Category Archives: Fazerdaze

Fazerdaze’s Morningside – The Review

It’s Wednesday morning, 7:52am. I’m in my car, on the way to work – and, as is often the case, stuck in traffic. Streaming via Apple Music: Morningside, the debut album by Fazerdaze.

Like most new releases, it’s been assigned a slew of specific descriptors – shoegaze, dream pop, guitar pop, indie pop and bedroom pop (that last due to its DIY nature, not to its subject matter) – to help with the discovery process. But I hear something else: the (direct or indirect) influence of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, perhaps due to my having recently watched a documentary about it on Showtime. Not in the production values, mind you, as it’s obviously lacking a Wall of Sound, but its melodies and moods. I’ve read that Amelia Murray, the 24-year-old New Zealander behind the music, listened to the Beatles and Bob Dylan as a kid, but nothing of the Beach Boys – and yet, as the reverb- and echo-drenched music commandeers my ride, the wistful melancholia of Pet Sounds is what I hear.

Even “Lucky Girl,” the catchy song I featured a few weeks ago, is deceptive, spinning unease about commitment into an upbeat number.

The album’s final song is a sonic, if lo-fi, marvel:

I won’t go so far as to say Morningside is the greatest thing since sliced bread; i.e., I’m reining in my usual effusiveness. But I will say that I was cursing myself by mid-day, when I went to listen to the album again and discovered that I’d left my headphones at home.

I highly recommend it, in other words.

Also, one thought: sometimes I fear that ever-more-specific descriptors are a hindrance, and not a help, to the discovery process, which really should be less about sameness of sound and more about inspirations, influences and sonic surprises. But that’s a post for another day.

Anyway, here are a few live versions of their songs:

Today’s Top 5: New Music, Vol. XIX

I’m forever shocked when I read or hear someone about my 50-plus age (give or take a decade) trash the collective talent of today’s younger artists. Here’s the truth: There is much good-to-great music being made by new and relatively new singers and bands, just as there always has been. Courtney Marie Andrews, for instance:

If I’ve listened to Honest Life once, I’ve listened to it 200 times in the past few months. But you’re forgiven (somewhat) if you haven’t heard of her. It’s become easier and easier to miss up-and-coming acts due to our ever-splintering, niche-driven pop culture.

The highways and byways of popular music are littered with artists who failed to breakthrough to the big time, of course. Talent alone has never guaranteed success – luck and circumstance, and drive, play and have always played a major role. That said, below are a handful of new and relatively new-to-me singers and bands, some of whom I’ve featured before – and others that I will again.

1) Hannah’s Yard – “Close Enough.” Hannah’s Yard is an acoustic collective from the English town of Olney, Buckinghamshire, that features a lead singer, Hannah Layton Turner, whose voice is that of an angel. Their songs remind me of Melody Gardot and Norah Jones, among others, and are quite addictive. (Their debut album, Beginnings, is due out May 12th.)

2) Holly Macve – “The Corner of My Mind.” The bayou by way of Brighton? Yep. Macve mixes moodiness, melody and mesmerizing vocals into a tasty elixir.

3) Natalie Gelman – “Photograph.” The singer-songwriter and her band had the good fortune of opening for Bon Jovi recently thanks to Bon Jovi’s opening-act contest. (That’s something more veteran acts should be doing.) Here’s video of the final song of their set:

4) Bully – “Trying.” At last week’s Juliana concert, we met a cool dude who’d flown in from Detroit to attend Juliana concerts in Cambridge, Philly and Virginia. He recommended this band, who he’s seen a dozen times – and, after listening to them a bit, I hear what he hears in them.

5) Fazerdaze – “Lucky Girl.” New Zealand’s Amelia Murray, aka Fazerdaze, is a wonder – I’d say she creates teenage symphonies to God, but given that she’s in her 20s…she creates twenty-something symphonies to God. (Here’s an excellent profile of her.) One listen and you should be hooked.

And two bonuses…

6) The Courtneys – “Silver Velvet.” The Vancouver trio conjure the Bangles with their jangly pop, but, at the end of the day, influences mean nothing if the songs suck. Theirs don’t. If anything, their music sticks in the head like bubblegum on the sidewalk. (Maybe that’s not the best metaphor. But they’re damn good.)

7) Jen Gloeckner – “Row With the Flow.” Gloeckner’s latest release, VINE, is an atmospheric (and very trippy) outing that channels the likes of Mazzy Star and Pink Floyd, among others.