Shoegaze And Dream Pop Albums Of 2013 Saturday 21 December, 2013
It’s been another huge year of releases. So much so that fitting all of the best albums of 2013 into one list has defeated me! So you’ll find some footnotes below (also of note) for those albums without a write up. I could write for days about these records! Note that these are in no particular order. I promised I wouldn’t rank anything and I’m happy not too – that’s for you to decide! I’ve also updated the songs of 2013 Soundcloud playlist and added that to the tail of this page. So enough of the preamble, here are the stand out shoegaze and dream pop albums of 2013 as posted on Sounds Better With Reverb…
Venera 4 – ‘Deaf Hearts’ [EP] [song: Deaf Heartbeats] (more)
‘Deaf Heartbeats’ is one of the catchiest noise pop singles of 2013, it’s a super fun mix of vocal hooks and wall of sound guitars. The French foursome delivered their high energy tunes with slick production too. Can’t wait for a full length.
Panda Riot – ‘Northern Automatic Music’ [song: Black Pyramids] (more)
Top shelf album from Panda Riot! The Chicago foursome (by way of Philly) produced a set of highly melodic songs with lots of reverb! ‘Northern Automatic Music’ covers dream pop, shoegaze and beyond. Genre aside, these tunes would still sound great if they were stripped right back.
Flyying Colours – ‘Flyying Colours’ [EP] [song: Wavygravy] (more)
Melbourne’s Flyying Colours released one of the best rock EP’s of the year. It’s a brilliant debut, with an accessible mix of shoegaze and psych. If these guys continue to deliver tunes like ‘Bugs’ and ‘Wavygravy’, they’re going to do very well for themselves.
No Joy – ‘Wait To Pleasure’ [song: Hare Tarot Lies] (more)
No Joy cut back most of the noisy wash of 2010′s ‘Ghost Blonde’ and returned with a much leaner and more focused sound on ‘Wait To Pleasure’. The Montreal shoegazers are sounding much clearer, but still with a dark and gloomy edge. The album has been praised for pushing the boundaries of the genre, a task made easier with the aid of producer Jorge Elbrecht (Violens).
Medicine – ‘To The Happy Few’ [song: It's Not Enough] (more)
2013 saw the welcome return of many veteran acts. Medicine’s comeback LP ‘To The Happy Few’ exceeded expectations with its inventive take on classic psych rock. This isn’t a band reliving their glory days, it’s a band still taking risks. The results speak for themselves, possibly their best work yet.
Ovlov – ‘Am’ [song: Grapes] (more)
‘Am’ is an absolutely stunner (with no filler), it’s bursting at the seams with noise and raw edges. Each track is delivered with an honest, no-nonsense approach (without studio polish). There’s a real charm to this record, the Connecticut-based trio produced one of the best indie rock albums I heard this year.
Miniatures – ‘DIS’ [EP] [song: Anybody Silent] (more)
One of the more recent releases on the list comes from Miniatures. Their second EP ‘Dis’ is an almost flawless four track collection of dream pop and shoegaze. The Melbourne (by way of New Zealand) quartet deserve all the praise coming to them.
Whirr – ‘Around’ [EP] [song: Swoon] (more)
Since releasing ‘Pipe Dreams’ Whirr built on their strengths delivering ‘Around’, a dark and progressive EP. It received a moderate response from commercial media (who must’ve been drunk) because its truly awesome.
Kigo – ‘So Lost Now’ [song: Can't See You] (more)
Brisbane’s Kigo made his debut in February with the ‘Guilt’ EP and followed it up with another four EPs and an album! Every few months a new release popped up, each dominated by monstrous guitars and hushed vocals. Kigo’s love for My Bloody Valentine is all over these recordings, some fans may find it too derivative, nonetheless it’s an exciting take on classic shoegaze.
Tape Deck Mountain – ‘Sway’ [song: Always Lie] (more)
‘Sway’ has moments of absolute brilliance, with ambitious songwriting and BIG sounds. When Tape Deck Mountain hit their stride it’s gut wrenchingly good. But, it does have flat moments too. It’s not a perfect album but remains one of my most loved records of the year.
Black Hearted Brother – ‘Stars Are Our Home’ [song: (I Don’t Mean To) Wonder] (more)
Let’s be honest – with this combination of talent (Neil Halstead of Slowdive , Mark Van Hoen of Seefeel plus Nick Holton) even if this album had sucked we’d still beg for it! Thankfully it doesn’t. ‘Stars Are Our Home’ is not a masterpiece but it’s a fun experiment with lots of future potential if they continue to invest in the project.
The Stargazer Lilies – ‘We Are The Dreamers’ [song: Endless Days] (more)
Graveface Records gave us the swirling sounds of The Stargazer Lilies in 2013 (featuring former Soundpool members John Cep and Kim Field). There’s some stand out moments on ‘We Are The Dreamers’ (my fave being ‘Endless Days’).
White Poppy – ‘S/T’ [song: Wear Me Away] (more)
A compelling record with hazy shoegaze tracks and epic instrumental pieces, full of dense textures and interesting arrangements. It’s another stand out debut, the work of Vancouver’s Crystal Dorval.
Dråpe – ‘Canicular Days’ [song: Memories] (more)
Dråpe’s debut EP was a stand out for its bold melodies and high energy rockers. But on ‘Canicular Days’ the band focused their sound on dream pop and psych, leaving much of the bendy shoegaze guitars behind them. The results were less ear grabbing but nonetheless it’s a great album.
Weekend – ‘Jinx’ [song: Mirror] (more)
‘Jinx’ was the most posted album on SBWR during 2013 (and the most listened to). The San Francisco trio dish out dark post punk that’s infectious. Weekend have been adopted by shoegaze fans but don’t expect any genre trademarks. It’s a must listen.
Candy Claws – ‘Ceres & Calypso In The Deep Time’ [song: Transitional Bird (Clever Girl)] (more)
Album number four from Colorado’s Candy Claws is fantastic. It’s intricately composed with loads of whimsical pop gems. In fact, it sounds like it was written by a pair of pixies on a carnival carousel. It may be too flowery for some but the rest of us will be revisiting it for years to come.
Brothers In Law – ‘Hard Times For Dreamers’ [song: Lose Control] (more)
Brothers In Law kicked off the year by releasing their eight track album ‘Hard Times For Dreamers’. After forming in 2011, the Italian trio have already mastered their brand of reverb-drenched jangle pop.
Beliefs – ‘Self Titled’ [song: Lilly] (more)
Ontario’s Beliefs released their ‘Self Titled’ debut LP in March and it was an early highlight. This collection of slacker rock shoegaze songs won the band plenty of vocal fans. Good news is, a second album is just around the corner.
My Bloody Valentine – ‘MBV’ [song: She Found Now] (more)
Obvious much? It’s astonishing that ‘MBV’ finally arrived this year, even more so that it lived up to the ridiculous level of hype. A fantastic album that proves ‘Loveless’ was no fluke. More so, it shows the progression of a classic band and a genre.
Lorelle Meets The Obselete – ‘Corruptible Faces’ [song: The In-Between] (more)
Lorelle Meets The Obselete have an incredible work ethic and all of their releases have been impressive. The Mexican psych duo released ‘Corruptible Faces’ in March, full of fuzzy edges and Lorelle’s beautiful vocals. Self described as “a hot pot of shoegaze and Krautrock bubbled through a psych filter”, you don’t want to miss this! The follow up LP ‘Chambers’ arrives in February.
SPC ECO – ‘Sirens And Satellites’ [song: Fallen Stars] (more)
British nu-gazers SPC ECO are driven by veteran Dean Garcia (formerly of Curve) and vocalist Rose Berlin (Garcia’s daughter) plus guests Jarek Leskiewicz, Perry Pelonero and Brent Martino. ‘Sirens And Satellites’ is impeccably engineered, widely accessible to rock and pop fans.
Dead Leaf Echo – ‘Thoughts And Language’ [song: Memory Traces] (more)
It’s hard to believe that ‘Thoughts And Language’ is actually Dead Leaf Echo’s debut album. After all the Brooklyn-based collective have been around since the mid noughties, with numerous EPs and singles to their credit. During the course of 2013 the strength of tracks like ‘Kingmaker’ and ‘Memorytraces’ have been tried and tested during Dead Leaf Echo’s extensive tour.
Also Of Note… Tennis System – ‘Part Time Punks Session’ [EP] / The Ocean Blue – ‘Ultramarine’ / Skinny Dream – ‘Crushing’ / Ceremony – ‘Distance’ / 93MillionMilesFromTheSun – ‘White Noise Revisited’ (compilation) / The Fauns – ‘Lights’ / The KVB – ‘Immaterial Visions’.
Shoegaze And Dream Pop Songs Of 2013…
Here are some distant relatives (beyond the genre divide of shoegaze or dream pop) but they definitely deserve a mention. A handful of miscellaneous albums and personal faves of 2013…
True Widow – ‘Circumambulation’ [song: HW:R] (more)
Slowcore sludge rock ensues on True Widow’s latest LP ‘Circumambulation’. The Texas trio didn’t carve out new territory in 2013 (not like the brilliant “Highest Heavens…” album ) but nevertheless their deep dredging riffs are still awesome.
Grouper – ‘The Man Who Died In His Boat’ [song: Vital] (more)
Liz Harris delivered one of the best records of the year (and perhaps her finest work) in Grouper’s ‘The Man Who Died In His Boat’. Album cut ‘Vital’ invaded the blogosphere for months! The album’s ambient layers are typically stunningly, a companion piece to the ‘Deer’ LP.
Pure X – ‘Crawling Up the Stairs’ [song: Thousand Year Old Child] (more)
Gone is the dirty haze of Pure X’s lauded debut ‘Pleasure’, at first this bummed me out, but not for long. Every time I listen to ‘Crawling Up the Stairs’ I have a moment of “Umm, what is going on here!?” The record is dripping in emotion and its unforgettable.
Implodes – ‘Recurring Dream’ [song: Scattered In The Wind] (more)
Kranky Records delivered another stand out – ‘Recurring Dream’ is an atmospheric gem, it shifts and morphs, keeping you guessing. The Chicago drone rockers paint a bleak picture that’s surreal and foreboding. I’ve listened to ‘Scattered In The Wind’ over and over this year.
Mazzy Star – ‘Seasons of Your Day’ [song: California] (more)
If I hear this record referred to as “alternative rock” one more time I may vomit on my keyboard! ‘Seasons of Your Day’ is closer to alt country/adult contemporary. Moving on… after a fifteen year absence Hope Sandoval’s vocal chords still sound amazing. A beautiful collection of songs, great for late night listening. Destined to be a classic.
A Grave With No Name – ‘Whirlpool’ [song: Dig Me Out] (more)
London’s Alex Shields released his third album ‘Whirlpool’ this year featuring Echo Lake’s Linda Jarvis, Ides’ Alanna McArdle and Comanechi’s Akiko Matsuura. Its a diverse album, with fuzz rockers as well as quieter, introspective numbers. ‘Whirlpool’ completes A Grave With No Name’s trilogy of albums, a mixed bag with some incredible tracks like ‘Dig Me Out’ and ‘Aurora’.
Boards Of Canada – ‘Tomorrow’s Harvest’ [song: Reach For The Dead] (more)
Very little was posted about Boards Of Canada on SBWR in 2013. Mainly because, once ‘Tomorrow’s Harvest’ was announced most music websites were plastered with commentary. And for good reason, The Scottish duo had returned from a long hiatus with another stunning record. If you like instrumental, electronic or experimental tunes, you’ve probably already got this on vinyl.
Also of note… Younghusband – ‘Dromes’ / Joanna Gruesome – ‘Weird Sister’ / High Highs – ‘Open Season’ / Dead Gaze – ‘Dead Gaze’ / Eros And The Eschaton – ‘Home Address For Civil War’ / Besnard Lakes – ‘Until in Excess, Impercetible UFO’ / Cull – ‘Ba Noi’ [EP].