THE BEGINNING

New 7″ releases from Weird Dreams, Big Deal and Stealing Sheep.

weird-dreams-single

WEIRD DREAMS
Hypnagogic Lullaby
(Sleep All Day Records)

Since we interviewed the Weird trio last year, they’ve recorded with Rory Brattwell again, gained an extra guitarist (James Wignall from Cheatahs) and lost some of their charm. They’re still making beautiful, hazy pop music, but their new EP, ‘Hypnagogic Lullaby’, lacks the excitement and pace that their self-titled debut had.

The energy of old tracks such as ‘Where’d I Go Wrong’ and ‘Hurt So Bad’ has mellowed in ‘Hypnagogic Lullaby’’s opener, ‘A Month Full of Lullaby’, and the title track, which are both tame slow-burners that feel like they’re building to an impressive climax, but stop short of one.

However, the guitar sounds solid and a little less lo-fi; the riffs in ‘A Month…’ have benefited hugely by having dual axe-men, giving the numerous layers a velvety rich retro sound. The band’s harmonies have also become more fluent, leaning seriously towards The Shins, especially on the closing ‘Michael’, which – in its fuzzed-out, Stone Roses kind of dream-like splurge of jangly riffs – is the spit of ‘Phantom Limb’. Meanwhile, ‘Faceless’ sports a striking bass line that wedges firmly among the atmospheric, almost echoing vocals of frontman Doran. All in all, it’s a sincere and melodically pleasing effort, but we’ll probably stick to EP number one for now.

BIG DEAL
Talk

(Moshi Moshi)

Big Deal. It’s what teenagers used to say before “bothered” was invented, and by that tenuous reasoning, this London based, boy/girl duo should sound as out of date as a mobile phone with buttons. The reason they don’t is because their debut single is lush, lo-fi and minimal like only the home-schooled bedroom bands of the last 12-months are. They’re achingly now. They also trade in a frighteningly evocative brand of guitars-only, adolescent pop that is completely immune to aging.

“All I wanna do is talk/But seeing you fucks me up,” goes the understated but brilliantly simple hook that every beating heart can relate to. It’s a case of cutting the crap with Big Deal; saying in twelve words what others would take three and a half minutes to. And that there are no drums or bass (just duel vocals and two tones of guitar fuzz) only makes the whole thing wonderfully yearn more, and feel less fashionably DIY than it definitely is.

STEALING SHEEP
The Mountain Dogs
(Red Deer Club)

Folk is meant to be a derivative genre; a mono paced old-timer that’s beautiful before it’s boring, which is its inevitable end. Stealing Sheep are a folk trio from Liverpool, and this four-track EP suggests otherwise. It has folk down as a multi-faceted being that can be twee and skippy one minute (the rabbit, rabbit, rabbit of the dippy, fun title track) and stormy and hurt the next (the bewitching ‘Your Saddest Song’). ‘Noah’s Days’ – the best track here – is then more Warpaint than it is Mountain Man (a fellow all girl threesome that Stealing Sheep are big fans of). It builds to detached, psych guitars loops and Bat For Lashes drums. Even the cute, dreamy ‘Pass Through You’ (a gentle meander through yellowing long grass) is full of plenty of odd little noises to prevent it from being a prairie trudge. Perhaps folk’s bad press has been at the hands of those less willing to explore all corners of the genre at once. Here, Stealing Sheep do.

Originally published in issue 26 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. March 2011

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