Shoegaze

INDIGOS ‘INDIGOS’

It took a global pandemic but the free market zealots finally paused the capitalist hamster-wheel (after much equivocation and an obscene death toll). Long inured by a lifetime of merciless labour extraction, a percentage of the overworked and underpaid were granted the simple, Marxist ideal of free time. This freedom to allow personal development away from the neoliberal grind could be both liberating and terrifying. Alone with your thoughts and little else, deep rumination and introspective wanderings can take place, reaching profound epiphany or painful reconciling with wounds that lie buried and unresolved.

“Self-reflection, projection, nostalgia…”. The lyrical themes of INDIGOS, as stated on their Bandcamp, feel inexorably linked to this reflective pivot that hangs in the air. Like the mysterious duality of night and day adorning their latest cover, the Bristol-based heavy pop trio have crafted an exquisite blend of psychedelic shoegaze and slacker grunge that uncannily scores the contemporary contemplation and its trepidation. Sharing a love for 90s alternative rock like Smashing Pumpkins and Pixies, INDIGOS, along with kindred spirits Wych Elm, anchor their lethargic fuzz with a keen ear for subtle but infectious pop hooks. After winning support slots with Cherry Glazerr and rotation on 6 Music, INDIGOS finally drop their debut EP via AC30 Records and co-production help from IDLES guitarist Lee Kiernan.

Sophia Barnes’ mean bass opens INDIGOS on the explosive ‘Silhouette of You’, pitch-perfect loud/quiet dynamics straight out of Doolittle ending with a strung-out thrash that’s both heady and electric. Guitarist Jack Croft’s swirling jangle expertly percolates around Barnes’ spooky vocals on the eerie ‘I’m Healed’, before the stirring ‘Animalistic’ displays an anthemic rigour to their tripped-out post-punk. Finale ‘Out of Body’ is simply stunning, a gorgeous meander through a hazy daydream of ethereal effects washes and Barnes’ cooly delicate vocals before an awesome guitar attack that recalls the breathtaking solos from Siamese Dream.

Thrillingly ethereal without ever becoming lost in its sonic expanse, INDIGOS is four tracks of impeccable psych-rock that veers between light and dark with ease, channelling the ambiguity of our collective uncertainty with exceptional insight.

Goon ‘Heaven is Humming’

Is that a wry smirk on the goblin? Or a grimace to be met with caution? Sporting the Poway City area code and a halo, Goon frontman and sleeve artist Kenny Becker presents us with an impressionist being that perfectly captures the hazy, textured indie-rock contained within.

Three years in the making, Goons debut LP Heaven is Humming has had a tumultuous gestation, Becker embracing an engagement while battling a chronic sinus condition which dulls the senses. The sparks which fly off the antagonism between light and dark were present on prior EPs Dusk of Punk and Happy Omen, but as art imitates life (or the other way round), the tension that bristles underneath has been afforded a wider palette of moods and styles.

Who would have thought shoegaze slack and big monster riffs could get along so well? Goon know how to make an exquisite racket, dreamy vocals strut alongside Drew Eccleston’s hard rock crunch on the thrilling ‘Northern Saturn’, interjected with sunny jangle guitar. Punk energy burns on banger ‘Datura’, Source Tags & Codes style heavy with Pixies vocals explodes into a thrasher so exciting you nearly quit your job to form a band. Lethargy rears its head when it needs to, never deteriorating to a bland drone which can befall their slacker contemporaries, most notably on opener ‘F Jam’, a gloriously sludgy wade through crashing drums and wailing, pained vocals.

The album shines in it’s moments of pause. The beautiful introspection of ‘Snoqualmie’ (named after the City much of Twin Peaks was shot) appears like a mirage, expert acoustic fingerpicking with all its intimate blemishes and string scratches soar with aching strings and subtle surreal sonics. Things end with an anthemic air on closer ‘CCLL’, a stirring and nostalgic plume haunts the finale with gorgeous synths and tripped-out psychedelia, before drifting away like the waning of an LSD trip.

We needn’t fear the goblin of Poway. In just 11 tracks, Goon has delivered an exceptional debut record of electrifying melodic, shoegaze soaked with sun and the occasional menace. Heaven is Humming has the power to trigger memories you forgot you had, and illicit emotions long suppressed.

Elizium ‘ELIZIUM’

Subtly operating off the L.A. radar is lo-fi post-punk outfit Elizium, consisting of rather obliquely named duo WL and SM. With little social media presence and scant information of the band, Elizium quietly slipped their self-titled demo EP to little fanfare, although one could mistake its demo production with characteristic tape hiss. The quiet release of ELIZIUM and the semi-anonymous nature of the band belie just how fantastic the EP is.

The urgent snap of steady snares and grooving bass swirl against WL’s muffled vocals and synth lines on opener ‘Monotonie’, the motorik drive given greater acceleration with tight punk riffing. ‘Reflection’ is a wistful and slightly sombre wander through foggy keyboards and damp drum machines held together by rich synth-strings before the cavernous crunch of ‘Promises’ takes the EP into more menacing electro territory. EP closer ‘EZ’ ends on a note of dreamy shoegaze punctuated with the industrial chug of abrasive percussion, the whispers that percolate within vying for attention.

WL and SM have hinted at an intriguing and infectious future of psychedelic punk with ‘ELIZIUM’, a promise of an exciting path ahead of tripped-out grooves which bites as well as soars.