A band that lives up to its name! SF outfit Echodrone finds a nice balance between 90s shoegaze and new millennial electronica, covering the gamut from driving rock to ambient textures with equal intensity. Consisting of Brandon Dudley, Eugene Suh, Jim Hrabak, Mike Funk & Rachel Lopez, the quintet has been active since 2005 and latest album – Five – finds the band in an assured place creatively, bringing together the pleasing elements of soaring guitars, pummeling rhythms and hypnotic motifs to produce a work that hits all the right buttons.
We got in touch with Echodrone to find out more about what the band are about.
What are the records that inspired your sound?
I think you can see a wide variety of influences in our music
Released at the very beginning 2014, Colours of Joy, the sophomore album from Indonesian indie band lightcraft is quite the thing of beauty. Whilst its live dynamic is waves of shoegazey dreamy noise pop, the sonic agenda on this album is more lilting, more subtle and ultimately more graceful.
And this marked contrast works brilliantly from a recording perspective where there is less pressure to deliver an immediate high. It’s quite impossible not to fall in love with the luscious sounds and melancholy sentiments evident on songs like “Amazing Grace” and “Get Out on Your Way” – singer Imam’s voice is almost a ghostly whisper hovering like an angel over swaths of heavenly constructs.
Things do get slightly more expansive in the epic soundscapes of “The Other Side of the Glass”, “Starlit Eyes” and “Hello Goodbye” which are both more representative of the band’s live sound albeit without sacrificing an iota of the emotional resonance that marks lightcraft’s work.
If I had to make comparisons, I would have to say that lightcraft reminds me of a more stripped down version of one of my favourite bands – Starflyer 59. Believe me, as high as the standards Jason Martin has set, lightcraft do a more than credible job in evoking the same nuances, references and power. Highly recommended.
This is epic Brit-rock at its finest. And when I say ‘Brit-rock’, I am basically referring to the psychedelic noise-rock outfits that have illuminated the British music scene in the 80s and 90s. Which roughly means references to post-punk, shoegaze and Britpop – sounds good to me!
Reading outfit, Tripwires, consist of longtime friends frontman Rhys Edwards, guitarist Joe Stone, bassist Ben White and drummer Sam Pilsbury, certainly have a collective finger on the pulse on what has made Brit-rock the coolest kid on the indie rock block.
Meaning – a diverse range of styles that augment stellar songwriting that emphasizes melodies and arrangements over a gimmicky veneer. It’s so obvious that this quartet are genuine rock fans to begin with – enthusing as they do over Neil Young and Yo La Tengo to the Flaming Lips and Sonic Youth (yes, not a Brit amongst them) but closer inspection reveal other pointed influences.
“Feedback Loop” seems to channel a unique combo of Suede and the Verve, “Shimmer” (listen below) betrays a psych-gaze vibe that recalls latter-day Ride and the House of Love (via the Bunnymen, perhaps) whilst the opening title track’s space-rock leanings will leave Swervedriver and early Radiohead fans with a huge grin on their faces.
Brit-rock lovers need not hesitate, Tripwires’ Spacehopper is an album made in heaven, for you!
This is the word directly from organiser Az Kadir (Stellarium) –
An annual, all shoegaze, festival that resides in Asia with a stellar lineup of Shoegaze bands from around the region. Intimate, DIY, and a celebration of a scene that celebrates itself. Initially launched as a tour of Indonesia in 2008, with the second installment in 2009, this year marks the third celebration and will be held right here in Singapore!
Whatever happened to stagediving, headbanging, dancing, and floppy fringes? Let’s party like it’s 1991!
THE CHOIR Burning Like The Midnight Sun (Galaxy21)
There’s so much going on about this new album from The Choir that would recommend itself to fans of the post-punk revival, 90s shoegaze/dream pop and good old 80s college rock. However, I can sense that most of you reading this are going to scratch your heads and wonder aloud if I mean The Church instead? (and if you’re still scratching your head – I give up!?!)
ADAM FRANKLIN & BOLTS OF MELODY I Could Sleep For A Thousand Years (Second Motion)
A new album by Adam Franklin hardly seems likely to cause a ripple in the modern rock scene. But those in the know would be aware of Franklin’s influential work with shoegaze/noise pop pioneers Swervedriver (which released four albums in the 90s). Those not in the know, will probably continue to believe that bands like Glasvegas, Asobi Seksu, Stars and the like emerged like Athena fully formed from the head of Zeus.
Since Swervedriver’s break-up, Franklin has been involved in several projects (including Toshack Highway and Magnetic Morning) before settling down as a solo artist. I Could Sleep For A Thousand Years is Franklin’s latest offering and if you dug Swervedriver’s exciting blend of trad rock values with the noise pop aesthetic, you will find much to savor here.
The effects pedals have been kept to a minimum with greater emphasis on song structure. Of course, the guitars let rip on Yesterday Has Gone Forever, I’ll Be Yr Mechanic, I Want You Now, Sinking Ships and the seven-minute Take Me To My Leader. However, for the rest of the album, the guitar atmospherics and ambience are utilized to embellish the songs. And there are good ones here e.g. She’s Closer Than I’ve Ever Been, Mary Gunn and Pink Floyd-evoking Lord Help Me Jesus, I’ve Wasted A Soul.
Employing a noise-pop/shoegaze approach to rock songs, Stellarscope’s alt-rock sound is definitely an acquired taste only. The Philly trio’s adoption of the 90s Brit-rock style is total in nature, down to the faux Brit accents. The overall production values are low, making This Is Who We Are come across as a glorified demo. Thus, whilst the intent of the band is to be applauded, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Back to the drawing board, boys.
Don’t you just love bands that are ahead of the curve? Lincoln, Nebraska’s For Against were one of the few US bands who were deeply influenced by the British post-punk of the early 80s, and during the period from 1985 to 1997, operated as a one-band post-punk revival. And at a time, when the post-punk era was terribly unfashionable, as well!
Even when For Against re-surfaced in 2002 with Coalesced, the post-punk revival had barely taken its first tentative steps. Thus, the value of For Against in these musical times cannot be overstated, their place in the scheme of things has to be recognised. Last time out, with 2008’s Shade Side Sunny Side, For Against proved that they are still a major force in the alt-rock world.
Never Been is the latest release and the band seems intent to downplay or de-emphasize its post-punk associations to a certain degree. Whilst the guitar techniques and sounds continue to retain the atmospheric timbre of the big music of Echo and the Bunnymen/the Waterboys/Comsat Angels and the sombre approach of Joy Division, there are now additional colours in the form of keyboards and harmonic vocal arrangements in tracks like Of A Time and Per Se.
I hate to admit this but I prefer it when For Against does not screw with the formula and and focus on what they do best i.e. post-punk. Therefore, tracks like the resonating Sameness, spine tingling Black Willows and downbeat You Fade, evoke the power and dynamism of the post-punk genre with aplomb.
By now, it’s easy to be cynical about the “next big thing” that’s touted by British music mags, every six months. One of the current flavours of the moment is The Big Pink viz. Robbie Furza and Milo Cordell. Named after the debut album of The Band – Music from Big Pink – the duo is all about the word “big”.
Big sound, big guitars, big beats, big music…
It’s not too difficult to suss out Big Pink’s agenda – a combination of the cutting-edge music of the early 90s i.e. electronica (Chemical Brothers), shoegaze (Ride) and dance rock (Stone Roses) – how could such a diabolically assured plan go astray. Well so far so good…
I’m certain that this cheeky, choleric debut album will divide listeners down the middle. You will either embrace the unashamed channeling of the aforementioned 90s styles or you will reject its confident assimilation as crass and derivative. Whatever. There’s no denying the power of songs like Crystal Visions, Too Young To Love, Velvet and the title track to capture your attention, heart and soul.
Brash and exciting, the Big Pink is one Brit-rock band to keep a close watch on.
S-ROCK band Postbox is fairly new on the scene and is an outfit that has left me scratching my head on a few occasions. The first time I saw them live was a Home Club and was distinctly unimpressed with their mundane shoegaze-emo-Paramore approximation. However, before I saw them again at Rock the Sub ’09, I was informed by a reliable source that Postbox is one of the better young S-ROCK bands out there. So I was hugely disappointed with their acoustic show – which sounded very twee – and they came across lacklustre with a vocalist that was painfully out of tune.
Glad to report that their debut EP does hint at a promise of musicality and melodicism, with singer Samantha an accomplished performer. Still, there is a bad case of split personality where Postbox do try to indulge in polar approaches of twee pop and emo-shoegaze. Personally, the band works really well with the former and fans of Camera Obscura and 80s British indie will positively thrill to songs like I Want Discopop!, Miss Sunshine and Arts House. I see an entire career based on the potential of these wonderful, sunshine tracks. Definitely, a band to watch (if they can solve the puzzle of their live performances) – it should be interesting!
Precious and fey. This Swedish band evokes early 90s shoegaze without the multiple guitar pedals. The quartet’s fragile, atmospheric music is probably best described as chamber emo.
The pulse on Spring Tides is brought to shore at very low ebb, barely audible and only slightly dynamic on the odd tracks. The arrangements and instrumentation are all rather precise, designed to create a subtle mood, for rainy train rides in the cool Nordic countryside, most likely (not something I’ve experienced myself, it must be said).
The downside is that it can all get rather miserable and precious (that word, again) and might need to catch one in a wistful frame of mind in order to fully appreciate. Not only that but the whole approach tends to sacrifice the melodic quotient and the lack of any change of pace can induce boredom (if ever so slightly, but still a risk).
Focus on the stellar guitar effects and Jeniferever’s Spring Tides will be the perfect soundtrack for those melancholy moments that pop up now and then.