In recent years, Fort Worth, TX indie imprint Saint Marie Records has etched out an intoxicating niche for themselves, purveying a bevy of promising dream-pop revisionists. As it's come about, a spate of fresh releases have bowed in the past four months or so. Thought I'd enlighten you on a few of them.
Spotlight Kid's 2012, sophomore disk Disaster Tourist was a devastating TKO to my eardrums, looming latticeworks of My Bloody Valentine-informed magnificence. Ten Thousand Hours bellys up to the same woozy watering hole as the aforementioned, but despite no lineup alterations, guitarist Rob McCleary is virtually mum on the mic for this go around, living the brunt of vocal duties up to Katty Heath. Standout selections "A Minor Character" and "Can't Let Go" exact the same engulfing toll that Disaster Tourist's finest moments did, but SK toss us a curious curve-ball in the guise of "Budge Up," a rereading of Dinosaur Jr's "Budge" boasting partially improvised lyrics.
Next on the list is another co-ed conglomeration, "synthgaze" trio Blackstone Rngrs, who hereby give 'the scene that celebrates itself' one more reason to celebrate via their second ep, Descendant. BSR garner significant mileage by means of layering their heady sonic quilt, not merely with dizzying washes of tremolo, but beats and chimey guitar hooks. Aficionados of such disparate acts as The Drums and Slowdive will find plenty to latch onto amidst Descendant's six alluring grooves.
On the more ambient tip, Children of the Stones is the product of Mark Van Hoen (formally of Seefeel and Locust among others) and Martin Maeers. Lacing just about every nook and cranny of The Stars and the Silence in a sedate digital glaze, CotS mix things up with glitchy maneuvers and a loose pop subtext that intermittently brings to mind Ultra Vivid Scene, and even more so Steve Kilbey's extracurricular activities outside The Church. The effect is that of an Rx-strength sedative without the groggy contraindications. Nice.
By any chance, do any of you remember an early 90's 4AD Records combo by the name of Swallow? Whether you do or not, that Brit dream pop duo of Mike Mason and Louise Trehy stuck around for only one LP, 1992's ethereal and acclaimed, Cocteau Twins-inspired Blow. As luck would have it, some two decades on Trehy returns with a fresh-faced band, Strata Florida, who not only pick up where Swallow stalled, but up the ante considerably by doubling down on the guitars and venturing into louder, amped-out vistas. As if the oodles of gauzy tremolo and feedback swells weren't enough, Strata pitch in some electronic trickery to the robust proceedings. "By the Way," "Sleeper" and the title track are worth their weight in shoegazing gold. Many happy returns!
All four of these disks are available direct from Saint Marie, not to mention your physical/digital retailer of choice. I've provided a few Bandcamp links below so you can try before you buy.
Children of the Stones