The Emerald Down
There's a quote about the Velvet Underground that is something like (and forgive me if I've butchered it here), "not too many people bought their albums, but every person that did buy their albums went off and started a band of their own." The meaning behind the phrase of course is that VU might not have been the best-selling band in the world (to the dismay of people in charge of the record labels), but that they were influential enough to get tons of other people thinking about creating their own music. Along the same lines, I almost think that the same thing could be said about My Bloody Valentine. The mad skills of Kevin Shields have been widely publisized and Loveless still fills a niche atop many top album lists, but the fact remains that the group never really sold that many copies of their releases.
However, because of that band (and several others like Slowdive), "shoegazer" music became a term that now has a pretty widespread base. When you hear the term "shoegazer, you think layers of fuzzy and/or shimmering guitars and either drifted-out and/or ethereal vocals. There's even a category called dreampop, which is sort of like the watered-down cousin of shoegazer, and even though Loveless came out exactly a decade ago now (damn, it has been that long), the album is still showering some influence down today.
Which finally brings me to The Emerald Down. Based out of Ohio, this four-piece group features a picture of some cobbled-together guitar footpedal feedback setup on the back of their album, so straight from the getgo (along with the blurry cover photo), you should already know what you're getting into. Comprised of a smidge of samples, two guitar players, a bassist, and drums, the group rains down layers and layers of guitar noise, while offsetting male and female vocal parts.
One thing about the album is that the group definitely likes to let things unfold slowly. The album stretches to well over an hour long with 11 tracks, and while there are some compact tracks, the majority stretch out to well over 6 minutes long. Musically, the group reminds me a lot of different music that I heard in the early 90s. There are touches of the Pale Saints and even the more shimmering, dark sounding Cure (like Disintigration). Lead singer Rebecca Basye would probably fit right in on a Projekt recording release with her breathy, almost otherworldly vocals.
If you're a fan of almost retro-sounding (in retro, I mean early 90s), layered guitar groups, The Emerald Down will probably be right up your alley. The beginning and end of the album drag out a bit in places, but it's mainly because all the longer tracks fall together here while the latter half of the disc is broken up with some rather interesting shorter ones (like "Heavier Than Ether, Lighter Than Air" and the new wave injections on "Perlized"). Neither track compromise the groups sound, and although the waves of layered guitars are part of things, the compacted tracks go down more easily than measures and measures of the same chords. In the end, the release probably technically falls somewhere between the aforementioned dreampop and shoegaze categories, but by now you probably already know whether it's a release that will appeal to you or not.