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Echodrone

In advance of next week’s release of Echodrone’s fourth full album, Past, Preset and Future, the San Francisco quartet tease the effort with this exclusive streaming premiere of “The Past or the Present”. The third track on the new LP is part post-punk, part cut-through-the-fog rhythm section, with accompaniment by spacey, plinking keyboard patterns. This electric journey culminates in layers of guitar churn and vocal layering, as each element adds counterpoint to the next.

 

Studios have been buzzing about the new directions taken by Echodrone on Past, Preset and Future. Formerly languid epics are now replaced by tightly-focused three-minute opuses, each trying to appeal to broader audiences through more instantaneous gratification. Recorded in fits and starts for the better part of two full years, it never seems like this album is a scattered effort; quite the contrary. Having charted the band’s progress since the release of their self-titled LP a decade ago, it’s the next logical step for Echodrone. Sharpened tunefulness, propulsive rhythms and creative flourishes, this is the evolution of a carefully curated sound. And a promise fulfilled.

Preorders available now, full album releases 23 January, with limited edition vinyl to follow. Keep up with the Echodrone countdown to release via their website, Facebook, and Twitter. Catch up on ALL Echodrone releases via their Bandcamp site.

Following extensive European tours in support of the critically loved 2016 album Psiconáutica, Elefant Records standout Linda Guilala surprised everyone this morning. New video, new single due 26 January, and it’s a gossamer anthem. Surrounded by capable musical veterans, it surely seems this project is fully ready for global respect.

The song itself is supported by warbling keyboards with light psychedelic flourishes, all supporting a soaring, hazy anthem that’s instantly hummable.

Released 26 January, in a 7″ single format limited to 300 copies, this sounds like a promise kept to legions of international fans, and a breakout to folks only now discovering the talent and tunefulness Linda Guilala has been celebrated for. You can preorder yours at the Elefant Records website starting now. Already, “Primavera Negra” seems set to break our charts in early release,

Early PR puts it this way: “Leaving behind the hits from an album that brought them wide renown both nationally and internationally, this new release from the group formed by Eva, Iván and Mari continues embracing that disconcerting, uneasy wall of sound inherited from My Bloody Valentine, but here it becomes melancholic and dreamy, far from the urgency that prevailed on their last album.” Call it whatever you like, we’ll call it an instant classic, and surely a rotation staple in 2018.

Follow Linda Guilala on Facebook, Twitter, and through the Elefant Records website.

Another year in the books. Except… this was the greatest year in decades for new shoegaze and dream pop releases. We spun, you voted. We tallied up monthly charts, weekly social feedback, total on-air spins, and this chart (and show) is the result. Given the voluminous chart data we had, somebody thought it would be a great idea to run a Top 60 show, to celebrate our six years on the air. No good deed goes unpunished, and here we are. You can now listen, chart-browse, and even shop (that’s what the links are for) at your leisure, not having to wait for the show to air again. It’s all here. Dive in, and take a swim in the best sounds 2017 had to offer.

Counting down, sixty to one.

60. Walking Misery – Here
59. Fever Blush – Remember
58. Black Nite Crash – Smile
57. Secret Shine – Falling Again
56. Cloakroom – Seedless Star
55. Figmennt – With Me
54. Venn – Surreal
53. The Prids – Summer Cult
52. Danxia – Washed Out
51. Shallow – Out of Focus
50. Pencey Sloe – Bright Water
49. For Tracy Hyde – Underwater Girl
48. Wrip – Glow
47. Infinity Girl – But I’m Slow
46. Blushing – Weak
45. Wozniak – Perihelion
44. Wild Meadows – Feel The Noise
43. Softsurf – Dawn of the Sun
42. Kindling – Destroy Yrself
41. Crash City Saints – Annabella
40. Pia Fraus – Autumn Winds
39. No Honeymoon – We’re Doing Fine
38. Life on Venus – Around the Sun
37. Fawns of Love – That’s What We Do
36. Blacanova – Zoe
35. Yumi Zouma – Depths (Pt 1)
34. DIV I DED – Open the Door
33. Did You Die – Vulnerable
32. Devilish Dear – Time to Live a Little
31. No Sun – Drown In You
30. Wavetemple – Surface 喣 // demo I
29. The Breaks – Honey
28. ·········(Dots) – サテライト
27. Knifeplay – Breathe
26. Deafcult – Lemonade Beauty
25. Blankenberge – Disappear
24. Alvvays – In Undertow
23. Bellavista – Never This Night
22. Brief Candles – Alarm Fatigue
21. Peppermint Showers – Dominoes
20. Frankie Rose – Red Museum
19. Silver Liz – San Junipero
18. Amusement Parks on Fire – Our Goal to Realize
17. The Bilinda Butchers – Lotus Eaters
16. Doorbells – Distance
15. Seasurfer (feat. Krissy Vanderwoude) – Blind Me
14. Day Wave & Hazel English – PDA
13. Gingerlys – Turtledoves
12. No Vacation – Mind Fields
11. The Big Pink – How Far We’ve Come (feat. Io Echo)
10. Miniatures – Honey
09. Tennis System – Lackluster
08. Visiting Diplomats – Let Go
07. The Morelings – LYT
06. Whimsical – Had I Known
05. Airiel – The Painkillers
04. The Daysleepers – Creation
03. Hatchie – Try
02. Panda Riot – Gold Lines
01. Slowdive – Star Roving

If this year is anything like last, we should see a deluge of both new artists and seasoned veterans, each with something impressive to say, mixing colors and textures like their art depended on it. We couldn’t be more excited by the possibilities. Stay tuned!

Didn’t get the gear you wanted at Christmas? We’ve got it!

We pushed them, you picked them. Our week-long poll of the top shoegaze and dream pop albums of 2017 has now effectively closed, and there was much disagreement as to what should take the top spot. Except for one. The grand return of Slowdive, with their self-titled album, bested all comers by a nearly three-to-one margin. And why should it not? Nobody could have predicted even three years ago that Slowdive would ever consider returning in their original incarnation, much less produce an album’s worth of songs that felt both comfortably familiar, and the next logical extension, for this revered band. That Russia’s Blankenberge cracked the top five? We take that as a personal point of pride, as I don’t know anyone who’d pushed as hard for their success this year. Not that it took a lot of arm-twisting, as even limited exposure to Radiogaze seemed to win instant converts. Good for them, good for us.

We’ve limited the list to the top 25, in vote order. But, if you’d like to view the full tally, you can reference it at any time, here. Our tastemakers will weigh in with their personal picks next week, and we’ll just see how they agree or diverge.

Epic gazy gifts support the station!

It’s been a watershed year for shoegaze and dream pop albums in 2017, only made bigger by the releases from the reunited Slowdive and Ride after decades of relative dormancy. We went wide and deep with this year’s candidates, as there’s a literal bounty to choose from. We tried to avoid “genre-adjacent” albums, as that would cause a further layer of unnecessary turmoil, easily avoided. Not much psych in our list, as that’s never been our specialty. If you’re a psych enthusiast, there are professionals like the folks over at Primal who are far better equipped to help than we could ever pretend to be. We’ve tried to stay close to shoegaze and dream pop, with some (mild) crossover.

The rules are simple: each voter gets seven votes (up from last year’s three), as there’s so damn much to choose from. We’ve alphabetized this year, only because the list is so long. If you’re looking for specific artists, this should make it easier to track them. We used to fully randomize the listings, just so no band got a clear advantage by appearing at the top, but that purpose is defeated with a list this large Please note: if you try to vote a second time, the script will thank you for your participation, but let you know you’ve already voted. Poll closes on December 8th, results to be published after. But you should be able to get a live snapshot of results at any time, even while the poll is still active. Enormous thanks to Amber, Jason and Matthew for assistance in stitching this together, and invaluable insight. Happy voting, rep your favorite shoegaze and dream pop bands, and show your love to the artists making great music this year!


 

Epic gazy gifts for the holidays!

We run a radio station. Traditionally, couldn’t care less about video releases. Sorry, but it’s true. But then… one of our favorite bands polishes up one of their recent classics, and makes a video for it. And the whole studio starts to buzz. This is certainly the case with Melbourne’s Arbes, who released one of the sparkling EPs of last year, and the song that cracked #15 on our Top Tracks of 2016 chart. “Sun On My Back” is one of those perennial summer songs that’s difficult not to adore.

In a world full of DIIV knockoffs (and outright parodies), this awkward anthem is everything you could want guitar-based dream pop to evolve into. Sam Pannifex lays down the angular, even mathy guitar riffs, while Jess Zanoni overlays all with a vocal line with warmth and precision. That they’ve configured a hook-laden follow-up to 2015’s “45” should be no surprise. This summer groove didn’t just evolve in L.A., or even Brooklyn. Melbourne doesn’t need schooling on how to bring the sparkly summer vibe. Arbes has been doing it for years now.

Find and follow Arbes via Bandcamp, YouTube, Facebook, Soundcloud and Twitter. If you’ve missed, you’ve been missing out.

Edited photo above courtesy Thomas Helbig (teliko82), Creative Commons license.

Tickets were made available today for the midwest’s premiere festival for shoegaze and dream pop, Kalamashoegazer. Now in its eleventh installment, this DIY festival has become the gold standard for festivals of its kind, and the venue change to Bell’s Brewery is an upgrade everyone is genuinely enthusiastic about.

Tonight, we air a special program celebrating Kalamashoegazer XI, and the announced bill.

4:30 pm Houseplants (Grand Rapids, MI)
https://www.facebook.com/houseplantssss/

5:30 pm Crash City Saints (Kalamazoo, MI)
https://www.facebook.com/crashcitysaints/
Brand new album, ‘Are You Free,’ out now on St. Marie Records. https://www.facebook.com/SaintMarieRecords/

6:30 pm Orations (Buffalo, NY)
https://www.facebook.com/orations/

7:30 pm Tambourina (Kalamazoo, MI)
(Feat. members of glowfriends)
https://www.facebook.com/tambourinaband/

8:30 pm Dead Leaf Echo (Brooklyn, NY)
https://www.facebook.com/deadleafecho/

9:30 pm Brief Candles (Milwaukee, WI)
https://www.facebook.com/Brief-Candles-124942650115/

10:30 pm Whimsical (Chicago, IL)
https://www.facebook.com/WhimsicalBand/
First show since 2003, with their original line-up. Sleep to Dream available on St. Marie.

11:30 pm Airiel (Chicago, IL)
https://www.facebook.com/airielmusic/
New album, Molten Young Lovers, due imminently.

Tonight’s Kalamashoegazer XI special will run midnight Eastern, 9 pm Pacific, with a repeat twelve hours later. We’ll post a recorded snapshot on Mixcloud by this weekend, for the permanent record. Tickets available now, via this link. Don’t sleep!

Update: we’ve posted the aired program to Mixcloud, now available on demand. Listen in here.

Early 2015. DEAFCULT release their self-titled first EP. Opens up with the obvious single “BEEMOMUG“. Perhaps the best opening statement of a band this decade. The sound, the structure, the propulsion… it’s like being sweetly slapped upside the head. At our studios, we got the early release, and DEAFCULT won a permanent place in rotation, and in our hearts. Anyone and everyone we shared with had the same immediate reaction: this is special.

Fast forward to June of 2017, and DEAFCULT have capitalized on their early promise. Even with lineup changes and schedule challenges, they completed their first long-player, Auras, for Hobbledehoy. They’ve toured Australia extensively with the support of national media outlets, and garnered much critical praise (including our own Top Five lists) only two months later. We sat down with Innez and Stevie, who were gracious enough to answer our far-reaching questions, and expertly deal with our awkward sense of humor. Press ‘play’ on the album and follow along, won’t you?


DKFM:
Four guitars. Surely makes for an immense, epic sound. Do you ever wake up and think, “What the hell have we gotten ourselves into?” Like the old joke says, “Rush did it with only three people…” And do you ever run into each other on stage? 

Stevie: I think the four guitars is essential to the way DEAFCULT sounds. There’s four, very simple, almost mundane fractions that equate to a more complex whole. It’s worth the tight squeeze to get that result. It’s a sound that I’ve never personally heard before and enjoy the otherworldly nature of it. 
Innez: Earlier this year when Sean left the band, and I thought ‘ok maybe we can just go back to having three guitarists’ but then when we tried it out it just sounded wrong, like that extra element was missing. I think if we were to all go in, plug in and play, the outcome would sound awful! With this in mind we spend a lot of time on the different melodies and sounds and experiment quite a lot to get it to sound like it does. But yes, there’s still a bit of a shuffle around at each different venue to make sure we’re not whacking each other in the head. (laughs)

DKFM: This band seemed to form from the ashes of other quality acts, both in genre and “genre-adjacent”. Some names may not be familiar to our readers / listeners, but Roku Music springs to the top of the list. Do you see DEAFCULT as a sort of “shoegaze supergroup”? 

Stevie: Not really, Innez and Kelly are the only people in the band that previously played in Shoegazer bands. To me it’s like my own personal supergroup as I asked the people that I most wanted to play music with to be in the band! I feel very fortunate every time we play that they all agreed cause it’s super inspiring playing with my favourite musicians in Brisbane. 
Innez: I only knew Matt and Stevie (and now Kelly) before the band started so wasn’t really sure what type of music we would be creating together. Initially I thought Stevie was just asking me to work on a recording of his, so when we had our first rehearsal it was like, oh this is a thing, we’re  a band! Haha. That being said, I think Stevie has a natural talent in writing beautiful shoegaze/dream pop songs with heavier elements and for some reason all the songwriters in the band add different qualities from the genre that work well together. So to wrap up, we are an unexpected supergroup. (laughs)

DKFM: The debut EP certainly caught OUR attention immediately. No surprise, really, as that’s sort of our job. But it didn’t take long for even the “local luminaries” like Triple J to climb fully on board. Are you at all surprised with the love you seem to have earned right out of the starting gate, coming from around the world? 

Stevie: Oh without a doubt. Initially it was just a recording project. We never even thought people would actually hear it! It became this other thing though. When we actually heard the first record it was a surprise. “Oh right! That’s what we are?!” It seemed too unusual not to explore what it was further. 
Innez: It’s been really surprising and exciting! Shoegaze fans are so passionate about the genre and the music being released. There are so many amazing bands in the scene; I kind of can’t believe the attention we’ve received so far. Thank you for all the love and support! 

DKFM: While others focus on guitars, pedals, reverb, building a textural foundation for musical exploration, you start your process on acoustic guitar, writing accessible “pop” songs, only adding layers later in the process. What are the advantages of this approach? I can only imagine sitting around on an Ovation acoustic, thinking, “This’ll be a stomping anthem!” 

Stevie: I think the roots of the band is still Pop music. You can stray away from that when you rely too heavily on effects. It’s nice to strip everything textural away and still have a good pop song there! Take away all the feedback and distortion from a Husker Du song and you have perfect pop songs, or add a layer of feedback and fuzz to a Ronettes song and you aren’t far away from the Mary Chain. 
Innez: I guess it just comes down to getting the foundations right for a band like DEAFCULT. There’s a fine line between good noise and bad noise you know?  At least for a band like us. We need that initial guitar rhythm to write the rest of the song around. Adding in a solid bass line and drums, then we can add the textural guitars, the cream on top. This just seems to work for us and if it ain’t broke, why fix it right?!?

DKFM: DEAFCULT is properly labeled as “noisy pop” or simply “noise pop”, yet many would lump you into both the shoegaze and dream pop categories.  Are you comfortable with those tags, with ANY tags, applied to your sound? 

Stevie: I don’t really think it’s that important how people categorise music. It’s easier for some people to put things into groups, which is fine! Other people just don’t worry about it. However you want to do it is cool I reckon. 
Innez: I think we’re pretty easy going when it comes to tags and being categorised. AURAS is a pretty varied record so could be labelled under a few different genres. Ultimately, if you like it and want to call it shoegaze, dream pop, whatever you like, go for it! 

DKFM: How long did Auras take to record and produce, and what was it like jumping from a well-regarded Bandcamp EP to a label-signed full album? 

Stevie: AURAS took a long time. We recorded it and then wanted to change it a year later. Hobbledehoy were very good about it, most labels would have freaked out at us. They waited a year for us to turn around and say we aren’t feeling this yet we are doing it again. The album’s complete, out now on Hobbledehoy, burning up the charts. 
Innez: Hobbledehoy are an incredible label with heaps of experience (and patience!) releasing records and working with bands so we’ve been really lucky to develop great friendships and working relationships through this release. I think we definitely did the right thing with re-recording the album, the songs are more realised with better performances, and everyone is happy with the outcome. We learnt a lot from the experience, so hopefully the next record won’t take quite so long. (laughs)

DKFM: Your headlining shows are booked (some already played) in Australia… any plans for an international tour, ala Flyying Colours? Probably made more difficult in your case, with six musicians… 

Stevie: We talk about it all the time. Sometimes it’s hard to see how we would translate overseas. It feels like we belong to Australia in some ways. We owe a lot to the people who come to shows here, the labels that have released our records and the community radio stations that have supported us since the day we started. But then we also owe a great deal to people like yourself who have helped push us further afield. It’s a beautiful network the alternative music world it’s nice to see that it’s still thriving on its own terms. 
Innez: We’d love to tour overseas! It is mostly the logistics and cost for a band of our size. But that being said we’ve had a lot of support from the US and Europe. It would be so awesome to make it over and meet the people supporting and emailing us! 

DKFM: Finally, do you have a “band philosophy”, something that unifies the band as a team, gets you through the good times and bad? 

Stevie: Communication is important. Telling each other how we feel. Bands are like family in some respects. We are there for each other during shitty times and we make each other laugh the rest of the time.
Innez: Yeah definitely communication, respect for each other and friendship keeps this band going. We’re all best mates at the end of the day!

Follow the Deafcult squad via their Bandcamp, label, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels, and we’ll keep spinning their tunes!

With a new single for 2017, Flying Cape Experience practice their unique brand of enchantment once again. Out now on El Vals del Conejo, “Fire Between Us” again sports an acoustic foundation, leaving the dream pop accents to the production and vocals, and a Moody Blues-like orchestration for the song’s climax. The art direction is classic, returning to simpler, gentler times.

“Fire Between Us” released 28 July, but the video accompaniment became available late yesterday. Follow Flying Cape Experience on Twitter and Facebook, and catch up with their back catalogue through the label page at El Vals del Conejo.

Before DKFM became a known name, we were familiar with Kalamazoo’s Crash City Saints. 2010’s epic LP, Glow In The Dark Music, presented a band in full throttle: sweeping, powerful, but always tuneful. Classic singles “A Life Worth Living” and “Cough Syrup” exemplified a band at the top of their game, and poised to take over the world. Bits of Astrobrite, with a sprinkling of Jesus and Mary Chain, Crash City Saints sparked with electric energy, and a stamp on the sound that was both deafening and undeniable.

So what happened to the lads? Other than a 2011 EP, they seemed to have fallen off the radar, much to the dismay of fans everywhere. So there was much rejoicing at the news that they’d signed to Saint Marie Records for their long-awaited followup, due 11 August. But Are You Free? is described as a far more ambitious project than might have been expected. Are You Free? was initially conceived as the shoegaze Quadrophenia. I wanted to tell the story of a teenager growing up in a small town in the early 90s set to songs meant to function as various homages to the bands I loved (the bands that “saved my life” as The Smiths once put it) from that period). However, as with every musical endeavor of mine to date, it soon became clear that my ambitions were bigger than my recording budget, and many song ideas had to be scrapped. Ultimately, this was probably for the best.”

From the opening “folky” bars of “Ice Cream Headache”, you may think you’ve landed in some parallel universe. Once the tuneful haze sets in, you’ve found yourself in familiar territory. Part Arcade Fire, part Beatles, but undeniably Crash City Saints, you’ve started on a journey that’s uniquely their own. Filled with a midwestern cool, and a consistent propulsion throughout, this is a joyous return. If you’re late to the party, this is a great time to catch up. Crash City Saints’ Are You Free? LP releases on 11 August (vinyl, CD, digital), but preorders are live now via Saint Marie Records.

Follow Crash City Saints via their Facebook page, and on Twitter. Go. Now. Do it.