San Francisco’s The Union Trade are situated squarely between the downcast consonance of post-rock and the glittering melancholy of shoegazing. On A Place of Long Years this is especially clear on the tracks on which guest vocalist Ann Yu (of Silver Swans) appears. On the one hand The Union Trade are a muscular (but not particularly heavy) post-rock group, on the other they can craft fatalistic shoegaze lullabies anchored by dreamy guitars and guest cellist Nate Blaz (of Geographer).
Also of particular interest is a chilly, mesmerizing trip-hop soundscape: “In the Empire of Giants”, perhaps the strongest song of the record. As I took this track in, I was reminded somewhat of “Missing You” by Slowdive, as well as much of Bowery Electric’s Beat. This song, however, has the added muscle and drama that we would expect of This Will Destroy You and The Evpatoria Report. And yet, it’s all so delicate and ethereal– just like that, it’s up in a puff of smoke.
Then there is that excellent conclusion, “Sailing Stones”, on which the tragic crescendo is given a shoegaze twist in the form of Yu’s refrain “I think you said, I think you said too much”. What a lovely album, and here’s hoping they keep their sound hybridized to showcase this interesting taste of theirs.
A Place of Long Years is set to drop on February 3rd.
This is certainly one of the most hard-to-pin-down releases I have listened to this year. Seattle’s Newaxeyes are an experimental quartet (Will Hayes and Tyler Coray on guitars, Bret Gardin and Jordan Rundle on synths and other electronics) who make techno with rock instrumentation, synthesizers, and sampling. Their new release “Assange/Church” was released on DivineDroid records last October. They have only been together for roughly a year and a half, but this record shows promise, eclecticism, and assurance.
Newaxeyes find inspiration in a wide variety of styles of music, and have shared bills with psych rock, hip hop, and noise. One of the most ready connections one can make with their music is with post-rock, and this is especially clear on the mini-epic “Assange”. This track sounds like a hard-edged Bowery Electric, a grim techno trip with a crystalline guitar line as the main guide. Just as intriguing is the slightly dissonant closer, “Church”, which starts off with a chirping synth wading through choppy bursts of noise and growling guitar, then abruptly transitions into a weird, murky hip-hop beat. This collective can sculpt left-of-center noise into something danceable, and already I am curious to see what they might produce on a full-length release. They would most certainly be at home at Sanctuary Sunday’s next installment of Accent/Sustain.