Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Collected Works of New Music and Memorial Tribute

Relationships are a significant driving force in much of what appears here on this website. Trusted record labels and artists who've previously shown appreciation for detailed analysis on recorded music meaningful to them are prioritized. Finding new composers and their unheard works within that framework will always continue to expand this overall field. Finally, losing a four-legged family member is heartbreaking, and celebrating the life-affirming years spent together is the best way to honor them.

There never seems to be too much time passing before another ShoreDive Records release finds it's way into the DaveCromwellWrites reviewing sphere. The independent Brighton, England based label provides a continuous supply of high-quality dreampop, gaze, electronica, post-rock and post-punk releases. Recently landing in the DCW mailbox is a six-song mini-album debut from Lyon, France residents Lunation Fall. Titling the collection “Near,” their mission to blend melancholic dreampop and explosive noise is fully achieved here.

Opening track “Sweet Misery” originates via a rising hum before whip-crack drums and pitch-bended guitars mark out a four-chord progression nodding to all the glory MBV has given us. Sweet, fuzzy, angelic voices roll out those incomprehensible stories we've come to know and love within this genre. Its far more about “feel” than anything actually being said. While the guitars and voices envelope the listener in a candy-floss cocoon, impressive drum accents stand out, with a piercing high-hat slice foremost amongst them. At the 2 minute mark, the guitars turn a bit harsher, bringing to mind the edgy-chaos of William Reid and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Follow-up cut “Aube” switches gears, choosing gentle arpeggiated guitar notes for it's extended :30 second intro. The presence of bass guitar is more clearly felt with the emergence of this gloriously romantic melody line. With high-hat percussion shifting to double-time, a soft, sugary vocal line of blended voices encourage the shelter of warm memories. A lovely ambient interlude breakdown at 3 ½ minutes in allows for a triumphant re-emergence of gazey goodness. Conversely, “Precious Time” serves up classic cleanly strummed jangle guitars which allows the bass to lay down it's melody progression. Male voices step out front somewhat in the blended hybrid of storytelling, sketching out a track that would not be out of place on the pre-Loveless MBV classic “Isn't Anything.”

Mercury” adjusts the guitar textures further, adding a level of shimmer and distortion to the overall melange. Dreamy female voices take precedence with a similar allure one might find on a number of Ringo Deathstarr songs. Once again, bass guitar embraces the opportunity to make melodic statements as guitars hold chord structures in place. All goes momentarily quiet at the midpoint, allowing for a re-assembly of each element in dramatic detail. Buzzsaw guitars bring this powerful track to it's conclusion.

All that's dream-gazey glory is wrapped in the fifth entry “Reflections.” A quick crash-cymbal and deep thump percussion sets the table for massive detonation guitar sonic reverie. The progression is slow-groove shuffle, as voices blend in supple harmony. A quick time change ramps things up to hyperspeed, as playful melodies become the immediate vocal focus. Time shifts again, this time down into a stoner-rock lumber, providing fertile ground for harsher guitars and softer voices. With the quick progression returning one more time, a furious guitar solo leads the track out to it's conclusion.

Album closer (and longest track at over 6 minutes) “Mydriasis” accentuates a glimmering, uplifting progression with melodic bass guitar figures (think The Cocteau Twins Simon Raymonde or even Peter Hook from the original Joy Division and New Order) and lively drumming. Male vocals take the lead here with straightforward, unadorned resolve. This mostly instrumental composition rises, ebbs and then rises again for a pure dreamscape experience and a fitting ending to this gorgeous song collection.

Listen to and find out how to get this dreamy record here:

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When last heard from Italian-based musicians Dead Rituals, an intimate acoustic release was given review treatment here on this site at the beginning of this year. Now into the calendars final quarter, a new track finds its way into DCW's sphere. “Tangled Up” is a collaborative effort with Swedish singer/songwriter Francis Moon, inspiring the core Dead Rituals team of Andrea Caccese (Italy) and Brita Penfold (Australia) to new sonic heights.

Rising up out of a distant cloud before the instantly likeable progression and lyrics kick in simultaneously, comes a pop song relatable on multiple levels. “What if I told you that I don't really wanna know - What you've been up to lately - But, it's hard to not get caught in your cobweb,” is how the opening salvo goes. With driving rhythm, precise instrumental placement and vocal delivery bringing to mind the glorious Raveonettes, a bittersweet story unfolds about unrequited relationship failure. “What if I told you what's been on my mind. That I'm somehow holding on. I don't know what to call this - but you can call it whatever you want,” brilliantly spells out the eminently relatable frustration felt.

A gorgeous bridge section underpinned by a perfectly executed back-beat drum pattern spells out exactly what's wrong with this relationship here: “oh, you gotta gotta give me more” points to someone not following through on their promises. However, it's the lush and heavenly chorus that not only delivers the song's title - “I wish we weren't so tangled up” but also drives everything along with a dual vocal performance of male voice “call” and female vocal “response” on the lyrics “can we make it like we used to be? Yeah, we had it, and it made sense. I've forgotten what you used to see in me. Now we're fading the the past tense.”

The second verse strikes even closer to an utterly relatable point. “What if I told you that things still weigh me down? Sometimes I'm happy that you're not around! Because it beats and it breaks inside of me. What if I told you what's been on my mind. That I'm somehow moving on. I don't know what to call this, but YOU can call it whatever you want.” It all references the futility and resignation that the one your holding out hope for is just a toxic waste of time. Second pass through the “oh you gotta gotta give me more” bridge surprises with some brilliant snare-drum press rolls that further attest to the quality detail within this song.

A dramatic emotional peak is reached with thirty seconds to go as guitars and voices rise on the lyrics “We're fading, We're fading in the past tense – Yeahhhhhhh. We're fading (We don't know what to call this) We're fading in the past tense (but we can call it – call it whatever we want).”

Listen for yourself to this exquisite song right here:

Connect with the artists via these avenues:

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This past June saw DaveCromwellWrites featuring a detailed review of England's The Suncharms first preview from their 30 years in the making (!) proper full-length debut album. No doubt over those three decades there have been numerous one-off singles and perhaps an EP or two. This site has been a sharer in two of the most recent compilation releases, with 2019's “Jet Plane” and the aforementioned “Liquid Through My Hands” garnering feature review. Now with the release of “Distant Lights,” ten full tracks (with two bonus cuts on the CD release) are given deep-dive treatment.

Coming right out the gate with the title track, a mysterious low buzz texture introduces an indie guitar-bass and drum progression, while continuing to rumble underneath. Marcus Palmer's vocals come on smooth and intimate, with enough FX's to create an subtle otherworldly feel. There's that familiar sandpaper quality to Marcus' voice when reaching the penultimate line “gotta reach those distant lights tonight (last word pronounced “na-ha-hight”). A churning low-end chuggernaught swirls around one set of guitar textures, while cleaner chiming chords compliment on a parallel course. Bass guitar steps out on the final half-minute, driving the melodic pattern to it's conclusion.

Dream of a Time Machine” opens with celestial tones and twinkling forms before heavier guitar and bass amble in with relaxed purpose. Percussion is crisp cymbal busy as extended melody notes ride over top. Vocals lines come alternately clean, then double-phased and echoed on verses, while the chorus runs in harmony with a distinct guitar-line. A monster-hook develops right after that with full trap-set drumming, dominant guitar melody and featured turn-around bass-line. Overall, the easy-going groove and vocal lines like “the sound of the tambourine” (with that instrument suddenly prominent at that moment) “and a dream of a time machine” touches on a similar 1990's appeal The Stone Roses or even Oasis frequently captured.

A whip-crack drum fill kicks off “Three Billion Heartbeats,” as dual guitars spill out chiming melodies conjuring up feels of days gone by. Marcus' fuzzy vocals and those prominent guitars evoke the best of 1960's era British Invasion pop. Gerry and the Pacemakers, Hermans Hermits, The Hollies, Freddie and the Dreamers, The Searchers and of course that Liverpool band that begins with a “B” all formed a Merseybeat sound that is exquisitely portrayed in this song. “I don't know why” serves as the lyrical focal-point on it's beautifully plaintive chorus.

The aforementioned “Liquid Through My Hands” (slotted in the fourth spot) previously received a full review here. Initially released on the wonderful Sunday Records compilation "Something Beautiful," this full album is once again being distributed by that great indie label. Fifth cut “Cast a Spell” launches into it's chiming rhythm at full speed right from the start. With steady-strummed guitar blocking out it's progression, a commanding extended-note guitar line pours out the catchiest of melodies. Solid tom-tom fills abound, adding depth and weight to the proceedings, before the lyrical story unfolds. “Can you cast a spell on me?” is asked at the chorus, as substantial guitar melodies swirl around this request. Brilliant use of dynamics appear to be a hallmark of what The Suncharms do, never allowing a song to just “lay there,” but rather lift things to new levels. Another exalted instrumental break at the tracks midpoint conveying one more testament to that.

Precious Hour” digs in deeper with a full bore indie pop feel. Chiming guitars ring out like clarion bells and Marcus soothes with razor rough vocals, summarily enhanced by softer female tones. A slightly off-kilter texture works into the mix, creating an unexpected sonic foil for the twangy guitar licks on top. “Gotta live in the moment,” Marcus coos - “accept that things will pass” comes presented in total Jesus and Mary Chain style. “Expect the darkness and the light,” he continues - “is just the passing of time.” Arriving at the ultimate denouement “just give me – that ONE hour – where the planets are aligned” - indeed.

Propulsive drums and bass guitar drive the solid rhythmic currents on “Seas of Titan.” Not that there isn't a strong lead guitar melody (there assuredly is) to go along with this mythical nautical lyrical theme. “I shook my fist, I can't believe – this – is – true” becomes the repeating vocal hook that catches your ear and takes hold.  “Jewels” dips back into the Merseybeat pool with it's bright guitar hook and Beatle-y rhythmic progression. A perfect blend of sweeping guitar line on top, bass guitar counter rhythms and quick shuffle drumming. Even the vocals take a turn with higher-pitched verses against more familiar tones stating “those precious nights we spent, on the coastal path – that path was lit by the light of the moon” - ultimately concluding with “a path that's lit by treasures and jewels.”

Casting Shadows” takes an alternate direction, opting for a softer ballad approach. Instrumentation is understated, with light percussion and acoustic guitars providing just the right minimal touch. That said, there is a lovely guitar solo woven through the middle that compliments an overall sentimental feel. Against the lyrics “looking up – taking flight” - what sounds like a trumpet creates one more unexpected sonic moment.  A big, bold and buzzy guitar line kicks off album closer “Lucifer.” With acoustic guitar churning out the chords progression (and impressive rhythm section doing what's done the entire album), one more toe is dipped in Jesus and Mary Chain (sonic) waters, while lyrical references to the songs title suggest a cautionary tale.

Check out this fantastic album, including how to acquire it here:

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On September 13, 2021 we lost our beautiful boy cat Nicky after 14 wonderful years together.  He came to our home as a two month old (with his sister, who mercifully is still with us) in August 2007.  He was the most perfect cat you could ever be so blessed to share this life with and will be sincerely missed.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.  There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.

There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor.  Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing, they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance.  His bright eyes are intent.

His eager body quivers.  Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.

The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together . . .

A serious book reader.

I've got my eyes on you.

Could be quite stylish at times.

But always adorable.

Will be remembered forever.

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