‘Last night a DJ saved my life. It was all within the context of a damn nebulous dream I ought add, in which Daphni restrainedly slew Primavera Sound. I guess it was a foggy illusion prompted by this belated onset of springtime, though it made me long to loll about Barça with a caña in one hand and slacker excellence in both ears posthaste.
Philadelphian brother/ sister setup Great Thunder shan’t be over in Cataluña next month – or at least I’m not aware of them being in an in any way professional capacity – though they distil that keen aesthetic of the festival down into 20-odd minutes over the duration of their luminously enlightening Strange Kicks EP. They do so diligently, with an inspiratory disregard for that same professionalism aforementioned which makes for a pretty invigorating listen with regard to the scatterbrained nonchalance they call upon. I mean there can be no better denouement than a lo-fi rethink of Mazzy Star’s Fade Into You replete with skittish drum machines and languid slide guitar, though it’s where the recording conversely begins that has us hooked as we’ll surely be to the old Estrella Damm in but a few short, and perhaps even sun-dappled weeks. It’s an opener entitled Kees, which is sung by the K of the enigmatically named K and K with the XX chromosomes, and clatters dizzily like a dilapidated apartment sat inertly beside a steadily buckling railroad. There’s even what sounds a fairly thinly veiled tribute to Blind Melon’s No Rain in the closing stages, just to nail on the instant infatuation. There’s no thunder without lightning, and the sibs may yet set 2013 aflame…’
‘We’ve always been that tad reluctant to feature EPs for one reason or another. There’s never enough to fully review, and too much to give only a cursory paragraph to so they’ve got to be ever so slightly exceptional to appear on these lowly intangible pages. And so too, temperance is required when broaching the genre du jour that is shoegaze, as otherwise you’ll end up with more gum stuck to your soles than there are moments of unadulterated wonderment located within this, the latest extended-play from dreamboat Stockholm troupe Star Horse. Lust is that release, and so too is it exceptional hence here we are. Hej!
It begins with the bluish crush of Alone, which comes across a little like The Joy Formidable riding high on a meteoric blast of Mazzy Star. Though Pink Balloon drifts higher still, recalling Blonde Redhead tussling with Asobi Seksu atop the plaintive desolation of Speck Mountain. Aishiteru, with its stilted elocution, stuttering drums and driving melancholia then proves redolent of a crestfallen take on that most succulent fruit of The Cranberries’ labours, Dreams, which sprawled out for a smidgen over five makes for an intensely engrossing piece that’s perhaps more bleary smear than ferocious stomp, to revert to cobbling metaphor. Though it’s the EP’s supremely woozy climax, Home, which applies the polish to this most accomplished of efforts – one which is exotic and enticing even as their native Sweden to any which heathen. Absolutely damn desperate to get over there one day, and Lust only intensifies the desire.’
‘There’s an immediate allure to Desert Stars’ Past in the Trash – that same desolate warmth which first attracted us to Speck Mountain’s Badwater LP of last month. Woozy, oneiric shoegaze with its head again in the sands of Hope Sandoval’s Mazzy Star, it shimmers and glistens as much as it saddens and dispirits, with Janelle Best’s woebegone moans its fulcrum. Its philtrum even, and one sodden with salted tears it’d surely be…’
‘Whether the ephemeral smoulder of lo-fi opener Caught Up, or the dustbowl crush of Young Eyes it’s Balabanian’s weathered, yet still unmistakably smooth vocal around which their overriding enticement whirrs – a calculated breeding of Sandoval’s porcelain sigh and Juanita Stern’s sultry tones to have been ushered out from that seemingly perennial pout of hers. Live It Down, similarly, recalls Blind Melon cultured beneath the Blue Light of their ever-referenced Cali contemporaries. Nonetheless even when they up the instrumentation and eschew these velvety coos – as they do amidst the lavish, aqueous swells of Coldpoint – theirs is an unwavering majesty consummately translated to that most invigorating of listens.’
Dots & Dashes review Badwater, the third full-length from Chicago’s Speck Mountain…