Black Swan Lane – A Moment of Happiness

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About 15 or 16 months ago I wrote that Black Swan Lane would have a hard time topping then current effort, The Last Time In Your Light. A perfect distillation of the bands strengths, I wondered where they’d go from there. As it turns out – on to greater things. Just 16 months after the last record, Black Swan Lane have delivered their latest offering to the world. A Moment Of Happiness bears traces of its predecessors whilst looking inwardly in a way the band hasn’t yet explored.

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The Shackeltons – Records

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In the spring of 2007 I had the chance to go see El Perro Del Mar as part of an event put on by Seattle broadcasting legends, KEXP. The opening band was The Shackeltons – full of nervous post-punk energy and displaying a commanding stage presence. The band’s bio brought up a few curious circumstances that related to me. My Grandmom’s maiden name was Shackleton, and I may or may not be related to the famous explorer, Ernest Shackleton (depends on who is our family genealogy expert at any given time). To top it off, The Shackeltons were from Chambersburg, PA – just a couple of hours from where I grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs. The band had recently signed to Seattle’s Loveless Records and the future was bright. 6 months later the band’s new record was released and I was pleased to find that their manic stage energy had carried over to the recorded document. And then…nothing.

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Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes

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Years ago, in the days before I really “got” Bruce Springsteen, I stopped by the Columbus Flea Market on my way to my Grandfather’s shore house on Long Beach Island, New Jersey. There’s no better way to start a trip to the shore – great food, thrifty deals, and old records. Browsing through the vinyl, I came across the 1st two Bruce Springsteen records. “Honey,” the woman in charge of the stand said “those early Bruce records are the essence of New Jersey. If you don’t have them, make sure you grab them.”. And so began a journey that continues to this day. A word to sum it up? Fanaticism.

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Pixies – EP2

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The Pixies could do no wrong throughout their initial run in the late 80’s / early 90’s, so 10 years ago they reformed to much larger crowds and gushing accolades. The only problem for me was that there was almost no new material forthcoming – 1 original (“Bam Thwok”) and 1 cover (Warren Zevon’s “Ain’t That Pretty At All”). And that’s where the Pixies discography stayed throughout another 8 or 9 years of reunion concerts. 2013 brought the departure of founding bassist Kim Deal and a flurry of new studio material. But was it any good?

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The Barmines – There’s Never Any Romance

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Brotherly love – I’m from the city that promotes it, but it isn’t always the easiest thing to live by. My brother and I are 3 years apart, which can be brutal during the teenage years. We had our moments of not getting along, though I’ll feign amnesia when asked if fists were ever raised. 15 years later we are worlds apart in New Zealand and Washington State. Pacific is the gulf between us. So it goes. In music, we’ve had the Gallagher brothers (Oasis), the brothers Gibb (Bee Gees), the Robinson brothers (The Black Crowes), among others. Sibling rivalry or sibling camaraderie? It doesn’t really matter as long as the music inspires. The Barmines are a new band out of Leeds, England composed of 2 sets of siblings. A potentially volatile mix, their debut EP is a masterful debut.

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The Creep Void – Apotheosis

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From the most reliable source on the “world wide web”, Wikipedia –

Apotheosis (from Greek ἀποθέωσις from ἀποθεοῦν, apotheoun “to deify”; in Latin deificatio “making divine”; also called divinization and deification) is the glorification of a subject to divine level. The term has meanings in theology, where it refers to a belief, and in art, where it refers to a genre.

In theology, the term apotheosis refers to the idea that an individual has been raised to godlike stature. In art, the term refers to the treatment of any subject (a figure, group, locale, motif, convention or melody) in a particularly grand or exalted manner.

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The Phantom Light – Sky Lanterns

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“The Phantom Light name originates  from a 1935 film of the same name which follows the disappearance of two lighthouse keepers stationed on the desolate coast of Wales. It’s a haunting early example of the work of the visionary director Michael Powell, and resonated with founder members frontman Anthony Jones and drummer Matty James, who had grown up staring out from the shorelines of Swansea”

The above statement from the bands biography conjures up all sorts of imagery in one’s head. The sea can be a source of solace in times of great stress – it can also play the role of reminding a fragile human of the power of Mother Nature. Remember kids – we can love the ocean, but the ocean doesn’t love us. It just is. The Phantom Light take inspiration from the sea and their surroundings in Wales (that’s the part of the UK that isn’t Scotland, Northern Ireland, or England). The music at time recalls bands from the classic era of the Shoegazing scene (Slowdive, Ride, My Bloody Valentine) whilst also displaying the uncanny ability to provide melodies in abundance. At times throughout this stunning EP I was reminded of early Genesis (Peter Gabriel era) and late 70’s era Magazine. Whatever you want to call this mix of styles, one thing is certain – this is a record that belongs in your collection.

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