Posts Tagged ‘Slowdive’

The soft cavalry 01

The Soft Cavalry are a new duo featuring Rachel Goswell of legendary ’90s shoegazers Slowdive alongside her husband Steve Clarke. They are releasing their self-titled debut album on July 5th via Bella Union Records. This week they shared another song from the album, “Bulletproof,” via a video for the track. The striking black & white video features the band performing the song via sign language.

Goswell had this to say about the video in a press release: “For a long time now I have wanted to do a video that incorporates BSL (British Sign Language) due to my son being Profoundly Deaf with no hearing. He also has additional needs with CHARGE Syndrome that brings many added complications. I live within two worlds both Hearing and Deaf; and have learned a lot in the last nine years about the many barriers Deaf people can face in our society. One of the main points I was taught very quickly is how music is accessible to Deaf people. Of course music can be felt through vibration but visually I feel so much more could be done to enhance the experience. We made this video with the support of Sign Up BSL to translate ‘Bulletproof’ so that the song flows properly in BSL. Sometimes with signing videos – they can be a literal translation of the words (Sign Supported English) which will make little sense to the Deaf viewer. Our hope is that we have achieved this and also that one day as my son gets older and develops his language skills he will be able to understand this song.”

Previously they shared its first single, “Dive,” Then they have shared a video for “Dive.” Hand Held Cine Club directed the video, which fittingly featured a man contemplating taking a high dive into a public swimming pool.

Of the theme of the album, Clarke says: “It’s recovery versus new doubt. I’m there, in the middle. The word that kept coming back to me was ‘resilience.’ With the right mentality and people around you, especially family, we get through, and find a level of hope.”

Clarke’s brother Michael Clarke produced the album, which also features keyboardist Jesse Chandler (Mercury Rev, Midlake), guitarist Tom Livermore, and drummer Stuart Wilkinson.

Slowdive released a new album, a self-titled affair and their first full-length in 22 years, in 2017 via Dead Oceans.

Clarke has been a musician since the late ’90s, playing bass and singing backup vocals with various bands live and in the studio. But The Soft Cavalry is the first album he’s been in creative control of. He’s also been a tour manager, which is how he met Goswell, managing one of Slowdive’s reunion tours in 2014. He had been divorced since 2011 when he met her.

In a press release Clarke sets the scene for when he first met Goswell: “I was hung-over in the back of my van trying to work out how I was going to fit all the band’s gear into this confined space whilst I still had all of mine from the show that I’d played in London the night before. The second of two sold-out shows at Hammersmith Apollo with David Brent!”

A year later, Clarke and Goswell were living together. They got married in 2018. In the press release Clarke says that Goswell inspired him to focus more on his own music.

“I’d always had ideas but never felt that anything I had to say was worthy of anyone’s attention, let alone my own,” he says. “I wish that I could have done this 15 years ago but, in reality, I simply couldn’t have. But I’m not one to overly wallow. I’d rather plough the various levels of confusion into songs.”.

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After a trio of albums in the ’90s, including the stone-cold classic Souvlaki, the shoegaze icons went dormant for a really long time. Then, in 2014, the five-piece reformed for shows, then tours, and now their first new album in 22 years. The self-titled record doesn’t fall into typical reunion pitfalls and avoids many of the expected narratives for an album of its type, thus transferring Slowdive outside the time and space from which they were previously known and into a timeless ether.

For anyone that saw Slowdive perform over the last few years, it shouldn’t have been too surprising that their reunion album would feel so necessary. But in the greater context of music, this is a huge rarity, that a band could come back with a collection that feels worth every year that fans spent waiting for it. It packs legitimate singles, like tracks “Star Roving” and “Sugar for the Pill”, that stand up to the legends’ greatest hits while other moments, like the breathtaking “Slomo”, dare to defy genre in favor of body-tingling, otherworldly experiences. In other contexts, Slowdive would still be a great album. But considering the expectations that come with such a long hiatus, the context makes it a perfect masterpiece.

 “Slomo” is a euphoric dream-pop workout with lyrics inspired by the Cornwall seaside, and it’s among the band’s best work. The twinkling piano arpeggios that anchor “Falling Ashes” bear a similarity to Radiohead’s “Daydreaming,” from last year’s A Moon Shaped Pool. Maybe that’s a coincidence, or maybe it’s payback: Radiohead famously lifted the melting frequency effect at the end of “Karma Police” from Slowdive’s “Souvlaki Space Station.” It’s heartening to see Slowdive survive long enough to borrow from the bands that got rich off their influence.

Slowdive 2017 album cover

In 1995 maybe it was not the best time for the shoegaze sounds of Slowdive. Their most obscure record — an instant cult favorite, “Pygmalion”spent none of its time looking at the ground, and all of its 49-minute runtime looking inside an all blue kaleidoscope. It owed more to Brian Eno’s ambient than Brian Jones’ psychedelia, alienating shoegaze fans and quickly becoming a catalyst for the premature end of the band. But trends are a capricious thing and indie pop ended up spending two decades catching up.

Few albums this year sounded as wonderful and complete and thorough as Slowdive. That it’s the first album in 22 years from a band whose moment many thought had come and gone is even more remarkable. Slowdive is deeply connected to their earlier works Souvlaki and Pygmalion, but it also sounds modern, a band that has tracked and absorbed another quarter-century of musical evolution.

The opening sixty seconds of their new self-titled record could easily be confused with a lost Beach House song until two minutes in when Neil Halstead’s voice reappears from hibernation worn and wiser. It wasn’t like he disappeared, he made three solo records and five (!) Mojave 3 records, but 2017 is the time resurrect the output of this cardinal project. Every social media post I saw from the band during their 2014 reunion tour had the tone of humble surprise at the teenagers humming their songs at festivals worldwide.

The premiere track “Slomo” is an almost seven-minute preface to the record. As if 22 years wasn’t long enough, the two-minute intro peaks curiosity before launching into its deliberate extensions of shoegaze, and breezy indie-pop. Breaking into the pre-release teaser “Star Roving”, is a punchy quick five-minute single that feels like two. Most artists tend to mellow out as they age; “Star Roving” is the exception that proves the rule. It’s one of the most dynamic pieces of Slowdive’s career.

The opening duo is well sequenced, playing off of each others energy. “Don’t Know Why” plays at a higher bpm with a floating harmony and a smooth melody, when the full band pushes in.

Slowdive keeps one foot firmly planted in their 90’s heritage but the acquisition of Chris Coady on production is a win . Slowdive shows that their core value is still what it was way back when. The patience to let chord progressions develop and surprise movements have their space, and patience to let simplistic patterns prove strong. The guitar hook on “Sugar For the Pill” is deceptively simple and surprisingly catchy. Halstead’s emotional melody underneath rotates slowly. Ingredients this simple shouldn’t add up to all they do, but the sum is greater than the parts here. “Sugar” plays its clarity and doesn’t over-complicate, Halstead is 15 again writing plain and powerful. Few bands can make the turn from pleasant to intense as quickly and purposefully as Slowdive.

“Everyone Knows” piles on with a noisy collapse, the fifty-four-second outro never loses any steam, just pulsing on, it could have continued for 10 minutes without complaint. “No Longer Making Time” pops into its chorus like it’s going for radio, the guitar piercing like it’s trying to get ahead of the rhythm but never losing synchronicity. The band never falls into self-parody, their noise instincts are too intact from two decades of hibernation. Right when the song sounds like it will kick in for one last chorus, it sputters out, echoing the band’s own faulty trajectory in 1995.

“Go Get It” shows a side of hardness, Its chorus wrecks any beauty remaining from the verse as the multiple guitars continuously assault. “Falling Ashes” proves to be the records only misstep, not quite living up to its cinematic intro. Most of the record’s lyrics are intentionally obscured, but “Falling” has the plainest spoken. Seven songs and 38 minutes probably didn’t seem like enough but leaving the ultimate track off would have been an overall improvement. Or perhaps a moving ambient stretch to hearken back to the underrated Pygmalion.

Whatever band you most hope reunites, you can only hope they do it like Slowdive. Not rushed, not cash-grabbing, but focused on relationships and on furthering the legacy of the band. If anyone asks how to get into Slowdive, the correct answer is still to start with Souvlaki but Slowdive wouldn’t be a bad second choice

Reunited shoegaze greats Slowdive have finally returned after 22 years. Following a victory lap / festival run in 2014, Slowdive have officially thrown their hats back in the ring with “Star Roving,” the band’s new song and “part of a bunch of new tracks” on the way from the Reading legends. So far, no word on tour dates or what those tracks will become, but the band has announced their signing to Dead Oceans Records.

Their newest single “Sugar for the Pill” is a gorgeous reverb-laden ballad with hints of that dreamy psychedelic haze that Slowdive perfected over 25 years ago.  It’s an instant buy of the highest calibure, but keep in mind that Dead Oceans knows this, and the only way you’re going to be able to acquire the silver vinyl variant through them is by grabbing their bundle.  You’ll get a t-shirt, a slipmat, some enamel badges and, of course, a handy dandy CD to throw into that portable discman that’s been collecting dust in your attic.  If there ever was an album to bring that puppy back into the world, this would be it.  Listen to the new tracks below and grab a bundle after the ‘buy’ link.

Slowdive’s first album in 22 years is starting to come along quite blissfully, and now it has a name. A calmly geometric, geologic video for “Sugar For The Pill” announces Slowdive, but not to be confused with the band’s eponymous EP from 1990.

Shoegaze fans, rejoice: Slowdive are releasing a new album! Nu-gaze has been a thing for at least a decade now, so no-one can accuse Slowdive of cashing in on a wave of nostalgia by getting back together — which they did in 2014 — and in any case, new single “Sugar for the Pill”  suggests that they have more interesting things on their mind. The song is definitely dreamy and beautiful, but it’s not shoegaze-by-numbers by any means — there are no thick washes of distortion and half-buried vocals here at all. In fairness, Slowdive were always more restrained than, say, My Bloody Valentine but even so, this is notably stripped back than the sound of their 1993 classic Souvlaki: the mix is clean and minimalist, with only a single delay-laden guitar, a quiet, subtle bassline and understated drums accompanying Rachel Goswell and Neil Halstead’s dual vocal. The result is a song that’s given plenty of room to breathe, and is all the prettier and more delicate for it. The album from which the song is taken is entitled simply Slowdive, and it’ll be out on May 5th via Dead Oceans.

‘Sugar for the Pill’ from Slowdive, out May 5th on Dead Oceans Records their first album in 22 years.

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Slowdive EP is 25 years old. It was released by Creation Records on November 5th, 1990.

When the band reformed for 2014, it seemed obvious to us to start our live shows by playing the Slowdive EP at the top of the set list. It sets out where we originally came from, and sets the scene for where we were going. And to celebrate that, we’d like to present a free live recording of “Avalyn”, performed during our USA / Canada tour last year. We are currently working on releasing the entire live set from that tour as a collection, so look out for news of that soon.

Vocals / Guitar – Neil Halstead
Vocals – Rachel Goswell
Guitar – Christian Savill
Bass Guitar – Nick Chaplin
Drums – Simon Scott

Song written by Halstead/Goswell/Savill/Chaplin/Sell

This documentary feature the band  Slowdive offers an oral history of the classic shoegaze album “Souvlaki”, with intimate interviews examining the stories behind this modern classic.  This episode tells the story of Slowdive‘s 1993 magnum opus “Souvlaki“. their ability to make uncomplicated yet beautiful soundscapes, impressionistic, emotional songs reminiscent of a Turner painting rendered in audio, While the guitars of My Bloody Valentine roared, Slowdive made theirs sing.  “Souvlaki”,  was their definitive album. Though I don’t think of every track as perfect, the truly great songs on this album make it a classic. “Alison” is a gorgeous start, languorous and atmospheric. “40 Days” is even better, with a simple but stunning guitar line that is simply transcendent, and Neil Halstead’s vocal seems deadpan on the surface but strikes me as full of emotion. Above all, the peak moments could very well be the brilliant “Souvlaki Space Station” and “When The Sun Hits”. Both are absolute masterpieces. In the former, Rachel’s vocals are somewhere between waking and dreaming, and are more another instrument than anything else, complementing the washes of guitars perfectly. 

Souvlaki was released on May 17, 1993 in the UK and on February 8, 1994 in the U.S. Widely regarded as their best album, it benefits from synthesizer contributions from co-producer Brian Eno on Sing (which he co-wrote) and Here She Comes . The album’s U.S. release includes the previously unreleased cover of Some Velvet Morning (written by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra in 1967) and three tracks from the band’s 1993 5 EP, all of which feature on a reissued edition availble at Amazon.

The film follows the band as they come up in the flourishing Thames Valley shoegaze scene and chronicles the making of the album. It features interviews with all of the band members as well as Creation Records’ Alan McGee, producer Chris Hufford, and engineer Ed Buller.

Slowdive have just reformed with their original members to play some shows and particular at the Primavera festival in Barcelona Spain,
http://www.slowdiveofficial.com