Egoism_2016_Photo by Vanilla Docherty Photography

Egoism – by Vanilla Docherty Photography

The world is full of conflicting egos so, to avoid conflict with a similarly-named band, Sydney’s Ego return as Egoism with “Reason” as the lead single to the band’s first EP which is due out in October.

“Reason” contains everything we’ve come to expect from this intriguing young band. It’s a more polished recording than the previous excellent singles – “Moon”, “Better” and “Crowd”, adding layers and space to their lush reverb soundscape.

They call it ‘dream-pop’ and ‘shoe-gaze’ but happily it also still maintains that distinctively spacey early 1970s ‘soft-rock’ sound of those earlier recordings.

Another feature of those earlier songs was brilliant space-rock guitar solos and “Reason” maintains the tradition with an explosive solo before another familiar feature – a wordless layered vocal outro.

Looking forward to hearing the whole EP now.

 

 

Psychic Ills

Psychic Ills – Tres Warren & Elizabeth Hart

Psychic Ills is a duo based in New York – Tres Warren and Elizabeth Hart. I’ve somehow missed hearing them before, but tuned into ABC Radio’s Inside Sleeve show today as “I Don’t Mind” was playing & thought “hmm, that sounds like Hope Sandoval…”

Turns out this Psychic Ills track from their new (and apparently 5th) album “Inner Journey Out” is indeed a pairing of the inimitable voice of Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star, Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions) and Psychic Ills’ Tres Warren.

“I Don’t Mind” and other tracks streaming on their bandcamp page for the album demonstrate a blissful use of drones and repetition in sparse mid-paced songs. The relaxed/ relaxing meditative feel is reminds me of Spacemen 3 (try their fabulous The Perfect Prescription album) filtered through influences from astral Americana, gospel and sun-bleached desert psych-blues-rock.

Very good indeed… time to check out more of the Psychic Ills catalogue now!

Jay Som 2016“Turn Into” is the title track of the Jay Som album originally called “Untitled” when it was released last December when PopLib previewed the first track.

A lot has happened in the short time since “Untitled” was released.  When the album was recorded it was just Melina Duterte playing and recording at her home in San Francisco. Now Jay Som is a band. There’s a single out on the Fat Possum Label and the band recently toured supporting Mitski. That “Untitled” album has proved so popular it is getting an LP release in November, and a proper title – “Turn Into”.

As with everything I’ve heard from Jay Som, there’s an accomplished combination of some unusual elements in this song. It evokes a little bit of “Rumours” era Fleetwood Mac (the feel) and also “Ignite the Seven Cannons” era Felt (the guitar sound).

That uncanny ability to weave subtle nostalgic elements from different styles of music within honest-sounding contemporary melodic alternative pop is what makes “Turn Into” (the song and the album) so easy to enjoy.

 

Young Hellions 2016

Young Hellions songs appear like ghosts sporadically, when you least expect them, and most need them. Here’s the splendidly fuzzed up, woozy new “Fractures And Cacophony” for your listening pleasure.

It’s a fine distillation of the most compelling elements of heavy shoegaze, gothic synth-pop and melodic grunge, weaving melodic pop hooks – and another great song title/ chorus phrase – through the sonic mass of abrasive and swooping guitar interplay.

Young Hellions is Auckland musician Maeve Munro (Bengal Lights, Cat Venom) currently based in Leeds, UK. If you’ve missed the back-catalogue check the first single “Best Witchcraft is Geometry” and  the self-titled 4 song EP it was subsequently included on.

According to Muzai Records “Fractures and Cacophony” was to be released on 22 July. I’ll update this post with a link to any purchase options once they appear. Hopefully it will also be available via Muzai Records’ bandcamp page.

Ela Orleans 2016 “You Go Through Me” is the second track on Ela Orleans‘ new album “Circles of Upper and Lower Hell” – a 73 minute album loosely based on Dante’s Inferno but infused with deep personal experience.

It’s the perfect song to introduce an immersive concept album from the Glasgow-based electronic sound art composer and performer. Dark as the subject matter is, there is something sublime and surreal in hearing the voices of The Pastels’ Stephen and Katrina joining with Ela to sing lines like “abandon all hope, you who enter here.”  

That mix of breathtaking moments of beauty with soul-crushing darkness is the heart of a sometimes confronting, but rewarding album. Having now repeatedly abandoned hope upon entry to this album, hope is the one quality most restored by completion of this epic journey.

By unwelcome coincidence of recent events in the UK, the album’s hell-on-earth theme represents a perfectly dark melancholia for the times.

In Dante’s Inferno hell is depicted as nine circles of suffering located within the Earth; it is the “realm…of those who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellowmen” according to American poet John Ciardi. Well, that pretty much sums up the current neo-liberal political and economic agenda, as well as post-‘BREXIT’/ ‘post-factual’ division in the no longer quite so United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, doesn’t it?

Unlike Ela’s previous (and excellent) album “Tumult in Clouds”  which often re-assembled and re-shaped samples into new music, “Circles of Upper and Lower Hell” is built upon the performance of synths drums, percussion and voices mostly, merging synth-pop, electronica, and experimental ambient sound art into an ambitious masterpiece.

There’s a lot to take in, and it’s an album that needs repeated headphone listens with concentrated effort.  The instrumentals have film soundtrack quality. Some are quiet, minimal and eery, suggesting ‘incidental music’ soundscapes, infused with a rumbling dread behind the beauty. Others are more grand adventures in sound textures and atmosphere.

The album may be ghostly, creepy, and claustrophobic at times, but ultimately the uplifting beauty of the melodies and Ela’s voice (singing and spoken/ whispered word) which accompany the listener throughout this turbulent journey inspire hope of redemption.

Ugly ShadowsA week ago Ugly Shadows released their first album “Kids of Tomorrow”, of which this is the title track.

Ugly Shadows are an Anarcho/ Post-Punk band from Istanbul, Turkey. It is now a nation undergoing a military coup and an even more uncertain future than the troubled times influencing the songs on their album.

Ugly Shadows are vocalist Gizem, guitarist Can, drummer Orkun and bassist Umut. Their music – only some of which is sung in English – is based on the early 80s UK gothic-Anarcho-punk style and they do a superb job of it. “Kids of Tomorrow” is another anthemic song reminding me of UK favourites Skeletal Family.

GoddessGoddesses are a ‘shoegaze’ styled band from Derby in the UK who have just this week released what appears to be their first album. Here’s the lovely “Say Nothing” as an introduction to the weightless atmosphere of their ghostly sound world.

The album mines some of the same dreamlike territory as Slowdive’s fabulous Souvlaki album, all gentle washes of diaphanous sound and melody.

“Say Nothing” flows through a variety of moods across its almost 8 minutes, slowly building and threatening to unleash some kind of sonic fury at about the half way mark.

However, there’s also a bit of that teasing Sigur Ros style restraint here and instead of the expected noise, the song takes an unexpected but quite brilliant leap into a brief psychedelic electronica moment at about the six minute mark before drifting back to earth again.

Elsewhere the album blends in some more saturated noise washes so it’s well worth sticking around to listen to all of it and losing yourself in the swirling mists of this very well crafted music.

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