Shadow Folk – Season’s End

Hailing from Halifax, Canada, Shadow Folk recently released a three track record, deeply influenced by some 60s psychedelic vibes. Three songs and three ways to reveal a huge love for that golden age.

After releasing the stunning Seagull Visions in 2013 (and the catchy Witch Woman for the first Poncho Records compilation), the trio found another way to express a peculiar songwriting in this brand new EP. Starting with the dreamy and sleepy Season’s End (so beautiful with that vocal line on reverb), the record offers a pleasant listening experience, giving us the chance to dig further into the band’s catalog.

The following Hey Ganeymwa is a claustrophobic track, pure lysergic sounds lying on a looping song structure. Anyway, this tune perfectly fits the track list, leading the listener to the third and closing Here at home.

Sounding like a mash up of The Byrds and Os Mutantes, Here at home closes the record, leaving us with a good feeling and the desire to discover more about the trio.


Mattia Schroeder – MatSch

Picture yourself drowning into a deep ocean of hazy vibes, with oscillating thrills that barely move from their place. That’s exactly how you stand at the gate of this eight track record.

The opening Schizo Urchin quietly introduces the listener to airy and dreamy soundscapes, constantly repeated and reinvented throughout the entire track list. Starting from that, this listening experience unlocks a peculiar cabinet of ideas, spreading tons of reverberated and echoing guitar lines on ghost-likely drum patterns.

The feeling of being surrounded by foggy drones and spooky choirs is really hard to avoid: that’s probably the key to connect all these tracks pieces by pieces. The range of landscapes offered by the record goes from sleepy atmospheres (Swamp) to restless and marching tunes (GegenMatti). Nothing seems to be out of place: just try to see how vocals and guitar lines are matched together on tracks like Twang.

The refined arrangements of Moon Drive With Me, with that particular undersea vibe, state one of the peaks of this record, gathering all the forces to explode in the following One Guitar Army.

MatSch is the perfect choice if you search for a great work in music composing, revealing a remarkable sound structure within each track.

Widdershins – Amor

If you got tired of glossy and poppy alternative music, here there’s a record that can give you a strong injection of shoegazing adrenaline. It’s been a while since Amor by Widdershins came out, but it’s still a good full-length to put on you record player, in case you want to discover a great Swiss band.

Probably closer to A Place To Bury Strangers‘ powerful dynamics than to My Bloody Valentine‘s airy soundscapes, this band is a pure concentrate of hard beating drums and restless guitar riffs. The use they make of echoing fuzzy effects creates a suggestive atmosphere, enriched with majestic walls of sounds and highly reverberated vocals.

The cosmic sounds vibrating out of the record lead the listeners through a foggy stream of lysergic vibes: no way to escape the army of feedbacks the band put on Amor.

If you’d like to know more about this noisey and raging Swiss combo, here you find a short interview I had with the band.


•As usual, I’d like to start with a short introduction about your project. I’m really interested in your music background and the way you formed the band. How did you end up playing together? From which music field do the members come from?

Widdershins is a band that started early 2011 in Rolle, a small village in the french speaking part of Switzerland, 20 miles away from Geneva. Our desire to form this band came from the dissolution of our earlier band that we had from our teen years. We – Steven Navid (guitar + vocals), Mathieu Cacheux (Drums) and Jérôme Poletti (Bass) have known each other for more than 10 years and we are best friends. We have solidified our friendship by always playing music together since at least when we were 13 years old (we are now 26). I – Steven – have been playing guitar since I was 5 (classical, jazz and improv background), and Mathieu and Jérôme started more or less in their early teens by ear. We have always listened to A LOT of different musical styles, we basically listen to anything we find interesting, from no wave experimental free improv jazz to extreme progressive metal and of course all the good kraut psych cosmic stuff in between. So when Widdershins became a serious project, we were clearly going in a more modern psychedelic sound, and the band that has really pushed us in the beginning was A Place to Bury Strangers and My Bloody Valentine (you nailed it!). They were a major influence, especially the LOUD aspect of these bands! We were in the past playing in a band which was getting more and more quieter, and almost no distortion of fuzz, so Widdershins is a direct response to this increasing boredom we accumulated! When we stopped that band (we were 5), we have quickly seen that only 3 could form Widdershins, there was this big desire of being the smallest amount of members but having total control on instruments and being the loudest as possible, and of course trying to get the most original and bizarre sounds without the use of machines and synths. We love our instruments very much, and especially guitar effects!

•The sound of “Amor” is deeply soaked into shoegazing vibes. There are lots of influences coming from legendary bands of this music genre (My Bloody Valentine) as well as from last decade ensembles (A Place to bury Strangers). Which records did actually mean a lot to you during the construction of your own sound?

For Amor it’s a bit complicated to know exactly what sound we were going for, because we recorded a first “album” before, which we were completely focused on APTBS sound and MBV. But for Amor, these bands where of course always there, but not in the same way. We just listened to ourselves and wrote the album during the summer, recorded it in one day and I did the vocals a week later. I’d say the bands you cited are spot on during our first year, then for Amor I would have to say… probably a mixture of Dead Skeletons and BJM. I think how we clearly made our sound was just being really creative during some long jams, trying to plug in more and more effects together, being really honest with each other and trying to forget our influences.

•On “Amor” it’s quite evident that you’re more familiar with middle-long tracks, as if they’re the result of long jamming sessions. How does the music composing process work for you?

The writing process is always interesting with Widdershins, it’s impossible to have only one or two members writing everything. Maybe I will find some riffs at home, or jamming with Mathieu on drums. Then we would be satisfied and when Jérôme comes along, he has these incredibly weird ideas and demonic sounds that change everything for the good of the song. So we clearly write when we are the three together, but maybe the first impulse can be me alone or in a duo. Even sometimes since I write my own material for my solo stuff, I would borrow ideas and vocals lines (even a title -> Kingdom of Night) and reuse them for Widdershins, but in general it’s definitely when we jam we find all of our ideas, and we clearly don’t really communicate with precise words when we write, when we know we have a nailed the right idea, everyone knows it unconsciously and we never try to force a song, it has to be natural.

•I will spend my last question trying to know more about the Swiss music scenario. What do you think about it? Which band from Switzerland would you like to recommend?

The music scene in Switzerland is very interesting and mysterious, if you listen to post-hardcore metal music, the Swiss are kings of this genre! but in the psych kraut cosmic scene, things are changing.. for the good! We are behind the Swiss Psych Fest (yes, yet another psych fest!) Which I have founded with Mathieu late 2012. It seemed totally logical to do this because when we traveled around the country playing with Widdershins, we met all of these people playing amazing music and nobody knew about them… So without having a focus on one city for the fest, we decided to name the fest by having the whole country involved! Switzerland is a very small country, only 8 mio people live here and there are not a lot of big cities… The first edition had 16 Swiss bands!

Heroin In Tahiti – Peplum 7″

Have you ever heard of Heroin In Thaiti?
In case you’re not familiar with the band, I would strongly recommend to give a try to their stunning full-length Death Surf, before or after streaming their brand new Peplum 7″.

This Rome-based duo gained notoriety in the last years thanks to their peculiar way of drawing suggestive soundscapes with the use of appropriate drones and sounds effects. Offering a great mixture of surf-likely vibes and spectral background tones, the band released today a two track record via Yerevan Tapes: if you’re up for spooky atmospheres and tribal percussions, “Alo” could easily please your taste.

One of the things I always appreciated of this duo is their ability in using the surf music standards, turning the catchy stereotype around the genre into a creepy flow of sound waves. You can find here a longer article about the topic, explaining why the band played a central role for the development of drone music.

All the fans of ambient music, especially when combined with minimal electronic beats, will surely enjoy the listening.

Travel Check – 66$

Paris based Travel Check recently released 66$, a four step journey into a world made of fuzzy tones and garage sounds.

Starting with the title track, the listener is instantly surrounded by a catchy vibe. The beating drums feverishly sustain the hazy guitar chords, offering a great example of punk’n’roll. This way the band created a nice and joyful atmosphere, enriching the surf-pop sonorities with airy and strongly reverberated voices.

Third track La Gravière is a dirty and druggy rock’n’roll that restlessly flows for a two minute storm of fuzzy sounds. Just give it a listen to enjoy the powerful feeling this tune can offer.

Feels alright, last tune on this album, pushes the overdrive to the limit: it’s really easy to recognize a pure garage attitude on the arrangements and sound effects this french combo used.

No other word to describe the pleasant listening you can experience throughout the entire track list; you just have to stream this record over and over.

The Vickers – Ghosts

Florence based The Vickers recently released Ghosts, a great work of genius that starts with one of the greatest bass lines you can find on a record nowadays.

Surfing the late 60s revival, the band found a proper way to express such a lysergic vibe, with lots of acid guitar effects and steamy drums to sustain the tunes. This record would surely please all the psych-rock lovers, thanks to a genuine songwriting and a peculiar way of referring to the krautrock golden age.

You can find tons of references throughout the entire track-list: a little bit of Barrett’s harmonies in the vocals, a lot of 90s indiepop influences, remarkable garage-surf sonorities. Above all, the record could easily be listed as one of the best releases we had in 2014 so far.

The highly reverberated guitar licks help the tracks to reach a beautiful state of haziness, drowning the foggy sound of the album into a sea of spiralic sounds and hypnotic lines. It’s strongly recommended to enjoy this record in one shot, streaming the ten tracks as a continuos flow of sound waves.

Even if they play with most of the standard patterns from the recent psych-pop revival, they managed to create an unique sound, composing tracks that let the 60s atmospheres and the 90s fuzzy tones walk hand in hand.

Arnold Fish – Fuzzy Beats & Cheesy Tunes

Today multi instrumentalist Arnold Fish released his 6 track record Fuzzy Beats & Cheesy Tunes: a stunning collection of psych’n’glossy pop songs that blends a huge love for the 60s with a fresh and peculiar songwriting.

This way the risk of a simple revival is way far from appearing on the record. Starting with the marvelous interweaving vocals of Lady Harrington, the album offers lots of remarkable ideas. The irregular pattern of Santa Monica (with such a good off beat feeling) is just one of the fine arrangements you can find throughout the entire track list.

Sometimes it’s quite easy to find a comparison with some typical Beatles atmospheres. Anyway, the quality of the tunes gives you no doubt about Arnold’s abilities: just listen to The Amazing Chemical Man to appreciate his elegant way of composing.

A full immersion into this cabinet of sounds is strongly recommended to get the acid feeling of a crooked pop songwriting. No other way to find more about his music but listening to this pleasent stream of lysergic sounds.

Harp and a Monkey – All Life is Here

Released on March 24th, All Life is Here is the second full-length by Manchester-based trio Harp and a Monkey. This collection of folk-flavored tracks gently leads the listener into a foggy land, populated by fairy creatures and filled with ghostly landscapes.

Starting with a short intro, the record emanates a timeless atmosphere. It’s hard to avoid the feeling of being trapped into a child book, surrounded by pixies and spooky forests. The wide range of country-folk arrangements helps to create a pleasant vibe, running throughout the entire track list.

The amount of great ideas on the record reveals a growing songwriting, showing the trio’s abilities to put in music a world of traditions and centenary tales. Even if most of the stories come from the last two centuries, the entire atmosphere is blended with a timeless vibe, built on the immortal roots of British folk music.

Filled with lots of details about the songs, the booklet surely enriches the good quality of the album’s package, embellished with an adequate and elegant artwork: the pictures you find while enjoying the songs’ stories masterfully fit the sound of these compositions.

Lying on an ethereal sea of background sounds, the tracks offer tons of pleasant melodies, where folk instruments and fine electronic beats find the way to melt together into an unique stream of sound waves. No wonder why the band is so good at drawing misty and boundless landscapes.

Enjoy All Life is Here throughout the entire track list: listening to this record is like drowning into an ocean of celestial harmonies.

Les Rivals – Les Rivals

Next Saturday Les Rivals self named debut release will be out via Casbah Records, offering eleven tracks of pure adrenalin garage-rock.

The band certainly knows how to deal with the late 60s music vibes, creating a peculiar mixture of bluesy arrangements and garage-surf tones (there are even some acid atmospheres coming out from psych pop tracks like Take Me For a Ride).

The entire track list offers lots of brilliant ideas: the speeded up Stones on Hole In My Heart or the 80s sound of She Don’t Care as an example. Among the variety of arrangements the band adopted on this record, the finest are to be searched on last track Halfway There: a wide range of soundscapes flows pleasantly throughout this six minute composition, giving the feeling of a downward trip into lysergic lands.

At the end of the day, this debut full length shows a great improvement for the band, revealing a great songwriting and excellent skills in music composing (the perfect merge of the organ sound with the fuzzy guitar lines should be a damning evidence).

Starting with the powerful riff of Police Station, this album is a collection of enjoyable rock’n’roll tunes, filled with dynamic drum patterns, hazy sounds and tons of 60s vibes.

Actual Midgets and the Drug Opera – Live for Today

Surfing the web you can randomly find hidden jewels that instantly get stuck in your mind. Live for Today by Actual Midgets and the Drug Opera is one of the best records I recently discovered: a stunning combination of pop songwriting, elegant and jazzy tones and ethereal singing.

Far from being a mere replica of over exploited patterns, this record leads the listener into a world made of foggy landscapes, surreal characters, airy vibes and pleasant tones. The saxophone sound helps to create a spooky and melancholic atmosphere, giving the tracks a peculiar taste, dark and dreamy at the same time.

Filled with lots of fine interludes, Live for Today offers a great example of music composing, showing the way to blend standard pop structures with a remarkable experimental attitude. The feeling of being constantly slowed down permeates the entire track list: it’s amazing how the band managed to merge regular patterns with ethereal drones and vibes.

Probably, the album’s peak is to be searched in (I remember) In Weed: a heart moving ballad that easily reach one of the greatest heights in this music genre.

To know a little bit more about the band I had an interview with James. Enjoy the answers he gave me!

•As a good starter, I’d like to know more about the project. How did you start the band? How did you find good members to play with?

Actual Midgets is a project which has always thrived on collaboration, evolving from a solo project with various associates to a more settled band.

Members and occasional collaborators are drawn from the Sheffield music scene, having met at gigs, shared studios, and through other bands.

J Barlow and Jim Street have played together in various projects over recent years. Drums are usually provided by Jim’s nephew, Pat Carley (Pjaro). Saxophone on Live for Today and occasionally live is played by Rich Harrison (King Capisce). The current line-up is Barlow, Street, Carley and Ric Booth (Kill the Captains) on lead guitar.

As you’ve seen, the line-up rotates and is often flexible, utilising various other local musicians for particular gigs or recordings – we strive for the interaction and variety provided by different talents and approaches.

Also vital to Live for Today was Brian Ellis, Sheffield’s hippest sound manipulator. We wished to record with Brian due to his energy and enthusiasm, and ability to inspire and capture live performance.

•Your music reveals tons of influences, from classic rock sounds to elegant jazz vibes. Talking about your music background, which records influenced at most your songwriting? Which ones let you think that you wanted to be a musician?

The Velvet Underground have been a mother lode for much of our work, both stylistically and sonically. Other influences range from traditional folk and classic 60s bands and songwriters to modern minimalism and post-rock.

Live for Today also draws on our krautrock influences – Faust, Can, La Dusseldorf et al. We were keen to work on hypnotic drones and repetitions and to record live rather than track by track, aiming to capture the energy and drive of live performance. (The sessions were recorded live to tape and then edited in a tape-splice style.)

The jazz vibe on Live for Today was mostly brought to the party by Rich Harrison on sax, building on previous live collaborations – we felt Rich would be a good complement to our approach and playing style.

•It’s always hard to understand how the process of music composing works. According to your experience, how do you create your songs? How do you start composing?

There are currently three writers in Actual Midgets. We each write for catharsis, expression, and experimentation. Songs usually start from a few chords or licks, lyrical ideas from films, books, or our experiences (at the moment, we’re particularly keen on brutalist architecture). Songs are then developed by the band during rehearsal or recording before taking their final form.

Many of our songs look to explore the richness and depth of human experience, or to express our perspective and philosophy (Rules All Again). Some songs are based on literature (In Weed is a poetic retelling of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Horses is based on lines and ideas from Shakespeare). Other songs are taken from the folk tradition and then reworked (Three Galleys).

Much of Live for Today emerged from jams and ideas for semi-improvised pieces.

•With my last question I’d like to know what will come after the release of “Live for Today”. What’s the plan for the future? Are you already working on new material?

We’re currently demoing songs to be released as series of singles and EPs, building up our own studio in the process. Live for Today Volume II will hopefully follow soon after with Rich Harrison back on sax.