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The Velvet Hum Goes to England

todayDecember 30, 2020 86

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Original program airing December 31 2020 9 p.m. central/3 a.m. GMT, repeating 12 hours later, on DKFM.
By Marky Anderson

After a wonderful trip to hear the shoegaze and dream pop sounds of bonnie Scotland last month, we are back on the road with The Velvet Hum Radio Show Goes to England. I and my travelling companion Deborah Sexton have travelled, virtually of course, south to explore all the best shoegaze and dream pop bands England has to offer. It won’t surprise you to discover we have been overwhelmed with so much amazing music, we will be back for a second show on England in the new year. As before, we thought it would be fun to tell you a bit about the songs we chose for this show.


Spotlight Kid – Roller State Disco

Spotlight Kid is releasing its first new single in a year, culminating in an LP in 2021. This will be the followup to the exceptional third album Ten Thousand Hours from 2014. That album was a game changer and shepherded me back to the shoegaze scene. If you are new to the band, imagine a blend of My Bloody Valentine, Lush and Slowdive, and you’ll be somewhere close to its sound!

The first track is “Roller State Disco.” The song opens with a quintessentially Spotlight Kid intro featuring shimmering guitars and Katty Heath’s breathy “oohs” sounding almost sampled and looped. It is gloriously upbeat and optimistic and will make you yearn for the summer to be back so you too can roller skate.

“Roller State Disco,” released Dec. 4, is the lead track from a forthcoming EP and is available to stream on all platforms or buy on the Spotlight Kid’s Bandcamp page.

https://spotlightkid.bandcamp.com/album/roller-state-disco-ep


Amusements Parks on Fire – Firth of Third

A band that needs little introduction is Nottingham’s Amusement Parks on Fire. Its 2004 eponymous debut album cemented its place in shoegaze history with its stunning pop songs swathed in shadowy distortion.

Our choice, “Firth of Third” comes from the most recent album “Thank You Violin Radiopunk.” This song evokes the music of Nick Drake more than the aggressive guitar textures of shoegaze.

The band describe this limited release thus: “From the deepest, darkest depths of the dustiest discs and drives arrives an album of recordings so rarefied as to have come within an inch of their already remote existence, having peered over the very edge of black eternity only to be mercifully plucked from sure obscurity so that they might sing once more, for money.”

“Thank You Violin Radiopunk” is available now via Bandcamp.

https://amusementparksonfire.bandcamp.com/album/thankyou-violin-radiopunk


Bdrmm – A Reason to Celebrate

Hailing from Hull/Leeds, bdrmm has established itself as the breakthrough act of 2020. It released the debut album, “Bedroom,” back in July to universal acclaim. It only seemed apt to celebrate its deserved success with the single from the album “A Reason To Celebrate.”

The song opens with an early ’90s kind of vibe. It’s almost like Mark Gardener fronting The Smashing Pumpkins. The moment the guitars stop, and frontman Ryan Smith starts singing ‟Well it’s ok for you to walk away,” the song takes off. We get whisked along on the swells and rushes of the ever-intensifying playing, leaving you begging for more once the last notes ring out.

This is clever songwriting. It blends the sonic soundscapes of bands like Slowdive and DIIV with emotional storytelling. If you haven’t enjoyed its music, yet, I would urge you to do so. This band is going to soar into 2021.
A Reason to Celebrate and Bedroom are out now via Sonic Cathedral and Bandcamp.

https://bdrmm.bandcamp.com/album/bedroom


Become the Sky – When You’re Near

Become the Sky began back in the spring of 2019 near Liverpool. The band consists of Anne Marie Howard (vocals) Mike Simms (bass), Marcus Mayes (drums) and Joel Sawyer (guitar). The band released its beautiful new track, ‟When You’re Near” in time for Christmas. It was recorded by the band towards the end of the first UK lockdown. It was expertly mixed and mastered by Mark Beazley at the start of the second lockdown. Amy Chalmers provides a striking string arrangement.

Lyrically, “When You’re Near” is all about family – making it chime with a time of year when we’re all thinking of our nearest and dearest. All the more poignant this year when we might not get to see the ones we love over the holiday season.
It is the latest cut from the band’s debut album due to be released in 2021.

“When You’re Near” is available on all major digital platforms including Bandcamp.

https://becomethesky.bandcamp.com/track/when-youre-near


Bleached Heat – Everyone is Bleeding

The solo recording project of Stephen Hughes-Love, Bleached Heat has delved into post punk, synth pop, dream pop and shoegaze for the past five years. Starting out in Leeds, Bleached Heat released a number of cassette four-track EPs before relocating to North Wales and further developing dreamier and more focused sounds. Hughes-Love finally moved to using computers (as well as tape) to realize sonic landscapes. In Bleached Heat, the artist sings, uses guitars, samplers, synths and drum machines to play live and has supported artists such as Cate Le Bon, Claire Welles and LA Witch.

“Everyone is Bleeding” comes from his Seaglass EP and is a wonderfully frantic, fuzzy dream of a song. We just had to include it in the show. This song and his other material are available on Bandcamp.

https://bleachedheat.bandcamp.com/album/seaglass


Pale Blue Eyes – Motionless

Pale Blue Eyes is a new horizon-wide pop group based in remote South Devon. Its debut release is a limited edition, double A-side 7″ single. This single was mixed and mastered by Dean Honer (The Moonlandingz, Róisín Murphy, I Monster, Human League, International Teachers of Pop).

Side A, “Motionless” is clean-lined, mechanized pop – like the Bunnymen’s Will Sergeant firing up at his most raga-frenetic and then joining Neu! for a journey to the far side of the pop moon. It has all the hallmarks of a soundtrack to a carefree, high-speed drive down the autobahn. The single is being released with financial support from UK music legends Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond, who formed The KLF, a British electronic band formed in London in 1987.

The single is available for pre-order now on Bandcamp ahead of its January 25, 2021 release date.

https://paleblueeyesmusic.bandcamp.com/


Last Tourist – Public Service

From the dark beating heart of Leeds, Last Tourist conjures the sound of creeping down dark corridors and wandering through deserted spaces, all set to a moody, and danceable beat. Drawing firmly from post-punk ideals, this darkwave, shoegaze, synth-infused four piece was formed in 2017 when John Wellby (guitar, vocals, programming) and Adam Simpson (synths, programming, backing vocals) joined forces as a duo. Wellby and Simpson worked in tandem on initial track ideas propelled by bands such as Joy Division, Interpol, Suicide, DIIV and The Jesus & Mary Chain.

Driven by his radio airplay experience nearly a decade earlier in Broadcast Society, Wellby set about recruiting additional band members of similar vision and kindred ethos. Jason Booth (bass guitar, bass synth), Wellby’s long-time mate and Sheffield Synth City native, was asked to join and bring his Leeds underground music and gig scene experience to the mix.
Finally, recent recruit Andrea Parra (drums, backing vocals) a Londoner by way of San Francisco (and fresh from recording percussion for Phillip Parfitt of The Perfect Disaster) neatly joins a bridge between north and south.

This first single is a double A side 7 inch featuring the tracks “Public Service / Are We Just Algorithms?” released November 20, 2020. “Public Service” is a darkly glorious synthwave meets shoegaze blend. Shimmering synths fight with 10-foot-tall guitars for your attention. Powerful bass lines, entwined with moody vocals and rhythmic danceable drums complete this heady concoction.

The single features a hidden track, consisting of an original Commodore 64 BASIC program written by Last Tourist, to accompany the single “Are We Just Algorithms?” A copy of this program file is hidden within the vinyl and cassette versions. Each record also contains a private QR code linking to a demonstration video.

The single is available to buy on vinyl or digital from Bandcamp.

https://lasttouristband.bandcamp.com/album/public-service-are-we-just-algorithms


Daniel Land – Put Your Broken Arrows Down

Daniel Land’s first album, Love Songs for The Chemical Generation, released under the name Daniel Land & The Modern Painters, was called “One of the finest shoegaze-tinged records of its time” by Drowned in Sound, and “Like Slowdive reimagined by Phil Spector” by the NME. The album is now widely considered to be a classic of the shoegaze genre, although Land remains, in the words of “The Skinny,” a “dream pop cult hero,” known only to the shoegaze “in crowd”.
Land has also released atmospheric landscape music as riverrun, and has collaborated with artists as varied as The Steals, Bing Satellites, Ask for Joy, and the German electronica genius Ulrich Schnauss. He was also a member of the dream-pop supergroup Engineers, around the time of their third album, In Praise of More.

Land is releasing his new album Southern Soul in 2021, and he kindly offered us an exclusive first listen to some choice cuts from its grooves. The one we have chosen to share is called “Put Your Broken Arrows Down.” It finds Land in a melancholy state of mind and is framed in a beautiful Robin Guthrie-style soundscape. We’re grateful to be able to spool out this world broadcast premiere.

Keep an eye on Land’s website for more information on the release of “Southern Soul.” It’s one you won’t want to miss.

https://www.danielland.co.uk/home
https://danielland.bandcamp.com/


 

Superdrone – Rectify

Hailing from Southampton, Superdrone creates glorious washes of reverb-soaked pop. They released their latest album, Solargaze, to rave reviews this year, and seemed to finally maximize their songwriting and presentation.

“Rectify” has that ’80s pop vibe right from the start. Programmed drums and crystalline synths lead the way. Hushed vocals over the top bring it all together. The track has a very Japanese feel, which is pleasing to the ear. These summery sounds are certain to chase away the lingering winter blues.

“Rectify” is available from Bandcamp.

https://superdrone.bandcamp.com/album/rectify-single-bandcamp-only-single


Pilots of Dune – I Saw Your Eyes

Pilots of Dune is a solo project of London-based Cornelius L. Koundouris. He is of British/Greek nationality so his influences come from across a broad musical spectrum. Consider a blend of alternative, experimental, mantra rock, post rockabilly and jazz fusion inspired by dreams and imagined film scenes, and you’ll get a snapshot of Pilots of Dune’s sonic footprint.

Although Koundouris started writing music in 2005, it wasn’t until 2020 he released “Hypnos & Somnus,” a five-track synth and sax instrumental EP with Mike Kahn on saxophone. Wanting to return to a more vocal-driven sound such as earlier Pilots of Dune releases, Koundouris started sketching Until the End of the World. The primary sound ideas were mantras, textures, reverb and delay. Bettina Fung created the artwork during the recording sessions, and her paper was miked up and used as textures. The lyrics were penned by Koundouris.

“In a utopian future where humans upgrade their bodies with bionics and augmentations, humanity is striving towards becoming trans-human says Koundouris. “Echo, a wandering preacher in search of a new god, comes across Dea, a wasteland deity, and her chrome car in the barren wasteland. Together they question their decisions about changing towards transhumanism and set out to find the mechanical god.”

Along with his own vocals, the album heavily features singing by his partner Celyn Cooke. He wanted to explore the contrasts of a female vocalist. Many of the tracks were written with Cooke’s vocals in mind.

Until the End of the World is available on Bandcamp.

https://pilotsofdune.bandcamp.com/


This is only part one of our tour of England’s finest shoegaze bands. Be on the lookout for a second show coming soon. When will that be? Stay tuned to DKFM Shoegaze Radio and The Velvet Hum to find out. If you’d like to nominate your favorite British artist or you are a band located in England, feel free to contact me at dkfmreviewsmarky@gmail.com or Deborah Sexton at dsexton@sbcglobal.net.

Written by: Mark Anderson

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