|Autumn's Grey Solace|
Autumn's Grey Solace is comprised of the duo Scott Ferrell and Erin Welton. They hail from the sunny state of Florida where they formed their group in early 2000 where they immediately began writing and recording for the release of their debut album Within the Depths of a Darkened Forest. They self-released this first album in 2002 to positive reviews and caught the attention of Projekt Records. By this time they had already started working on their second album which was picked up and released by Projekt in mid-2004 titled Over The Ocean. With this release they made a national and international impression on the Ethereal/Shoegazer scene and quickly started working on their third release, also released on Projekt Records titled Riverine in 2005. Maintaining their incredible pace and writing and releasing music in quick succession, they released Shades of Grey in 2006 and quickly followed with Ablaze in 2008. It's apparent they love writing and releasing their music while not letting any boredom or mediocrity creep into any of it. Taking the longest break they had yet in between albums, 2011 finally presented us with a much moodier, slightly softer ethereal album Eifelian. It seems this long break would be the exception because just the next year in 2012 their excellent, dreamy work Divinian was released.
Fans of stellar bands like Siddal, Love Spirals Downwards, and The Cocteau Twins will now have another new favorite band to listen to as they continue to release new music. This band captures the best emotional and dreamy aspects of this genre through captivating female vocals and impressionable music and lyrics. Scott contributes his talents of various guitars, bass, mandolin, drums, other percussion and various engineering tasks while Erin lends her beautiful vocals, lyrics and musical compositions.
This is an exciting group to enjoy in the wonderful world of gothic ethereal music. Fans of this genre will really be pleased and should enjoy their latest album. Be sure to catch selections on the Ethereal radio show here.
Divinian - Review
This is the band's seventh album, and the sixth we've reviewed here in just a few more years as they've remained very active writing and releasing an incredibly captivating style of music on each album. On this album we're presented with a minimalistic approach that has been somehow manipulated into sounding like waves of various guitar and electronics, but all done with simply vocals, guitar, bass and drums. We have a dozen of these dreamy tracks on this album for nearly an hour of ethereal bliss.
As the album starts out with the initial track "Shadow, Light, Echo" we get our first taste of the foundational ambient style that takes a prominent role on this album. The vocals that act as ambient synths create mystical layers of backdrops as the bass reverberates over the slowly moving percussion, reminiscent of some of our favorites from Julee Cruise and her Floating Into The Night album. This dream pop meets ambient style remains prominent on several tracks as we move along through "Nifara", "Sawol" and on and on.
My only complaint about this album is also ironically a simple solid point as well. It all blends and flows well, but at the same time you can lose track and at one point you may not know which track you're actually listening to. However, there are some notable variations through this haunting, foggy, dreamy web of ensnaring ethereal music. Some pieces feature Erin's vocals above the dreamy background clearly understandable so you can pick up some of the lyrics above all of the reverb, while others even though you may hear her singing something, it may not be intelligible, or in other areas the vocals are meant to be simply another instrument in the layers upon layers of waves of caressing soundwaves that flood over you. A perfect example of this is "Meremennen" with it's subtle, ambient dreamscapes creating a background for the siren-song that floats in the air, luring and calling the listener in. Another piece towards the end of the album titled "Zenith", is a favorite and has no noticeable lyrics at all, but I think half of what you hear is actually Erin's vocals softly caressing the soaring guitar and softly undulating bass and light percussion.
This is definitely an interesting work and at some points simply irresistable, in that you just have to stop whatever you're doing and listen and enjoy every enrapturing moment. Fans of any style of soft, dreamy, ethereal, ambient or similar music will really enjoy this album. And if you're one of the first to pick this up you also get a bonus disc of something from many of their previous releases, a sort of sampler titled Winterrim.
Eifelian - Review
After a three-year wait for us and a lot of work from the band, we finally have their sixth excellent album Eifelian. The album comes in a simple digipack with basic band and track information. The music on the disc spans fourteen tracks for a nice full album of music, definitely plenty here to please any fan starving for more great music.
From the very first track on this album I could tell we were in for something slightly different from what we've heard in the past. Erin's vocals actually become another instrument on most of the tracks, dominating much of the album, including the opening piece "Archean Earth". On these pieces we don't hear actual intelligible lyrics, but the vocals remain an integral part over the layers of various guitar, bass, percussion and other instruments. As the album drifts along we encounter other pieces that take on more of the standard style with the recognizable lyrics, grounding the listener somewhat, yet still very dreamy and ethereal. In fact, overall the mood on this album is much more tranquil than some of the previous works from this duo, with a lot of various soft, dreamy ambient textures. In my mind, they've really captured the essence of the ethereal shoegaze genre in many ways, while I still enjoy many of the other upbeat pieces from the past, nothing quite matches the way ethereal pieces can captivate the listener. In fact this entire album is a beautiful masterpiece of shimmering guitars and ethereal vocals that lure the listener in, enraptured and captivated for the entire duration.
Favorites include just about every track on the disc, from the dreamiest pieces like "Unfamiliar Spirits" to the angst-ridden "Halfway Underground". Fans of our ethereal radio shows have weighed in quickly on the selections we've had up and "Gondwanaland" has quickly become a favorite for our listeners, and I have to agree with them. It's one of these dreamy pieces that floats along through an ethereal atmosphere of soaring vocals, smooth, yet blazing guitars and subtle percussion for a nice, somber beat. With so many of these somewhat instrumental pieces, they blend together well and you would think it might become somewhat monotonous, but as I've listened to this album now well over a dozen times, each piece does stand out on it's own, maybe one includes a different style of guitar or other additional instrument, while others vary just in overall mood and tempo. The vocal tracks stand well-enough on their own as well, and should please fans longing for the tracks with a little more standard song structure.
Overall we have another great album, different from many of their previous works for some excellent variety in the genre, yet it should still please fans. I stand by it as possibly their best release to date overall.
Ablaze - Review
Keeping up with their break-neck speed of writing and creating new music we're presented with this, their fifth full-length album. At this point this band is working hard to become the next memorable act to grace this genre and hold our attention for an entire decade or more. In my mind they've already accomplished so much, so to see them continue to release this excellent music is incredible. This latest album continues where they left off, creating new and diverse, captivating soundscapes through the eleven stellar tracks presented here.
Staying with their tried and true style we have one beautiful piece right after another. They also seem to have abandoned for the most part any shift towards a driving rock sound with a few exceptions like "A Rhythm That Writhes". This piece blends a slight touch of metal with the soaring mix of guitars and driving percussion for a real highlight to the album. In general they remain with the somber beauty in pieces that lilt along with spring-like beauty. A perfect example of this and a perfect way to start off the album is "Endlessly" which is truly spellbinding with a waltz-like rhythm and an incredible array of guitars to form such a full sound and backdrop to the sweet vocals. "Fluttermoth" brings out a more standard dream-pop approach to the album with many similarities to ethereal greats from years past though it seems to create a new standard with this and other pieces.
It's incredibly hard to choose favorites on this album they all stand out in their light in so many ways. From the driving and crunching guitars on a few select pieces that are heavier to the soft and lilting beauty of others it's all so dreamy and spellbinding. I think people can take comfort in know this band has proven themselves four times before and continue to do so in full splendor on this release.
Shades Of Grey - Review
It's great to have favorite artists releasing music so often, yet the music remains of great quality without getting too bland or stale. This duo seems to have found a creative groove because they manage to do just that by releasing an album every year for the past three years. On top of that, each one has a little different material to offer, with some variety within the solid foundation of ethereal/shoegazer styles that they have built their fanbase on.
Pretty much everything on this album makes the listener sit up and pay attention, even though the whispy vocals and shimmering guitars try hard to lull you into a dreamy trance. This dreamy, drifting rhythm and beauty shine through on "Treasure Box" which kicks off the album. After this we immediately see a different twist on this album and for this group as the percussion intensifies on "Cold Sea" and a few other tracks. Though the heavy, grinding guitars are something often present in related genres, along with a heavier, more pronounced beat, these are not typical for this duo, so we see some new ground explored here. However, the most divergent thing is when Scott goes off on the rock guitar work that is definitely impressive, and definitely not something you would expect in the genre, but he manages to pull it off well on this track. I don't want to put too much emphasis on this shift in style, because it's not prevalant enough for anyone to think the band is heading off in a different direction. In fact, we're immediately brought back to what I would call a definite dreamy shoegazer classic in "Angel of Light", though still building up to quite an aggressive crescendo various times throughout, it helps to tie this new direction in with the old.
At this point we're brought low to the tormenting piece "Last Tear" with an anguished lament that could break anyone's heart just by listening. This brings us back to what I would call the "original" sound from this band in this piece, followed by "Hidden" which is a bit more upbeat, and the title track to this album "Shades Of Grey" which is right inline with that ethereal shoegazer feeling. These pieces are just everything you would expect from this band, remaining upbeat, dreamy and simply allowing their talents to shine through. "Fodderwing" includes a little more of a rock beat and definitely something closer to what you may have heard on the radio when Cocteau Twins would get airplay on commercial radio before the "alternative" genre became anything but alternative.
"In The Darkest Night" is one of those songs that sits right on the border between dreamy ethereal and a moving shoegazer piece with a moving beat. While the vocals and soaring guitars lull the listener to sleep, the driving beat that has become more prominent on this album really keeps the listener moving. This also acts as a great segue into the really beautiful ethereal portion of the album which is the final three tracks. Each of these pieces in turn slowly send the listener adrift with the somber soundscapes that the guitar weaves in and out of the mesmerizing vocals.
With that, the album comes to a close and anyone can see why this group has quickly become a favorite within these genres. It's great to hear the new ground they are exploring, and comforting to be able to hang onto such a familiar mood and sound. This is another great album that fans of this dreamy style of music should pick up.
Riverine - Review
Shortly after the release of their sophomore album we're already presented with the latest work from this awesome ethereal shoegazer band. Riverine is a trip through Erin's world of soft, lush vocals presented over a tapestry of various guitars and light rhythms.
Those familiar with the previous album from this group will immediately feel it's familiarity from the smooth and soothing sound. "Human Shell" kicks it all off in the soft, yet slightly moving style this band has perfected. Erin's vocals set the listener adrift over the elegantly composed guitars. Fans of Love Spirals Downwards will feel right at home as we drift on to the next track "Falling Sky" with it's dreamy guitars voicing their own melodies that are as beautiful and moving as any siren's vocals.
These two introductory tracks are just the beginning but are complete enough to provide a perfect description for this album. As a whole it is entirely cohesive bringing together a full dozen of these spellbinding tracks. The pace and intensity varies slightly from piece to piece and just plain addictive. It's hard to get enough of this album. A stellar track that really stands out on this album in style and intensity is "The Unshakable Demon". There's a slight sassy touch in Erin's vocals, but the guitars and moving rhythm provide much of the shift in intensity which is just captivating.
I don't know what more I can say about this album. It's just incredible and leaves the listener breathless... highly recommended.
Over The Ocean - Review
I guess you can imagine that when Projekt Records signs a new band and advertises them as a great new Ethereal/Shoegazer band you can expect some pretty good music at least. When I put this CD on I was completely blown away. The style of music is right along with other great bands like Siddal and early Love Spirals Downwards. And as I was trying to think about current artists producing this type of music, there really aren't that many, and so while they emulate some of these great bands of the past, they currently stand amongst the few in this specific genre.
With this introduction and description, the reader can imagine the spiralling soundscapes of lush vocals with dreamy guitars on this album. This all comes dramatically to life with each new track as the work progresses. "Waning Faithful" becomes an epic symbol for this genre as the first track to kick it all off. Erin's angelic vocals soar through the air as the acoustic guitar rolls through broken chords and an electric guitar laments in the background. The percussion through each track is slow and just moving enough to give a heartbeat to each song.
Each of these elements play key rolls in the music on this album. As the melancholic electric guitar grows in intensity on certain tracks like "Mystify" and "Fractured", everything else seems to kick in, the percussion and other layered instruments swell into a grand crescendo of majestic unspoken words, while the vocals express the haunting meaning behind it all. But overall the mood remains very subdued and dreamlike with tracks like "A Brighter Light" and the final and title track "Over The Ocean" being the foundation and backbone style to the album.
Of course these select songs named above are just a few of the dozen masterpieces on this album. The smooth guitars and vocals become a tapestry of remarkable patterns throughout the entire album. A great point about this album is the way it flows so smoothly from one song to the next. This makes it so much more enjoyable to listen to the entire album instead of picking out a track here and there or skipping around. The best way to experience it is in a setting where the smooth layers of warmth and sweet ambience caress across your ears and you can hear it from beginning to end.
Once again, a new gem for fans of this sweet, yet remarkably intense music. Be sure to pick this one up!
Label: Projekt Records