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.

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Preface

I felt that, in my haste to get started, I rushed my first post a little, then found the writeup in particular to be unsatisfactory, and thought even the compilation could be improved with a minor reshuffling of the track list. So, that is what I did before replacing the original post with this one.

Please allow me to introduce myself…

If you were directed here from NWshoegazing, then you already have some familiarity with the compilations I upload to Mixcloud, but things will work a little differently on this site.

Cloudcasts (compilations hosted on Mixcloud) with names like one, two, three, etc. will feature songs from the current year (or, on occasion, older songs that have only recently come to my attention). Mixed in with these, I will also be putting together themed compilations similar to Shoegaze y Dream Pop Latinoamericano, which featured songs from South and Central American artists. I’ve already started gathering songs for four of these comps, but you’ll have to wait to see what the themes are.

About this compilation…

Every once in a while, dredging through the quagmire of (mostly) incorrectly tagged releases on Bandcamp yields something so good that, if I wasn’t already blogging, I’d be temped to start doing so, just to get the word out. DIV I DED’s Born to Sleep is just such a release. Like fellow countrymen (and women) Manon Muert, this band from the Czech Republic is certain to be represented in my list of the top 10 releases of 2014.

Two other newcomers with releases that grabbed my attention were London’s Nano Kino and Rome’s La Casa al Mare. If one looks closely enough at Nano Kino’s Bandcamp page, they’ll see that the release date for the self-titled, three-song single is 5 January 2015. When I first saw this page, there was a note on it indicating that these three songs were part of a larger release due out early next year. Something to look forward to in early 2015, perhaps. Take out the dead Xmas tree, then come back in to download the new Nano Kino.

La Casa al Mare features Paolo Miceli (My Violent Ego and Sea Dweller), Marco Poloni (La Calle Mojada), and Alessio Pindinelli, whose lovely voice graces the song I’ve chosen for this compilation. Marco does the honors on the B-side, “CD Girl”, which is also very good.

Białogard are also from Italy, but further north in Milan. I used a song of theirs on Fuzz Lite, one of two compilations I put together featuring my favorite songs taken from singles and EPs released in 2013. Partings is the band’s third release. It follows the 2010 self-titled debut, and 2013’s Studies on Distance.

Not too far to the west and slightly north of Milan lies Martigny, Switzerland. From this location, the three members of Versus People hope to use their blend of Shoegaze, Dream Pop, and Post Rock sounds to help us “rediscover the spirit of the ‘90s.” It seems they’re off to a good start with To Your Eyes.

The remaining artists are all from the USA, a contingent headed by veterans A Shoreline Dream, who have come a long way from the days when I bought their self-titled debut EP from toneVendor in 2006. I’m happy to report, however, that they are still going strong. On a side note, it is a lot easier (and less expensive) to buy and download music from Bandcamp, but I do miss the extras, personal notes, and pieces of candy that were included in packages from toneVendor.

Of the four remaining American bands, I have known about SHEER the longest, having downloaded “Yesterday’s Weather” in July. “Skin” followed shortly afterward and “Orion” was released this month. The band is from Simi Valley, California, and that is almost all I know about them. I couldn’t even find a Facebook page.

I came across self-titled releases from Oakland’s Linoleum Dream and South Bend’s Jimmy Infinity only hours before I started putting this compilation together, but I liked them both right away. I don’t really know what else I can say about Linoleum Dream other than to describe it is a small but solid collection of Shoegaze songs, but that’s all it takes to make me happy these days. “Sleepy Eyes” is the more straight-up Shoegazing of the two songs I liked best from Jimmy Infinity, but “Charity Carwash” is good as well.

It wasn’t done intentionally, but the three compilations that were posted here in the test phase all featured bands from Portland, Oregon. With the inclusion of Visiting Diplomats, this compilation keeps that streak intact. Unfortunately, I have been priced out of my downtown Portland flat and forced to live in a suburb so dead I could cry. No longer am I able to walk (if need be) west across the river to venues such as Crystal Ballroom, just north to Wonder Ballroom, or south to my favorite, Doug Fir Lounge. Otherwise, I would likely have seen Visiting Diplomats live and would know a little more about the band. What I do know is that I love the chiming guitar and the way the intensity and volume picks up in the final third of “The Hardest Easy Thing” before restoring a quieter melancholy to a finish that made it a natural to bring this compilation to a close.
 

TRACK LIST & SOURCES

01. “The Heart Never Recovered” by A Shoreline Dream facebook website

02. “L Song” by Nano Kino facebook

03. “Sleepy Eyes” by Jimmy Infinity facebook

04. “Indirect” by Linoleum Dream facebook

5. “Skin” by SHEER

06. “Makemyheart” by Białogard facebook

07. “M” by La Casa al Mare facebook

08. “When You” by Versus People facebook SoundCloud

09. “Other City” by DIV I DED facebook YouTube SoundCloud

10. “The Hardest Easy Thing” by Visiting Diplomats facebook