Monday, March 17, 2014

Download Our Second Free Mix: 'Send Me to Dream'!

Jetman Jet Team at The Josephine 9/13: Foreground: Quin Dickinson; background: Miguel Diaz.  Lighting: Randall Skrasek.

Come celebrate the release of the 'Send Me To Dream' compilation on March 22nd at the Highline with performances by four of the featured artists, including a headlining performance from VibraGun. We'll have NGD stickers! RSVP here.

Here it is at last, our second compilation of local music! When we released our first compilation, 'SeattleDIYpop', back in September 2013 we had no idea what the response would be. For those who haven't tried, blogs are like a bottomless pit into which you throw your time; in the beginning there's no guarantee that more than 5 people will see the piece that you've huddled over for hours. Our blog is a labor of love, and ultimately one that has only deepened our respect for local musicians.We read (and love) lots of big blogs, but we think a healthy scene celebrates itself first and foremost, and after 'SeattleDIYpop' we were thrilled to hear from a ton of musicians and fans alike that they'd found something new while listening to the mix. 

For this second installment we shifted our attention from the indie pop scene to the Seattle shoegaze/dream-pop contingent. Just like before, we are delivering all 17 songs to you in a single, downloadable mix, and the reason is the same: we intend for this to be listened to as a collection. We appreciate every artist and song represented, and are honored that they would agree to be a part of this endeavor. The name 'Send Me To Dream' was taken from the first track of the new VibraGun release, which was the inspiration for the NGD compilation.

Click on each of the band names for their site or Facebook page, and click on the record title to hear more from each album. It goes without saying that we really support each of the artists featured here, so please be sure to buy their music and attend their shows/book them at your venue. Finally, HUGE shout out to all the labels that have released the material represented on this compilation! Enjoy!  

Don't forget to "like" NGD on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


1. VibraGun, "Send Me To Dream" from the 'VibraGun' LP (2014; self-released)
   Within 20 minutes of first hearing VibraGun’s self-released debut LP, ‘VibraGun’, Tyler posted, “I don’t care what you are doing; go download this record from Seattle’s VibraGun. This will be one of the best of 2014”. Alternating between breathless tension and careening, Swervedriver-esque guitar riffs, “Send Me to Dream” is a standout on an LP that already shines. Since this track was the inspiration for both the name and the theme of the compilation, we knew is was the only logical place to start. Read our review here.

2. DirtySidewalks, "It's Getting Better" from the 'ALWAYS b/w It's Getting Better' 7" (2013, No-Count Records)
For more than a year I’ve been Googling into every dark corner of the internet tagged “Seattle music”, and yet it was not until recently that I discovered Dirty Sidewalks or their label, No-Count Records. Having formed in 2012, the threesome has released just 2 official singles, with “Getting Easier” as the b-side to 2013’s ‘Always’ 7". On the track, the band takes a poppy-er approach to the genre that recalls MBV’s early and much neglected ‘Ecstasy’ and ‘Strawberry Wine’ EPs, in addition to more recent bands like Brooklyn’s Pains of Being True at Heart. Keep an eye out for a full-length LP, tentatively titled ‘Glide’, this year.

3. Red Martian, "Ago" from the 'Ghost Into The Fog' EP (2013; self-released)
In the beginning there was Red Martian, and if they've lost any of their skill in the 15 years they've been around it's certainly not apparent on their last EP, 2013's 'Ghost Into The Fog'. We choose the closing track "Ago" for its dreamy tenderness and gorgeous transitions. Also, credit where credit is due: I love how prominently featured the bass-work is here; the measured picking provides a nice juxtaposition with the guitar's warped sound.

4. Jetman Jet Team, "Cosmic Age" from the 'We Will Live The Space Age' LP (2013; Saint Marie Records)
I spent some serious time last year lamenting the serious lack of attention paid to WWLTSA by the local music community; however, that was before I saw the best of lists -- The Finest Kiss, Marz Martinez's piece in Seattle Peach, Dave Segal's list for The Stranger, and a ton of other folks giving credit where credit is truly due. “Cosmic Age” is an intense song whose energy seems barely containable. It builds and builds, capitalizing on shimmering delay and heavy fuzz to reach a higher-than-the-sun zenith before dropping back into a meditative acoustic outro. Read our Songs We Love post here.

5. Levator, "Black Night Coyote" (Unreleased; coming soon on Saint Rose Records)
If there's one thing that shoegaze is not really known for it's attitude; lucky for us that Levator's Sky Lynn didn't get that memo. Having released three full-length records since 2004 with a rotating cast of excellent accompaniment, Levator has become a mainstay amongst local psychedelic and dream-pop fans. Recorded by Eric Peters, "Black Night Coyote" is a previously unreleased track from her forthcoming release on Saint Marie Records, and we can't wait to hear more. By pairing mostly inaudible vocal harmonies, jangly guitars, and thick overdrive with a ferocious lead saxophone fit for a Quentin Tarantino montage, Levator is doing its part to keep genre descriptors largely academic.

6. Black Nite Crash, "Blink of an Eye" from the 'Drawn Out Days' LP (2012; Neon Sigh Records)
'Drawn Out Days' is phenomenal...all of it. You should own it. Some bands can 'play' shoegaze for a few songs, but Black Nite Crash's work on their sophmore record for Seattle's Neon Sigh is too fantastic, too intricate, and too cohesive to be a fascade. Having taken their name from one of Ride's final singles, it's pretty clear where their allegiances lie, but the phenomenal psychedelic and space-rock embellishments on 'Blink of an Eye' also highlight the band's willingness to venture into new territory to create the sound they want.

7. Ephrata, “Fanning That Flame” from the 'I Scare No One' EP (2014; self-released)
Vibrant but still hazy, Ephrata’s brand of mellifluous gospel pop is hard not to love. Drawing from a range of influences from early Slumberland bands like Black Tambourine, to more traditional shoegaze bands like Pale Saints or Lush, and even touches of psych, their sound feels simultaneously familiar and distinct. “Fanning That Flame” was taken from the band’s long awaited debut EP, ’I Scare No One’, which they self-released as a "name your price" album this past March 4th. Pick it up before now before that changes.

8. Nostalgist, "Illusory (radio edit)" from the 'Monochromantic' 7" (2013, Noltalgium Directive)
Having only released one 7" single, Nostalgist is definitely the newest band to make this comp; however, we think "Illusory" is a compelling reason to pay attention to the Seattle threesome. The stepwise progression of many shoegaze bands from early C86 culture resulted in lots of sunny, quiet compositions, but Nostalgist's incorporation of darker, post-punk melodies -- a la The Chameleons or Red Lorry Yellow Lorry -- allows them more room for really haunting transitions that are rarely found in traditional shoegaze bands. The band is currently recording a follow-up mini-LP to 'Monochromantic', and we can't wait to hear what the future holds.

9. Erik Blood, "Lethur" from the 'Touch Screens' LP (2012, self-released)
While Erik Blood's 2012 release, 'Touch Screens' is probably the most locally lauded release on this list, the word never seemed to fully get out to the rest of the world about this amazing multi-instrumentalist's songwriting abilities. Listening to songs like "Luthur", this fact seems almost criminal. I especially love the contrast between the almost utilitarian, Primal Scream-esque percussion and the washed-out guitar -- in that way it has a similar dynamic as MBV's "Soon". Blood has been spending lots of time behind the scenes lately as an engineer/producer for everyone from TheeSatisfaction and Vox Mod, to The Soft Hills, but we have our fingers crossed that he'll be back behind the microphone sometime soon.

10. Tokyoidaho, "Peculiar Shadows " from the 'Peculiar Shadows' EP (out March 25th, 2014; Neon Sigh)
"Peculiar Shadows" is the lead single from the upcoming EP of the same name by Tokyoidaho. Having released an excellent debut LP, 'Scary Lows', back in 2012, this curiously named new direction undertaken by former members of Voyager One continues to distinguish itself in the local scene. "Peculiar Shadows" in particular has a phenomenal simmer about it. For most of the song, Peter Marchese's measured vocals just barely seem to restrain the rhythm section from taking matters into their own hands, but all of that falls apart in the outro when the whole thing degrades into a soaring, space rock-y jam. Don't forget to hit the EP release party on the 21st at the Lo-Fi and pick up the record from Neon Sigh when it releases on the 25th.

11. Hibou, "Valium" from the 'Dunes' EP (2013, self-released)
   The career of Hibou, aka the solo project of former Craft Spells drummer Peter Michel, is limited but promising. On 2013's 'Dunes', Michel took a giant step away from the tropical stylings of his debut mini-ep, toward a sound more akin to Captured Tracks bands like Wild Nothing, and we loved it. "Valium" is just one of a handful of great tracks on this record and we're holding out hope that 2014 will bring Michel's first LP. Read our Songs We Love Post here.

12. Slow Bird, "Backfire" from the 'Chrysalis' LP (2013; self-released)
This song is like an anthem, making it an excellent opener for Slow Bird's latest record, 'Chrysalis'. Jennae Quisenberry comes in over percussion reminiscent of a military drum line with her pretty but resolute declaration: "Gonna raise an army up/ gonna build an army/ guns are cleaned and safety's off". The song's charm lies in juxtapositions like this; obviously the topic is dark and the drums are utilitarian, but the other instrumentation and vocals are so beautiful. Then, at the 3:00 minute mark, the whole thing begins a long trek into the hazy shadows as Quisenberry croons, "You know I blame you/ I know you blame me, too". Very nice. Read our Songs We Love post here.

13. The Soft Hills, "Belly Of A Whale" from the 'Departure' LP (2014; Tapete Records)
Seattle’s The Soft Hills have found a sweet spot between the pensive pop of Real Estate and the immersive dream-scape of The Radio Dept. Released on March 7th, the ‘Departure’ EP is the latest in a series of excellent releases for the band dating back to 2008. I fell in love with “Belly Of A Whale” because of how perfectly suited it seems for a sleepy afternoon; Garrett Hobba’s harmonies here are candid and cathartic – like chicken soup for the eardrums

14. Children of Kids, "Pony Tales" from the 'Pony Tales' EP (2012; CTPAK Records)
As core members of Seattle's CTPAK Records, Madison, Madeline, and Richie have given us plenty of amazing music (both directly and indirectly); however, it all started with their Seattle by-way-of Chicago efforts as Children of Kids. I fell in love with this song immediately and so will you. See our artist review here for more.

15. Golden Gardens, "My Viridescent Heart" from the 'Narcissus' EP (2013; Neon Sigh)
We've probably written more about Golden Gardens than any other band to date, and it seems the word is finally getting out about the Seattle duo. 'Narcissus', the first of two EPs that they released last year (the other being 'Bellflower'), didn't garner as much attention as it's companion at the year-end, but we think it saw a bigger transformation in GG's approach. "My Viridescent Heart" is a stunning slow-burner from that record and we think you'll agree that they nailed it with their breathtaking use of space. Read our interview here.

16. Wind Burial, "Downstream" from the 'Wind Burial' EP (2014; self-released)
Over the past 6 years this Seattle-based dream-psych outfit (until recently known as Snowdrift) has become a local staple -- mesmerizing unsuspecting listeners with their expertly crafted records and a live show that borders on metaphysical. For those of us who fell head-over-heels for their last full-length, 2010’s ‘Starry All Over’, the wait for a follow-up effort has felt like an eternity. Listening to "Downstream" it's clear that it was well worth the wait. More here.

17. Blue Light Curtain, "Up In The Air" from the 'Clouds In Our Hair' LP (2012; self-released)
"Up In the Air" is the spectacular closing track on Blue Light Curtain's debut LP, 2012's 'Clouds In Our Hair", and it worked so well in that role that we knew it was the only fitting way to end this compilation. The textures here are really amazing -- almost reminiscent of the kind of thick fuzz that Yo La Tengo built their sound on, and when Groth and Bratton start to croon you are utterly defenseless. It's like a lullaby; your pulse slows as the din swells, and when it subsides you're left briefly with Bratton's synth, and then, nothing. It makes you very conscious of the fact that you haven't seen them perform live. Really lovely.

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