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Time for a bit of escapism – into the yonder of the imagination, drifting through the ether… wandering to the outer limits and inner recesses of the mind… Do I sound like Steve Kilbey yet? LOL His two projects, Kilbey Kennedy and long-running and renowned The Church bookend this sonic and spirit journey…
1. Kilbey Kennedy – “When Time Has Run Out”
Ever-busy Steve Kilbey (The Church) teams up yet again with equally occupied multi-instrumentalist Martin Kennedy (All India Radio) for another foray into absorbing and transporting soundscapes, melding the past and future into a spellbinding conceptual (ad)venture with new album The Strange Life of Persephone Nimbus, out now via MGM.
This track is an expansive, hypnotic, and burnished unfurling of gentle, shadowy to brighter, and completely compelling ambience driven forward by Kilbey’s at-first dispassionate vocal tone, which slowly increases into a quite unusually passionate urgency for him.
2. MOLLY – “The Golden Age”
The Austrian duo, described as “celestial shoegaze”, have enchanted me from their start several years ago, and their latest album, Picturesque, can be viewed – well, no, heard, on January 13th, 2023.
This incandescently glowing to fireworks-sparks track is the 1st single from the LP and is rife with keening vocal longing, pressed and winding synth notes, piquant distortion, marching drum beats, and scintillating to stingingly stormy (by the end) shoegaze guitar ascension to the stratosphere (with a sporadic reflective lull in between the soaring conflagration).
3. Pale Dian – “TRU LOVE”
Bleak and beautiful, stark and stunning, the Austin, TX post-punk/shoegaze band have released riveting second album, Feral Birth this past October, a long-awaited and worthy follow-up to 2016 debut LP Narrow Birth.
This song is one of their more blossoming numbers that pushes with a steady melodic refrain on the chorus, and sweeter, yet still bittersweet vocal musings.
4. The Know – “Used To Be”
This shoegaze/dreampop wife and husband duo of Jennifer Farmer and Daniel Knowles are based in LA, but are originally from Texas and the UK, respectively). They released their debut EP in 2020 and are prepping their second EP, EP2 which was recorded at their home studio during the pandemic. The EP reflects times of love, loss, and (dis)connection that we’re all facing these days.
This slowly ascending, graceful, and towering track is filled with lush, distorted, and winding synth diffusion, an anchoring bass line, a measured drum pace, and occasional (and unusual) percussive clinks and clanks. Farmer’s warmly cool gauzy tone floats among the synths peaks – and then right at the end, the song elevates even more to reach its sonic pinnacle.
5. Powder, Pink & Sweet – “Slightly Hopeful”
The project/band is the brainchild of LA-based Cris Verso, who formed in it 2016 and has won acclaim from the alternative scene. With a foot in the post-punk and New Wave styles since her start, she’s also stepped beautifully into the dreampop and shoegaze realms, especially on her new album , Little Stories, which came out on November 4th.
This number is is a plush and dreamy spin-out of nostalgia and longing, with long and wandering gleaming guitar lines that shimmer with light feedback, and is layered with Verso’s congenial, yet wistful vocals.
6. Mint Julep – “Daydream”
Speaking of dreamy, the wife and husband duo of Hollie Kenniff and Keith Kenniff (Helios, Goldmund) do it yet again, hitting that sweet spot of gorgeous sound and vocals, drifting on a feathery dispersion of glowing synths, and ramped up in trajectory and intensity by arcing shoegaze guitar lines. Hollie’s luminous and poised vocals shine through every time, balanced between light melancholia and hope.
Hollie’s new solo album, We All Have Places That We Miss, will see release on February 10th, 2023 via Western Vinyl.
The pair unveiled enchanting ambient/dreampop LP In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep in 2021, and a super covers album called, well, Covers, in March of this year, which includes their take on tracks by Curve, Tears For Fears, Bananarama, and more.
7. Glosser – “Disco Girls”
A self-described “dreamscape duo”, this Washington, DC pairing of Riley Fanning and Corbin Sheehan will release their new album, Downer, on January 27th, 2023. Swimming in the nostalgic indie pop waters of Lana Del Rey, and against a slow-groove atmosphere, Fanning coolly and hazily conjures up the American ’70s era, describing the summertime vibe and that fleeting time when the beauty and possibilities of youth are at their apex.
8. Barley Passable – “‘Til I Said So”
On this pleasing, body-moving tune this electro-pop duo from Sydney, Australia, (Davy and Kai) riffle through the musical decades, and meld various dance styles into a copacetic club number. They dig into a ’70s disco groove, ’80s house shuffle, and more modern touches that include pretty guest vocals from Betty and deep, smooth, and hip-hop-like vocal interplay.
9. Eves Wilder – “I Stole Your Jumper”
I’d never heard of this singer until she popped up on my SoundCloud page and I started listening to her songs. Then I read an intro NME article about her from 2020, where she said she’s a teenager playing bedroom pop-type music with ambitions to become a songwriter in the league of various British greats.
She’s carved out her own lane of female-empowered pop songs, and this is one of her best; an insouciant and lyrics-crammed (and real life-packed), headphones/stereo phasing pop-rock jam that’s in essence a proclamation of emancipation from a toxic relationship.
10. The Church – “The Hypnogogue”
The venerable ancient ones (well, only two of the original line-up remain) release, yes, a new mesmerizing tract, a bit roughened with age, but always sage (and sometimes obscure, lyrically), embarking on a metaphysical voyage on upcoming concept (and 26th!) album The Hypnogogue, launching February 24th, 2023 via Communicating Vessels. A US tour planned for March and April. The LP is self-described as “dystopian”, and the title track’s narrative is about a (mad) scientist who uses a machine to pull music out of people’s dreams…
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