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A Sonic Tour of Scotland

todayDecember 15, 2020 214

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A companion piece to “The Velvet Hum Goes to Scotland”
Originally aired Thursday, Nov. 26, 9 p.m. Central/3 p.m. GMT on DKFM

Two weeks ago, I ventured out of the pages of the blog and on to the airwaves to co-host The Velvet Hum with my good friend Deborah Sexton! We went on a virtual audio road trip around the UK and checked out all the best shoegaze and dreampop bands as we went. We thought it would be fun to tell you a bit about the bands we played, and the songs we chose for this show, “The Velvet Hum Goes to Scotland.”


The Cherry Wave – “Reverse Hisako”
We start with The Cherry Wave, who has been around since 2012 making blissed-out, fuzz-driven shoegaze with the emphasis on fuzz. In 2014, they signed to U.S. label Saint Marie Records and released their debut album, Avalancher. Since then, they have shared stages with shoegaze legends such as Ringo Deathstarr, Pinkshinyultrablast, and Swervedriver, as well as a Glasgow show with Slow Crush, which I was lucky enough to attend.

They released their 2019 album Solasta, recorded in Glasgow’s premiere noise factory Chem 19 Studios, to universal acclaim.

The first single to be lifted from Solasta was “Reverse Hisako.” It has this summery grungy feel and makes me feel incredibly nostalgic. “Passing by the summer snap. Feel the breeze upon your back.” Even the opening line makes you yearn for summers past. It’s a heady, hazy, swirly distillation for sure but my god, it’s a gem!

Solasta is available from The Cherry Wave Bandcamp page.
https://thecherrywave.bandcamp.com/album/solasta-lp


Yakima – “It Helped”
Staying in Glasgow you’ll next hear Yakima who are Neil McArthur, John Houston, Kay McLaren and Paul Bradley. Together they have crafted an off kilter, sunshine pop sound that owes as much to local heroes Teenage Fanclub as it does to psychedelic stalwarts like The Besnard Lakes and Flaming Lips. The band has released three singles to date in “Judy’s Lament” and “Point of This” and the cheerfully titled, “It Helped.”

The Gerry Love (Teenage Fanclub) influence here is obvious in that glorious vocal harmony line, but it’s the last chord in each verse that throws us a curveball. It lifts this song from pastiche to perfection. It’s clear that the band understands this and enjoys playing with their audience’s expectations.

The vocal interplay between Neil and John is up there with best harmony singers. As subtle as it is core to the feel of the song. There is much to admire in this band’s playing from the flamboyant cymbal work of drummer Kay and killer guitar tones of Paul and John.

“It Helped” is out now from the Yakima Bandcamp page.
https://yakima.bandcamp.com/track/it-helped


Perpetual Void – “The Sea”
DKFM listeners will be familiar with Perpetual Void, the shoegaze/dream pop band creating ethereal, emotive soundscapes. Originating from Glasgow, the band consists of Scottish songwriter and guitarist Graeme Gray.

“The Sea” can best be described as a richly textured, reverb-soaked wash of bliss. The programmed drums, reminiscent of Cocteau Twins, sit behind the simply stunning guitars and Graeme’s impassioned vocals. Melancholic yet hopeful, the sounds evoke pain and struggle while the lush reverberating guitar invites the listener inwards, leaving them with a sincere sense of optimism.

This is the only Perpetual Void release to date, but if this track is anything to go by, we are all in for a treat.

“The Sea” is available now on Perpetual Void’s Bandcamp page.
https://perpetualvoid.bandcamp.com/releases


Quietly Into The Night – “Moving Static”
Bursting onto the speakers with a wall of feedback and explosive guitars comes Scotland’s Quietly Into The Night, of which I am a member. The band is releasing its first single “Moving Static” after COVID-19 scuppered plans for an EP.

Hailing from Gourock on Scotland’s West Coast, the band consists of Marky Anderson (vocals/guitar), Gram Allan (drums) and Steven Stewart (bass). The guys have all played together before in bands over the years. This is the first time they have ventured into the worlds of shoegaze and post rock. The band is influenced by the killer melodies of groups like Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr., but with the power and scale of My Bloody Valentine and Mogwai.

“Moving Static” is a song about communication and being held back by the past, from TV, to space, and computers from the eighties.

“Moving Static” is available to stream and buy on Quietly Into The Night’s Bandcamp page.
https://quietlyintothenight.bandcamp.com/releases


Cloth – “Demo Love”
Up next is a favourite of mine and very nearly my album of 2019. Fronted by sibling guitarists Paul and Rachael Swinton along with drummer Clare Gallacher, Cloth produces a dreamy essay in the use of space and texture in music. They are never afraid to let decaying swells and reverb-drenched vocals fill every corner of a song. Something of a hark back to the sound of The Blue Nile in parts and something all of their own in others. Theirs is a sound that demands repeated listens to get to the heart of it.

The single “Demo Love” is ushered in on staccato guitars and pounding drums. This song has the sound of late eighties Glasgow juxtaposed with nineties U.S. alt rock. It works especially well in the burst into the choruses. This was the track that made me fall in love with this band, and I’m sure it will for you too.

Cloth’s self-titled debut album is available now from the bands record label Last Night from Glasgow.

Cloth – Cloth Vinyl LP, CD & DL


Life Model – “Saskia”
Also on the Last Night from Glasgow label is Life Model. This is a Glasgow-based dream pop outfit featuring Sophie Evans (vocals/guitar), Christopher T. Smith (guitar), Helen Farrow-Thoms (keys/vocals), Cameron McDougall (bass) and Michael McDonald (drums).

Their sound mixes classic indie and dreamy pop with edgier more gazey sounds. If you were looking for comparisons, you might say the light touch of The Sundays with the more experimental tones of Robin Guthrie.

“Saskia” leans on the wonderful harmonies Sophie and Helen conjure. The band knows to give them room, and it’s only in the closing bars we hear a slightly edgier sound. This could be a sign of things to come as the band is set to release more music on the label in 2021.

This is a song you will be singing along to long after hearing it. I know I have been.

“Saskia” is available to stream/buy on all your usual digital platforms now.
Link tree – https://songwhip.com/life-model/saskia


Dorothy Hale – “Broken Bubble”
Dorothy Hale is a three-piece from Glasgow, Scotland, naturally drawn to making music of the dreamy kind. They formed in late 2017 and have played gigs mainly around Glasgow. It’s Laura on vocals/lyrics, Wiggy on bass/backing vocals and Fred on guitar/synth using a drum machines for beats.

“Broken Bubble” is a pounding dream pop workout. Soaring along on waves of washed-out feedback, synths and the most amazing in-your-face bass, this song catches your attention immediately. It’s Laura’s vocals that steal the show here. Angelic and devilish at the same time, she absolutely owns this song.

The band is currently hard at work on new recordings so keep your eyes and ears peeled, because you won’t want to miss what comes next for Dorothy Hale.

“Broken Bubble” is available now on the Bandcamp page.
https://dorothyhale.bandcamp.com/releases


Geography of the Moon – “Deadbeat Poet”
Formed in London, UK, in 2016, Geography Of The Moon is a collaboration between singer/pianist Virginia Bones and multi-instrumentalist /producer Andrea AKA Santa Pazienza. After touring for several years, they moved back to Glasgow where Andrea’s family is originally from.

Largely influenced by bands from the ‘80s and the ‘90s, somewhere between psych rock, post punk, new wave, shoegaze and indie rock; they have created their own brand of mashed-up styles they call psychwave. Signatures include tongue-in-cheek lyrics and hypnotic looped layers of guitars, synth and drum machines.

Deadbeat Poet has that minimalist sound that fans of bands like Dehd or Broncho will instantly be attracted to. Virginia has a beautiful voice that crams so much feeling into every syllable. Andrea fills in the space with carefully picked guitar and off-kilter synth sounds. This song made me instantly buy their LP, and I know you will be hooked in too.

You can hear their latest LP Fake Flowers Never Die and previous releases on the Bandcamp page.
https://geographyofthemoon.bandcamp.com/


Helicon – “Too Much Is Not Enough”
Next in the show’s line up is Helicon. Hailing from East Kilbride, just outside Glasgow, they share same home town that produced The Jesus & Mary Chain.

They say that the band’s sound is inspired by “the rejection of mediocrity and mundanity. They have a shared spirit of rebellion believing that things can be better, and they have the balls to make it happen.”

The band’s core members are brothers John-Paul Hughes (lead guitar) and Gary Hughes (rhythm guitar) with Graham Gordon (sitar and synths), Mark McLure (bass) and Seb Jonsen (drums).

“Too Much Is Not Enough” was recorded for a Fuzz Club Isolation Festival back in May of this year. The track features the band’s signature heady psych-rock sound at its finest: a far-out amalgamation of strung-out sitars, riotous walls of fuzzy feedback and cosmic synths that’s all bolstered by the live energy that this band is renowned for.

There is a lot of new material demoed for upcoming album releases, but in the meantime, the Fuzz Club Sessions EP will be out on December 18th.

Check out the band’s back catalogue on the Bandcamp page and pre-order the Fuzz club session from the Fuzz Club website.

https://heliconglasgow.bandcamp.com/
https://fuzzclub.com/products/helicon-fuzz-club-session


Wozniak – “Slacker”
We close the show with Scottish shoegaze legends Wozniak. Comprised of husband and wife team Simon Cuthbert-Kerr on guitar and Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr on guitar and vocals with Kevin Fraser on bass, and Drew Jardine on drums.

Since forming in Edinburgh in 2013, Wozniak has built a reputation as one of the most exciting and creative bands in the new shoegaze scene. Combining the layered atmospherics of classic shoegaze bands like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive with the dynamics of post-rock legends like Mogwai and the pure power of Black Sabbath.

Wozniak has created a sound that is uniquely theirs – dense, sweeping soundscapes driven forward by pummeling drums and fuzzed-out bass, overlaid with a raging symphony of guitars. Largely instrumental, when Wozniak does include vocals, they float over the wall of noise, a gossamer sheen hinting at the turmoil that lies beneath.

With their latest release, The Space Between the Trees, the band explores a softer, more sparkly sound, built around Wozniak’s trademark dark heart. Taking a DIY approach to recording and mixing gave the band more time and space to create this six-song EP. It marks the band’s first vinyl release, and they entrusted the all-important mastering to shoegaze royalty Simon Scott (SPS Mastering + Slowdive).

That sparkling slow burn is evident on the opening track “Slacker.” This song gradually builds its crescendo of Slowdive-like guitars into a wall of static-laden feedback. Then almost as slowly, it strips it all back down again and leaves us wanting to skip the needle back and play it again. There’s no other word for it other than stunning. On a songwriting level, on a performance level and on a production level, it’s simply perfect.

Wozniak is currently recording a new album, having managed to squeeze in a recording session at the famous Chem19 Studios, owned by Mogwai, in between various waves of lockdown restrictions. Overdubs and mixes are progressing well, with a release scheduled for 2021. The band hopes to support this with live dates, COVID-19 permitting.

In the meantime, check out their back catalogue on the Bandcamp page.
https://wozniak.bandcamp.com/


Well, what a great way to finish our tour of some of Scotland’s finest shoegaze bands. We would have loved to included tracks from bands like Domiciles, The Twilight Sad and The Ninth Wave, but time wasn’t on our side. Be looking for a second show focusing on Scotland in the future. Please seek them out as I’m sure you will love them.

Where will we end up next on our virtual road trip? Stay tuned to DKFM Shoegaze Radio and The Velvet Hum to find out.

Written by: Mark Anderson

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