2017 saw the release of Weather Diaries – the 1st album released by Ride in over 20 years. It was also the last reunion shoegaze album to arrive, preceded by My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Swervedriver, and Slowdive. Strangely enough, unlike those other bands, Ride’s comeback album didn’t receive across the board glowing reviews. It probably doesn’t surprise my readers that Ride’s album was my favorite of the lot. Not totally ignoring the band’s Britpop phase, nodding to the shoegaze early albums, and yet pointing towards a new direction. It didn’t land on most end of the year lists, but it was near the top of mine (the one that I forgot to write for this site). Tomorrow’s Shore is a quick 4 song EP follow-up, and was cut from the same cloth as Weather Diaries.
Amazingly, the EP doesn’t have the sound of leftovers or b-sides – these tunes stand on their own (and actually would have been among the strongest album tracks on Weather Diaries). Pulsar is a nice mix of shoegaze, white noise, and melody. It is the perfect opening track. Lyrically, it’s a stunner. “Like the summer always fainted and the wind gets cool on your skin / You know that something was will never be here again”. Surreal has a Britpop feel to it with just the right amount of sounds f/x. The last two songs are really where the EP shines. Cold Water People finally shows the reunited Ride not ignoring their Carnival of Light days (actually, my personal favorite album by them). Melody, mellow, Britpop, classicist – what a song. The lyrics. Man, this is a band just completely in sync. “Life as jagged as your favorite song / But love is forever”. Catch You Dreaming is the single, and it encapsulates everything great about this EP – a bit experimental, strong melodies, emotional. Slight nod to the shoegaze days with a strong chorus. Andy Bell explains that the song “is written from the perspective of being one of the last two people alive, watching as the Universe is ending”. Vocally, it is a haunting performance from Andy Bell (hard to believe he was able to stay to the side in Oasis and Beady Eye for so many years). It is a stunning closer to a stunning EP.
The EP is available at all the usual places online or local record shops. It it is highly recommend.
Verdict: Ride ride again
For Fans of: Slowdive, The Beatles, Lush, Badfinger, Mansun,
- Keep It Surreal
- Cold Water People
- Catch You Dreaming
In late 2015 I had the chance to see the recently reunited Ride play in Seattle at the Neptune Theater. Though they were / are beloved for their early shoegaze records, I have a soft spot for their brief flirtation with Britpop. Not sure what to expect, I went into the show eager to be blown away (and to catch Andy Bell up close so I could snap a photo for my Oasis loving brother). What I experienced was one of the best shows i’ve ever seen (as well as the loudest). A set heavy on 1990’s Nowhere and 1992’s Going Blank Again, I could feel the venue shaking as the white noise built and built. Unexpected, transcendent, euphoric. Well, what’ll you do for an encore?
Minor Victories carries that heavy term “super group” that can be the kiss of death in the music world. Comprised of Rachel Goswell (Slowdive, Mojave 3), Justin Lockey (Editors), Stuart Braithwaite (Mogwai), and James Lockey (film-maker, also Justin’s brother) – it truly is an alternative music world super group. Fortunately in this case the group exceeds all expectations. Braithwaite had claimed in an early interview (before the album was released) that the group sounded like the best bits of the members main bands. And, well – he wasn’t wrong. The album also features contributions from Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters, Sun Kil Moon) and James Graham (The Twilight Sad). Each contribution adds something to the overall atmosphere of the record. In fact, I expected this to be a nice stop-gap to hold me over until the forthcoming Slowdive album. Instead what I got was an album that I’ve had on repeat since the day of release.
Ummagma hail from Peterborough, Ontario – about 80 miles northeast of Toronto. The town’s nickname is “The Electric City” because it was the 1st town in all of Canada to use electric streetlights. In the present day, the town is where technology & manufacturing coexist comfortably. Fittingly, the duo of Shauna McLarnon and Alexander Kretov offer up an intoxicating mix of electronic & organic sounds. The Ummagma story begins in Moscow in 2003 where Alexx and Shauna were residing. The met at an acoustic guitar concert and quickly the relationship became a personal & professional union. Alexx handles composition, instrumentation, arrangements, and vocals while Shauna handles vocals, composition, and lyrics. The music recalls bands such as Lush, Cocteau Twins, and Kraftwerk but the overall vibe is one of originality. The background of the band members has a great deal to do with that uniqueness – Alexx hails from the Ukraine and began making music in the wake of the USSR collapse, while Shauna hails from the Yukon, Canada and began composing music while spending time in Siberia, Moscow, and northern Canada. Frequency is the band’s new EP and it is the strongest offering from the duo yet.
Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.
The mid 90’s saw former shoegaze critical darlings Ride move from their noisier past towards a more melodic future. Released in 1994, the band’s Carnival of Light was a critical and commercial failure, which has baffled me for years. The band didn’t sell out to play Oasis styled Britpop – in fact, Carnival of Light came out 2 months before the debut Oasis album, Definitely Maybe. So why was the album such a dividing point for fans and critics? I guess if a band releases one of the definitive albums of a different musical movement (1990’s Nowhere) it is tough to see the band in a different light. I’d say early Ride with its shoegaze centric aesthetic sounds like a completely different band from the mid 90’s Britpop centric version. I Don’t Know Where It Comes From was the 3rd single lifted from Carnival of Light and is my favorite track from the album. A dreamy, 60’s vibe courses through the song – the meeting of nostalgia & wistfulness. It’s a perfect introduction to this period of Ride – a period that would only last 1 album and still hasn’t found popular or critical acceptance 20+ years later. That’s a damn shame, but it doesn’t dilute the impact of these memorable tunes. Start with this song and work your way into the full album.