Favourite Shoegaze / Dream Pop / Indie and Psychedelia of 2018
This playlist is dedicated to the sorely missed Chris Tessler. Always an inspiration.
1 CEREMONY east coast “East Coast” (self released)
Fredericksburg born and former Skywave‘s drummer John Fedowitz hits hard and takes no prisoners with his 5th album under his Ceremony moniker. A cascade of guitar feeback and raw melodies loaded by hard hitting pounding drums and full bodied basslines over emotional vocals, blending dark post-punk desolation, shoegaze wall of sound abrasiveness and trance-inducing psychedelic drones, that sounds as much urgent and visceral as truly timeless rock ‘n’ roll.
2 FRANKIE TEARDROP DEAD “All You Need is Love and Fuckin Peace” (Panther Records)
North London based dream-gaze / rock ‘n’ roll collective, Frankie Teardrop Dead sophomore album will blow your mind with a inventive array of instrumentations, congas, synth, banjo, percussions and sound suggestions from dazed mellow psychedelia, hypnotic and ominous post-punk introspections and hazy yet sunny jangle melodies, to lysergic drones and krautrock repetitions that coalesce naturally into mind-blowing sonic distinction brimming with fervent and untethered creativity.
3 THE DEAD MANTRA “Saudade Forever” (Cranes Records)
4 MAGIC SHOPPE “In Parallel” (Cardinal Fuzz / Little Cloud Records)
The mature and consistent quality, yet no less powerful and hypnotic, of the guitar sound of Boston, Massachusetts based 4-piece Magic Shoppe unfurls seamlessly in their third album imbued with strong 80’s psychedelic foundations commingle with early 90’s alt noise-rock off-kilter fuzz , layered with shoegaze reverb-infused distortions whilst retaining a modern twist. The masterly heartfelt and poignant cover of Velvet Underground’s “Heroin’ adds further spice to an overall superb sonic achievement.
5 MT. MOUNTAIN “Golden Rise” (Cardinal Fuzz / Little Cloud Records)
Perth‘s Mt. Mountain third LP explores the 5-piece’s early introspective yet ominous expansive sound with a more mature and refined approach. A powerful, visceral and hypnotic journey through the torrid and winding desert of the inner soul, where the band’s rich and dense krautrock-induced spacey psychedelic flair spreads in all its alluring complexity and staggering beauty, the sunburnt dreamlike hallucinogenic atmosphere is sonically immersive and emotionally wrenching, feeding lysergic imaginations and primitive emotions beyond the primal sphere of existence.
6 ETTI/ETTA “Old Friends” (Mint 400 Records)
Italo/Canadian couple etti/etta fascinate and mesmerize with a cohesive and ‘progressive’ timeless space journey through otherworldy inter-galactic heavens where Marcus’ gorgeous soothing synths and reverberating and fuzzy guitar melodies melt beautifully with Rafaella’s soaring and enchanting vocals, shimmering and sparkling effortlessly into a warm, celestial haze.
7 DEAD VIBRATIONS “Dead Vibrations” (Fuzz Club)
Swedish four-piece from Stockholm, Dead Vibrations A metaphysical entanglement of psychedelic fuzzy reverb drenched guitars encapsulated in a hazy cloud of dreamlike climates makes for a rich and compelling balance between the JAMC feedback obsessions, the My Bloody Valentines‘ hazy reverb-drenched noise catharsis, and Velvet Underground minimalism and reiterations. Powerfully impacting, massively distorted guitar strikes alongside driving taut drum and bass rhythms creating an abundance of ear-piercing, heady claustrophobia, while still allowing for a mind opening experience.
8 THE DAYSLEEPERS “Creation” (self released)
Western New York‘s The Daysleepers‘ mastermind Jeff Kandefer was patiently waiting for the right time, when the stars are aligned, to release his new album. Ten years in the making and well worth the wait. A concept album fittingly entitled “Creation” that shifts from topics about the physics of the universe to personal intimistic themes of loss, pain and joy encapsulating the entire spectrum of emotion, sound, and atmospheric sensory perception. A slow sleepy cold lysergic climate shifts to a gentle blend of ethereal moody synth, peppy drums, and lazy hazy carefree vocals saturated in a vibrant fluctuating outpouring of reverb drenched guitar driven melodies defying space and time. An heartfeld work of love and passion.
9 GRIVO “Elude” (Holodeck Records)
10 NONN “XVII” (Fuzz Club Records)
London‘s ‘raw experimental rock n roll’ label Fuzz Club Records has no grounds for complacency but continue to explore different territories spanning from psych, post-punk, noise, krautrock, garage, blues, folk and recently even electronic. The experimental post-punk / psychedelic solo project of Orange Revival‘s Christian Eldefors, NONN is back not only as a collaborative effort, but with a more cohesive, dense and refined dark sound. The usual stripped-down combination of rough-edged melodies with minimal slashes of angular post-punk guitars and pulsing basslines is loaded and challenged by a more prominent use of dark electronics, bristle with propelling EBM rhythms and synth-punk energy. One of those records that gets better the deeper you go with it.
11 HOLY FAWN “Death Spells” (Whelmed Records/Holy Roar)
Generally acclaimed, Arizona 4-piece Holy Fawn crafted one of the most remarkable guitar record of the year. A haunting and poignant crossroads and amalgamation of different sounds from dream pop, shoegaze, post-rock to post black metal, and post-punk in a whirlwind of contrasting emotions that will ‘take with you’ exploring and pushing new sonic boundaries between coldness and pain, melancholy and desolation, sweetness and sorrow, hazy atmospheric reverberations and bursts of noise.
12 ECHO LADIES “Pink Noise” (Hybris / Sonic Cathedral)
I simply have a soft spot for Swedish shoegaze / dreamgaze 3-piece from Malmö, Echo Ladies. An impressive spellbinding concoction of reverb fuelled noisey distortions, sharp drum machine beats, and shimmering synth melodies enhanced by dreamy distant vocals create an enthralling array of imaginative sounds, that overcome the senses with 80’s tinged synthetic waves of spellbinding bliss.
13 MISERABLE “Loverboy/ Dog days” (Sargent House)
Miserable, the intimate and fragile moody side project of former Whirr and currently King Woman vocalist Kristina Esfandiari is not less intense, and gloomy magnified by the her hypnotic, haunting and charismatic voice that strikes and enchants at first glance. Splits in two halves and recorded in different times and spaces, four new songs of visceral reverb-drenched raw, dark guitar abrasions with Courtney Love’s grungy tones against, albeit only superficially, with the dim and shadowy dream pop re-relese “Dog Days” from 2015, both profoundly personal and heart-wrenchingly urgent from a unique artist.
14 OCEAN HOPE “Rolling Days” LP (Hush Hush Records)
The debut of Greek sister-brother duo of Angeliki & Serafim Tsotsonis, under the Ocean Hope moniker, is a heady and unhindered exploration of the different facets of synth-pop and dream-pop. An euphoric and vibrant miasma of sparkling synth, groovy beats and pulsing basslines loaded by Angeliki‘s distinctive ethereal and captivating vocal melodies interspersed with lingering woozy and somber aftertaste that leave hints of something more exciting and surprising still to come.
15 LOOSE TOOTH “Telltale Signs” LP (Milk!Records)
Melbourne three-piece Loose Tooth debut album produces impetuous and blistering guitar pop repletes with infectious melodies as catchy and fresh as it is imbued with dreamlike melancholy. Propulsive throbbing post-punkish melodic bass lines, jangly and whining guitars and impressive sweeping vocals harmonies make for a modern and energetic B-52’s for the new millenium.
16 MARK PETERS “Innerland” (Sonic Cathedral)
Songwriter and co-founder of early 2000s shoegazing/dream pop band Engineers, and lately Ulrich Schnauss collaborator, Mark Peters unfolds the definitive expanded edition of his ultra-limited, late 2017, cassette debut. A very personal, powerful yet immersive, mesmeric sonic-trip over the mazes of his native North West England countryside. Breezes of hazy guitar reverberations, layers of atmospheric synth, at times piano notes, shimmering pads and steady beats blur, swell and echoe together in 8 evocative pastoral instrumentals with melancholy, quietness, enchantment from the depth of a human soul.
17 SOBS “Telltale Signs” LP (Middle Class Cigars)
Singapore‘s 3-piece Sobs delights the senses with an intoxicating and catchy as hell debut. Euphoric and uplifting, subtely rife with melancholy and sparkly hooks, sweet tender romantic croons and ethereal echoes combined with shimmering guitar melodies define 8 gems of bittersweet guitar pop bliss.
18 OXY “Fita” (Self-Release)
19 VARIOUS/ARTISTS “Lovelife – A Homage To Lush” (The Blog That Celebrates Itself Records)
This is just my personal tribute to an incredible blog/label that spoiled us on a regular basis with ever exciting tributes and more, involving a plethora of new bands from all over the world. I pick subjectively the volume dedicated to the treasured 80’s London’s band Lush, but The Sarah Records, Adorable, Moose, the Go-Betweens and more ones are all equally effective. A labour of love whom I greatly respect.
20 THE ALTERED HOURS “On My Tongue” (Art for Blind)
Back after two years hiatus Irish five-piece from Cork, The Altered Hours completely blow you away with beautifully poignant and fascinating armonic female/male dual vocals of hope and loss going back and forth with striking intimacy and searing outbursts of reverb-charged guitar emotions creating sensual and visceral mood of sharp and mesmerizing, brooding yet disturbing intensity. An more than welcome return.
21 MARTES NIEBLAS “Self/Titled” EP (self released)
Spanish 5-piece based out of Sevilla, Martes Niebla, featuring members from well respected indie bands like Blacanova (Cristian Bohórquez, Inés Olalla and Paco Arenas), Escuelas Pías (Davis Rodriguez) and Terry vs. Tori (Erica Pender), debut with a perfectly crafted, delicate yet subtle, alluring blend of dream pop and shoegaze both energetic and mellow, with a surprising, albeit effective, burst of darker and punchy post-punk number. Gorgeous sparkling guitar layers slowly build, backed by warm, deep bass lines and solid drums, charged by soothing male/female vocals, create soaring shimmering skyline soundscapes to inevitably get lost in.
22 LO! PENINSULA “AKA Lo Peninsula” (self released)
One of most surprising and intriguing submissions I received came from an Indian 3-piece based out of Imphal, Manipur, curiously named Lo! Peninsula with an incredibly fresh and mature DIY 6-track EP that blurs the lines between shoegaze, psychedelia, dream pop and anthemic UK indie deepen by catharctic lyrics. A exuberant guitar laden sound that shifts from reverb-drenched distortions, lysergic fuzz, to dreamy jangle and powerful hypnotic riffs underpinned by an solid and groovy rhythm section make for a stunning debut that couldn’t be more promising.
23 SOFT WOUNDS “The Last” EP (Lossleader Records)
24 ANGEL AURA “Sensum” EP (self released)
25 TOPOGRAPHIES “self/titled” 7” single (self released)
Possibly one of the most beloved single of year has been the double A-side debut of Bay Area‘s four-piece Topographies, comprised of members from Coo Coo Birds, Lavender Blush, Solip and Minipop. As catchy and immediate as they are intense and emotional, the two tracks swirl, whirr and fade seamlessly around hazy hypnotic crystalline guitar melodies to psych induced mesmeric reverberations powered by addictive bass lines and pounding drums over distant thoughtful nostalgic vocals in intriguing and distinctive mazes of compelling, upredictable timeless shoegaze bliss.