Friday, June 28, 2024

Cerebral Inquiries Into New Full Album Releases

Full-length Album Reviews are the DaveCromwellWrites focus this go round, as the Summer has now officially begun. Extensive track-by-track analysis is delivered on new releases from artists whose earlier work have been previously featured here on this site. Glam-fronted punky pop rockers share space with a brilliant recreation/tribute to one of the original glam-rocker’s finest works. Rounding out the feature is a new full album release from creative alternative pop rockers.

It’s been far too long since DCW had the opportunity to review new music from enduring Queens, NY rockers GIFTSHOP.  Fortunately that wait is over as the band has just released their latest 9 track album “A Bunch Of Singles.”  Comprised of some previously released (and reviewed here) singles, five new entries complete the collection, giving us a broader spectrum of rock to dig into. Additionally, a music video accompanies the song that represents their hometown neighborhood and the people who inhabit it.

An unexpected piano-driven power ballad is the first new (to this site) song “There’s You.” With slow moving open arpeggio piano chords and rim-clack percussion, Meghan Taylor’s intimate vocals express a longing nature in lyrics shared. “Oh, so lonely - and oh, it shows - and though I'm broken -you know, no one knows.” Out of this sadness, an uplifting moment arrives with the beautifully harmonized, simple four word chorus “and then, there’s you.” Distinctive guitar figures are placed at just the right moments here, adding necessary accents. The second verse has the piano dropping out, leaving a low bass hum as an even more personal sonic field for Meghan’s heartfelt delivery.  Fuller drums kick in behind the subsequent chorus, which adds a pivotal change “and then, it’s true.”

A re-visitation of early era favorite “Spooky Halloween Christmas” adds a “Too” now, while injecting Ska/Rockabilly horns into this macabre delight. Meghan’s vocals are less Debbie Harry (as on the original) and more her own, with fuller emphatic delivery.  The walking bassline is still dominant, while appropriate sleigh-bells accompany monster-mash “ghoulish ride” aside voices. The accents are crisp and tight with the head-bopping, catchy chorus “It's Hallows' Eve with Christmas Trees! Skulls are hanging from the evergreens.”

Built on a deep, chugging, stoner-rock groove, “The Breakthrough” contemplates on the things you’ve needed to do in becoming the person you now are. Giftshop never wastes anyone’s time in getting to the hook, however and it’s a singalong beauty with the lyrics “nothing can stop us now – Are you with me?” Lyrical insight and introspection point out how “glittering gold” is “too good to be true,” and “the journey of lies turned into the truth.” A mid-point breakdown shifts the rhythm while providing a bit of uplift and hope after all the “compromises.” Delivered in call-and-response fashion, “you make a living by when you get” is followed by “you make a life by what you give.” The addition of a rising slide-guitar here provides musical gravity to this ultimate realization “breakthrough.”  Repeated vocal “wow” at the end drive home this necessary point.

Arriving with a cameo-filled video of local friends and followers, the already live show favorite sing-along “Astoria” delivers on it’s promise. Opening the footage with quick shots of their favorite hometown places, the bass guitar driven intro meets buzzing-bee axe for the musical throwdown. With copious amounts of live show footage from local favorite bar “Dominie’s” 2023 annual celebration event, the camera follows glamorous lead vocalist Meghan into the venue. The essential riff is sharp and precise, with drums and guitar accenting the changes. Long time fans are visible in front of the band as much of the footage is shot from behind. Quick cuts of the band members are of course necessary and included, as views from both inside and out of the space dance across the screen. Lyrically the song is as instantly classic as “New York, New York” or “I Love LA.” This time, however it is a love tome to a prominent NYC borough. “Drop me off at the Broadway stop NO! Not in Manhattan - This is my happy place - Join the Queens bandwagon.” The brilliant simplicity of the songs single title word chorus is all you need for fist pumping fans to leap on that bandwagon in that joyous moment of camaraderie.

Check out this wonderful video here:

The band also includes a cover of the groundbreaking classic 90’s Radiohead song “Creep.” While the band charges through it’s progression with thunderous glee, Meghan let’s loose with a powerful voice that hits every note. And who hasn’t at some point in their lives related to the lyrics “what the hell am I doing here? I don't belong here." Tacked on the end is a 41 second punk rock short that joyously concludes with the chanted lines “loaded diaper.”

Earlier released singles from this album are reviewed here: “More Than That” / “Kewl With Me” and “Stylish Junkie

Check out the full album on their Bandcamp (including how to acquire it).

Previous Reviews Featuring Giftshop can be found on this site here, here, here and here.

Follow GIFTSHOP on their Social Media: Official Website - Facebook - Instagram

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Julian Shah-Tayler is one of those multi-disciplinary musicians who appear to be always busy. In addition to writing, recording and touring his own music as The Singularity, he still finds the time to play live shows as a key member of very popular Depeche Mode tribute band Strangelove. Not content with all of that, he also does an impressive David Bowie show, encompassing the thin white duke’s beloved catalog. In that regard he has released a “50th Anniversary of Diamond Dogs full cover album.” DCW digs down now into this ambitious project, listening for a new interpretation of a treasured classic.

Putting his immediate unique personal stamp on opening track “Future Legend,” bold synthesizers provide an ominous background for the spoken word apocalyptic vision. Julian’s proper English accent and voice is deeper than Bowie’s reedier tone, and today’s modern production qualities add a richness that the DB self-produced original couldn’t accomplish in 1974. The lyrics still strike hard as when first heard by this writer back then: “Fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats And ten thousand peoploids split into small tribes.” A dystopian world is all that’s left, and will end “any day now."

One more spoken word phrase sets up the title track, as Julian delivers the pivotal line “This ain't Rock'n'Roll - This is – Genocide!” Having performed, produced, mixed and mastered everything by himself, Julian stays true to the originals chunky guitar riffing and cowbell percussion. Lifting his voice back up into more familiar Bowie register (the steady #bowietribute shows he does surely solidifies and hones this skill) the initially (and still) amusing lyrics “As they pulled you out of the oxygen tent - You asked for the latest party.” The younger, more reckless version of myself could almost relate to this. The next line “with your silicone hump and your ten inch stump,” however was far more of a head-scratcher. Other catch phrases like “mannequins with kill appeal” always stuck and are delivered here by Julian with aplomb. The chugging Rolling Stone-like chorus turns the mood a bit more rock and roll party, singing “come out of the garden, baby - you'll catch your death in the fog. Young girl, they call them the Diamond Dogs.” Julian adds new touches to certain lines, like the “Halloween Jack” verse where sonic echoes enhance the lyrics “so he slides down a rope.” Special mention to the bass playing here, which playfully adds wonderful counter rhythms.


Julian drops his voice down into a lower register for the introductory sequence on the piano-driven 8 minute opus “Sweet Thing.” That quickly shifts to the more Bowie-esque tenor on the line “and isn't it me, putting pain in a stranger?” before going full also on "Boys, Boys, its a sweet thing.” This vocal flex shows Julian’s ability to reinterpret the original croon while simultaneously putting his own stamp on it. Thematically depicting sex-for-sale as transactional commodity, it gets woven into “hope” being a “cheap thing.” Wonderful buzzy guitar lines ride over top of the primary piano chords, leading into the “Candidate” midsection. Notable high harmonies grace the lines “some make you sing and some make you scream - one makes you wish that you'd never been seen” while making pop culture references to Charlie Manson and Cassius Clay. Rattle tambourine quickens the pace behind desperation lines “Anyone out there? Any time?" and “When it's good, it's really good, and when it's bad I go to pieces." The resigned nihilistic partners agree to “buy some drugs and watch a band - then jump in the river holding hands.” Julian masterfully handles the “Reprise” section, going full falsetto on final powerful lines “then let it be, it's all I ever wanted. It's a street with a deal, and a taste. It's got claws, it's got me, it's got youuuuu.”

Not content to simply re-hash Bowie's most covered track, Julian turns the signature opening riff of "Rebel Rebel" on it’s head with a bass and drums intro, followed by keyboards in place of that recognizable hook. It’s as if Alan Wilder-era Depeche Mode is responsible for this delightful 80-90’s (decades after the original) recreation. Not to sit on one musical statement too long, buzzy guitar does make it’s appearance in that riff spot on the second pass through. The pure joy of these rock and roll lyrics still remain with us all, so many years later. “You like me, and I like it all - We like dancing and we look divine - You love bands when they're playing hard - You want more and you want it fast.” Additional musical interludes like the extended “bongo” production on the “Don’t ya?” segment is curiously inventive.

Julian returns to his dead-on Bowie croon for the Geoff MacCormack co-written power ballad “Rock and Roll With Me.” Noteworthy as being Bowie's first co-writing credit on one of his own albums, the song made the album having been salvaged from a planned but never-completed “Ziggy Stardust musical.” Julian gives it a proper rock and roll treatment, building it around guitars, bass and drums. Memorable lyrics from those formative and impressionable days like “lizards lay crying in the heat” and “I would take a foxy kind of stand - While tens of thousands found me in demand” are still a delight from this 50 years after perspective.

Electric piano serves as the primary musical force behind the William Burroughs/George Orwell inspired “We Are The Dead.” Believed to have been lyrically constructed via Burroughs's famous "cut-up" technique, Julian puts his all in the vocals during big production sections. Still enamored by the line “but I love you in your fuck-me pumps” (stylish teenage lust is hard to shake, even at this advanced age) it’s still a grim resolution “Because of all we've seen, because of all we've said - We are the dead.

There’s a subtle trap-hop element to the percussion on Julian’s adaptation of the Orwell inspired “1984.” While acoustic tone guitars initially move around the edges, an unexpected fiddle-sound saws away through center. Funk-guitar is introduced on the second verse as the narrator once again ultimately warns “Beware the savage jaw – of 1984.” Chunkier power chords move in to augment the “come see, come see, remember me?” change section. Things move deeper into a soul direction for the third “I’m looking for a vehicle” section, especially via bass guitar propulsion and funk strummed chords.

The final entry “Big Brother/Chant of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family” finds Julian keeping true-to-the-original reading of the initial rock portion. Tandem bass and drum propulsion with slithering buzz guitar notes around those memorable lyrics. Referencing “dust and roses,” the fey aside “or should we powder our noses?” ultimately give way to “give me steel, give me steel, give me pulses unreal.” The hook always delivers “Someone to claim us, someone to follow - Someone to shame us, some brave Apollo - Someone to fool us, someone like you - We want you Big Brother.” The songs original concept was meant for an adaptation of Orwell’s totalitarian future society 1984. When that project could not be made, at least we got this song here. Julian captures those delightful mid-track melody lines via unique synth tones. Similarly, the reinterpretation of the final chant (which is meant to echo Winston’s “two minutes of hate” depicted in Orwell’s book) benefits from modern production qualities here, and brings the album to it’s conclusion.

Check out this amazing album in full here:

Connect with Julian Shah-Tayler/The Singularity via his Social Media: Facebook - Instagram

Previous Features on Julian and his music can be found on this site here and here.

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Last summer DCW reviewed the first single and opening track “Superflower” from The Crushing Violets forthcoming full length album “Filaments of Creation.” That album is now here in it’s entirely, and naturally curiosity has been peaked about what the other tracks sound like. With Antanina (vocals) and BP Brooks (guitars, vocals) writing all the songs, Mick Hargreaves mixed, engineered, played some additional instruments and co-produced with the band. It was recorded at Lantern Sound Recording Rig, in Manorville, NY.

Taking a sequential approach through the album, first new (to this site) track “Hollywood” emerges out of a rat-a-tat drum intro. The progression moves forward at a power ballad pacing and vocals come in tandem, with BP’s male tones out front. Those vocals are further enhanced by guitar lines echoing it’s melody. Not really about California’s movie making capital, the title word’s singular reference comes in the lyrical sequence “now the house is gray - here's a ghost inside these walls today - Hollywood seems so far away.” The following cut “It’s 2am” is an acoustic guitar (only) powered folk song ruminating on introspective thoughts had in those early morning hours. Where “your ghosts will haunt you,” “can’t find what you lost,” and “can’t hide from who you are.” Even though “you got lost among the stars” it’s important to “remember who you are,” and that you belong there.

A chugging Rolling Stones style guitar progression followed by solid drums and bass kick off “Then You Shine.” It’s laid back “Exile On Main Street” vibe echoes that watershed album’s soulful voices with Antanina’s contributions on each verse title line resolution. While BP’s vocals (and all the backing vocal production overall) deliver the poetic lyrics clearly, his guitar solo near the 2 minute mark really sings. Bigger rock production and well placed minor/seventh chords in the songs progression enhance the Antanina voiced “When We Dream.” It all comes together gloriously on the lyrical hook “We’re going where the summer’s waiting - I’m dreaming of enchanted places - We’ll be” and the powerful guitar-bass-drums instrumental section that follows. A return to introspection runs through the acoustic guitar only, predominant BP vocal on “Anyway.” Antanina adds tender harmonies to lyrical content that emphasizes “darkest dream,” “the end of time” and how ultimately “the world is a stage.”

A curious backward motion guitar effect introduces the full bass and drums accompanied, BP lead voiced “Lost in Space.” Reaching the catchy chorus hook in under a minutes, both voices harmonize on the lovely sentiment “if you just hold my hand, we could walk in the sand - Lost in Space.” A wonderfully tasty Dickey Betts style guitar solo graces the song’s midpoint, adding musical sensitivity, sweetness and light. A surprising tempo change commences at the two and a half minute mark, lifting the overall progression to a higher level. Album closer “Back to Neptune” has Antanina weaving a tale of “two lover churning deep beneath the waves” on that giant blue planet. An interesting mix of mellotron-style flutes serve up an instrumental interlude between vivid imagery of “flashing cosmic rays” with “200 billion stars to light the way.”

A full review of the albums opening track and first single “Superflower” can be found here.

Dig in to the whole album, including how to acquire it here:

Follow The Crushing Violets on their Social Media - Official Website - Facebook - InstagramBandcamp

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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Persuasive Examination Regarding New and Recent Audio Releases

Four enticing musical releases from over the last few weeks are the focus here within this months DaveCromwellWrites. Critical attention is applied to all aspects of songwriting, sound design and lyrical acumen. Favored genres that focus on fuzzy dream pop, pedalboards, indie rock, goth pop, witchy magic spells. alternative, electronica and post power pop all share space here in this latest deep dive analysis.

Reaching out to the DCW universe is a new band formed within the last year out of Nashville, Tennessee going by the uniquely lettered name Hushhh. Perhaps those extra “h’s” are for their hot, heavy and huge sound. If that smacks of a writers literary projection, what’s certain is quality level of songwriting and musicianship the band delivers. Having released their debut EP "Summer Medication" last October, a new video treatment for featured song “In My Head” has recently arrived now as well. DCW digs in to it’s sound and imagery with an ear (and eye) for it’s essential components.

Compressed, forceful drum strokes lead the song out of the gate before buzz-gaze guitars and locked-together bass enter the mix. Four distinct chords are delivered in a descending sequence that immediately triggers memories of peak-era Dinosaur Jr. The band members are visible from the start of their video, walking down the street, putting stickers up on the back of street signs, getting coffees and ultimately on stage playing a show. The instruments pull back as vocals begin “Paranoid – can’t believe the words I say,” followed by that classic deep-twang hook you hear in the very best alternative rock songs (like The Cure, etc). The earworm hook is reached in well under a minute with the line “life keeps dragging – on and on and on and on and on and on through hell.” This commences a sequence of building riffs over lines “I can't tell if I will ever be well again” with higher register chiming guitar lines blending in with blurred voices against images of the band doing things in their local community.

The second verse continues the songs introspective, soul-searching feel with the lyrics “Wish I was Happy all the time - Impossible - Impossible is what I find.” Back to that catchy chorus as imagery of video game screens, the band onstage and walking around through their community. The music continues to build and the percussive accents and instrumental turn-arounds are crisp, precise and oh-so-tasty. There’s a cool minor chord (or is it a 7th?) drop on the end these passages that points to a more sophisticated level of songwriting (all within the confines of a 4 minute plus rock song). At the midpoint, a quieter moment of guitar strumming and softer cymbals sets up internal conflict lyrics “Dragging on and on and on and on and on in my head,” before one more explosive run through the hook. At 3 minutes in the tempo shifts dramatically and the overall progression slows to a doom-gazer pace inside a glorious shimmer. A ghostly circular image appears on the video, morphing between what might be a ring light and a moon / sun-like planetary figure above.

Check out this kick-ass song and video here:

Follow the exploits of Hushhh via their Social Media here:

and through their Linktree.

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This past January DCW reviewed the two singles gazey dreampoppers Phantom Wave released at that time, in anticipation of their full-length album “Bonfire Secrets.” Comprised of Ian Carpenter (guitar/vocals), Rachel Fischer (drums) and Yanek Che (bass), a focused songwriting style and compatible musicianship fully realizes this sound. Having put the whole album out since then, and with additional distribution from our friends at Shoredive Records, it’s time to dig down into every other song from that release.

Moving past those previously mentioned singles, deeper cut “Shook” builds around a more controlled drum pattern with floating toms enhancing the dominant snare work. Vocals again hearken back to the classic 90’s alterna-pop bands, while guitars shimmer.  A rising progression continues to build, leading everything out to conclusion.    “Paceline” opens with a rough edge, before dropping the harshness back momentarily as bass guitar drives along. The big emotional chorus brings that wall of guitars back for dramatic exposure.

Modulated guitar textures provide harmonic effect on introductory guitar chords for “Comet Gain.” The initial vibe is easy going and laid back, like Dean Wareham’s original band Galaxie 500. Things get punchier, though once the lyrical hook “spark it good” is reached. A more chaotic wall of sonic disturbance swirls around more structured bass and drums, so diligently attempting to hold it all together. This lengthy, over six minute track reaches it’s emotional peak with the lyrics “and you – so true.”

Reaching the album’s mid-point has the band taking the above-mentioned “easy vibe” a step further into dreamy romanticism with “Astral.” Just when you think this is shaping up to be another over six minute exercise in two-chord meditation, the tempo begins to quicken near the 3 minute mark. Feeling more now like the hurried pace and soaring overtones of Ringo Deathstarr, vocals reveal how “somehow everything’s gold.” Bass guitar cuts loose with melodies while the drums slosh and clatter with wanton impunity. “Got you up in dreams - fly along and be” is the battle cry.

Dipping back into the “Cure-style” pool with it’s open string guitar chord phrasing and Simon Gallop-esque penetrating bass comes the more “reasonable” length “Spiraling.”  It doesn’t go on like this too long before a gazey wash of white noise and cymbal slosh accompanies lyrics “Hey there, hey there, hey there, right on there.” Stand out melodic guitar lines also remind why we revere that Robert Smith led band so much, right down to the middle-break of this instant classic song.

Coming in as the longest track track on the album (at 6:42) the appropriately titled “Burning Clocks” moves the bands sound closer to prime-era Cocteau Twins, with Guthrie-style guitar and Raymonde-esque bass. That vibe continues onto it’s primary change, with the lyrics “what can I tell you - feelings transmit - stay on horizon - stay on.” Guitar riffs and their associated noisy textures become more urgent and boisterous during instrumental passages from the midpoint on. Higher-end cymbals and guitar tones pair well with the lower register bass. A plateau is reach after four minutes which allows for the songs title line to be sung “the burning clocks, the twilight smiles.” One more pivot to a sonic liftoff emphasizing the aforementioned “stay on” vocal.

Fireworks” is introduced by way of natural sounding trap drum set laying down a warm, organic beat. Chime guitar and deep twang bass flood the sonic space as a lyrical tale of conflict unfolds. “Woebegone, don’t stay long” becomes the essential chorus placement hook.  Dynamic forward-pounding, rising-note segments are repeated for dramatic effect. “So much trouble, push it all away, away” is the ultimate resolution to these pyrotechnics.

Listen to this perfect gazey album and find out how to acquire it here:

Follow Phantom Wave on their Instagram , Facebook and Bandcamp

A previous feature of the band on this Site can be found here.

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It’s been a minute since this site checked in on the distinctive style PR Rep William Z and his Moon Coil Media clientele have been up to. Having featured a number of their high-quality artists here over the last few years, the time to dip into that well has arrived once again. Digging into New York (and sometimes Vermont) based Witchy Goth Pop artist Metamorph is an eye (and ear) opening experience. The inspired project of veteran musician Margot Day, her multi-range vocals, songwriting and flute playing are blended with dark synth electronics. Recent song release “HEX” has been given an official Stabbing Westward remix by the bands founder Chris Hall.  Additionally, an Official “Witchy Matrix” Visualizer accompanies that track, receiving a detailed analysis below.

With large pentagram earrings on immediate display, Margot Day strikes the classic gothic rock figure, conjuring the spirit world with expressive imagery. The recognizable Stabbing Westward industrial synth-pulse and matching percussion charges forward, enhanced by Margot’s flute textures.  Vocals commence with mystical lyrics “Your eyes, like onyx stones, a power source dark and deep - when our eyes meet we gleam.”

The visual and audio mood is seductive as Margot reveals to both “glamour up” and become “Guardians of love.” You had to expect a “spell” was coming (it “drops” and the “night wakes”) with the ambient prelude and single title word “Hex.” However, rather than an incantation calling up bad luck or trouble, the magic has amorous intent. “I want what I want when I want it - babe I want you” is how the dancefloor banger chorus goes. The spell is cast in a “dollhouse discoteque” where lovers “glimmer the night away.”

Check out this bewitching song and video here:

Follow Metamorph via their LinkTree here

A previous feature on a Moon Coil Media artist can be found on this site here.

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What seems like a while ago (but actually only two months) UK Rockers It’s Karma It’s Cool’s spinoff side project Solitary Bee reached out with their latest single “Love Wakes Up.” Giving that one the old Cromwell review at that time, they now return with a brand new release “Autumn Recruits.” That quirky track now receives the deep-dive DCW analysis to decipher it’s fundamental melodic and lyrical revelations.

The sound of a buzzing synth (a solitary bee?) are the introductory audible moments before vocalist Jim Styring fervidly delivers lines “all the leaves on the trees on vacation.” Byrds-ian ricken-jangle guitar chords chime and measured bass notes mark out musical parameters. Drums enter the mix while “naked branches” have “deep conversations” about earlier times (poetically referenced as “the lives fully clothed they once had”). More is discovered about these seasonal “recruits” with the twee question “but did they ever say goodbye? When they left a hole in the sky. In their golden space suits.” 

While comparing the browning of autumn leaves with “golden space suits” is quite imaginative, the sonic elements now in full motion are equally impressive. A rippling keyboard line repeatedly descends while bass guitar provides counter melodic movement. The songs midpoint pulls everything back, but for an acoustic guitar, some subtle synth pulses as Jim’s reprises those thematic opening lines. The full band charges forward with the primary theme and lines “I’m hoping they all learned to fly, before they jumped from way up, all the autumn recruits.” A final quick instrumental breakdown emerges that leads the whole track out in layered call-and-response vocals and twinkling pulse arpeggios.

Listen to this sweet and sophisticated track here:

Follow the band here and here.

A recent song review feature covering Solitary Bee on this site can be found here.

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Sunday, April 28, 2024

Ardent Reviews of New Singles and Video Releases

As the opening third of this year moves into its next phase wrapped in a springtime hue, recent singles become the inspiration for a quality listen and subsequent review analysis. Along with this site’s frequent penchant for dreamgaze audio coupled with ethereal vocals, intriguing videos that add insight to the song’s story will receive descriptive notice as well. With three new artists garnering initial attention for their inspiring work here, an old favorite returns with a welcome new release.

New discoveries continue to find their way onto the DaveCromwellWrites soundscape. An artists personal motivation has a lot to do with that, as is the case of currently active Glasswing Butterfly. Primarily the solo project of Tunisian musician Hsin Trabelsi, who is an accomplished bassist with other musical projects, recently released a single and video for his song “Faded Dreamscape.” A focused review of both elements follow below.

Coming out of the gate in full flight motion, the track quickly powers along a rising chord progression, throbbing bass and sharp cymbal/snare drum percussive beats. Chiming guitar melody lines enter the mix, adding musical hooks to the proceedings. Quick moving images of trees passing by (from cameras shot in rear view mirrors), city street images overlaid along with an intriguing gray cat all make appearances. As skateboarders and shoreline images come into view, vocals commence with classic dreamgaze stylings. “I wish I stayed young-to feel the highs under the stars-days rushed away,” presented in an elongated cadence. The mood is reflective and nostalgic, in search of recapturing a feeling you once experienced. Campers, flotation tubes, game screens, flowers and starry skies all make an appearance against the backdrop of this shearing, hyper-drive audio force.

A dual direction pair of guitar melodies add both a rising and descending hook while images of escalators, camera film and moving clouds continue this surreal sonic exposure. As the track continues to buzz along its pleasurable impulses, vocals imploring “take me again to what felt good” runs parallel with views of mysterious locals and the ever present camera. A bright light in the sky and it’s reflection in the water below suggests almost religious or spiritual elements in this story. While a lone figure spinning inside a spiral staircase cuts to pathways walked in other (equally) exotic locales. The music never falters, continuing it’s relentless forward motion of low rumble bass, soothing vocals and clanging percussion until the final roll to conclusion.

Check out this amazing track and video here:

Follow Glasswing Butterfly on Social Media here and here.

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Another new band making their presence felt here at DCW are the Britpop-inspired grungegazers Square Wave. Their recently released single “Too Far” has the trio emphasizing their skills in an impressive way. Self-proclaimed influences of Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” Primal Scream’s “Screamadelica” and MBV’s “Loveless” can never steer you wrong. Other name-checked 90’s-through-present-times icons like The Smashing Pumpkins and Ride complete the need to take a serious listen and attempt to unravel it’s creative elements.

Fuzzy bass guitar kicks off the proceedings. marking out a deep wobble groove till a snare drum shot hits as both vocals and buzz guitar commence simultaneously. Singing out the title line in an elongated cadence (“tooooo toooooo faaaarrr”) the three instruments lock together with precision, laying out a rumbling rise and fall progression. The lyrics are sharp and biting against churning rhythms “I see the freedom in your eyes, as you cross the divide – are you an angel in disguise, or just a trick” while a snaking singular guitar line runs parallel alongside.

Intuitive use of brief, less-intense plateau instrumental breaks keep everything from devolving into one single level of sound. The sharp rhythms and snaking buzz-guitar lines continue as vocals state “there’s the bug inside my brain, and he’s driving me insane – wish I could tell him to stop – but I don’t speak bug!” (Clever). All throughout are powerful instrumental elements occurring simultaneously, like quick percussive bursts on cymbals, those aforementioned slither-buzz guitar lines and the ever present lockdown bass. Two minutes in to this densely layers, very compact 2:52 in length track the chorus hook is revisited once more with dynamic punch, ultimately leading out to its explosive conclusion.

Follow Square Wave on their Instagram here.

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Another impressive new-to-this-site musical collective are the Filipino dream pop duo based in Dubai called WYWY. Having recently released their latest album "Whispers of Existence," the band states how it came about through six years of hard work and dedication. As one might expect over that length of time, it reflects a variety of experiences had along the way. One element of their impeccable sound is the employment of Slowdive’s Simon Scott for the album’s mastering process. A detailed breakdown on one particular creative audio track and associated video follows below.

Recently released video for their track “Disconnected” pairs minimalist audio dream-like ambiance with stark black and white imagery. Deep thump percussion is matched by sleigh-bell chimes amid a slow-moving David Lynchian atmosphere. Cars moving along city streets slowly reveal a bridge where the vocalist begins her tale. “It’s not easy” she begins in an ethereal, reverberated style that recalls Julie Cruise and her contributions to those essential Twin Peaks moments. There’s also an extended quality to her vocals, where end of lines sung have an emotional vibrato effect. Those pleasing vocal stylings were prominent with legendary singers like Harriet Wheeler of The Sundays and bands like LoveSpiralsDownwards on the indie Project label.

A mysterious video technique portrays her counterpart figure with an unrecognizable, distorted face. As if a constant moving “scratch out” of their facial features follow them throughout. They ultimately move on to where she is driving a car and her obscured passenger sits in the back. Her voice is quite beautiful in the most soothing and enchanting way. Midway through she sings “I am broken” leading to the title line “I feel disconnected,” as the pair moves on to a beach “I’m disconnected” she sings in the most angelic way. However, one must consider if the “disconnected” individual is actually the one with all that static covering their face. Moments later a break in the music gives way to the actual sound of computer modem having difficulty – well – connecting. Her voice now joins in with this electronic chaos – before the facially obscured person embraces her. The musical end out is lush and glorious, bringing to mind another beautifully retro band Cults.

Check out this wonderful video and song right here:

Follow WYWY for more updates here:

Facebook  -  Instagram  -  Bandcamp  -  Spotify  -  Itunes

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Speaking of the aforementioned band Cults, a somewhat younger version of the writer composing this review feature (13 years, in fact) made sure to catch their live show at the 2011 SXSW Festival in Austin Texas. Their breakthrough music at that time captured the perfect balance of timeless retro with technological proficiency. Developing an instant affinity for their sound and overall look (capably fronted by adorable vocalist Madeline Follin) a determined effort to catch as many of their shows at that time was accomplished. In addition to the above-mentioned SXSW show, additional appearances a few weeks later were caught at The Mercury Lounge in NYC, three months later at The House of Vans in Brooklyn, as well as a memorable casual face-to-face chat with Madeline at the bar in-between other artists appearances (she wasn’t even performing – just hanging out) at this show.  Fast forward to the present, and the exciting news that Cults are back with a brand new single “Crybaby.” DaveCromwellWrites now digs down into this track in an attempt to detail all the wonders it has to offer.

With instruments commencing in full motion, cathedral chime bells, rhythmic bongo-toned percussion and deep twang guitar lay out a rising progression. Madeline begins her vocals with the lines “bad company – is every day the same routine?” Sung now with a more mature quality to her voice, the diction is still clear and alluring. Fellow band cohort Brian Oblivion underscores each vocal line with mysterious instrumental emphasis.  Heavy phased-out drums thunder the next moments, with a forceful ascending guitar stroke behind the vocal line “I’m slowly losing sympathy.” The chorus hits perfectly one minute in on an off-kilter double-clang guitar chord and FX’d drum roll. “Crybaby” she sings out in full now as shaker tambourine highlights the moment. Her voice is harmonized on the title word with a trailing of synthesized extension. 

Photo by Shervin Lainez

The second verse and chorus follow a similar pattern with subtle instrumental features like rat-a-tat snare drum touches.  Forward rhythmic motion comes to a brief slowdown on the bridge section that implores one to “dry your eyes, baby – turn off the scream.”  A buzzing low-tones synth pulses hard underneath as glocken-chimes trade off with single-note guitar tones.  The final run through of this mesmerizing chorus features wobbly synth undercurrents, an emphatic shadow vocal reply after each primary “Crybaby” line and appealing snare drum rolls.  Essential subtext vocal line “so caught up in your misery” points to the bands insight on how the song is a call out to both sides of codependency.

Check out this intoxicating song here:

The band has announced a U.S. Headline Summer Tour, play Lollapalooza in August and will support Vampire Weekend this Fall.

Follow Cults on  -  Instagram  -  Facebook  -  Twitter  -  Official Website

Previous Features and Videos on this band, exclusive to this site follow below.

Cults - Bumper - live @ Mercury Lounge, March 31, 2011 

 A duet between Cults vocalists Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion - which they announce from stage as "a song you can dance to" (and Madeline dances through every one) - the back-and-forth vocals are appealing on many levels.

Cults - Most Wanted - live @ House of Vans Party - June 30, 2011

The loveliness of Cults is apparent for all to see. I am quite the fan of their retro (yet modern) sound. Despite being sandwiched between wild bands that encourage complete audience mayhem - Cults won the crowd over with their sweet, soulful sound. Here is "Most Wanted"

Cults - You Know What I Mean - live @ Mercury Lounge, March 31, 2011

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Cults - Go Outside - live @ Mercury Lounge, March 31, 2011

Cults performed one of their most recognized songs - "Go Outside" live at The Mercury Lounge. Mixing Motown, 60's girl group and flat-out Diana Ross with The Supremes stylings (all embedded in guitar-and-glockenspiel enhanced layers and tasteful usage of samples) - it's retro with a modern feel.

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Here is that same song  at Day Party @ Emo's - SXSW - Austin, Texas, March 18, 2011. Start the third day of SXSW with a must see show (cause that album is so incredible). Cults did not disappoint. A quick look at the sights and sounds and a minute clip of “Go Outside” (because we all did).

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Cults - Rave On - live @ House of Vans - June 30, 2011

Additional Live Show Coverage can be found below

Cults - The Curse - live @ Mercury Lounge, March 31, 2011

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Monday, March 25, 2024

The Jesus and Mary Chain: Glasgow Eyes - Album Review; We Melt Chocolate; Solitary Bee

Extensive deep-dive analysis is always the primary focus here at DaveCromwellWrites, and this month of March review continues that practice. Storied legends returns with their much-anticipated brand new studio album, delighting fans old and new along the way. Additionally, a frequently reviewed, trusted music label presents yet-another dazzling new find. Rounding things out is a side project from more recent new friends of this site, all helping to unlock the secrets of this universe.

It would be difficult to name a band more influential on the life of this site’s writer and extended family than The Jesus And Mary Chain. Their now 40 year recording career has served as the soundtrack for nearly every significant passage experienced in this matrix called life. Throughout their inception in the late 1980’s and prolific “first run” albums of the 1990’s made permanent marks on all of our most significant life events. The “second phase” JAMC revival commencing in 2007 brought numerous live show opportunities shared among those of us who understand how this all matters. Many a feature on those shows have been covered and detailed here on this site. When the band finally put out a new studio album after 18 years, it too received deep focus attention. Now the Reid Brothers are back with a brand new album “Glasgow Eyes” comprising of twelve original songs. As is only right, a close listen commences with detailed analysis of it all right here.

The album opens with electronic pulses and motorik drive that confirms early promo statements of “Suicide” and “Kraftwerk” influences on the first track “Venal Joy.” An instantly catchy hook “I’m on fire – piss on fire – don’t piss on fire,” leads into the first big power chords segment. A second female harmony voice joins Jim on subsequent lines “venal heartbeat filled with hate” touches on the bribery themed song title. Rising synth twiddles share space with the bands oh-so-recognizable lyrical style. “No I won’t give up and die” is a rallying cry for us all (especially those of their own generation). “I’m alright – I’m OK” becomes the final message as the pace slows down to conclusion.

A tinkling keyboard nursery rhyme feel, plinking guitar strokes and vocal “ah ah ah’s” opens second cut “American Born.” The initial lyrics of doing things “with Americans” is inter-cut by chunking guitar bits and over-modulated keyboard stabs. Appearing to be a looser offspring of the more realized composition “Los Felix (Blues and Greens)” from their previous album, one would hope William is still being sincere with this homage to his on-going “new home” (that being ‘Merica), if one can still call California that.  “Mediterranean X Film” continues the odd beep and boop sounds, while mixing in more prominent forward-plunking guitar. A female voice is first heard, reading off a list of items, before William himself sings the words “Churchill and De Gaulle – Berlin and the wall.” Here the instrumental backing is looser than previous rigid beats, with the drumming in particular displaying a touch of that “jazz” referenced in press releases.  A minute in has the band shifting to a quicker tempo enhanced by twangy guitar. Williams continued vocal recitation echoes the playful, “less disciplined” style of his later stage demos.

Reaching the fourth (and “focus track”) “jamcod” once again draws on an electronic “Kraftwerkian” motif at the start. This time a more traditional JAMC style descending rhythm soon emerges. Jim’s vocals are front and center when he sings “the monkey’s organ grinder isn’t grinding anymore.” It’s classic Jim self-critique about having “seen this dream before” and “tears are what you want – tears are what you’ve got.” That all sets the stage for a momentary blast of HUGE powerchords and then back to that familiar downward-driving bassline. “Breaking up and then falling down and my heart beats much too slow” Jim continues, followed by the clever “notify the other brother there’s no place to go.” Another pass through the bridge and power chord (chorus), leading to a bridge of “vegetable, mineral, animal – I don’t know, what you want – what you need.” It all ends on a buzzy synth wig-out while the song tile is spelled out repeatedly.

Check the video out for it right here:

Fifth entry “Discotheques” continues the conclusion of those oddball synth space noises, sprinkled around the primary descending guitar lines. William returns with his wispy vocals “everywhere around the world, every type of boy and girl, body heat and beat and sex, welcome to the discotheque.” Additional descriptions of William’s real (or imagined?) music venue with their “decks, drinks, pills and [fr]rills” are backed by this quaint, demo-level instrumentation. Points for the plunking guitar leads woven in and through the end-out.  The album’s mid-point serves up the more serious, slow grinding “Pure Poor.” William vocals once again, “I wasted my time – this planet is mine – baby I was pure,” comes the late night foggy-trip delivery. The guitars are fuller, with some distortion mixed in alongside sludge n’ chime. A bright tambourine rattle provides midrange focus for the multi-layered noodling swirling around it all. “For millions of years – and oceans of tears – baby I was – pure,” William implores. The final poetic riddle comes in the form of going to “the store” and discovering to be “poor.”

Bigger production values are present on the deceptively titled “The Eagles and The Beatles.” Deceptive in that one of those two bands are never mentioned, yet we get a litany of other legendary faves. Most notably, the center chorus hook goes: “I’ve been Rolling with the Stones, Mick n’ Keith and Brian Jones – Bill and Charlie have gone home.” Other than the early squealing synth noises in the beginning, it’s a more tight progression based around clean piano chords. The list of influences mentioned include “Dylan, Beatles (mentioned only once), Sex Pistols, Crystals, Beach Boys, Faces, Andrew Oldham (The Stones manager). Notoriously missing are The Ramones and The Velvet Underground - though a full song “Hey Lou Reid" – yeah – spelled like their own last name – closes out the album. Solid guitar chords and quality use of “Sgt Peppers”-style horns over a tight hand-clap percussion all contribute to it’s precise pop presentation.

Photo by Mel Butler

Clean, higher-production electronica provides the musical base for the lyrically amusing “Silver Strings.” “You got nuffin’ but a deep fake lake of tears. You got one billion – shiny – fings (things) - I got six dirty silver strings.” Synths are used more traditionally as ambient string sections. Plunking guitar lines and paired bass comes properly synced to the drums. There’s also the curious secondary theme lyric “you get in the way – in the way – in the waaaaaay.”  Reaching one of the album’s official single releases, the much-needed Jim vocals on “Chemical Animal” is highlight material.  Everything that has ever been great about a JAMC song is rolled into this composition.  Brooding, dark, tension, honesty, self-reflection and the things that troubles you inside.  They lyrics are brilliant and perfectly match the musical mood. “Simplify – to get by – to nullify. There is something you should know. There is something I don’t show. I fill myself with chemicals. To hide the dark shit I don’t show.” William provides the necessary plunking tonal guitar lines between Jim’s cool, emotive vocals. “Please illuminate – please don’t hesitate. I’m not pleased to meet you. I don’t need to meet you. I don’t want to meet you. You don’t want to meet me too.”

Tenth track “Second Of June” is the more upbeat version of Jim and also a welcome treat. Clearly a love remembrance of the brothers dearly departed (and Sainted) Mother. Interesting to see this song of positivity and hope immediately following the bleakness displayed in the one just prior. Reciting their own band name, lyrics follow “there’s a storm behind my shoulder, there’s a blood moon on the rise.” Those final six words are repeated over as the overall instrumentation and vocals becomes elevated to a classic MaryChain conclusion.   Reaching the penultimate album track (which also comes with an official video) is the love tome to Jim’s longtime relationship “Girl 71.” It’s a sprightly undertaking in both sonic and visual form, with Jim seated and strumming a guitar. There’s frequent Japanese writing flashed quickly as the guitar crunch powers everything along. With a “Wully Bully” style chopping organ rhythm running alongside the more dominant guitars, some have noted the progressions similarity to Judas Priest’s “Living After Midnight.” Duly noted, first impressions here thought it pointed more towards Lou Reed’s “Vicious.” Lyrically straightforward, it goes “girl, you got me – you got nuthin.’” The first run through its marvelously classic JimAMC chorus delivers the hook most needed. The video imagery often looks like multiple camera film panels next to each other. The “Girl 71” eventually shows up (it’s Jim’s actual partner) and becomes a duet of sorts. “Hey – we got sumpthin’ – I got you – we’ve got sumpthin’ – you got me – we got love.” As previously stated, the chorus is great: “And that’s gonna last a day – another day – another day. We’re gonna take the time – I cant get by without you – we got what we need. Hey – Hey – We got what we need."

Check out this upbeat track here:

Speaking of the VU icon, final cut “Hey Lou Reid” (spelling duly noted) is a bass heavy ramble from William of unintelligible garble and his trusty twisty synthesizer. That’s for the first two minutes, anyway. Clocking in at the longest song on the album, it morphs into a softer musing about “girls,” their “eyes” and “cold Alaska nights.” It plunks and twangs along for these back-end four minutes, before floating away in twinkles.

Glasgow Eyes is out now on Fuzz Club Records.  Order it here.

Additional Jesus And Mary Chain features on this site can be found here:

The wonderful gazey, post-rock label Shoredive Records has an uncanny knack for finding the best music out there. Many features on this site have covered previously unheard gems introduced from their catalog. This time it’s an impressive dreamgaze unit from Florence, ItalyWe Melt Chocolate - delivering the goods once again.  The band's latest album "Holy Gaze" is now featured in the Shoredive catalog, bringing further attention to it.

Featured track “Holy Ramen” comes with an inventive video putting the viewer in front of a bowl of that title-referenced soupy noodle mixture. Swirling gaze sounds commence and the image switches to a table view hosting that meal. Clarion bell guitar tones begin to strike as the face-down-view of ramen bowl also swirls. Much like JAMC’s “Girl 71,” Japanese language letters float into view and a screen behind the meal table projects clouds blowing by. As the dominant progression commences, well-placed snare drum percussion and hard-edged bass guitar drives a sophisticated undercurrent along. Dreamy female vocals begin with associated pale-faced, full-lipped, doe-eyed, properly-fringed hair representation. Two women appear opposite each other at the table set, engaging in conversation. The chorus hits hard with the full emotional power the best dream-gazer bands can deliver. It’s romantic, emotional, lyrically-vague, guitar-driven and uplifting.

While guitars supply a steady flow of hooky melodies, the bass rumbles along like Simon Raymonde of The Cocteau Twins. The two women (who may be the same one in split screen, one with sunglasses the other without) continue their meal and “conversation” (singing the song). The adorning chorus comes around again, bathed in an ambient wash of epic proportions and female harmonies. Drums stay powerful and focused, like Colm Ó Cíosóig in MBV or perhaps Daniel from Ringo Deathstarr. Three minutes in, a plateau is reached where sparser guitar notes and rumbling bass mark out a holding pattern. That leads to an explosive burst of sound and quicker-cut imagery. One more glorious chorus run encapsulating everything you love about this style music. The sonic headrush-to-heaven, angel-faced (and voiced) “dream-gaze” girl, and beautiful, heart-tugging melodies. The men even make a brief appearance dining at the table, enjoying that ramen delight across from each other.

Check out this gorgeous gazer song here:

Follow We Melt Chocolate on their Social Media - Facebook  -  Bandcamp 

Connect with Shoredive Records via their extensive LinkTree

A recent review feature covering Shoredive on this site can be found here.

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Towards the end of 2022 this site did a detailed review of UK Power Pop Rockers It’s Karma It’s Cool’s single release at that time “A Gentle Reminder.” Lead vocalist Jim Styring is now back with a side project Solitary Bee and their debut single “Love Wakes Up.” Along with the track comes an accompanying official video. The DCW audio-videoscope digs down into this new output, in search of it’s essential atmosphere.

Melodic, finger-picked guitar notes float over syncopated drums and bass as the song commences. Jim’s vocal start soon after, stating “I caught the breeze of summer, time for our luck to change – the sunshine brought those memories, those long day feelings that remain.” The video comes in black and white imagery with gray overtones, depicting an impressionistic style of the human eye. Vocals continue “she said she’ll do much better, now that the sun’s her greatest friend – and all those colours blooming, will take her home again.” On to an uplifting chorus that goes “when the love wakes up - I’ll be right beside applauding."  Now the video begins to add more images of families coming together on holidays as vocals continue “won’t ever let you go.” The images of mother and child in soft focus, holding hands and running in front of the ocean is paired with lyrics “maybe a little rain has fallen – but we needed it to grow.” String synthesizers become more prominent in the audio mix, adding tenderness to those sentiments.

Crunchy guitars begin to make their presence felt as seagulls fly over the oceans in sepia tone views. Voices continue “how green the grass plays restless, announcing winters gone – and all young couples courting, to build new lives upon and on.” Opening lyrics evolve on second pass through as “the warmest breath of summer, time for our luck to change – the sunshine brought those memories, to come flooding back again.” Once again to the lovely chorus, with it’s sophisticated bass guitar counter rhythm and lush keyboards. The video now depicts holding hands at candlelit cafe tables, mothers teaching children at the family keyboard and oscilloscope screens. Other images of vintage era outdoor gymnastics and similarly classic car rides. Lyrics continue “and petals are confetti, the ceiling’s not the sky – like a heart shot into orbit, exploding satellite. And the birds came back to visit, from a million miles away – but the weather was so perfect, they decided all to stay.” One more glorious chorus with staccato-stab guitars powering it along. A momentary pause, then back into a fully backed, gentle synth melody driven chorus. Coda lines “I caught the breeze of summer, time for our luck to change” is pleasantly followed by the softer echo “Love Wakes Up” vocal fadeout.

Check out this light hearted, inspiring video and song here:

'Love Wakes Up' is taken from the EP Bloom. Available from all good digital stores.

Connect with the band via their Facebook Page.

A previous review featuring members of this band can be found on this site here.

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