Fresh Tunes from The Blessed Isles

blessedGoing far out on a limb here, but you’re probably not going to find a finer piece of dreamy pop music this week than that of The Blessed Isles. There’s so many elements within the confines of this piece, yet it all comes off as if it’s something so simple. There’s a wash of guitars looping, atmospheric touches and synthetic beats…and that’s without even looking at the polished softness of singer Aaron Closson. This track is sure to be a centerpiece of the band’s debut, Straining Hard Against the Strength of Night, but it should also be a centerpiece to those of you who adore the finer bits of pop music. Look for the album on May 20th via Saint Marie Records.

Jeff Runnings Makes Solo Debut

jeffrunningsJeff Runnings is best known for his role with For Against, but he’s stepping out for the first time to make his solo debut, Primitives and Smalls. For someone who’s been crafting and building the dream-pop genre for three decades, it amazes me how vital his solo effort seems to the current musical landscape. For me, I love the vocal approach, and the way it sounds as if multiple voices are being layered atop one another simultaneously; it’s one I distinctly remember being introduced to as a kid growing up in the late 80s…something I miss in a lot of modern works. His album is being released by the esteemed Saint Marie Records on May 6th.

Brand New Bloody Knives!

bloodyI’ve been following Bloody Knives pretty closely the last several years. The band play an abrasive version of modern dream pop/shoegaze, filling in their tracks with buzzing guitars and a warmth in the vocals that somehow manages to steady the ship for listeners. Their latest effort, I Will Cut Your Heart Out for This, already has an ominous attitude, and the single below fulfills that darkened omen with shrieking walls of guitars. But, perhaps the reason I’ve come to respect the band is that they manage to juxtapose that darkness with a gentle beauty, be it in central melodies or the vocals…it never disappoints. There aren’t too many, if any, acts around pulling this off…this well. Look for the LP on April 15th via Saint Marie Records.

Here Come the High Violets

HighVioletsIMG_2056_JQuigleyThe High Violets are an act you have no business not being aware of, and their return with a new album should remind you just how important it is to have some longevity in a band’s career. Sure, some bands get lucky writing hits off the bat, but on this track, no punches are pulled, delivering the knife to the heart after just 8 seconds. You can’t listen to the fragile beauty of Kaitlyn ni Donovan’s voice without just falling in love. Everyone else in the group supplies perfect songwriting precision, but make sure not to step over the shining star that is the central focus of the tune. Heroes and Halos is the new LP, and it will be released by Saint Marie Records on April 1st.

Brand Spanking New Deardarkhead

deardarkheadYou should already be aware of Deardarkhead, the long-running act of warm noise makers (Captured Tracks) even threw out a retrospective a few years back). They’ve been going strong for the last several years, despite nixing their long-time singer and moving forward as an instrumental act. Oddly, they haven’t seemed to miss a beat, if anything growing stronger as a unit. On this brand new single, I’m a huge fan of the rhythm section, particularly the bass chords that seem to bubble up beneath cascading distorted guitars. There’s movement within the song too, which isn’t always present in instrumental pieces, changing tones and power behind the mix. Their new album Strange Weather will be filled with tunes both startling and soothing; it will be released by the super reliable (and Texas based!) Saint Marie Records on March 25th.

Dreamy Track from Star to Be Re-Issued

starOk, so this is an old track from Star, almost ten years old in fact. But, I was cruising through Saint Marie Records, just jamming, and saw that they’re going to re-issue Devastator, the band’s 2007 hit album. It’s funny just how much you can see present influences in this old tune; there’s dreamy elements via Shannon Roberts voice, but a distorted guitar knifes it’s way, building a nice wall of sound. Is dream-gaze a genre? It has to be right? No word yet on when the re-issue comes out, but it sounds pretty great, so I’m digging on it.

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Premiere: Mark Van Hoen’s Nightvision Album Is Ready

markmarkmarkIn my world (I know it’s a skewed one), there are two types of electronic music: one type makes you dance (or aims to) and the other is more of an exploratory sort. The exploratory sort seems to be the world Mark Van Hoen‘s been crafting for us; it’s the sort seeking to tell a story through one’s time spent with the music. On “I Love to Fly” there’s a simple buzz  or warble working immediately, creating this warmth through the trickling synthesized beat; I love hearing the vocal sample that pops up twice in the track, adding a nice extra layer to the story I created in my brain. What’s the story you’re crafting? Expect to find yourself creating many more when Mark releases Nightvision on November 13th via Saint Marie Records

ATH Premiere: Dark Industrial Pop from SPC ECO

SPCECO-Dark-Matter1500xFirst, the name SPC ECO is pronounced as “space echo,” so I’m glad that’s out of the way. Now, let’s spend some time listening to this great piece of industrialized pop music. Sure, I could just call it some minimal version of electro-pop, but it feels like more than that to me. From the album artwork to the sterility lurking just beneath the emotive croon of Rose Berlin, there’s a concept at work here; you’ll hear actual electronic noise construction, not just repetitive bleeps and bloops. Oh, and it cannot hurt that Dean Garcia, formerly of Curve, is the constructionist behind it all. Their new album, Dark Matter, is being distributed by Saint Marie Records, who’ve had themselves quite a run lately. Happy Friday.

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Try Out the Latest from Presents for Sally

presentsforsallyYou know, Ft. Worth gets a lot of flack, as far as the music of Texas goes, but let’s not forget that it’s recently given us Leon Bridges.  And, bubbling below that hype machine is the excellent St. Marie Records, who do incredible work with bands of the shoegaze/realm.  Their latest push if for the UK act, Presents for Sally, who are set to release their album Colours & Changes this September.  Honestly, it reminds me of the last Pains of Being Pure at Heart record, with just a darker hint on the vocal tones.  Guitars slightly jangle, but atmospherics are kept in check to allow the unfolding of the pop sensibility.  It’s really hard not to enjoy this song, so have a great Monday.

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Premiere: Static Daydream Blast New Single

staticWhy use the term blast, you ask? Please, press play. Immediately, you’ll be hit by a wall of squalling guitars from Static Daydream, echoing loudly in the caverns of your mind.  But, while your ears adjust, listen closely.  Vocals are soft, barely audible.  Then, the pop sensibility that’s been bubbling just beneath the tune’s surface pervades, and the wall of guitar noise is completely removed, making way for an electronic outro that serves as the perfect calming closure to this storm of a song. Saint Marie Records will be releasing the group’s self-titled debut in August; it’s perfect for those of you that love your shoegaze music loud and accessible.

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