"Faith" by I Break Horses // Chiaroscuro (Out 1.20.14 via Rough Trade)
The Swedish duo, I Break Horses, is due back with a new full length in January, and they’ve also recently dropped a video for their second single, “Faith”. The new track is a surprising shift from the bend who’s previous efforts have fallen into a more dreamy, electro shoegaze sound (see M83). This time around you’re likely to hear a sound resembling something more akin to The Knife - with it’s warbling synth lines and machine gun beat. The video, directed by Magnus Hardner features stark black and white photography of teenagers doing teenager things (parties, bikes, and ultimately a late night pool party), while moving in slow motion. It’s a simple concept that works extremely well against the heavier sound. The new album promises a combination of the light and the dark (hence the name which means just that, in Italian), and I for one cannot wait.
"Oostende" by Keep Shelly in Athens// Dir. Brendan Canty & Conal Thomson
I feel like I don’t post enough music videos that are truly great representatives of the songs that they represent. When one does come around, it can feel like a punch to the stomach as it engages you emotionally. Sometimes, they’re just cool as hell visuals that work their own magic. Then there are things like “Oostende” by Keep Shelly in Athens, which was already one of the best songs of the year and then in the hands directors, Brendan Canty and Conal Thomson, it becomes a gorgeous travelogue that tries to bridge the distance between two long distance lovers before what might be something apocalyptic happens. Whatever the interpretation, it’s a beautiful representation of a stunningly good song. Enjoy. It’s rare that the match up is this good.
"Denial" by I Break Horses // Denial 12” (Out Soon via Bella Union)
It’s been a couple of years since we last heard from the Swedish duo, I Break Horses. Luckily, that absence just came to an end with the release of their new 12” single, “Denial”. The new track finds the duo tackling more of a straight up electro pop jam, shaking loose the powerhouse synths used to create the shoegaze goodness of 2011’s brilliant album, Hearts. Last time around it felt like the band was getting the M83 comparison a little too frequently, but the shoe fit, and that’s in no way a knock on the band. This time around I’d say that “Denial” has more in common with recent output of Chromatics. The waves of synths and electro beats all flow with a shadowy dance floor beauty, but it’s not an upbeat number - instead it’s something of a lonely experience on this dance floor, but that’s what makes the whole thing stand out as something special. Highest recommendation
"White Foxes" by Susanne Sundfør // The Silicone Veil (2012)
I’m late to the party on this one, but it’s a stunner, so I’m piling on the praise. Apparently this track was floating around earlier this year, but is seeing a re-release thanks to an opening spot on M83's upcoming tour. Now, a whole pile of folks can be introduced to Susanne Sundfør’s otherworldly pop beauty, “White Foxes”. Built around her soaring vocals and chilly swirling synths, the song really takes off when the chorus lands and suddenly you feel like you’re hearing some ethereal ballad beamed in from some mystical ice planet (let’s call it “Norway”). It’s a fantastic sound and I for one will be digging out more of Sundfør’s catalog in hopes of some more of this magic. Highly recommended for fans of I Break Horses, Cocteau Twins, and Burning Hearts.
"You Must Be Dreaming" by LTD // You Must Be Dreaming 7” (2012)
Alex Craig, the man behind LTD (Limited), also does time in the excellent jangle pop band, Big Troubles, and that band’s penchant for killer melodies carries over into this new track from LTD. The interesting thing about this jam is that it’s brand of electro pop feels indebted to both the early 80’s synth pop scene (OMD, The Human League), as well as the current crop of electro-shoegazers (M83, I Break Horses). Hell, there’s even a smidge of Big Trouble’s style of dream pop dashed in there. The point being, LTD isn’t settling on a simple brand of sentimental bedroom pop for a side project, as it sounds already like a fully realized band with loads of promise. The old school electronic percussion and howling synths fill the air with a bouncy optimism and the hazy vocals and atmospheric production add kind of a lovelorn dance-ability that makes for an excellent intro to an artist that I’ll be eagerly awaiting to hear from in the future.
"Dream Analysis" by Jesse Ruins // Dream Analysis EP (2012)
This track has been floating around Soundcloud for a little while now, but it was finally released about six weeks back on Captured Tracks (also collecting their other online singles), and that’s as good of a time as any to highlight one of my favorite up and coming dream pop and ambient bands. “Dream Analysis” floats by on a humming synth line and the layers just effortlessly add to the chilled, dreamy vibe. Twinkling piano keys, buzzing ethereal synths, otherworldly vocal loops, it’s all just perfectly executed. It’s a lullaby for the late night come downs. When the excitement of a good evening doesn’t immediately dissipate and needs a lovely little track to help bring you to your night’s end. Highest recommendation - for fans of Keep Shelly in Athens, I Break Horses, and M83.
Finland’s Fotoshop makes pretty, electronic-infused shoegaze lullabies. This track, “Safe in Sound”, taken from the recently released Lifeforms, is just such a song. What starts as an airy, idm-esque ambient track builds into an electro-shoegaze dream loaded with twinkling synths, warped blip-beats, and a sing-a-long hook. Great stuff. Highly recommended for fans of Mew, I Break Horses, and SPC ECO.
"Shatter the Jewel" by Jesse Ruins // TBD EP (2012)
These recent Captured Tracks signees have been getting some blog love over at GorillaVsbear, but it wasn’t until this track that my attention was grabbed and forced to take notice. Now, I don’t know what was with the hold up. Jesse Ruins hits all the right notes with this pulsing, dreamy bit of bedroom disco-pop. It feels like earlier, less stadium-ready M83 jams or perhaps like a more dance friendly I Break Horses.
"Winter Beats (Bedroom Session)" by I Break Horses
This is a wonderful, stripped back, in-studio version of one of my favorite songs of the year. I Break Horses have been pretty much on a roll these past few months, releasing two great singles and a phenomenal album, and yet it’s still impressive seeing Maria Linden bring her songs to life in an in-studio session. Really great stuff.