Posts Tagged ‘Mazzy Star’

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For a song whose haunting beauty and pensive languor captured the hearts of thousands of hopeless romantics around the world, there’s not much to say about Mazzy Star’s ‘Fade into You’. Not because everything’s already been said, necessarily, but because the dream pop group’s 1993 single is not really the kind of song you talk about. You just sink into its ethereal world, letting those reverb-drenched vocals and hypnotic slide guitar speak directly to your soul. “So much about music is overdetermined by television and what people write and say about it,” co-founder David Roback, who passed away at the age of 61, told The Times back in 1993. “You have to leave something to people’s imagination, so they feel they can participate. Music is music. We don’t want to be part of that over-determination. We feel you should be able to shut your eyes and listen to it.”

This is a good rule of thumb for listening to any number of songs, but ‘Fade into You’ captures that depth of feeling so intimately that it becomes impossible not to just close your eyes and let the music wash over you. And while the irony of writing a piece about a song you’re not really supposed to write about doesn’t escape me, part of the magic of the song is what it makes people want to say; not the kind of people Roback was probably referring to – critics and the media in general – but fans whose own memories are inextricably tied to this song. Scrolling through the YouTube comments on the song’s official video, you’ll find people recounting stories of when they first heard it, or simply what it reminds them of: first loves, dusty afternoons, starry nights. People relating not just to the feeling of the song – to the way it somehow sounds both melancholic and hopeful, languid yet enchanting – but to each other. Which, in itself, is pretty strange – who knew that a song by and about introverts could foster such a meaningful sense of human connection?

‘Fade into You’ is often remembered as a song about falling in love – in fact, it might be one of the greatest songs about falling in love, or rather being consumed by it – but it can also be read as being about longing for that deeper kind of human connection, only to realize others simply don’t experience emotions in the same way. The lines “I look to you and I see nothing/ I look to you to see the truth” might just be about unrequited love, about not seeing those romantic feelings reflected in the other person’s eyes; but coming after the iconic opening couplet “I want to hold the hand inside you/ I want to take a breath that’s true”, it’s possible that this emptiness stems from recognizing the impossibility of being part of someone else’s internal world, of having your own personal urges exist outside yourself. Rhyming “true” with “truth” might appear lazy, but in this case it serves to highlight the disparity between the truth that she yearns for and the truth the world hands her: truth as love, and truth as harsh reality.

And yet, she can’t help but marvel at the other person’s ignorance with a kind of youthful idealism: “I think it’s strange you never knew,” singer Hope Sandoval coos in the chorus. Strange that feelings so immense can go unnoticed. Rendered even stranger, perhaps, by the fact that the person that’s being addressed appears to be similarly reclusive: “You live your life/ You go in shadows”. Sandoval, too, has a reputation for being shy, preferring to perform in near-darkness and sometimes visibly uncomfortable when playing in broad daylight. “Once you’re onstage, you’re expected to perform,” Sandoval once said. “I don’t do that. I always feel awkward about just standing there and not speaking to the audience. It’s difficult for me.” But on ‘Fade into You’, the other person’s tendency to “go in shadows” is less about being reticent than it is about suffering from some form of depression, one that “colours your eyes with what’s not there.” The truth then becomes much less complicated, but just as bitter: she sees nothing when she looks at him because he’s haunted by a kind of emptiness that’s just as all-consuming as her love.

‘Fade into You’ will forever be seen as an achingly romantic song, but there’s a darkness to it that often goes unnoticed – the spiral of losing yourself completely to someone who’s lost in a whole different way. There’s no indication that the nature of the singer’s desire is purely romantic; her pain stems not just from the fact that her love isn’t – or can’t be – reciprocated, but from this inability to reach out to the other person and pull them out of that dark place. On the song’s cryptic second verse, she imagines herself from his perspective, seeing her love as “a stranger’s light” that “comes on slowly”, a “stranger’s heart without a home”. But she quickly realizes her love could never be enough – “You put your hands into your head/ And then its smiles cover your heart”. Much like “true” and “truth”, the “hands into your head” line links back to the first verse, where she sings that she wants to “hold the hand inside you”, to prevent him from further sinking into his depression – only for her to “fade into” some version of what she earlier describes as a “night into your darkness”.

None of that, of course, explains why a song so enigmatic has left a lasting impact on so many. And though, to this day, no one really knows exactly how ‘Fade into You’ became such an unlikely hit – it was the only song by Mazzy Star to make it make to the Billboard Chart, peaking at number 44 – for many, it boiled down to this: it was a great make out song, perhaps one of the best of all time. One Capitol executive put it like this: “All those kids have boyfriends and girlfriends, and they like to neck, and I don’t think they listen to Barry White”. Plenty of films and television shows have capitalized on that, too. But it’s not so much because of the lyrics as the overall vibe of the track, which is ironic, considering it’s one of the few Mazzy Star songs that does more to capture a specific feeling than just a mood. It’s also one of their more polished compositions: compare it to something like ‘Be My Angel’ from 1990’s She Hangs Brightly, a track that uses a near identical chord progression and some of that bluesy slide guitar, but has a rougher, almost improvisational feel to it. Here, that chord progression provides a solid foundation for all the haziness enveloping it – of course, it helps that it’s also one of the most ubiquitous out there, bringing to mind Bob Dylan’s ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’.

Perhaps it’s that quality that makes the track so nostalgic – there’s a kind of familiarity to it, but it’s diluted just enough to let your mind wander, in the same way that the lyrics tell a specific story while also being vague enough for the listener to project their own experiences onto them. But as evocative as the song can be, it wasn’t nostalgia that the band was going for: “It was never intended to be a nostalgic song,” Roback once explained. “Unless you were meant to think about nostalgia for the present, because it really was about the present.” Which makes sense, when you think of it: it’s written in the present tense, for one thing, and the intensity of the emotion gives it a certain immediacy. But the production tells a different story – soaked in enough reverb to make it feel like the past is part of the present, unfolding right there in front of you.

And then there’s Sandoval’s singing. There’s a characteristic softness to it that makes it feel strikingly intimate, but what makes it so effective is that it externalises a whole internal world without underselling nor overdramatizing the passion that lies underneath. “Fade into you,” she sings, elongating each syllable, “Strange you never knew”. Unlike many of their contemporaries in the alternative rock scene, Mazzy Star were capable of expressing teenage emotions with a kind of quiet wistfulness that was completely foreign to genres like grunge. Even when Kurt Cobain tapped into a similar kind of introspection during Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged concert, there was barely any sense of hope behind the pain – whereas ‘Fade into You’ offers consolation right from its very first lines, as if Sandoval is singing directly to you. There was a whole lot of music in the 90s that channelled teenage angst like never before, music you could identify with – but that song provides at least some comfort, whether you relate to one who goes in the shadows or the singer chasing down after him. Even if you’re not paying attention to lyrics, the track’s gorgeous instrumental, punctuated by gentle piano embellishments and hushed tambourine, is enough to make you feel like you’re wrapped in a warm embrace.

Despite all the mystique surrounding it, though, ‘Fade into You’ is really a simple song at its core. “We weren’t trying to write a hit song – we were just writing a song,” Roback said in a 2018 interview, explaining that it started as an acoustic song. “I think we had a melody and a feel and we just followed that feel.” Though naturally averse to any kind of mainstream success, Mazzy Star were not the kind of band who grew to hate their most famous single. And yet, they always seemed to highlight that simplicity when talking about their song writing process, as if the song just came together naturally on its own. When asked about it in a 2013 interview, Sandoval simply said: “I think it’s a good song.” But despite their refusal to mythologize themselves or their craft, it was Roback who described it most eloquently: “We’re not so concerned about the outside world,” he told Uncut in 2013. “It’s a very internal process that we’re involved in. The outside world is really not on our minds, in so far as the music is concerned […] It is its own world unto itself.” When you listen to ‘Fade into You’, it’s impossible not to lose yourself in that world; a world, that, as Sandoval wrote in a poem posted a few days after Roback’s passing, is “filled with the comforting sadness that holds us together”.

thanks Constantinos Pappis for all the words

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David Roback, producer and Mazzy Star co-founder, has died, a rep for the band confirmed. He was 61 years old. David’s mother Rosemary Roback, “said the cause was metastatic cancer.” Our condolences to David’s mother, wife Hedi (Raikamo) Roback, and sister, and to his Mazzy Star bandmate Hope Sandoval.

Roback was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and attended Palisades High School, graduating in 1975. He and his brother Stephen Roback, a bass guitarist, formed a band called the Unconscious, which also included Susanna Hoffs, who would go on to become the lead singer and guitarist of The Bangles.

The Rain Parade was a band active in the Paisley Underground scene in Los Angeles in the 1980s.
The band was founded by college roommates Matt Piucci (guitar, vocals) and David Roback (guitar, vocals) in 1981, originally as The Moving Sidewalks.

He formed Rain Parade with Matt Piucci then after the release of the band’s first album, Emergency Third Rail Power Trip, in 1983, Roback left Rain Parade citing a sense of limitations in the band. He spent time in Berkeley and New York before founding Opal with Dream Syndicate bassist Kendra Smith in the mid-1980s. After Smith departed the band in the middle of a tour where Opal were supporting The Jesus & Mary Chain, Hope Sandoval was tapped as her replacement. Robackto record Rainy Day, a collaborative effort with a number of Los Angeles musicians all involved in the Paisley Underground scene.

The California-born Roback played in bands throughout the mid-’80s, including Rain Parade and Opal, before co-founding the seminal West Coast band Mazzy Star alongside Hope Sandoval in 1989. The alt-rock group unveiled their debut album, “She Hangs Brightly”, in 1990, before going on to release three more records and two EPs.

There was more information  and a nice tribute today by Pat Thomas, “a longtime fan and current manager of Roback’s former [Opal] bandmate Kendra Smith.” It’s worth reading, but we especially wanted to point out this nugget at the end:

At the time of his passing, Roback was working with Kendra Smith on finalizing the re-release of their two albums together, “Happy Nightmare Baby” and a compilation of their first EPs titled “Early Recordings (first released in 1989). Both albums have been unavailable for decades and are not currently available on streaming services, but are due for imminent release digitally and physically via Ingrooves Music Group.

The group’s 1987 opus, “Happy Nightmare Baby,” will not include any bonus tracks, but a 1989 compilation of earlier material called, naturally enough, “Early Recordings,” will include five extra songs: “Hear the Wind Blow,” “I Called Erin,” “Don’t Stop the Train,” “Sailing Boats” and an alternate version of “Empty Bottles.” (Some of these songs appeared on a bootleg compilation called “Early Recordings Volume 2.”) Thomas did not give a more specific release date than “imminent.”.

Mazzy Star is best known for the song “Fade into You” The track reached No. 3 on the Alternative Songs airplay chart in 1994 and has sold 1.1 million downloads in the U.S. It also reached the top 20 of Alternative Songs which brought the band some success in the mid-1990s and was the group’s biggest mainstream hit, earning extensive exposure on MTV, VH1, and radio airplay. Roback and Hope Sandoval are the creative center of the band, with Sandoval as lyricist and Roback as composer of the majority of the band’s material.

Opal were a direct precursor to Mazzy Star musically—often featuring the same psychedelic guitar drones and similar hints of blues and folk that would later appear on Mazzy Star recordings. Sandoval who was in high school at the time formed the folk music duo Going Home in the early 1980s with fellow student Sylvia Gomez, and went on to tour with Sonic Youth and Minutemen. Both were devoted followers of the Rain Parade, and after a 1983 concert by the band in the Los Angeles area, Gomez entered the backstage area of the venue and gave Roback a copy of Going Home’s demo tape, featuring Sandoval on vocals and Gomez on guitar. Upon hearing the tape, Roback offered to produce a still-unreleased album by the pair.

Sandoval and Roback quickly composed and recorded seven new tracks in Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco, under the band name Mazzy Star. Written over a year before Mazzy Star’s inception, the track “Ghost Highway” is the duo’s only original song to not feature a writing credit from Sandoval, while another song, “Give You My Lovin'”, was written by Going Home guitarist Sylvia Gomez. 

She Hangs Brightly was released in April 1990 on Rough Trade and, although it was not an immediate commercial success, the album established the duo as a recurrent fixture on alternative rock radio, with lead single “Blue Flower” – a cover of the Slapp Happy track, The album would go on to sell over 70,000 copies in the UK.

Following the success of “Fade into You”, She Hangs Brightly album opener “Halah” began to receive heavy airplay in the US and peaked in the Modern Rock Tracks chart, a chart based solely on airplay. In 1995, She Hangs Brightly was awarded a gold certification from the RIAA for shipments in excess of 500,000 units.

The band’s most recent studio album, Seasons of Your Day, was released in 2013, followed by a EP Still in 2018.

The group’s album So Tonight That I Might See, which features “Fade Into You,” sold 1.3 million in the U.S. Mazzy Star charted two more albums “Among My Swan” in 1996 and Seasons of Your Day”, the group’s final project, in 2013.

  • She Hangs Brightly (1990)
  • So Tonight That I Might See (1993)
  • Among My Swan (1996)
  • Seasons of Your Day (2013)

Simon Raymonde Of Bella Union had this to say: So sad to hear of the passing of David Roback formerly of Opal and Mazzy Star. A brilliant Musician and producer he gave us some amazing music. A quiet, private and brooding man during the time we worked together : We were label-mates at Capitol & Mazzy Star supported us in the USA during a long tour in the 90s. Dave then produced some tracks of Beth Orton’s Central Reservation LP at our September Sound studios in Richmond during 1999, he leaves us way too early at the age of just 61 years old.

One of the great musicians, songwriters and participants in three of music’s most wonderful bands

Roback’s cause of death is unknown at press time.

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In Mazzy Star’s first release in four years, Hope Sandoval, Dave Roback, and company offer up three new songs, plus an alternate version of “So Tonight That I Might See,” the title track from the band’s 25-year-old landmark dream-pop album. Single “Quiet, The Winter Harbor” delivers on the twanging psych folk the group is known for: a gorgeous waltz of minor-key piano, melancholy slide guitar, and Sandoval’s famously soporific vocals.

Band Members
Hope Sandoval, David Roback

Mazzy Star official video “Quiet, The Winter Harbor” single, “Still” EP, 2018 Rhymes Of An Hour / Ingrooves Records

Mazzy Star Preview New EP <i>Still</i> With "Quiet, the Winter Harbor," First New Single Since 2014

Mazzy Star  are back again, announcing on Wednesday their new EP Still, due out on June 1st via Rhymes Of An Hour Records. The four-track EP opens with “Quiet, the Winter Harbor,”  and also includes a rework of their 1993 track “So Tonight That I Might See.”

The delicate and subdued “Quiet, the Winter Harbor” is the duo’s first new song since their 2014 Record Store Day single “I’m Less Here.” It’s also singer Hope Sandoval and guitarist David Roback’s first release since the death of their longtime drummer Keith Mitchell in 2017.

Mazzy Star  will perform in Australia for the first and only time this June, with shows at the world-renowned Sydney Opera House set for June 11th-13th.  Mazzy Star’s last album was 2013’s Seasons Of Your Day, which itself was their first new album in 17 years. That LP, their fourth, was preceded by 1990’s She Hangs Brightly, 1993’s So Tonight That I Might See and 1996’s Among My Swan. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s more than 30 years that the California act has been a dream-pop staple.

Listen to “Quiet, the Winter Harbor” below the Still  EP will be available on both 12-inch vinyl and streaming services on June 1st.

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“I’m Less Here” is a stand-alone single released by alternative rock band Mazzy Star for Record Store Day 2014, and was the band’s first release of new material since their previous album, “Seasons of Your Day”. The track had previously been performed live under the name “It Speaks of Distance,” with its first known performance dating back to March 1994. The A-side was backed by another previously unreleased song, titled “Things”. The day before the single’s release, the band posted a music video for the track on their official Vevo account. The single was pressed on coke bottle-clear 7″ vinyl and was limited to 3,000 copies worldwide.  In the United States, “I’m Less Here” was listed as a ‘Record Store Day First‘; it was exclusive to independent retailers on the day of release, and was made available to other retailers at a later date

released as a 7″ vinyl single for record store day

Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval Announces a New Album, Also Shares New Song With Kurt Vile: At this stage of her career, you feel like you know what you’re going to get with Hope Sandoval her instantly recognizable voice, still the same some 25 years after we first heard her with Mazzy Star; languid, country-tinged arrangements; and an abiding sense of melancholy. She’s certainly not messing with this formula, but she is expanding on it

Listen out for the new album Until the Hunter is Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions’ first record since 2009

Hope Sandoval (of Mazzy Star) and Colm O Ciosoig (of My Bloody Valentine) have announced a new album from their project Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions. The new record, which is the duo’s first since 2009’s Through The Devil Softly, is called Until the Hunter, and it’s out November 4th via Sandoval’s own label Tendril Tales . Along with the announcement, they’ve shared a new song from the record, “Let Me Get There,” which is a duet with Kurt Vile. Hear it below. In a press release, Kurt Vile said of the collaboration:

It was a total honor to sing along to a beautifully hypnotic soul groove with heavyweights like Hope, and Colm, and all the other top notch musos. To respond to Hope’s call in song of letting her get there felt right and real and gave me chills while singing, even though I knew they already got there years before I walked in the building.

mazzy-star-hope-sandoval-new-album

Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions – The official video for “Isn’t it True”

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions, the dream pop project of Mazzy Star vocalist Hope Sandoval and Colm Ó Cíosóig of My Bloody Valentine, haven’t released an album since 2009. That changes this year, however, as they’ve announced plans to finally put out the follow-up to Through the Devil Softly.

While no firm timetable has been given for the new album, the group will drop its first official single titled “Isn’t It True” on Record Store Day (April 16th) as a 7-inch via her Sandoval’s own Tendril Tales label. As  the track will be backed by “She’s in the Wall”, a song which features additional contributions from Jim Putnam of the Radar Bros.

The upcoming as-yet-untitled album marks the third for Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions. Mazzy Star’s last full-length was 2013’s Seasons Of Your Day.

check out the artwork for “Isn’t It True”, followed by a few tracks off Through the Devil Softly.

mazzy hope sandoval isnt it true record store day Mazzy Stars Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions prep first album in seven years

so this is the original from Mazzy Star, “Fade into You” was the highest charting song from alternative rock/dream pop group Mazzy Star. The song was written by lyricist Hope Sandoval and composer David Roback, who also served as producer. The song made the American Charts and is Mazzy Star’s only single to make the peaking at number 44. The song also charted at No48 on the UK Singles Chart. Two music videos were completed for “Fade Into You.” The first was directed by Merlyn Rosenberg and premiered on MTV in late October 1993, several weeks after the album’s release. It features the band performing in front of a projection depicting white clouds in a black sky, and is interlaced with slow Motion footage of the band in various locales in the Mojave Desert. Portions of this video were filmed at the same location where U2 shot the artwork for album sleeve for The Joshua Tree. A second music video was directed by Kevin Kerslake and first aired in February 1994. Known as the Black and White version for its  mono chromatic content throughout, the intentionally grainy, distorted footage shows the band performing in a darkened Burlesque type venue and is interspersed with footage of Sandoval and Roback at various sites around the city of san Francisco including the All Seasons Hotel (now the Crescent Hotel) and neighboring Stockton Street tunnel, coupled with genuine footage of the same sites shot in the 1930s. Only the latter music video was broadcast internationally.

It appeared on Mazzy Star’s album So Tonight That I Might See . The group had two other songs make the Modern Rock Top 40, “Halah” and “Blue Flower” but they did not approach anywhere near the success of “Fade Into You”.

A live version from the Jools Holland Later Show

 

Cover version of Mazzy Star‘s ‘Fade Into You’ by Au Revoir Simone and Nikolai Fraiture of The Strokes,

Au Revoir Simone is an electronic Dream Pop  band from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, formed in late 2003. The group is composed of Erika Forster (vocals/keyboard), Annie Hart (vocals/keyboard), and Heather D’Angelo (vocals/drum machine/keyboard). The band’s name comes from a line in Pee-wee Herman movie says to a minor character (named Simone) in Tim Burtons 1985 film, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.

J Mascis‘ cover of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You”, released 28th November 2014 on J’s new vinyl 7″ single released for Record store day on Black Friday  “Fade Into You” b/w “Outside”.