The New French Underground

HERMETIC DELIGHT

Uhh, highly doubt any of these bands are heathen droogies à la A Clockwork Orange as implied in a recent wave of fear mongering by French media on the degenerating state of civil society. But ohhh, what a glorious metaphor! If only it were true, though…

That’s not to say there is a strong correlation between rad art and social disorder.

Whatever’s causing so much gritty, far-out darkwave, post-punk, garage, and shoegaze to emerge from Paris and Rennes, a very eclectic scene is flourishing- maybe it’s the beginning of a new underground or something in French indie? Except, there’s nothing particularly “French” about FUTURE or other groups like Catholic Spray, Subtle Turnhips, Hermetic Delight, Dead, Venera 4, and A V G V S T. This is kind of important, I guess, because you don’t typically think of punk, garage or psych rock coming from France.

Floored by how awesome this recent wave of new music sounds, we’ve decided to create a compilation of current French shoegaze, garage, and synthwave artists.  Many of whom were initially discovered via local Parisian labels and blogs such as Cranes, Inch Allah and Desire Records, as well as Foggy Girls Club and Walking With the Beast.

Tracklist >>

1. HERMETIC DELIGHT (pictured) – HOLY SISTER
2. MARIA FALSE – CARLIGHTS
3. SELENIAN – SNEAKERS
4. VENERA 4 – SEABED TERROR
5. DEAD – NO PLACE FOR US
6. JOIE NOIRE – KUP KUP (VALIS Remix)
7. TRÉSORS – MISSIONAIRES
8. A V G V S T – CALM (Ft. Nicole Kohl)
9. FUTURE – SKYLIGHTS
10. DEAD MANTRA – WAVE
11. BIKINI GORGE – STRANDED
12. FEELING OF LOVE – WAITING FOR CHEERLEADERS TO GET DRUNK
13. CATHOLIC SPRAY – HATE MY SOUL
14. T.I.T.S – CYCLOP
15. SUBLTE TURNHIPS – COMMENT

By: Psychic Hearts

Nothing’s Worth Seeing

It’s been said the most real state is the state of nothing; a dead end, the Zen path to ultimate reality, emptiness incarnate. Nothing is just about the weirdest thing ever. It’s logic and beauty invokes a sort of dread, and more often than not, confusion. While I doubt Philadelphia’s NOTHING are on any serious existential mission to reify ‘nothingness,’ they are just as enigmatic. Steeped in ghostly guitars, deafening noise, and grisly metaphors – NOTHING diverges from the familiar (i.e., your typical “dreamy/astral/ethereal” shoegaze act) and instead delivers an immanent sound and vision to get completely lost in.

 
Nothing – ‘Downward Years to Come’

After collaborating across genres with Wes Eisold of Cold Cave on their last EP ‘Sunns and Lovers’ and going on tour with Night Sins (highly recommended post-punk/darkwave from Philadelphia via Avant! Records), NOTHING is heading on tour again and playing SXSW in support of their second EP, ‘Downward Years to Come’ (via AC390 Recordings) with Whirr (Tee Pee Records, Oakland, CA).

 
Nothing – ‘The Dives (Lazarus in Ashes)’

We got a chance to catch up with Domenic Palermo and Brandon Setta of NOTHING to answer a few questions before the start of their epic U.S tour (scroll down for dates).

People are kind of losing their shit over this upcoming tour w/ WHIRR (including SXSW). How stoked are you to be playing SXSW this year? Do you prefer to be on the road or would you rather be at home writing and recording? 

Domenic: I’m really excited to get to see Whirr play finally, and there probably isn’t another band that meshes better with us for a tour. I’m not the biggest SXSW fan, but huge Austin fan. Just thinking about all of those people gives me anxiety. Touring in general has always been a kind of a love/hate relationship thing with us. We’re always so excited to get out of this miserable city, but the thought of living out of vans for weeks on end while drunk driving our vehicles with blindfolds on, creates another series of problems that follows over our heads like black clouds. We enjoy recording and writing more than anything but I don’t think I could ever stick with this all without playing live. What do you know… I’m torn.

Brandon: I’ve been a fan of Whirr since ‘Distressor’ came out, so I’m excited to be watching them play live every night for a month. My only SXSW experience is a bit of a haze but I’m pretty sure it included getting jumped by some college jocks and eating delicious breakfast tacos, most importantly it’s an escape from home in a warm and friendly city, so I’m excited to play this year. I also have a love/hate relationship with both touring and recording, but I’d rather have the van explode before I see the Philly skyline again.
 
Whirr – ‘Junebouvier’


 
‘Downward Years to Come’ has a very sensual, mind-altering, languid feel to it, despite its initial intensity.  What’s NOTHING’S attitude toward drugs?

Domenic:    I think all drugs are good for opening new doors in the creative category, especially in the arts. I only use them for self- destructive purposes though.

Brandon:    Where can I find some?

Last year you toured with NIGHT SINS and worked with Wes Eisold (Cold Cave) on the B-side to your first EP, ‘Sunns and Lovers:’ can you tell us more about your relationship with both acts? Are any of you big fans of industrial/synthwave music?

Domenic:    I’ve known Wes for quite some time now. We’ve worked on a couple different projects, but it’s always an honor whenever I get to create anything musically with him. The Night Sins guys are more recent friends. They are really amazing people and we love hanging with them.

As far as the music goes I am a huge fan of both bands and do appreciate the genres but it has much more to do with me being in love with my friends and having the opportunity to create things with them. You’ll never see me do anything in music with someone I don’t care for, no matter who it is.

Brandon:    I’ve always been a fan of Cold Cave, so working with Wes was a pretty crazy experience for me, more so because of my obsession with American Nightmare since I was super young. Night Sins had a simple and grim sound and were great to watch live, I like them a lot as a band and as people. I’m into alot of other bands in the genre as well, like Former Ghosts and Blank Dogs.

A lot of your band flyers, symbols, and art use rather grisly tropes— sacrifice, injury, illness. Where does NOTHING’S visual inspiration come from?

Domenic:    Life in general. Things I see everyday, everywhere. Things that people enjoy usually make me nauseous. I can’t figure out if I’m fucked [up] or everyone else is.

Brandon:    Anything we find fitting with the music. I suppose when you see a depressing phrase or bleak picture on a t-shirt or record cover, you get a feel of what we are going to sound like, and it’s not going to make you happy.

Does it ever bother you how writers and the press lump you with other shoegaze acts?

Domenic:    I don’t care what we get lumped into. I don’t even know where that is. That’s your guys’ job.

Brandon:    People generally compare us to bands that I’m greatly influenced by and listen to every day, so that’s fine with me. Most of them don’t know what they’re talking about anyway.
 
Nothing – ‘If Only’

 

To hear and check for more updates on NOTHING visit Facebook / Bandcamp / Tumblr.

By: Psychic Hearts

 

EP Superblast! An Interview With Nick Benton Of Carousels

 (Carousels; Nick Benton, Lucy Wilson, Angela Won-Yin Mak, Danny Power, and Ed Kirwan)

CAROUSELS are a noise pop quintet from Cambridge, England, who last Fall issued their second EP, ‘POP’ via Deadly People Recordings. Never one to warp records or over-scratch CDs from constant rotation, POP is no short-lived affair. Each song bleeds into the other, leaving you slightly rattled with delight. Kind of like when you heard “Sueisfine” by My Bloody Valentine for the first time, and I mean really heard it— head spinning, pure joy and what have you.

Indeed, it’s tempting to compare the new incarnation of CAROUSELS to Isn’t Anything era My Bloody Valentine. Actually listening to POP, though, yields a superblast of highly textured noise with swirling, dissonant guitars that have a sort of brash, motorik quality that’s neither over-bearing or severe, rather concurrent with Nick Benton’s (lead singer) gentle pop melodies and biting lyrics.

 

 
Carousels – ‘Over Me’


 
We got the awesome chance to catch up with Nick earlier this month to see what CAROUSELS were up to and their future plans for this year: Pretty much everyone I know LOVES the POP EP. Like seriously, instantaneously, digs it. Do you feel a lot pressure now from just one EP?

Nick: Not really. I felt a lot of pressure when we put up our first demos a couple of years ago. I never expected those songs to get as much attention as they did and there was this instant pressure to follow them up with loads of gigs and more recordings, but we were just totally unprepared. I’ve kinda learnt from that now. That being said, the live aspect has been difficult. The EP sounds so massive and is mixed in such a particular way that it’s been quite hard to get the live show to match it. We weren’t happy for ages after the EP was released. We’ve had a lot of changes in our live setup since then. It has been hard but we’re getting there now.
 
Carousels – ‘All I Could Do’


 
Are you currently working on an LP? Any plans for a tour?

Nick: It would be cool to do another tour soon, but it’s difficult because we all have to work. Lucy is 6 months pregnant as well, so I think as of May we’re going to stop gigging for a bit and do some more writing and recording, not for an LP but definitely a single or something… Musically it’s going to be completely different to the POP EP, I’m not sure I’m in the right mood to write another batch of pop songs, I get bored too easily. It should be cool, we’ll see.

How did you and everyone else get into shoegaze / noise pop? Was it just a natural progression, so to speak?

Nick: I can’t speak for everyone else but I got massively into stuff like that when I was about 14 years old. Weirdly it was after watching a live version of Creep on TV and seeing Jonny Greenwood punch his telecaster throughout every chorus. I’d never seen anything like that before and it all went from there really. Everyone else at school was listening to The Strokes and what-not, and I got a kick out of being that weird kid that played people Psycho Candy at full volume.
 
Carousels – ‘Sweet Honey’


 
Curious, what is the scene like in London? Do you hope to stay there as a band in the future?

Nick: I tend to hide away in Cambridge and only get to go to London to rehearse and play gigs so I don’t know much about the current scene really. I’ve been lucky enough to have played with a lot of cool bands in a lot of cool venues over the past few years, and from what I can tell everyone seems genuinely excited and there doesn’t seem to be too much negativity about anything… There’s an abundance of venues and nights that cater for all types of music, so I can’t imagine people find it tough to get gigs… Could be wrong though maybe I’m just not paying enough attention.

Be sure to get your limited-time only free download of “Sweet Honey” @ CAROUSELS POP and for more news, music, & updates @ iTunes @ Soundcloud @ Facebook @ Tumblr.

PSYCHIC HEARTS is a CA/NY-based writer of sorts who loves obese cats and used records. You can read more reviews, features, and commentary right here!

Love, Rain And Reverb: An Interview w/ Soft Shadows (By Psychic Hearts)

Weary, lo-fi over a thin vapor of reverb, listening to Soft Shadows (fmr. Sundaze) reminds me of that part in “Lost in Translation” when Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray’s character take a cab ride through Tokyo while “Sometimes” by My Bloody Valentine plays in the background.  Yeah, you know that scene — the shallow focus, low light, Kevin’s whispering, that feeling of something cool and familiar.  It’s rare for bands, like Soft Shadows, to generate a memory of such a beautiful and iconic scene.  Though they are in the midst of recording their debut, we at SBWR were instantly drawn to their cold, sparse noise and wanted to know more about what they’ve got planned for this year while in PDX.

If you like Beach Fossils, Sparklehorse, and/or Weird Dreams check out SOFT SHADOWS @ Facebook // Bandcamp // Soundcloud.

 
Soft Shadows – ‘Whatever You Say’


 
Soft Shadows sound has this sort of late-night, cold, whispery, lo-fi vibe, which is, I would say different from that of Sundaze whose sound was more fuzzy surf/garagaze influenced, kind of like the Vandelles or even The Raveonettes. What inspired the name change and new direction?

As you have picked up, our sound has shifted and we felt it was time to shed the name we chose out of necessity. At the time, we were a brand new band with shows lined up and needed a name fast, so that’s how we chose Sundaze. Over the course of little over a year we found sounds we really related to and they were much different than when we started. This sparked a difference in direction and led to a member leaving. With the addition of Ryan Simon on guitars, we felt this is a perfect time to regroup.

I got a chance to watch “New American Noise: Electric Noise,” a music documentary series for the Sundance Channel directed by Abteen Bagheri who is known for his avant-garde rap videos. It really seems like Portland holds a special place in your hearts. How has the scene, shoegaze and otherwise, responded to Soft Shadows? What do you think you are doing differently to stand out in Portland? Do you plan on staying in Portland?

There are so many scenes in Portland right now, and with lots of bands sharing members between projects, the lines between scenes are blurry, and I mean that in all positive aspects.  Portland has a great vibe and friendly atmosphere; it’s small enough to have a town-feel. There’s a pho restaurant nearby when a couple leaves, she’ll bid them farewell by saying, “Have a romantic weekend!” As you know, Portland is surrounded by water. The weather plays a big part in how we write and feel. Being enveloped in rain most of the year produces guitar sounds as if it was dipped in water.  I try to soak the guitars in reverb but not over doing it for the hopeful feeling that the sun will come and dry the rain eventually. As much as Portland is a hometown in our hearts and the place where we’re grounded in, we’re always open to living in a new place.

New American Noise – short documentary on lo-fi/shoegaze in Portland…
 

 
I loved Soft Shadows video for “I Want to Be With You,” because it reminded me of the taxicab scene in Lost In Translation when “Sometimes” by MBV is playing – was that a conscious decision?

I love that scene too! I had a similar experience of flooded imagery when I was an exchange student in Tokyo, which “Lost In Translation” was released after I came back from my 3 months abroad. I’ve always liked the idea of travelling alone with my camera. Being immersed in new and different environments with little or no outside comfortable influences, it becomes a completely personal enveloping experience through my own lens (also, I don’t have to burden people waiting for me running off somewhere for a random shot).

My last overseas trip was to Vietnam and Japan early 2012. Usually, I’m the girl taking photos, but sometimes I’ll remember I have film capability as well, so take short segments here and there to edit afterwards. The plan was to get as much random footage possible, and then cut it down to something that may flow together. When it came to the idea of making a music video for “I Want To Be With You,” I revisited the old footage I took, only to have found a large bulk deleted on accident. Surprisingly, even though it may not flow as perfectly how I would like it, all the pieces fell into place for the mood and pace of the song. If you listen to the lyrics, it’s also about a girl wandering around town, looking to be found, which sort of fits.

Soft Shadows – I Want To Be With You

What can we expect from Soft Shadows in the upcoming year?

We’re shooting for a tour within the next few months. Our album will be coming out later this year, and you can expect a dreamier sound, still accompanied by our heavy droney sound.
 
PSYCHIC HEARTS is a CA/NY-based writer of sorts who loves obese cats and used records. You can read more reviews, features, and commentary from her music site dedicated to shoegaze / dreampop / garage / synthwave. More @ PSYCHIC HEARTS.

Blissed Out in Italy! (Psychic Hearts Guest Post)

As promised, here’s the very first guest post @ SBWR from the super talented PSYCHIC HEARTS! PSYCHIC HEARTS is a CA/NY-based writer of sorts who loves obese cats and used records. You can read more reviews, features, and commentary from her music site <here> dedicated to shoegaze / dreampop / garage / synthwave. Big thanks for the work put into this feature! Blissed Out In Italy shines a light on our Italian friends and a bunch of new acts to keep an ear on.

For music lovers like us, the inquisitive mind never rests, nor should it. You can visit the popular website, rely on your friends, randomly catch a show, hoping to strike gold. Or… you can dig. After hearing Be Forest’s acclaimed debut ‘Cold’, I discovered their label We Were Never Being Boring, which led me to unearth more DIY labels such as Keep It Yours (Rome), Upside Down Recordings (Rome), and Tannen (Verona).  Their rosters include English-singing bands that have toured and played alongside the Japandroids, Dum Dum Girls, Moon Duo, and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, as well as epic festivals such as Spacefest! And so, we at SBWR think the following artists from Italy should definitely be on your radar this year…

 

BE FOREST (We Were Never Being Boring .,Pesaro)

Dreamy, warm, atmospheric music from the Adriatic coast. BE FOREST features two female singers and spent the remaining part of 2012 touring Europe with the Japandroids. That last part should pretty much confirm their awesomeness! If you like BLOUSE, Slowdive, and the ethereal vocals of Elizabeth Harris of GROUPER, listen to BE FOREST’S stunning debut, ‘Cold’ @ Bandcamp / Facebook / WWNBB as well as their latest single, ‘Hanged Man’ and what was voted as Decay FM Radio’s 2012 shoegaze song of the year, ‘I Quit Girls‘ (Japandroids cover).
 
Be Forest – ‘Florence’


 
Be Forest – ‘Wild Brain’


 
Be Forest – ‘Hanged Man’


 

HOLiDAYS (Keep it Yours .,Rome)

A sunny bucolic daydream, drenched in reverb and lovelorn lyrics. HOLiDAYS are a dreampop quartet from Rome with songs and DIY-visuals inspired by their European travels, Roman summers, and youthful nostalgia. Though they are not even close to completing their second LP, the leaks so far sound incredible and very different from ‘Young Love’ – with more fuzz and dreamier soundscapes. If you like Wild Nothing, Real Estate, Blueboy, and Mood Rings, listen to HOLiDAYS’ debut, ‘Young Love’ @ Bandcamp / Facebook / iTunes.
 
HOLiDAYS – ‘Holes’


 
HOLiDAYS – ‘Only in Dreams’


 
HOLiDAYS – ‘Sleepless’


 

BROTHERS IN LAW (Tannen /WWNBB/ CF/ CoCo Heart .,Pesaro)

Shimmery, c-86 inspired surf pop featuring Nicola Lampredi of BE FOREST. BiL’s ‘Gray Days‘ EP is an ironic misnomer, considering each song is a loud, jangly haze of fuzz and melody. Their debut, ‘Hard Times for Dreamers’ drops this year on WWNBB, CF and COCOHEART Records (Japan); they will follow the release with a series of shows in New York and Austin for SXSW 2013 (dates). Be sure to check them out if you are attending this year, and pre-order their new album via Musicraiser. If you like Crocodiles, Dum Dum Girls, Beach Fossils, and/or Best Coast, listen to BROTHERS IN LAW @ Bandcamp / Facebook.
 
BROTHERS IN LAW – ‘Ode to Love’


 
BROTHERS IN LAW  – ‘Shadow II’


 
BROTHERS IN LAW  – ‘Holy Weekend’


 
 

HIS CLANCYNESS (Independent .,Bologna)

Nothing can be written about Italy’s indie rock scene without mentioning, Jonathan Clancy of His Clancyness and A Classic Education, who is perhaps the most well-known Italian indie rocker to crossover in recent years.  Indeed, the last few years have definitely been a whirlwind with what seems like a non-stop itinerary of US/EU tours and marathon recording sessions with Jarvis Taveniere (Woods) and Chris Koltay (Lotus Plaza, Atlas Sound, Akron/Family), but thoughtful and prolific as always – Clancy continues to gift us with a steady stream of late night, lo-fi recordings perfect for any jilted lover’s mixtape (like his cover of ‘I Can’t Talk About It’ by El Perro Del Mar).  You can catch HIS CLANCYNESS at SXSW this year, along side BROTHERS IN LAW this March in Austin.  If you like The Microphones, Minks, Weed Diamond, or anything off K Records listen to HIS CLANCYNESS @ Bandcamp / iTUNES / Soundcloud / Facebook.
 
HIS CLANCYNESS – ‘How It’s Done In Italy’


 
HIS CLANCYNESS – ‘Summer Majestic’


 
HIS CLANCYNESS – ‘Carve A Peach’


 

SEA DWELLER (Upside Down Recordings .,Rome)

I die whenever I hear this band. Beautiful, ecstasy and what have you. They are so underrated, under-appreciated, and incredibly talented, but thankfully well known in this very esoteric world of ethereal guitars and heavy distortion. With alternating male and female vox, SEA DWELLER probably has the most classic, recognizable sound highlighted in this feature, with noise reminiscent of Ride, early LILYS, and the Telescopes.  They were recently invited to play alongside the likes of Mark Gardener and Pure Phase Ensemble at Spacefest! (an epic shoegaze fest in Poland). You can stream their entire last album, ‘Signs of a Perfect Disaster’ @ Bandcamp and order their gorgeous, limited edition yellow vinyl of ‘Signs’ @ Sea Dweller Music @ Facebook.
 
SEA DWELLER – ‘Marion’


 
SEA DWELLER – ‘Slow Down’


 
SEA DWELLER  – ‘I See The Sea From Her’


 

Honorary Mention:

GENERAL DECAY (Milan)

All I know is that this very fuzzy, garage pop band is supremely awesome, but sadly defunct. Oh, and everyone loves them!
 
More @ PSYCHIC HEARTS.