Review of Creux Lies “Goodbye Divine”

By James Edwards (Male Tears)

Creux Lies (bandcamp.com)

October was the month of spooks, a shaky return of Halloween since the long-endured pandemic and a myriad of releases by many artists within the undead world of dark-alternative music. Among the wave of new, brooding and shadow-y music unleashed upon the world shines one LP that stands apart from the cobwebs and screeching bats in the night; ‘Goodbye Divine’, the second album by moody, Sacramento post-punkers, Creux Lies. More than three years after the band’s debut record, ‘The Hearth’, Creux Lies brings us a new collection of eight tracks packaged with an avante-garde painting by Alex Kanevsky on the LP’s cover. Preceding the release, the “New Romantic” quartet appeared in promotional images portraying them as disaffected souls in serene, open fields; a fitting aesthetic theme for the music’s despondent sonic-template. “Jungle” kicks off the record with a wave of sinister keyboards before the rest of the band commences their wall of gray, foreboding rhythms, setting the tone for the LP’s thematic statement. By track four, we are treated to the bitter-sweet, emotional “PS Goodbye”. Singer, Ean Clevenger croons against the soft-rock instrumentation with lyrics, “Mercy you, you helped me shine. Although the last, it was the very first time.” One of the most distinguishing elements of Creux Lies’ sound is Clevenger’s vocal contributions.

Though the synth work and programmed electronics by keyboardist, David Wright sit heavily in the mix, Clevenger’s voice remains at the forefront of every song. The instrumentation of the band truly serves at the setting for the singer’s vocal theatrics and heart-wrenching bellows that he projects from the soul. ‘Goodbye Divine’s most consistent feature is the young, adult loneliness portrayed by it’s sonic textures and lyricism. For those that wear black, we as the audience key-in on this theme despite much of the record’s pulsating dance rhythms and identify with the true meaning behind the band’s offerings, swaying and dancing in the throws of introspection.

I also thought I would include my review of their first album “The Hearth”

by Ken Magerman

I have been sitting on this too long but I am finally ready to post this review for the amazing Creux Lies. There will be an interview to follow soon but I didn’t want to wait any longer.

https://soundsandshadows.com/…/10/creux-lies-the-hearth/

Band: Creux Lies

Album: The Hearth

Label: Cleopatra Records

Members: Kyle Vorst, David Wright, Topher Snyder, Barry Crider, Ean Clevenger http://creuxlies.bandcamp.com/album/the-hearthhttps://www.facebook.com/creuxlies

There is so much beautiful and nostalgic to hear. What if you made The Cure Disintegration but gave it razor sharp teeth? The drums had more snap. The guitar lines had that same entrancing delay but with more motion. Ean Clevenger has an obvious Robert Smith quality to his voice, yet where Smith focused more on a tongue and cheek sass, Clevenger is bringing a piercing intensity and higher range of New Order Movement feelings of being lost. The driving bass , the rising synth phrases, those crisp bark beat snaps. It’s like hearing every album that got me through my formative years but done with the precision production of the modern age. Every song makes me want to fall in love but never find the courage to express it.

Lets talk a bit about what isn’t nostalgic, because there is plenty of fresh takes in this offering. Beautiful guitar leads full of glorious textural slush in a shoegaze slither. This record is bleeds of layered sounds so thick you want to run your fingers through them. Intricate drum beats with a symphony conductors precision control the movement of each track. Just like most albums that touch me deeply it usually comes back to a vocalist that can make me feel something. Who can take me on a journey with words and feelings and this album left me shook. Every phrase drips with tortured honey and sorrow. Sometimes as an older listener who has lived a bit you hear something that makes you feel young again. In the case of Creux Lies it is not with energy and power. It is by reminding you of how deep you used to feel things before the world tempered you. Hearkening back to The Cure again this album is full of pop hooks. Strong ones that grab the lapels and shake you. It’s hard to define when you hear something that is similar to plenty of music I am hearing, but has something extra, has IT.

I’m at a loss for words on how to express it but I do know it when I hear it. I heard it. There really isn’t a weak track on this album, but I’ll pick some favorites.

Portals – This is the obvious single, but it is that way for a reason. The beautiful New Order keyboard melodies are absolutely captivating. The lyrics “Did you fall in love with a killer at your door, while waiting for a lifetime to begin” pure poetry. The vocals in this track are a masterclass in sliding between the cracks in the wall of sound around you. The build on the end is a perfect tension and release. Staggering.

Virginity – This is such a gentle caress of an opening, that effectively smashes you in the face with a giant crashing wave of sound when you least expect it. The slow crawling tempo makes you sway like a leaf on the wind. It feels like the terrifying lack of control at a first love so powerful you don’t yet have a frame of reference for it. Clevenger reaches into some sky splitting notes in this one and laser burns them into your heart. Slow dance with yourself in this moment.

Aine’s Song – Tom fills, give me all these tom fills. Tiny dancing pin prick guitar lines doing a duelist routine with the bass and rhythm, “I saw your face again, I want to take you home” That feeling of being struck. We have all felt it but to blend the music and lyrics so seamlessly to express it. I love

‘Slow Crush’ Redefines Shoegaze with Sophomore Album “Hush”

The incredible Belgian band, Slow Crush, has been making a name for itself in the post-punk and shoegaze scenes for the last few years. They’ve been called “My Bloody Valentine with a post-hardcore edge” by Guitar World and are described as “the sound to a beautiful alternate reality” by Kerrang. Now they’re bringing their dreamy and abrasive sound to the next level in their latest full-length album “Hush”.

“Hush” album cover

I can’t start to tell you how much I love this album. After listening through it the first time, I was hooked. If you’re a lover of pedal driven music, you will too.

This album will take you many places with it’s simultaneous offering of harsh abrasiveness and delicate dreaminess. While the instruments are fluid and the vocals are angelic, the entire album has a pleasing fullness and overarching heaviness that makes even the harshest sounds favorable and welcomed in abundance.

“Hush” is the sophomore album by Slow Crush which exceeds it’s incredible predecessor “Aurora”. With shimmering melodies, soothing vocals by Isa Holliday, noise and chaos added on top, this album brings next-level emotion and intensity. The album was born from the ideas floated around between tour gigs in the beforetimes and brought to life by the worldwide lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s because of these circumstances that the album can both be light and melodic while carrying the weight of the world outside.

Slow Crush

Drown: The opening track of the album which sets the tone for the what follows. With shimmering guitars and whirling noises, this song makes me feel like I’m seeing the world through frosted glass. There’s no way to describe how beautiful this track is. With dual vocals, a simple strumming guitar, and keyboard creating a lush atmosphere, I had tears in my eyes and couldn’t wait to hear the rest.

Swoon: This songs pace is a little faster. Opening with a crash of noise and drum fills, this track quickly takes a dark, pulsating turn. Throughout the song, there’s an amazing showcase of grinding guitars, obscure noises, and dissonant vocals that somehow create an absolutely beautiful post-rock track.

Lull: This is the first single released off the album and it’s the perfect track to showcase how heavy and beautiful this band can be. The song starts and it seems like it’s going to be soft and pretty. When the drums and guitars kick in, the song layers up. Without lacking in beauty, the overdriven guitars create a wave of loudness that gives me goosebumps. Check out the video below!

Official Music Video for “Swoon” by Slow Crush

This album will surely make your album of the year list if you love shoegaze and post-punk. With walls of sound, celestial-like vocals, and shimmering instruments, “Hush” will throw you back to your favorite artists like My Bloody Valentine and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, while adding some new spices to the mix.

“Hush” will be available October 22, 2021 on vinyl, cd, and digital download via Quiet Panic. Also, stay tuned for updates on the bands upcoming WORLD tour!

Katy’s “End Of Days” Playlist (Vol. 3)

A week from this last Friday was the second day Bandcamp waived their artist fees. Since then, there’s been a burst of new music posted that ranges from one-off projects bred from quarantine boredom to albums that have been in the works for the last year.  Some artists have re-released old albums that were never released digitally while others have chosen archived songs that aren’t new but haven’t been released before.

I’m pretty much saying Bandcamp is rad right now.

There is so much great music out and more coming out every day. It was hard to pinpoint my top favorites, but I’ve spent the last day narrowing my latest playlist to my top six favorite new releases.

Mogwai

ZEROZEROZERO

Scotland, UK

https://mogwai.bandcamp.com/album/zerozerozero

Mogwai

I’ve always been taken aback by Mogwai’s soundscapes. There’s a vastness in their music that can create such a sad, lonely feeling in my gut. It’s crazy how without words, they can say something so well that it brings tears to my eyes. ZEROZEROZERO is the score to the show on Amazon Prime with the same name exploring the inner workings of the cocaine trade. This album gives the story light as it creates action and tension with massive builds and soundscapes.

Favorite Track: Fears of Metal

X

Alphabetland 

Los Angeles, CA

https://xtheband.bandcamp.com/album/alphabetland

Alphabetland

When X announced last January that they were going to be releasing a new album, the punk scene stirred. What would the first album release in 27 years by an iconic punk band be like? Great news, everyone! It’s awesome. X spent the last 18 months writing and recording 11 new tracks that are relevant and hype to hear. When the band hit the scene in 1977, they quickly become prolific for their unique sound. Duel vocals, an homage to multiple rock genres at once, ripping guitars, and attitude. That’s X. This album was released on April 22, 2020.

Favorite Track: Water & Wine

Vlimmer

Pulmo 

Königs Wusterhausen, Germany

https://blackjackilluministrecords.bandcamp.com/album/pulmo

Vlimmer

Vlimmer is a music-making machine! This album is dark and ambient with a drive behind it. Though it’s utterly haunting instrumentally and vocally, it’s breathtakingly beautiful simultaneously. Instrumentally, you’ll hear sounds that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand, but then there are these huge vocals and harmonies that hypnotize you. There’s chaos built into the structure of the songs that give you that feeling of tension without pushing you to discomfort.  This album was released on May 1, 2020.

Favorite Track: Phantompflug

Secret Shame

Dissolve b/w Pure

Asheville, NC

https://secretshame.bandcamp.com/album/dissolve-b-w-pure

SecretShame1

When I heard the song, “Dissolve” by Secret Shame, I felt refreshed and excited for more. I heard homage to bands I love like New Order. It literally felt like I was listening to a song by The Cure recorded for 33 1/3 rpm but played at 45 rpm.  This is the perfect cross of post-punk and goth rock. You can feel how much fun the band had creating this EP. It’s because of this that the music that creates a deeper connection with the audience. I’m very excited to hear the other half of this EP when it’s released June 5, 2020. 

Favorite Track: Dissolve

Tabloid TV Darlings

Demo EP 

Melbourne, Australia 

https://tabloidtvdarlings.bandcamp.com/

TabloidTVDarlings

In 2019, four 15-year-olds came together in Melbourne, Australia to form the rad indie-grunge band, Tabloid TV Darlings. The group is heavily inspired by ‘90s alternative rock, specifically grunge. The singer sounds almost exactly like Kurt Cobain, but the band has melodic feel with fuzzed-out guitars and cool vocal harmonies. This group of teenagers has me jealous of their songwriting ability and has me super excited for their future releases. This album was released on May 3, 2020.

Favorite Track: No. 1

Dummy

Dummy EP

Los Angeles, CA

https://notdummy.bandcamp.com/album/dummy-ep

Dummy

Dummy from Los Angelas, CA is a dreamy shoegaze band that echos the sounds of legendary groups like Kraftwerk, Stereolab, and Cluster. Their marriage of rock genres ranging from krautrock to post-punk is enough to give it a unique sound. They take a minimalistic approach to their work but build huge soundscapes within the composition. Each song has it’s own range that builds the album into somewhat of a cinematic-feeling piece overall. This album was released on May 1, 2020.

Favorite Track: Slacker Mask

I know I was a little late to the game by writing these days after Bandcamp waived it’s artist fees, but there’s still amazing music being released every day! There is so much to still be excited about on Bandcamp. Whatever support you can offer to your favorite new artists is always appreciated even if it’s only $5.

I’ve been hearing so much great music these last few weeks and look forward to the time when we’ll all be able to go to shows again and experience music together. Until then, I hope that you’ve enjoyed this segment of “Katy’s ‘End of Days’ Playlist”.

Katy’s “End of Days” Playlist (Pt. 2)

Here’s my latest update on life. Like many people, this has been a rough patch. A lot of personal inventory has been had along with tough life evaluations, revelations, and epiphanies. It sucks. Luckily, I have had one thing in my life since I was a little kid that always helped me through the hard times. That thing is music. During this time, a lot of things have shut down. However, music keeps going and keeps getting better by the day.

When I was scrolling through Bandcamp today, I needed some new tunes to carry me through this week and the many moods it would surface. Some of this is brand new, some of it came out this month, some of it is just a preview of what’s to come. All of it’s great.

Nick Griffith

7 AM

Wombarra, Australia

https://nickgriffithmusic.bandcamp.com/album/7am

Nick Griffith_4_1_Review

This indie-rock, electro-pop, synth album is the definition of glee. The songs are fun with lots of quirky samples that seem to be centralized around generally peppy things. Griffith’s voice has a soothing sound to it. Not to say it’s angelic, but something about it feels familiar and refreshing. The music is incredible. It’s fast and in-your-face synth-pop with synthesized drums that incorporates romantic feels at points with unexpected instrumentation. Every track on this album had its own thing that made it stand out. 

Favorite Track: Riding On My Bike

Release Date: March 20, 2020

CHROMB!

Le livre des Merveilles

Lyon, France

https://chromb.bandcamp.com/album/le-livre-des-merveilles

Le livre des merveilles_4-1 Review

‘Le livre des Merveilles’ is absolutely insane. It’s every ounce of what you’d imagine a post-jazz, post-rock, avant-garde, power-pop album would be. You never know what to expect. Each track creates an entirely new landscape and mental image. Some tracks, like “Le livre des Merveilles” are shorter and have a poppier feel, almost like Stereolab.  While other tracks like “Le fleuve Brison” start a little more cosmic feeling and take their time building into hugeness. The album maintains is unpredictability throughout splashing in longer experimental interludes featuring instrumentation from synths to strings within the tracks. Also, there are a ton incredible vocal harmonies.

Favorite Track: Le fleuve Brison

Release Date: March 27, 2020

Blankenberge

More

Saint Petersburg, Russia

https://blankenberge.bandcamp.com/album/more

Blankenberge

If you’re in dire need of walls of sound with pop-rock vibes underneath, this is the album for you. Blankenberge has fused together shoegaze, dream-pop, and post-rock together in a way that is astonishing. The instrumentation is saturated in a way that hits you in big emotional waves. One of the guitars sounds super wet and surfy, while the other creates ambiance and space. The songs are still driving and sometimes really upbeat, borderline optimistic-sounding, without being overtly happy. The vocals are super saturated and act as more of an instrument than lyrics to sing along with. There are huge post-rock builds and unexpected rhythmic changes throughout that make each song increasingly interesting. Altogether, it’s really beautiful music that makes ya feel good.

Favorite track: Look Around

Release Date: April 10, 2020

ODDLY

Loaded EP

Kyoto, Japan

https://oddlyband.bandcamp.com/album/loaded-ep

Oddly

“ODDLY is a 3 piece rock band with no bassist. Why we don’t need bass? Cuz we’re louder than that.” I took that from their Bandcamp about section because I thought it was perfect. It perfectly describes who they are and kind of how they sound,. Don’t let their promise of loudness dissuade you. I mean, it’s pretty loud, but it’s intricate and fun with little happy vibes overall. There’s a classic, early 90’s alternative punk vibe to it with apathetic vocals riddled with angst. I love the call-and-response in songs like their featured track, “Loaded”. From beginning to end, this EP is everything it promised to be with its title.

Favorite Track: Loaded

Release Date: March 27, 2020

SPC ECO

4EP April EP

UK

https://spceco.bandcamp.com/album/4-ep-april-ep

SPCECO

SPC ECO consists of former Curve member Dean Garcia and his daughter Rose Berlin. They’ve been doing this project actively since 2007 and have been putting out shorter EP’s the last few months. This EP is very fun and poppy with some really chill electronic songs and some really energetic songs. The dreaminess of this album is almost immeasurable. When you close your eyes and listen to tracks like, “Don’t Mind Me,” the mental scenery is so bright and positive. Other tracks, like my personal favorite, “Who We Are” have a more melancholy vibe to them with experimental textures and synth. This is an alum that you can get hypnotized by and utilize when you’re doing extended outside tasks like walking around, gardening, or driving.

Favorite Track: Who We Are

Release Date: April 1. 2020

Spring Reverb

It’s a Feeling She Don’t Believe In

Portland, Oregon

https://springreverb.bandcamp.com/album/its-a-feeling-she-dont-believe-in

SpringReverb

Okay, so this isn’t an album or an EP, it’s just a single. However, I’ve been obsessed, now listening to this track a dozen times. I can’t tell you what exactly I love about it so much. Is it the excessive use of spring reverb or that classic tone on the organ. I love the fact that it sounds like you’re listening to the track on a warped piece of vinyl. Something about it is so positive at the same time as being so haunting. It has every ounce of a happy day song when you’re driving down the street, wind in your hair, styling some huge fashionable sunglasses while still being ever so slightly unnerving. There’s nothing minor or negative about this jangle-pop track, which is something really great to be able to listen to and really enjoy right now. I can’t wait to hear more from this band.

Only Track: It’s A Felling She Don’t Believe In

Release Date: March 30, 2020

Once again, I hope you all enjoyed this installment of “Katy’s ‘End of Days’ Playlist”. I enjoyed making it. There’s a ton of amazing music coming out regardless of the world situation that can give us all a little comfort right now. Whether you’re into dark, heavy stuff or prefer things to be a little lighter right now, there’s something out there for you to enjoy. You just have to dig a little. Hopefully, these lists help steer you in the right direction.

Things are tough, but you better believe we’re tougher than this. Stay safe and healthy if you’re able to. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Reach out to your friends and family and find something to occupy your mind so things don’t feel as dark. I’ve chosen to deep dive into Bandcamp and have found it to be a sanity-saving time consumer.

You are cared about even if it’s by someone or a group of people you’ve never met. We care about you. All of you. We want to help make this time bearable for people who aren’t used to being home all the time and severely want everyone to get through this with as little damage as possible, but we’re also here if you just need to talk to someone. Reach out. We love you all.

Review of IRIS: Six

Band : IRIS

Album: Six

Label: Dependent records

Members: Reagan Jones / Andrew Sega

Hometown: Austin Tx

https://www.facebook.com/pg/iris.radiant/about/?ref=page_internal

https://iris-us.bandcamp.com/album/six

So IRIS is a band I was a little late to the game on. Their first album was “Awakening” back in 2004. However my dear friend Sunil Khanna at Darkest Before Dawn in Austin told me I needed to check this out, and he hasn’t been wrong yet. This album was no exception.

So what jumps out at me right away. Multiple pedal Shoegaze guitar slush…check. Beautifully produced shake your body 80’s fuzed Synthwave dance beats…check. Place in the blender at medium speed and seamlessly swirl to that place where textural beauty meets pop sensibility. This album covers a lot of ground with a lot of different sounds. Yet, when it’s at its best is when these two elements come together in glorious synthesis. Reagan Jones has this wonderful warm Curt Smith (Tears For Fears) quality to his vocals that captivate and ring with clarity but don’t steal from the sizzling back beat of the music. Maybe that is the other piece that reminds me of well done Shoegaze. Just when he has you in a lull sinking into the warm memorizing music, he cuts to the front and belts a laser beam note that reminds you of the power of his voice.

This band took a fairly long hiatus from 2014-2019 and the maturity of these songs really shows in the smooth even production. It doesn’t have a lot of edge but makes up for that with a genuine and spiritual wisdom. I feel like it can be a hard thing to find in the modern era of beep boop synth pop. It’s that refinement that made this record stand out in the landscape. It also made me really hope to see this band live because I feel like the extra ferocity of a stage performance would add another level of dynamic.

Lets talk about some stand out tracks because while the record didn’t have enormous stylistic dynamic, it definitely changed the flavor in subtle ways from song to song.

Joy Kill – A nice medium tempo Lo-Fi creeper which jumps up for the chorus with a great pop hook. Definitely one where Jones hits another gear in his range then steps back to an easy cadence that lets the swirling synth lines take center stage. Beautiful and expressive.

Pure White Snow – This song really made that synthesis of buzzing slush and clean tone dance beat come together. The imagery was great as well. “Blood Moon so soon, do you hear my cry in vain” I love the subtle computerized effect on the voice which makes it feel very modern while the music was so New Wave.

Take The Pain – They cranked up the drive for this one. Bass way to the front and let the vocals echo off the back. This song speaks to the duality of what they are achieving and sings a concept easy to relate to. It’s a song with enough bass umph to drive folk to the dance floor, but enough depth to make you listen once you get home from the club.

Overall I really enjoyed this album for the blending and the professional quality. It makes me want to dig back into their catalog. I don’t feel like this album was reinventing the wheel but not all of them need to. Sometimes it’s about taking elements you love and honing them together then adding a level of clarity which make that synthesis sound like it was always meant to be together. That’s what IRIS has done with this album and it is an effect I’m glad I gave the attention to.