Tag Archives: Dream Pop

Album of the Day: Death & Vanilla, “Are You A Dreamer?”

In songs that are saturated with warbling organ, glacial vibraphone, and a dazzling array of analog synths, Death & Vanilla pay earnest homage to the same sounds that influenced groups like Broadcast and Stereolab. And while ’60s psych pop, vintage soundtracks, and library music remain the touchstones on their third LP, Are You A Dreamer?, the results feel bigger and grander. If their previous albums were 16mm films, this one’s 35.

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White Noise Records is a Hub for Hong Kong’s DIY Underground

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Tfvsjs

“In Western culture, it’s almost a rite of passage to rebel—to join a band, to be an artist, is generally no big deal. That’s not Hong Kong’s reality,” explains Valentine Nixon, one half of New Zealand dream-pop sister duo Purple Pilgrims. “When it comes to experimental music, there is a general sense that people really mean what they’re saying. They’re living what they’re making, because it’s so far from social norms or acceptance. This often makes the art itself feel political, even when it’s not trying to be.” Nixon is speaking from experience here. Raised between New Zealand and Hong Kong by itinerant parents, some of her formative musical moments took place in Hong Kong’s underground, a landscape worlds removed from the image-obsessed Cantonese pop of the region’s glossy mainstream.

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Synthpop Crooner Warm Human Finds Clarity In Sobriety (and Canned Chicken)

Warm Human

“‘It’s canned chicken, ma!’”

That’s Meredith Johnston, aka Chicago synthpop songstress Warm Human, recalling a moment she witnessed at a diner in rural Wisconsin. After filming for a music video, she went to grab some food, and had been watching a family with grandkids, a cousin, parents, and a grandmother trade gifts out of the corner of her eye. At some point, one of the daughters slid a present wrapped in tissue paper across the table to the grandmother, who pulled out a mason jar. Inside the jar were what appeared to be guts, but was actually, well, canned chicken. Continue reading

Album of the Day: Living Hour, “Softer Faces”

Some dream pop invites escapism—prizing texture over melody, mood over message: after all, that’s kind of the nature of dreams, isn’t it? Winnipeg’s Living Hour have clearly mastered the auditory qualities of the genre, but use them to foreground honesty and vulnerability, rather than languid romanticism. Their second album, Softer Faces, then, represents a hyper-present vision of dream pop. Continue reading

Maria Somerville Makes Experimental Dream Pop Steeped In Irish Tradition

Maria Somerville

As a child, Maria Somerville routinely sat with her family in small, intimate circles. Here, she watched with widened eyes as her father and her uncles sung mystic traditional Irish ballads in impossible harmony. “Witnessing that raw emotion stuck with me,” Somerville remembers. “When you get a group of people singing unaccompanied, it’s incredibly powerful. There’s a real sense of connection.” Continue reading

10 Underground Acts Bringing Monterrey, Mexico’s Rich Musical Legacy Into The Future

 

Monterrey—Mexico’s third largest city, capital of the northern state of Nuevo León and the country’s beating financial heart—is a hotbed for underground punk, indie, and experimental music. Though not technically a border city, Monterrey’s proximity to the U.S. has enabled the same creative osmosis found in established sister cities like Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez, making the complexities of border identity a recurring theme in Northern Mexican regional music.

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Album of the Day: SRSQ,“Unreality”

We were first introduced to Kennedy Ashlyn as half of Them Are Us Too, the Bay Area dream-pop duo who built stunning and luxurious soundscapes that garnered more than a few comparisons to Cocteau Twins. (These comparisons were, at surface, fair, but failed to capture the pair’s uniqueness—the range of Ashlyn’s voice, the way she worked harmoniously with Cash Askew’s luminous guitar work, and so forth.) In the great tragedy of the Ghost Ship fire, Askew was lost to the world. There was a posthumous release, the lovely Amends, which offered a glimpse at how Them Are Us Too were growing before their time was cut short; they’d been a group with so much life in them. Ashlyn took time to mourn, and struck out on her own when she was ready with her solo project, SRSQ. Continue reading

On the Blissful Pop of “Perfect Shapes,” Madeline Kenney Breaks Free of Her Past

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Madeline Kenney by Cara Robbins

The cover art for Madeline Kenney’s sophomore album, Perfect Shapes, contains itself a literal perfect shape: the greenhouse windows in Brianna O’Brien’s acrylic painting are arranged in a Fibonacci sequence, behind which is lush greenery and the silhouette of Kenney herself, at peace amongst the plants.

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