Æ: Aglet Eaters

Stay with me.

Posted in Track by R on May 18, 2015

Hell is made of people of leaving, of leaving people, and of being left behind.
(Such is life)

‘Ghost’ will bring you to your knees and to tears, but at least it won’t leave.

Hold me close
Stay with me

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Heads Up: The Microdance – We Meet In Dreams

Posted in Discover, Track by R on April 14, 2015

Not long till The Microdance‘s first full-length New Waves of Hope is out. I already know it’s excellent but you don’t so just take my totes unbiased word for it.

Out of the dozen or so tracks on the album, this one’s my favourite. That’s why they’ve decided to release it as a single.* It’s out tomorrow on Boxing Clever Records.

[*No, that’s not why]

 

Damn. It only took me a month to get that hook out of my head and now it’s wedged solidly in there again.

Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

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Echodrone – Five

Posted in Album, Feature, Review by R on April 12, 2015

v600_EchodroneFIVE1500x

“This one is different.”

I don’t know what my Echodrone SPOC, Eugene Suh, was on about when he introduced Five to me with those words, helpfully hooking me up with a download of the album a month before its official release.

(I realise I’m writing this two months AFTER the official release)

The announcement that Echodrone were coming out with a new album had been the highlight of my new year, but now I watched my download of Five near completion with increasing apprehension as E’s words reverberated in my skull forcing me to confront the awful possibility…

What if it sounds nothing like them?

I’d last listened to Echodrone when they released their marvelous album of cover songs, Mixtape for Duckie, in 2013. Their version of ‘Cry Little Sister’ is still my go-to mantra whenever I’m beset by rage, angst, or any emotion at all. In these moments, it’s Meredith’s voice that I need to say to me “Thou shalt not kill.”

But that version of Echodrone no longer exists. Original drummer, Mark Tarlton, and vocalist, Meredith Gibbons, have since moved on, and their absence is probably behind Eugene’s conviction that this version of Echodrone is nothing like the last. On Five we meet Mike Funk, Jim Hrabak and Rachel Lopez.

“We found Jim through his solo project, Slack Armada,” says Eugene. “he’s really added an electronic element that we were striving to achieve on previous albums.”

He goes on: “Rachel added a new set of vocal and vocal harmony ideas. She’s very much influenced by Siouxsie and the Banshees. And Mike’s drumming is just so solid – he really shaped the rhythmic backbone of Five.”

I can’t narrate the romantic trepidation with which I pulled the shrink wrap off before gingerly placing it into my hi-fidelity system and pressing play, because the only thing remotely retro about the entire experience was Winamp.

An hour later, I was typing out my response to Eugene. “Don’t take this the wrong way…” I found myself saying, “but Five sounds exactly like an Echodrone album.”

Someone more keen on picking a fight may have pulled me up for accusing them of unoriginality. Eugene, however, was stoked! “I’m blown away,” he said, “Honestly, it’s an extremely difficult genre to work in. Many shoegaze bands seem to want to rehash the past, and many fans want their favourite shoegaze bands to rehash the past. We always hope that our music comes across as a unique entry in the shoegaze arena.”

Uniqueness is all well and good, but there’s not much that emerges from a vacuum, so you have to wonder: what influences have to be fused together to create that uniquely Echodroney sound?

“It’s funny – we always start an idea based on an influence. ‘Disparate Numbers’ used to be called ‘Boards of Canada’, ‘Glacial Place’ used to be called ‘I Paddy’ cause I found a cool arpeggiator program on my iPad and built the song around it. ‘Less Than Imaginary’ used to be called ‘Vampire Weekendy’ (?!?!?!)). But I think we end up throwing all our influences into a melting pot and it always ends up sounding like Echodrone!”

Not one to ask a question without an ulterior motive I gently steer the conversation towards the more than passing resemblance I find ‘NoiseBed’ bears to a somewhat popular MBV track.

Here’s how you ask a subtle question:

So, um, did you ever listen to Andy Weatherall‘s remix of ‘Soon’?

It’s Mike Funk who responds: “I love that Andy Weatherall remix! It’s so hypnotic and groovy. Even Kevin Shields got caught up in the rave culture of the early 90s. He had that one famous quote back then: ‘The only innovation in music is in house music and rap music.’ ‘Soon’ definitely reflects that. Andy’s production is so distinct that you can’t imagine hearing classic tracks by Primal Scream and Happy Mondays heard in any other way.

“I have a funny story about playing the ‘Soon’ remix as a college radio DJ – a fellow DJ walked into the station MCR while I was on the air and spinning that 12″ single and he said, ‘Your record’s skipping.’ It wasn’t, of course, but that’s what’s great about ‘Soon’- it’s so strong in its rhythm and repetition that it’s almost euphoric but still loud and heavy.”

My cunning plan has fallen flat. I am left with no choice but to resort to open and honest dialogue. I mention the similarity between the two tracks and:

“Never even connected the two songs before, but I can hear what you’re talking about with the Soon remix! Jim was targeting a Fuck Buttons vibe with all his electronics…’Soon’ didn’t even cross our minds!”

I swear I’m not imagining it:

Moving on. I wonder about ‘Disparate Numbers’ – the synth-loaded opener with a vibe so electro, it could easily pull off being my age.

“‘Disparate Numbers’ is our first political-type song. It’s about how government and economic policies have created this huge, ever-expanding divide between the rich and the poor.  We continue to let our governments and federal reserve representatives run free, implementing policies that extract money from the poor and provide risk-free capital to the rich (their friends).  In essence, we end up ‘swinging lower, orbiting slower’ until we exist in a completely separate reality from the upper-class.

“I remember being really affected by the photos of Hong Kong’s underground city.  Within a few city blocks, you have high rise luxury apartments filled with the city’s wealthy elite (Rurik Jutting is a perfect example of that excess lifestyle) and right underneath all that wealth and excess, you have some of the poorest people living a completely different life. So the people inhabiting the underground city and the people inhabiting the high-rise apartments – they are essentially disparate numbers, completely separated by an accumulation of wealth that’s really only a series of electronic ones and zeros. Just electronic numbers in a bank account.”

It’s fan favourite ‘Octopussy’ that steals the show on Five, though, proving (again) that Echodrone know just what to do with a cover. As a band, they’ve always been capable of exhibiting a muted magnificence – a superpower they do not reveal as frequently as I’d like. The last time they let the immensity of their sound shine through was on their crushing rendition of ‘Cry Little Sister’ on Mixtape for Duckie before which they could have knocked the breath out of a sizeable percentage of the world’s population with ‘Under an Impressive Sky’ and a good sound system.

‘Octopussy’ is undoubtedly the gloriousest track on Five. It makes you wonder – does having a set format make Echodrone bolder? Looking at Mixtape for Duckie and Five, I’d hazard a ‘yes’, but this is the band that made the sonic trump card ‘Under an Impressive Sky.’ What could possibly stop them from doing it again?

See for yourself… Pick up Five from Saint Marie Records.

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The greatest MBV cover in all the world

Posted in Discover, Track by R on April 7, 2015

Arctique Circles

Who are they?

Where did they come from?

How did they do it?

An MBV cover to rival MBV?

It cannot be!

But it is:

 

Built to Bleed

Posted in Track by R on March 3, 2015

This is for the ones didn’t overcome the odds
Still stacked against them.

For the ones who dropped out of school
And didn’t launch a startup.

For the ones who left a career
To follow a dream that didn’t want them.

For the ones who fought a family for a lover.
And lost.

For the ones who gave up when the going got tough
And the ones who didn’t even try.

This is for the ones who don’t roll with the punches.

They’re built to bleed

But it’s all right.
If you feel like letting go.

Messy days and crosswords: Tatooine Returns

Posted in Album, Rediscover by R on February 1, 2015

Let’s be clear.

‘Hey’ is the greatest shoegaze track to emerge out of the 90s.

I would listen to ‘Hey’ before I listened to ‘Soon’ or ‘Alison’ or ‘Pearl’ or ‘Black Metallic.’

And Blind Mr. Jones are only the most exotic group to ever walk the earth.

Because Blind Mr. Jones are the only the only group I have ever known to have a flautist as a band member.

Yet no one has a damn clue where they got to.

How many flautists could there possibly be in Marlow?

(filling in crosswords on park benches)

——

Shoegaze community, you have let me down.

Your tenacity is a delusion. Your loyalty is an illusion.

Anyhoo, St. Marie Records are reissuing Tatooine.

I’ve only been playing nothing else for 4 days.

Hang your heads and soothe your conscience.

Maybe don’t listen to anything else for a while.

According to Plan – I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness

Posted in Feature, Track by R on September 3, 2014

Born the son of a god, believed to be the lowly son of a lowly charioteer, he lives a life of quiet misfortune.

Adopted as a brother by a king, he appears as a suitor before her. She mocks him mercilessly before an open court.

He should hate her, he tells himself, but he never forgets the tilt of her chin or the fire in her voice.

 

She first sees him when he appears for her wedding which he hopes is to him.

She knows it can’t be, and uses her voice and crown to ensure it.

She weds his rival, but never forgets the eyes that now refuse to meet her own.

 

Her husband kills him while his back is turned during a misplaced battle for a barren kingdom.

 

Years later, when she falls by the side of the road, he reaches his hand out to hers.

—–

In a perfect world,
the perfect place is with you
the truth is the world is without love.

See also: The Palace of Illusions

A Year In The Making: Slowing Down with Tears Run Rings

Posted in Feature, Rediscover by R on March 1, 2014

I have to apologise for being so slack. I wouldn’t normally, because it’s my blog and I can do what I want, but the thing is I have had what, in journalistic terms is called a SCOOP, for close to two months now and I have selfishly kept it all to myself.

Tears Run Rings are, as we speak, in the process of putting together their third album – In Surges

Ed, Dwayne, Laura and Matthew aka the very mysterious, very beautiful Tears Run Rings came out with their A Question and An Answer EP in 2007 – classic shoegaze: all Slowdive reverb and MBV percussion. They followed it rapidly enough with the Always, Sometimes, Seldom, Never full-length in 2008 on which you’ll find the unforgettable ‘Mind The Wires’. Their third album, Distance, is bags sweeter than these two and came out in 2010. You can read all about it here.

couldn't resist.

Hey look, we’re on a TRRAM!

Before getting to the good stuff, I’d just like to give a shoutout to fellow TRR-fanatic Jim Payne who helped my staid little brain think outside the box and gave me the thoughtful, tailored questions that I would never have managed to think up myself.

I’d also like to thank Jeff Ware of Deep Space Recordings for getting me in touch with this ostensibly elusive group and starting this whole interview process… in 2012. No excuses, Ed and I were both super slack (see, we’re made for each other) but it’s all kismat, because the delay means that we’ve now got answers from the entire band, except to the most crucial question.

I tried, but we’ll never know the lyrics to ‘Mind The Wires’.

Mind The Wires was a track we originally wrote back in the late 90s, but never had a chance to record it.  We only played it live a few times with our noisy Autocollants-side project, Diplomat Haircuts.

There are three cities between the four members of the band. On your website, Tears Run Rings are described as a long distance relationship. So how does it work? do each of you independently record your sections of the track and then email them over to the others? Where does the final product come out of?

We start by recording drums and bass as a “live band.” Then we usually record parts over that, sometimes independently and sometimes when we get together 3 or 4 times a year. We used to use CDs and mail them, but now we can share tracks over Dropbox. The final product is usually a result of a long weekend of all of us sitting around together and scrutinizing each song.

What does it take to bring a Tears Run Rings album together? Is it a long spell of recording and ‘oh, we have a dozen songs, we’re ready for an album’ kind of thing, or is it a ‘let’s make an album that sounds like [this]’ kind of thing?

We get together over a week or two and write as many songs as possible as a full band. We don’t try to sound like anything in particular. Then we take the next few years to shape the songs in the studio. It is not surprising that most of our songs get rewritten two or three times before we are happy with them and really love listening to them.

Are there tracks that have been recorded that have not yet made it onto Tears Run Rings albums and may see the light of day in the future?

We have a lot of unfinished tracks that we ended up not completing for all sorts of reasons. Every so often we’ll revisit them to see if they are salvageable or can morph into an entirely new idea. As far as a future release of bonus/unreleased tracks, doubt that will be happening any time soon. We are more focused on moving forward with new material.

What’s the scene with live shows? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a poster for a Tears Run Rings gig, but I could have missed it. Do you perform?

We did have the wonderful opportunity to tour with Secret Shine in 2008.  It was an awesome experience and we love them! However, since then we all have such limited time that we spend together, it’s a challenge for us to actually practice as a band. We tend to focus our time more on creating and recording our music. We would love to play and someday we will.  World Tour 2025 maybe?

2025 World Tour

I have seen a future without Instagram filters.

Who are the bands that originally inspired the type of music played by Tears Run Rings? Are there any bands on the horizon that have just recently been discovered by yourself or other band members that really stand out?

We have a wide variety of inspirations. We obviously make music that we like to listen to ourselves, so clearly classic shoegaze bands are high on the list (for example, Pale Saints, Blind Mr. Jones, and maybe a little Slowdive – heh).  However, each of us have totally different ideas that we bring to our music. As for newer bands, some of the groups that we have been collectively listening to are Flyying Colours, Chris Cohen, Lower Dens, Violens, and Frankie Rose.

Do you find inspiration from artists on an ongoing basis that finds itself being incorporated in any way into current recordings of your own, or do you purposefully make an effort to avoid using any sounds that you feel may sound too similar to others?

Sometimes when we write songs, it ends up sounding too familiar to us, so we try and change it up to be more reflective of our own sound. We try to sound like ourselves, not any other band so we just do what we want to do. We’re totally happy in our own little shell.

Did the band start with an idea to have a series of ‘Happiness’ songs or was that just something that occurred over time through natural inspiration? Do you foresee further ‘Happiness’ installments on future albums?

Yeah it happened over time. We liked how the songs framed the first album as intro and outros, so we continued the idea on our second and soon third album.  We like bookends. There’s also a secret embedded within each Happiness track, but we’re not tellin’.

Do you ever gain inspiration from a song that is of a completely different genre/style, but that which speaks to you on an emotional level and then inspires a song in the musical style of Tears Run Rings?

Yep. For example, The Knife has inspired us in many ways, although we sound nothing like them.  Also, a lot of our vocal harmonies are not inspired by shoegaze bands.

We can tell there’s a difference in style between Always, Sometimes… and Distance, but have there ever been times in which band members (or the band as a whole) have discussed incorporating different – unexpected, maybe – musical styles into a song or an album, kind of like what Slowdive did with Pygmalion?

We’ve been using a lot more electronic instrumentation lately, and experimenting with changing sound textures. The new album is probably more ethereal than the last two. However, we didn’t make a conscious decision to do it this way; it just evolved. We probably won’t make a change to our sound intentionally because we like the music we make and we are still enjoying the process.

Do you or any of the other band members listen to artists that others may be surprised to hear are in your own personal musical collections?

Absolutely.

Matthew – I listen to a lot of obscure arcane pop, and classic country music. Louvin Brothers are one of my favorite bands.

Laura – I hate country. But I love 80’s music of almost any kind.

Dwayne – I’m big into Swedish dance music and Britpop. The new Suede record is excellent.

Ed- ‘Send the Pain Below’ by Chevelle, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

Have you identified a track that’s a fan favourite? What’s the band favourite?

The fan favorite seems to be ‘Mind the Wires.’ We like that one too. We also like ‘Weight of Love,’ ‘Waiting for the End,’ ‘Distance,’ and ‘Divided.’  There are some tracks on the new album that we’re all especially pleased with as well.

Are you big in Japan? The Japanese version of ‘Distance’ contained two additional exclusive tracks. Have you found those tracks to be remarked upon or requested by fans outside of Japan? Any backlash from the local fans?

We don’t really know! We love our fans wherever they are!

Do you have day-jobs, and if so can we ask what you do?

Ed – Yes, I work as a designer and I run Shelflife Records on the side. [Home to AE favourite Airiel – ed]

Matthew -Yes, I am a very successful inventor and also run Shelflife.

Dwayne – Yes, I am a teacher and a father.

Laura – Yes, I work an office job.

What do each of you like to listen to that we wouldn’t expect you to listen to?

Matthew – Abba, Andy Gibb, Perry and Kingsley, Herb Alpert, Hall and Oates, Ministry, Lee Hazelwood, Everly Brothers

Ed – Claudio Rocchi, J. C. Pierric, Belbury Poly, Alan Parsons Project, UTFO

Dwayne – Erasure, Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra, Man Without Country, Hood

Laura – The Sea and Cake, Benoit Pioulard, Royksopp, Robyn, The Knife

If not shoegaze, Tears Run Rings would be a _____ band.

Matthew – Pop

Ed – Rubber

D – Spacerock [cheater – ed]

L – Electronica

Finally – Who do I have to bribe to get the lyrics to Mind The Wires?

How about you tell us what you think the they are and then we’ll make them the official lyrics.  I’m sure they’ll be better than ours.

—-

OK.

Here we go – ‘Mind The Wires’ as interpreted by AE

 

Mind the wires,

Let your love come.

Slow down, slow down,

Be careful.

 

A million stars,

Meet your devilled cake.

But these words, these words,

Never came.

 

Looks like rain, dear.

 

Am I right, or what?

Under Heaven

Posted in Album, Rediscover by R on May 17, 2013

lost it for a while

 

Whispers assured us we were as lost and stoned as anyone else. People come and go, live and die, cities rise and fall, and change. But you – you promised you’d still be there in the morning.

And you were – you are the sound the sun rises to.

And you remain – you’re what the earth spins to.

But you don’t care about your sway over the sun or the earth or the tides.

You only care about us.

That’s why we love you.

Happy 20th Birthday, Souvlaki.

No Joy – Maggie Says I Love You

Posted in Rediscover, Track by R on May 10, 2013

There are songs for seasons and songs for moods. Something like this tastes of summer. Something like this is for the cold. This is fury. This is solitude.

No Joy‘s ‘Maggie Says I Love You’ is everything.

It’s bare toes and outstretched arms in summer, it’s a glimpse of the sun in winter, it’s the rationale that overcomes fury, it is the quiet company you seek in solitude.

 

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