five


 

About this compilation…

It wasn’t intentional, but, had this compilation been released on vinyl, the tracks on Side 1 would all be from North America—four from the USA and one from Canada, and the tracks on Side 2 would all come from somewhere else, specifically, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, Italy, and the Isle of Man. Most of these bands were new to me. With the possible exception of one or two, I don’t believe I was aware of any of them a year ago.

Anyway, sticking with the analogy, Side 1 begins with the dreamgaze and drone of El Monte, California’s Wall of Stars and Baltimore, Maryland’s Alter respectively. Then, thanks to some dreamy and slightly fuzzy Post Rock from Victoria, British Columbia’s ACAB Rocky, the Pacific Northwest is once again represented on this site. Side 1 closes out with some Shoegaze from Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Brilliant Beast and a bit of dreamgaze from Hartford, Connecticut’s Omega Vague.

Side 2 opens with some gothgaze by Magnitogorsk, Russia’s Honeyfrequency, followed by The Isle of Man’s Postcode, which might be the band I’ve known about longer than any of the others. By their own admission, they are not strictly Shoegazers, but they do dabble in the genre as well as several others. “Summer” may be the only ‘gazey’ song on Year Of The Zebra – Part Two, but I also liked “Echo” for its Horses-Era Patti Smith sound—especially the vocals.

Side 2 continues with a tasty piece of Shoegaze from Madrid, Spain’s The Poetry Book. The single from which “Kisses” was taken is the band’s second release of this year, coming hot on the heels of the EP First, which I also recommend. Next, comes some Dream Pop from Hamilton, New Zealand’s Ancient Tapes, before Kimono Nights of San Pancrazio, Italy wraps up Side 2 and the compilation with a soothing stretch of dreamgaze.
 

TRACK LIST & SOURCES

01. “Blue” by Wall of Stars tumblr

02. “Naked & Terrified” by Alter

03. “Backwoods” by ACAB Rocky facebook

04. “No Fate” by Brilliant Beast facebook

05. “The Long Way” by Omega Vague facebook

06. “Spit Your Dead” by Honeyfrequency

07. “Summer” by Postcode facebook SoundCloud

08. “Kisses” by The Poetry Book facebook SoundCloud

09. “Don’t Fade Away” by Ancient Tapes facebook

10. “Underground Station” by Kimono Lights facebook SoundCloud Instagram

one track minds


 

About this compilation…

This is a collection of ten, individual tracks posted to Bandcamp like singles without ‘B-sides’. There are three tracks each from Australia and the USA, two from the UK, and one each from Mexico and Czech Republic.

The Aussies are represented by Perth’s HYLA, Brisbane’s Kigo, and Melbourne’s Kodiak Galaxy, while the USA chips in with contributions from Southern California’s Conheartists, Fresno, California’s Midwest Moms, and Baltimore, Maryland’s Morels. Only Kodiak Galaxy, Midwest Moms, and Morels were completely new to me, having used songs from HYLA‘s self-titled EP and Conheartist‘s Surrounded by Drones on Vibrato 14.02.

The UK’s offerings come from the geographically extreme regions of Teeside in the Northeast and Cornwall in the Southwest of England. Middlesbrough’s Figmennt (the second ‘n’ is not a typo) open this set with “She”, a bit of Dream Pop with a plaintive edge, while Flashes bolsters the middle with a livelier bit of Shoegaze in “Museum Peace”, a track which may feature on an EP scheduled for release in April.

With the release of their self-titled EP in 2014, Manon Meurt was one of the two Czech Republic bands to make a big splash on the Shoegaze scene with their debut offerings. This time, Rakovnik’s favorite Shoegazers return with “Untitled”, which I hope is a teaser from an upcoming release in 2015. Fingers crossed.

Mexico City’s Texture Chao close out the set with a kind of ‘jangly’ Shoegaze in “Meeting Hearts”.
 

TRACK LIST & SOURCES

01. “She” by Figmennt facebook SoundCloud

02. “Skeletons” by Midwest Moms facebook tumblr

03. “Untitled” by Manon Meurt facebook website (Czech)

04. “Sheep Who Lie In Fur” by Conheartist facebook

05. “The Thousands” by HYLA facebook

06. “Museum Peace” by Flashes facebook SoundCloud YouTube

07. “Like Amber” by Kigo facebook

08. “Raygun” by Morels facebook

09. “Fourteen Days” by Kodiak Galaxy facebook

10. “Meeting Hearts” by Texture Chao facebook

four


 

About this compilation…

Once again, for your pleasure, ten tasty slices of Shoegaze goodness—all released this year, plus a bonus track. I know! You can’t help wondering why I’m being so good to you.

In any case, as far as countries of origin goes, this compilation is slightly better balanced than the last, with a track each from France, Germany, Ireland, Ukraine, three from the UK, and only four from the USA. Nothing from the Pacific Northwest, however.

I am especially excited about two of the tracks, as they represent new albums to be released by two of my favorite bands: Venera 4 and 93MillionMilesFromTheSun. In the case of the latter, I’ve been a huge fan of this Doncaster, England outfit ever since I first received a copy of their self-titled promo on CD-R back in 2008. Before I reset my Last.fm listening stats, 93MMFTS was third behind only Curve and The Jesus and Mary Chain, which easily makes them my favorite shoegazers of the modern era. I marvel at the way they continue to flout my maxim which states that ‘two albums and a handful of EPs is all the Shoegazing any band has in them’; long may it continue.

Venera 4, on the other hand, first came to my attention in 2013 with the release of Deaf Hearts EP. I liked it so much, I quickly rounded up the entire back catalogue of this Parisian quartet. It turns out that “Black Paw”, a track I used in last year’s Pardon My French compilation, was a preview of the band’s first full-length release, Eidôlon, due out 2 March.

Like 93MMFTS and Venera 4, Baltimore, Maryland’s Wildhoney and London, England’s Leave the Planet are returning contributors to compilations posted here or on NWshoegazing. The excellent “Seventeen”, which I downloaded as a single track on Bandcamp before it became the first track of the Seventeen Forever EP, makes another appearance on Wildhoney’s debut album, Sleep Through It, which was released in January on the Deranged Records label of British Columbia. “Seventeen” may be the best track on the album, but it is by no means the only one worth listening to, as I believe “Molly” will prove to anyone who gives it a listen.

Leave the Planet may only have two, two-track singles out so far, but in both cases, I have found the first track on each single irresistible. I used “Coasts” from their first single on two and, now, “Winter Sleep” from their second on four. Hmmm, I wonder if they’ll have another single out by the time I’m ready to post six.

The newcomers include: Sun Mahshene of Dublin, Ireland, who, while you won’t necessarily be able to tell from this track, are purveyors of some promising psychgaze, Lightning Bug of New York City, whose Dream Pop-filled Floaters album does contain a song or two with extra fuzziness, solo artist Infinity-Mi from Whitstable, England, who brings a sometimes manic gothgaze to his Meltdown album, Mandarinaduck from Ukraine, whose enjoyable second EP I tried to buy, but PayPal and Ukraine do not play nicely together (this is not the first time I have seen this), so GARDENSOULS is a free download for now, Angel Falls of Saint Paul, Minnesota, whose EP, Part 1, delivers some delightful dreamgaze (the vocals on “Angel Falls” remind me of something from the ’80s I can’t quite put my finger on, Talk Talk perhaps), and, finally, Seasurfer of Hamburg, Germany, who, in collaboration with Robin Guthrie, provide the bonus track, an alternate master of “We Run” from 2014’s outstanding Dive In, which has been fully mastered by the ex-Cocteau Twin legend.
 

TRACK LIST & SOURCES

01. “Beautiful Failure” by Witness 9

02. “On Blood” by Sun Mahshene facebook

03. “Lumious Veil” by Lightning Bug SoundCloud tumblr

04. “Swansong” by Infinity-Mi

05. “Winter Sleep” by Leave The Planet facebook Instagram

06. “Other Suns” by Mandarinaduck facebook tumblr

07. “Molly” by Wildhoney facebook tumblr

08. “Fall Into Nothing” by 93MillionMilesFromTheSun facebook

09. “Colored Fields” by Venera 4 facebook SoundCloud tumblr

10. “Solstice” by Angel Falls facebook SoundCloud

Bonus Track “We Run (Guthrie Master)” by Seasurfer facebook website SMR

three


 

About this compilation…

It took a bit longer to get the first cloudcast of the year posted in 2015 than it did in 2014, but here it is at last. This compilation features ten tracks, unevenly harvested from five nations, with five coming from the USA, and one each from Canada, the UK, the Russian Federation, Italy, and Spain.

The Pacific Northwest is not represented this time. In fact we don’t get any closer to the West Coast than San Antonio, Texas, home to BLOOM, whose old-school Shoegaze is one of the early highlights of the year. Sister Bear of Saint Paul, Minnesota, brings some lo-fi Noise Pop, while The Morelings of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania counter with etherial dreamgaze. Slotting in somewhere between these two sounds are Gibberish of Fayetteville, Arkansas and The Astral Planes of Louisville, Kentucky. No one in The Astral Planes takes credit for banjo playing, but I swear I can hear one being used intermittently throughout the album.

As with BLOOM, the noisy Post-Punk of Toronto, Canada’s Tyburn Fields reminded me of the good ol’ days of Shoegaze. I could have used either track from the band’s debut single in this cloudcast, but I thought “Always on Me” a slightly better fit. The best band name from among the ten contributors has got to go to London, England’s Love, Hippies & Gangsters. There is an obvious Psychedelia influence in their music, so I get the ‘Love’ and ‘Hippies’ part, but I’m not quite sure where the ‘Gangsters’ fit in.

I have to admit that the first two times I sampled Munic!‘s Enemies EP on Bandcamp, I found the vocals off-putting and I moved on. I kept coming back, however, drawn by the music of this Madrid, Spain quartet, until I finally purchased the EP. I had no such trouble with the three-track EP from My Invisible Friend of Parma, Italy. It was love at first listen. The first track is old-school Psychedelia with male vocals, and the second track is more of a drone with female vocals buried somewhere in the mix—just the way I like it.

The highlight of this compilation could easily have been expected to come from Pinkshinyultrablast‘s new album and first release since the amazing Happy Songs for Happy Zombies EP of 2009. Unfortunately, the band from Saint Petersburgh, Russia has not delivered an album to equal their debut EP. Most of the songs are weakened by being 50/50 hybrids of dreamy synthgaze followed by the guitar driven walls of sound I was hoping for. That said, “Ravestar Supreme” is a very good track and will certainly be in the running for ‘best of the compilation’.
 

TRACK LIST & SOURCES

01. “Less” by The Morelings facebook instagram tumblr website

02. “Not Easy” by Munic! facebook SoundCloud

03. “Trudy” by Gibberish

04. “Eyes” by My Invisible Friend facebook

05. “Rise” by BLOOM facebook

06. “Ravestar Supreme” by Pinkshinyultrablast facebook

07. “Always on Me” by Tyburn Fields facebook

08. “Tides” by The Astral Planes facebook SoundCloud tumblr website

09. “Tattoo” by Sister Bear facebook

10. “Through Your Mind” by Love, Hippies & Gangsters
facebook SoundCloud tumblr YouTube

Welcome 2015

Out with the old…

As the end of 2014 was rapidly approaching, I realized that I had not kept my collection of that year’s releases organized enough for me to put together and post one or two ‘best of the year’ cloudcasts as I had done for 2013 on NWshoegazing. I figured I’d have to make do with posting lists of my ‘top five’ albums, EPs, and singles. Unfortunately, while I knew that I would have to leave out some good EPs and singles in paring those two lists down to only their top five entries, off the top of my head, I could only come up with three albums: DIV I DEDBorn to Sleep, ParasolI Close My Eyes to See You Again, and SexoresHistorias de Frío. I suspected LightfoilsHierarchy might also be on that list, but it had been so long since I had listened to it that I wasn’t sure*.

“So,” I thought, “I’ll just refresh my memory by gathering together all the music I collected in 2014 and seeing what names jump out at me. It sounded good in theory, but in practice, I spent many hours of the last three days in December hunting down music folders and the associated cover art across three computers and twice as many external hard drives. In the end, I only made it halfway through the alphabet, but I can tell you that, from ‘A’ thru ‘M’, I have retrieved 252 release and cover art pairs. Expecting to find a similar number of releases in ‘N’ thru ‘Z’, I abandoned the notion of posting any ‘top five’ lists.

Someone who did have his act together was Renato Malizia over at The Blog That Celebrates Itself. I spent a large part of yesterday morning listening to the three, nicely packaged compilations, cleverly named after the three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gaseous, which he put up on Bandcamp.

I started with Solid and ended with Gaseous, and found that, although the lines between sub-genres is not as clearly established on Liquid and Gaseous as they are on Solid, going through these comps in the order I did was like taking a journey from the fringes of Shoegaze in toward its center. The Post-Punk and ‘gothgaze’ of Solid led into the mostly ‘dreamgaze’ of Liquid and finally into the ‘psychgaze’ of Gaseous. For someone like me, who likes to save the best for last, this was the right order in which to play these compilations.

Solid

Liquid

Gaseous

 

… in with the new

Hoping I’ve learned a lesson, my New Year’s resolutions for music include:
1. being more selective about what I download,
2. fully processing each release as soon after downloading it as possible, and
3. archiving each ‘keeper’ in an organized and consistent manner.

I wonder how long that will last.

I’m off to a good start. I’ve already made three 2015 purchases, two of which are preorders: PinkshinyultrablastEverything Else Matters (Club AC30) and EchodroneFive (Saint Marie Records). So far, the only purchase I’ve been able to download and listen to is a two-track single, Magic LoveNight Before, which follows last year’s release, the three-track Dawn EP.

Japanese dreamgazers Hamanaka Shohei (guitar and vocals) and Kondo Kazuaki (drums, recording, mixing, and mastering) were joined by special guests Kokeguchi Seiji (bass) and Yoshiyama Moe (guitar, synth, and vocals) to record these two “Basement Session” tracks, whose original versions are found on Magic Love‘s 2011 release, Bright a Scene.

Magic Love facebook SoundCloud website

 

*Having listened to it again, I can safely say that LightfoilsHierarchy would have made my list of top five albums of 2014.

Oz


 

About this compilation…

There is so much good Shoegaze coming out of Australia these days that I extended the track list to twelve songs and still only used about half of the songs/artists I have on hand.
 

TRACK LIST & SOURCES

01. “The Sea” by Luna Ghost facebook

02. “You” by Roku Music facebook

03. “A Thousand Words” by COLOURS facebook SoundCloud

04. “(Not in It) For Love” by Blush Response facebook

05. “Four Acting As One” by All Sparks Burn Out facebook

06. “Old Fools” by Bloodhounds On My Trail facebook

07. “Like You Said” by Flyying Colours facebook

08. “Out of Mind” by Beaches facebook

09. “Don’t Try It” by Morning Harvey facebook tumblr

10. “Eckhart” by Flocks

11. “Solipsism” by Hideous Towns facebook

12. “Drum Machine” by Contrast facebook

pardon my french


 

About this compilation…

This was meant to be a compilation entirely of songs by French artists, but as I was looking for Schonwald’s links to Facebook, etc., I discovered that the band is Italian. Oh well, as I did find them on a French label, that will have to suffice.

My Inspiration for this cloudcast came from a fine pair of compilations I came across on Exploding Spastic Inevitable’s Bandcamp page: Frenchedelia – Volumes One and Two.

A third volume has since been added, and, where I had found only links to a site from which MP3 versions could be downloaded, the Bandcamp page now has all three volumes available as free downloads. I especially enjoyed the second volume, which has a more Shoegaze feel to the songs.

Frenchedelia – Volume One

Frenchedelia – Volume Two

Frenchedelia – Volume Three

 

TRACK LIST & SOURCES

01. “Shoegaze or Die” by The Great Artiste facebook

02. “Death” by Maria False facebook

03. “Shosho” by Cheri Cheri Jaguar facebook tumblr instagram

04. “Ceremonial Prayers” by Wall/Eyed facebook

05. “Deep Metals” by Schonwald facebook SoundCloud

06. “Stay” by FUTURE facebook website

07. “Pure” by The Dead Mantra facebook

08. “Black Paws” by Venera 4 facebook SoundCloud tumblr

09. “Heartbeat I” by HERMETIC DELIGHT facebook website

10. “Unreachable Hopes” by White Glow facebook SoundCloud YouTube website