There’s something about this time of year just really brings out the troubled indie kid in me— the crisp air, the alarmingly short amount of daylight (it’s already dark when I get off from work), the imminent encounter with family looming large—all of it ads up to me feeling like one mopey teenage lad.
It’s probably unsurprising that given this I tend to gravitate musically toward a particular shall we say, flavor—usually something atmospheric and vaguely sorrowful, with soft jangly melodies and melancholic lyrics. So shoegaze (the derisive name for a genre of bands so adverse to performing that members would rather look at their shoes than at the crowd) is one of the ideal genres to slake my anhedonic proclivities.
Now I’m not at all an authority on this style, so it’s fortunate that I discovered these two new bands (well new to me, both have actually been around for awhile), and that they’ve both put out solid records in 2014. Neither is exactly pushing new territory, but both Nothing and Whirr execute the formula—twee whispered vocals and multifaceted guitar layering, with a heavy helping of distortion-driven feedback—pretty expertly.
This Pennsylvania-based quartet was founded by Dominic Palermo, a veteran of the Philadelphia punk and hardcore scenes, who apparently became fed up with the violence surrounding the music. He formed the band back in 2011 and after a few EPs, they signed to Relapse Records, releasing the single “Dig” which also happens to be on this year’s LP Guilty of Everything.
Stream and download the rest of the album over at the band’s Bandcamp Page
Hailing from San Francisco, Whirr began its life in 2010 as Whirl, but was forced to change names after a copyright dispute with another artist. Guitarist and founding member Nick Bassett has also played with the much-vaunted San Francisco shoegaze/metal hybrid Deafheaven. They released their latest album Sway back in September via Savanna, Georgia-based imprint Graveface Records.
Grab a physical copy or the digital download over at Bandcamp.
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Oh, and interestingly enough as it turns there’s a side project featuring members from both of these bands called Death of Lovers, who self-released an eponymous EP that sounds kind of like Joy Division making a shoegaze record— surprisingly good stuff really, although it’s not particularly cheerful in case wasn’t abundantly clear already.