming comes through in full, when not smashing away on the kit, he’s slamming drum sticks together like a metronome. If I’m not mistaken, a trumpet is also featured in this track, singing along with Thiboldeaux’s own vocals, which are supplemented by auto-tuned echoes of himself.

The album’s penultimate track is ‘Light of the World,’ which begins with Thiboldeaux singing, “We are the light of the world/We have been given the right.” Such confidence! And not unwarranted. ‘Light of the World,’ sounds like a daydream, ethereal, spaced out, pausing in the middle for a fit of bells, before breaking into a grand harmonization of those opening two lines, with smashing drums and persistent trumpets. Beautiful!

Pattern is Movement closes with ‘Wonderful’ and apt word to describe the album as a whole. Thiboldeaux sings, “Tired my friend, I’m tired.” He may be tired, but the music is anything but, the drums filling as the foundation for the instrumental harmonious layering of sounds build upon it. Pattern is Movement is an impressive conglomerate of instrumental experimentation and the true uniqueness of layering all of those sounds. This album is an indescribable sound, existing outside of genre in a category all its own. The six-year wait for this album was well worth it. For all its creativity and originality, Pattern is Movement is sure to be a favorite of 2014…7.8/10

 

Odonis Odonis: Hard Boiled Soft Boiled

Odonis Odonis: Hard Boiled Soft Boiled – Have you heard the one about the sexually-unhinged shoegaze band who suffered a mid-life crisis and launched themselves into space? No? Well it’s called Hard Boiled Soft Boiled and it comes from a group of Torontonians renowned for their effortless ability to clear a room full of wimps unable to absorb the industrial clamor of Nine Inch Nails soundtracking a Michael Bay movie. On their latest, Odonis Odonis serves up a uniquely bipolar demonstration of their strongest influences in a surprisingly fluid industrial symphony in two movements.

For anyone familiar with 2011’s out-for-blood debut Hollandaze (home to such vicious tracks as ‘Busted Lip’ and ‘Blood Feast’), the forty-second intro appropriately labelled ‘Tension’ provides just that, as the demolition machine that is Odonis Odonis is heard firing up for the one-two punch of ‘Are We Friends’ and ‘Order In The Court.’ After rattling off a few gunshot bass drum kicks, ‘Friends’ becomes the sonic equivalent to skipping the awkward courtship and forming the question “are we friends?” in the shape of an imperative statement as singer Dean Tzenos rounds third base. Bold in every definition of the word, the three-minute nightmare blows apart with every dip into the chorus, receding just enough to hear Tzenos churlishly point out that “just one hand’s not enough to give yourself a hard-on,” as he burns yet another bridge.

Despite its frantic plea for peace, Boiled’s second jab ‘Order In The Court’ terminates all remaining composure in its continuation of unbridled sexual energy. With shaky squeals and flaky appeals Odonis climaxes in a blistering surge of orderlessness reminiscent of Les Savy Fav’s equine masterpiece of yore, naysaying equanimity with horse-like whinneys. ‘New Obsession’ and ‘Breathing Hard’ continue the trend of mounting pressure, while sunshine finally bursts across a twice-overcast sky on ‘Mr. Smith,’ only to be swallowed up by another merciless thunderstorm moments later.

In the middle of an album consisting so far of nothing but violent emotional cleansing, ‘Release’ is a terrifying title to come upon, but the intro to the soft boiled side of the record ushers in a surprising coolness to be explored further on its five remaining tracks. The first of which, ‘Angus Mountain,’ keeps things hefty and brooding, but ventures more into a specific territory of dark wave examined earlier this year by returning synth-wave heroes The Faint. Chock full of lethal bass lines, shoe-gazing resonance, and reiterated disappointment (“she never loved you anyway”), ‘Angus’ is just as much of an upper as it is a downer. ‘Office Sluts’ offers a more focused shoegaze sound with a bitterness blatantly highlighted in its jocular title.

In which Tzenos literally hits the high note, ‘Highnote’ finally provides some (albeit indecent) composure with its melancholy-falsetto-meets-Odonis-Odonis-industrialism. While the band embodies spaciness in at least one definition of the word throughout the album, ‘Highnote’ sees Odonis begin to float away from their grounded impenetrable soundscape on the broodless wings of sub-orbital spaceflight. The subsequent ‘Transmissions From The Moon’ serves as little more than the supposed sounds of space travel, an interlude imaginably aborted from Lefse’s recent cosmic mission. Seeping into ‘Alexa Wait,’ Boiled closes with leftover space residue, and eventually dives into an intergalactic beat that builds up to a now-familiar reverbial ecstasy. No matter how you like yo eggs, Hard Boiled Soft Boiled is teeming with protein. Odonis Odonis has an uncanny ability to churn out exceptional iterations of both industrial noise and shoegaze poise, Boiled proving them to be the undisputed masters of both crafts. With the noise rock band’s fluency in dreaminess, we may be witnessing the start of a new industrial revolution…9.6/10

Order in the Court

All Forces: Sons and Daughters EP

sons and daughters
All Forces: Sons & Daughters - There’s something so infectiously captivating about young and eager bands. They’re exciting, wide-eyed, and they wear their influences on their sleeves. For Brooklyn quartet All Forces, they don’t shy away from influences one bit. Instead, they’ve melted them together to create something inspired and original for their debut EP Sons & Daughters.

The lead off single, ‘We Have Arrived’ kicks off the 5 song EP with a jam-packed, reverby rocker that so perfectly harnesses everything great about this band. One minute the song is skipping along like a typical indie rock song that you cant help but clap along to, and the next it takes a turn into much darker territory with looming background vocals and dissonant guitar riffs. Even though it does feel a little unfocused on the first couple of listens, it’s so gratifyingly ambitious and raw that it has no choice but to get stuck in your head.

‘Buildings’ shows All Forces toying a little more with different time signatures for this mid tempo groove that feels like it came straight out of the 90′s/early 2000′s indie textbook. The third track, ‘Ornithologist,’ is a moody ballad that allows All Forces to really live in that protruding darkness that pops up every now and again on this album. The dueling vocals at the end are also particularly heartbreaking and rewarding to listen to.


About three songs in and we’ve heard everything from shoegaze, to post rock, to indie pop/rock, alternative rock and a few other genres.  Even though this record feels so inherently rock, there are some really interesting, reverby textures and song structures that make listening a little more diverse of an experience than your typical, straight-forward rock record. You never know when All Forces are gonna shift gears from dreamy indie pop song to edgy alt rock banger.

The multifaceted ‘Sword Swallower’ captures that unexpectedness perfectly.  As lead singer Johnnie Wang Morlock sings “Down these waters, I’m wet with their daughters…” there are a few surprising chords thrown into the progression that really keep you guessing. They even start getting a little more experimental just before the 3 minute mark. The contrast between verses/choruses prove that All Forces definitely know how to make a song go somewhere. They’re not content on just creating something that’s nice to listen to. They want to the listening to embark on the journey with them.

On the other hand, one of my favorite tracks on the EP ‘Blood’ is also one of the most straightforward. Vocals, again, are top notch and really show how dynamic the singers in the band are. They can deliver shouty intensity one minute and then turn around and slow things down with beautiful and quiet subtlety. The melody of ‘Blood’ is simple and singable, which is also a nice contrast to the more involved music that you find everywhere else on the record.

Sons & Daughters definitely sounds like a band’s first album. But, it also sounds like a band with its eye on the prize. Judging by their various influences, there are myriad directions for All Forces to go from here and they’d all work out brilliantly… 7.6/10