Music Features

The Infallible Legacy of "Heaven or Las Vegas" 30 Years On

The Cocteau Twins' 1990 masterpiece is still the blueprint for dream pop.

For a band whose lyrics were famously difficult to make out most of the time, the Cocteau Twins left an indelible impact on the world of pop music.

The Scottish trio emerged in the 1980s as some of the most notable pioneers of dream pop, a subgenre of alternative rock defined by airy, sublime sonic textures. But it was their sixth album, Heaven or Las Vegas—which turns 30 today—that truly withstood the test of time, affirming the Cocteau Twins' status as perhaps the most important dream pop act of all time.

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MUSIC

Witch’s Wall Premieres Wistful Love Song “Lady Love”

A merge of dream-pop with experimental psych-rock.

Witch's Wall

Brandon Lett

Witch's Wall introduces "Lady Love," a single from their forthcoming self-titled debut album, slated to drop spring 2020, via Cornelius Chapel Records.

Made up of David Smith, Benjamin Giles, Matt Perkins, Brandon Lett, and Dylan Corker, Witch's Wall enchants listeners with their unique sound. Merging dream-pop with experimental psych-rock, the band skirts the edges of avant-garde art-pop. Originally going by the name KYLE, the quintet changed their name to Witch's Wall to reflect their new sonic focus. With sparkling guitars and falsetto tones, "Lady Love" is a nostalgic song about the mystery of infatuation.

Witch's Wall - Lady Love (Official Video) youtu.be

Follow Witch's Wall Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

MUSIC

Slenderbodies Are Calm, Collected and Tired "In a Good Way"

We caught up with the duo right before they took the stage at Brooklyn's Rough Trade

press photo

Slenderbodies, who finally released their debut album, komorebi, last month after numerous EPs, are deep into their North American tour, and there is no denying that they're tired.

slenderbodies - "senses" (Live) | Vevo DSCVR www.youtube.com

"I don't really know where I am, I don't really know what day it is, but it's in a fun way," Benji Cormack told me before their show on Saturday. "Other tours, it's just been pure exhaustion, but this is, like, a loopy kind of exhaustion where I'm also energized."

Slenderbodies is still a fairly new band to emerge onto the neo-dream pop landscape, which is easy to forget judging by the duo's refined musical sensibilities. They emerged in 2016 with fabulist, an intriguing EP that integrated alternative rock with pop and psychedelia. The EP spawned the song "anemone," still the duo's biggest hit, and they have since remained unabashedly devoted to their sound and creative identity. It's rare for such a young band to know themselves so well. "We didn't set out to be unique," Benji previously told me. "We set out to just make music that was authentic... and that's how we arrived at where we're at now."

"Komorebi" is a Japanese word that has no direct translation. Roughly, it's a word used to describe the way light moves as it shines through the trees. The guys witnessed an "inspiring" example of "komorebi" while they were driving up to Mendocino for a show. "We'd known the word," said Benji, "but seeing that was almost a religious experience and became very indicative of what was to come." Nature is the seasoning that brings out the band's flavors. Neither of them have gone more than a week without stepping into a forest, even while on the road, and their music wouldn't be what it was if they didn't take the time to recuse themselves from the bustling metropolitan world. Fittingly, Komorebi is seemingly the pinnacle of Slenderbodies up to this point. It contains all the charisma and silky textures of the band's numerous EPs, while at times exploring the restrictions of their sound. "I'm super happy with the record just because we were disgustingly diligent with it," Max said. On "Hearth," in particular, the duo swaps out improvised guitar loops and ghostly vocals while rain patters in the background. It's a raw moment indicative of their unique chemistry as a band. "It's like the cabin in the woods that you come to," Benji added.

Slenderbodies

While this is by no means the duo's most grueling tour, everything feels different this time around. Saturday's show at Brooklyn's Rough Trade, along with most of their current tour, was completely sold out, but they are strangely calmer than they've ever been. "I'm probably gonna play some super smash bros," said Benji. "It helps us to not think about it too hard," Max added. "My mantra is trying to turn the pre-show nerves into a high," Benji said. "I wanna hit the pre-show blunt of excitement, then go right out and play the show. If we fixate on it, we'll burn it down to the roach before we get on stage."

As I got ready to go, the two friends loomed over a take-out container full of baked ziti. "What is that?" Max asked the room. "I think it's baked ziti," Benji replied. Max seemed confused. "Baked ziti? It's a type of pasta where you pretty much slap a sh*t-ton of cheese on there and bake it." They stood in calm silence, and I slipped out as they pondered the nature of the dish.

komorebi

MUSIC

Hatchie Shares Kaleidoscopic New Video For Single “Stay With Me”

Her new song is a melancholic dance track with shadowy visuals to match

Photo Credit: Joe Agius

Australian dream-pop artist, Hatchie, revealed the visuals for her new single "Stay With Me" from her forthcoming project Keepsake. The 25-year-old singer (real name Harriette Pilbeam) has been steadily churning out lush, shoegaze bops since her excellent debut LP, Sugar & Spice, dropped in 2018. Earlier this month, Pilbeam shared the first glimpse of the album in a gorgeous single called "Without A Blush."

"Stay With Me" extends Hatchie's sound into gothic dance territory, pairing gauzy Cocteau Twins inspired vocals with a synth-infused Robyn sensibility. The Joe Agius-directed video even has a "Dancing On My Own" aesthetic, as the camera pans to Hatchie swaying amidst a sea of strangers in a neon-lit club as she sings.

Hatchie said of the video:

"'Stay With Me' was written as a writing exercise in an effort to step away from my usual style into something more fun and dancey. We originally wrote it with someone else in mind, but realized it was the perfect fit for my album as I wanted to expand into a different sound. It became one of my favourite songs on the record because I'm a sucker for crying-in-the-club tracks."

Check out the video below.

Keepsake is out 6/21 via Double Double Whammy. You can pre-order it here.


Sara is a music and culture writer who lives in Brooklyn. Her work has previously appeared in PAPER magazine and Stereogum.

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The Chordaes are taking us back in time this week.

Native New York band The Chordaes are lovers of classic rock- all things nineties included. This shines through in their sound: a sweet blend of classic rock and power pop. Recently, The Chordaes have released a new EP In Itinere which has garnered great reviews from Impose Magazine and more. The band's recent single "What Do You Want From Me?" and it's accompanying visual as received praise from PopMatters and All Things Go. The music video was directed by legendary Phil Harder who has worked with the likes of The Afghan Whigs, Robert Plant, Billy Talent, Prince, Rob Thomas, Matchbox Twenty, Incubus, and many more.

Watch "What Do You Want From Me?" here.

The music video is brilliant (obviously), vibrant, and moody in all the right ways. The visual plays with the line of reality and subconscious, sobriety and intoxication, dream and awake. The pastiche of the Busby Berkely choreography flirts with the groovy seventies feeling they've created with the colors and movement in the visual. The gorgeous colors and layers of the music video only heighten the rich layers of the song. I love that there is a performance aspect to the video showcasing the band themselves.

Comprised of Leo Sawikin (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Ethan Glenn (Drums), Nick McFly (Bass), Dan Cobert (Keys), and Kevin Foley (Guitar/Backing Vocals) the sound of The Chordaes is full and powerful. Today, Leo Sawikin has curated a playlist of his favorite songs from the nineties just for Popdust readers. He says, "This list comprises songs by alternative rock bands who wanted to be more than just plain alt rock and transcended their genres."

Check out Leo's playlist here:

New Radicals | "You Get What You Give"

This song by New Radicals combines Burt Bacharach-esque chords and melodies with a much more grungy vocal approach and arrangement. Major 9 chords ring out on the piano over a straightforward yet restrained beat.

The Sundays | "Here's Where The Story Ends"

A very dreamy song about a breakup. In a lot of ways it has elements of a more stripped down version of a U2 type of song.

Cocteau Twins | "Heaven Or Las Vegas"

This song has a massive and unique wall of sound. Major 7 chord arpeggiations play over a slow but an intense r&b/hip-hop drum approach.

Jeff Buckley | "Je N'en Connais Pas La Fin"

Jeff Buckley's cover of the Edith Piaf classic is absolutely heart wrenching. The arrangement takes on a new character as it is composed of just fingerpicked guitar. The original song has a much more orchestral arrangement.

Radiohead | "(Nice Dream)"

"Nice Dream" is by far one of the strongest tracks on The Bends. The song combines Beatles-esque arpeggiations in 6/4 with a more modern acoustic guitar feel. "Fake Plastic Trees" is another wonderfully sad inclusion that fits with the internal turmoil emoted by Tom Yorke.

Garbage | "Stupid Girl"

"Stupid Girl" by the group Garbage is such an iconic songs from the 90s. The group started by Shirley Mason and Butch Vig strived to be alternative rock that went beyond simple arrangements. "Stupid Girl" takes a simple two step disco feel and combines it with flange guitars and some of the best synth sounds of the era.

The Smashing Pumpkins | "1979

"1979" by the Smashing Pumpkins was also produced by Butch Vig. This song works off of a riff that uses a raw major 7 interval that resolves into a plain octave. The chords and melodies give off a vibe that is simultaneously gritty and clean.

Nirvana | "Heart-Shaped Box"

"Heart-Shaped Box" has always stood out to me amongst Nirvana's other songs. This song is made special by the use of the raw tritone or flat fifth interval to create tension at the end of each phrase. The tension in a flat fifth is much stronger than in any other interval. With multiple guitar tracks playing the interval the power behind it is undeniable.

Elliott Smith | "Bled White"

"Bled White" is by far the most harmonically intricate song is this list. This song is not about the style or arrangement, it's about the melody, chord progression, and lyrics. Simple melodies allow incredibly complex musical and linguistic ideas to glide effortlessly through the mind painting vivid colors and shapes.

Radiohead | "Let Down"

OK Computer is perhaps the most masterfully produced album of the 1990s. Of all the songs on the album, the song "Let Down" stands out the most. The guitar sound is similar to that of "Woman in Chains" by Tears for Fears. That sound is then combined with much more modern sounding synths. These sounds are then put against the Beatles restrained "Ticket to Ride" drum feel.

For more of The Chordaes check out their recent EP In Itniere.

Follow The Chordaes on Facebook | Twitter.


Anie Delgado is a contributor to Popdust and is an actress and musician based in NYC. Follow her on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter and check out her music on Spotify.


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