Various Artists – Blisscent II

Various Artists
Blisscent II

Shoegazer music is one of my favorite genres – the sound and visual aesthetics (non movement and almost complete stillness on stage) and the way it makes my head spin in circles while lush guitars fill the room with endless sound. The original movement began in the UK in the early 90s with bands like Slowdive, Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Swervedriver, and Catherine Wheel pioneering the sound. Recently there has been a resurgence in the movement with some bands playing material very influenced by the originators, while others have just taken the spacey foundations and created their own sound.
Blisscent Records, run out of Providence, R.I., has been kind enough to put together a few compilations (this one being the second in the series) that showcases some of this new talent. The main highlights on the disc are tracks by Midsummer who contribute “Silent Blue” off of their split EP with Coastal, This Ageless Night. This band in particular shows a great amount of depth and technical skill and is able to apply it nicely into a modern shoegazer pop sound. The Autumns submit an exclusive track titled “Slumberdoll (demo)” that takes on the kind of melodically rich sound that flows with eloquence, passion, and beauty. This is truly outstanding material to say the least. Asobi Seksu plays a wonderful track called “Walk on the Moon,” featuring gorgeous female vocals and melancholic guitars that ebb and flow – you’ll definitely want to keep an eye on this band in the future – very impressive.
The disc begins with a track called “Ctrl Alt Del” by a band called Silverman, which is reminiscent of a mixture of Coldplay melancholy mixed with Everything but the Girl beats and textures. It is a very enjoyable track and really starts the compilation off very nicely. The Meeting Places present “Same Lies as Yesterday,” which is a great little somber track that reminds me a lot of early Catherine Wheel material. Stars of Stage and Screen plays “Silver Memories,” a catchy, upbeat track with electronic beats, violins, and somber arpeggios.
Scarling plays “Band Aid Covers the Bullet Hole,” which reminds me quite a bit of a heavier, more shoegazing version of The Sundays. A Northern Chorus contribute “Let the Parrots Speak for Themselves,” beautiful slowcore beauty with an ambient edge; this is the kind of music that would be perfect for watching the tide come in. Moonbabies present us with an organic track from their upcoming record with acoustic guitars and nicely flowing vocals – catchy stuff. Tyko reminds me quite a bit of New Order, except for the female vocals – generally pretty good stuff.
Certain parts of the compilation tend to drag on quite a bit though. Aerial Love Feed contributes a track that really lacks any memorable melodic passages and is something that could easily be played on college radio without getting any attention. Colorwall also plays very bland music with their track, “Restless in 5th Gear,” which doesn’t capture my attention to the least bit. Hopewell also falls into this category with a track that one could easily skip over – nothing too special here.
Overall, this is a nice little compilation that features a nice mix of bands you’ve most likely never heard before but probably should have. While every song is not a gem, the ones that shine will definitely impress you quite a bit. Anyone interested in this type of music will want to give this disc a listen to add a few new bands into your musical repertoire.