Shoegazer

Single Lash Has the Chords You're Looking For

Those'd be some seriously 80s, seriously British reverbed chords we're talkin' about, and they come slinking out of popgazers Single Lash, them of the perhaps most perfect pop goth band name what has ever been, on their new eponymous album. Released this April, "Single Lash" follows up on 2014's intriguing "Soft as Glass" with 12 cacophonous tracks with one or two word titles, those sparse words more often than not being from the gloomy romantic side of the dictionary (“Bitemarks,” “Keep It,” “Drown” and “False” start the album off, just to name a few). In fact, a flavor of gothic influenced “lovely, but with death on the mind,” thorned-rose notes percolate through and from the music itself through all of the album, the sound of which comes from the art poprock side of the dark music genrescape.

“Single Lash,” and Single Lash the band itself, are well-done breaks from the idea that dreary must always be dark (or is it vice versa), with the satisfying and even at times near ecstatic prettiness of the album pairing perfectly with the goth- and general 80s-British-Music-informed melancholia of the songs here. Which, truth be told, is just the way any good pain + pleasure thing should go (I guess in a way what I’m saying is that “Single Lash” is the consensual rough sex where everyone involved leaves bruised but happy of music).

As an example of this sweet and sour sound I’m talking about, take track “False,” one of the more outwardly happy, more upbeat sounding tracks on the album. Soaking in the waves of bright, quick shoegaze that wash out of the drack (and not drowning in them, as can happen with many -gaze tracks), one can just make out the words of the song, “There’s nothing here to want/Just bitter nostalgia-/There’s nothing here that’s true.” Second track “Keep It” nails the sentiment in one line, “I am spellbound as the stars go out.“

Speaking of nostalgia, that feeling is an excellent touchstone for this music, the word coming from the combination of the Greek words for “return home” and “pain (apologies to Don Draper fans). When that word was coined, real life medical people actually thought you could die from nostalgia, and listening to Single Lash, you get the sense that the band might not find that concept too outlandish. They pine, they remember, they query the universe about why things are the way they are in most tracks. However, from the bright sounds they blend into their laments and existential requests, I also get the sense that Single Lash is less interested in the idea of despair alone, but maybe more of just a heaviness of all emotion. I get the feeling that if their members died because of grief or existential uncertainty, it would be more of a chosen and beautiful event than a perishing one.

All of that, of course, is just speculation (maybe super happy people are great at sad music? you never know), but what is nothing but sure is that “Single Lash” is a deadly gorgeous album that does not tire from track to track despite its drone-heaviness and which is both fully versed in its influences and yet has also drifted away from them to a nearby space all its own. Listen below, especially if it’s still fucking raining when you find this piece. You could do much worse for rainy day music.

   

Music Video Premiere: Future Twin - We're Here

The San Francisco based soul-gaze band, Future Twin has produced a music video for their upbeat rock-pop track, We're Here. The video is great. It's always good to see the conceptual expression of helping ordinary people escape what is boring and mundane, and discover what colorful fun life has to offer. We're Here tells a story of three people who are seemingly lost in the monotony and routine of their realities until a strange human lady with a colorful mask appears to break them free of their pain and disenfranchisement.

“"We’re Here” is a song about standing together. About not being broken up. It’s about cohesion. The script and concept that we attempted to portray in this music video center on the daily lives of archetypes of urban life: the office worker, the service worker and the retired elder. In hyper-productivist America, we often ask people when first meeting them, in order to get to know them better, “What do you do?” Playing on this way of defining people, as if our day job equates the very fiber of our being, as if that’s the most interesting facet of someone’s life (what they do to commodify their labor)– we attempted to show the triviality of such things." - Jean Jeanie, Future Twin

We like Future Twin and we like the song, We're Here, so it's a happy experience for us to share a music video that they've been super passionate about sharing with the world. Here it is, check them out and make sure you attend their upcoming Bay Area shows:

Jun 06 SubZERO Festival San Jose, CA
Jul 18 Dissilience Oakland (A benefit for Oakland Fund for the Arts) w/ Jean Jeanie

   

Tennis System releases new video "Ungrown," playing The Echo residency in June

Punkgaze trio Tennis System, who built an empire of sound in the DC and LA scenes, released their newest video for "Ungrown," the third track from their 2014 album Technicolour Blind. Produced by and featuring Erica Terenzi of Italy's dreampop team Be Forest, the video matches swerving guitars and sun-blistered vocals with nostalgic memories simmered in psychedelic color. This release comes two weeks shy of Tennis System's long-awaited residency at The Echo. Catch them each Monday night in June with local alternative acts new and old, including United Ghosts, Blood Candy, Teenage Wrist, and THE FLASH HITS.

When interviewed by Free Bike Valet on what to expect for the residency, Tennis System's Matty T said: “We’re going to be trying out new songs, playing a lot off of our latest release Technicolour Blind, some off of Teenagers, and some really old ones. Each week will be different. I don’t want to give too much away, but I can assure you won’t want to miss one. Each one builds off of the week prior.”

Watch the new video for "Ungrown" below, and check out Tennis System on Facebook for more details on their upcoming Echo residency. - Ryan Mo

   

Wishyunu Single Release: A Sampler of Psych

Walking in to Mississippi Studios last Sunday, it felt like the three band pairing of Cambrian Explosion, Jackson Boone and Wishyunu would be a strange one. Based on their recordings, it appeared that there was very little to tie all the music together aside from the fact that each band identified with psych music in some way. What seemed to be an evening of mismatched artists turned out to be an ideal sampler of all the variations that psych-rock can take. 

Cambrian Explosion played first, their set a dark dreamscape. Members of Cambrian Explosion appeared introspective on stage, incredibly invested in the music, which didn’t leave the audience with much to look at. However, the intricacy and unpredictability of the music gave the audience plenty to focus on: songs exploding surprisingly into sound, heavy distortion, and instruments blended so expertly it was difficult to decipher who was playing which part.  

Playing second was Jackson Boone whose take on psych is both dreamy and jazzy. Their set seemed like a fitting middle-ground between the dark vibes of Cambrian Explosion and the more pop-centric focus of Wishyunu. Jackson Boone’s specialty seems to be creating psych-pop lullabies that develop quietly into full psych-rock cacophony. “Open” was decidedly the most experimental song they played, straying away from the easy rhythms and soft melodies comprising most of their set. The crowd was receptive and seemed more willing to nod their heads along as the night progressed.

Wishyunu’s set started with some technical difficulty, probably in part because the duo is so busy on stage, with Bei Yan filling the role of guitarist, synth-player, and vocalist. As Yan sorted out her issues on stage, dropping in an out of sound, drummer Tony Bertaccini remained solid on the drums, helping the audience stay engaged as they waited. Wishyunu’s songs are progressive, layering beat on top of beat and then dreamily disintegrating melodies into new ones, catchy hooks giving way to unexpected drum fills. The energy of their set was frenetic, unlike Cambrian Explosion or Jackson Boone, their music made your blood move faster, catapulting you forward with them as they played.

Their new single “Photoplay” is a dark electro-pop song that seemed to show a new direction for the band, less ambient than their older songs and more driven. The other song off of their 7-inch, “Summer Suit” was ethereal and focused, especially compared to the older songs they played surrounding their new releases, again proving that Wishyunu has started refining their vision and sound. You can catch them next in Portland on June 21st at the Holocene. 

-Sarah Eaton

Photos by Lena Knofler

   

Vast Robot Armies

There’s a bit of a mystery surrounding Toronto prog rock band Vast Robot Armies. Are they space-robots? or something? Their latest record “Little Creatures” out early this month is an epic adventure. “Revenge For Nerds” sets the tone with some space-aged guitars that guide you through the intergalactic journey on the Vast Robot Armies spaceship. The vocals remind me a bit of the Meat Puppets with more of a rounded edge. This record will keep your head in the clouds wondering where you’re going to end up next. And that is the question…when will Vast Robot Armies appear for a live show in Toronto? Like their facebook page and download their record and the message will arrive when the planets have aligned. Whoa.-Kris “Big City” Gies