Reviews for [RL106]
Shojo Winter "Eternal Snow"
- Half Gifts
Shojo Winter's debut cassette EP is perhaps the strangest shoegaze release you'll hear all year, an ultra lo-fi dreampop effort that suffocates trebly, gothic lead guitar under a blanket of punishingly loud bass and drums, forming an igneous mass of crusty noise that is comparable to black metal, or perhaps even noisy dark ambient compositions. Imagine the sound of your car's tape deck slowly warping, then eating a copy of Cocteau Twins' Head Over Heels as you slip into highway hypnosis. All elements of the album - from frontman Patrick Capinding's sleepy intonations, to Kevin McVey's weighty basslines to the endless splashes of percussion that benignly crash like ocean waves - work as a whole to form a mind-numbing drone. The effect is pulled off most successfully on the EP's eponymous closing cut, which, in a beautiful way, is nearly devoid of melody or rhythm, but rather, it acts as a single viscous unit that oozes into the listener's ear, wrapping their conscious in an impenetrable cloak of bassy post-punk vibes. Embrace the coziness of total emptiness. Enter the the realm of Eternal Snow
- Anhedonic Headphones
Apparently what is hot in shoegaze right now is piles and piles of cavernous reverb.
That’s what I’m taking away from these three new-ish, shoegazey releases from F ingers (yes the space is intentional), Helen, and Shojo Winter.
I’ll admit that in 2015, and maybe even last year, I found myself listening to less and less shoegaze, or ‘gaze inspired music, just because it was so uninteresting at the time. These records, I felt, were at least interesting enough for me to spend the time to write up some nice-ish words about them.
Shojo Winter is a side project of members of Anhednoic favorite Crisis Arm. Their charming four-song debut, Eternal Snow, manages to roll dream pop, shoegaze, and heavy, heavy post-punk vibes into one auspicious package. While in their day job with Crisis Arm, Patrick Capinding and Kevin McVey favor a murky, mysterious mix, for the band’s sound; with Shojo Winter, there’s still the intentional murk, but the instruments are all very discernable, including some impressive chugging bass lines, specifically on frenetic “Slow Reach.”
Part of the charm of Eternal Snow, aside from the total throwback sound, is just how intentionally lo-fi this is. The tape hiss travels from song to song, and it sounds like the whole thing could have been recorded on somebody’s Walkman.
Shoegaze is not usually associated with the word “fun,” but even in the murky waters of Eternal Winter, Shojo Winter are never ominous or threatening. It’s hazy, swooning, and dead on to the sound that it is so achingly nostalgia for
- Raised By Gypsies
The songs of Shojo Winter seem to break on the side of something -gaze and I almost want to think of them as being in a dreamgaze or blissgaze type of role. I do like the name Shojo Winter though if only because my favorite baseball player of all time is the New York Mets #20 Howard Johnson who is nicknamed Hojo, so I tend to see it more like that than with the "s" in front of it. Either way, having "winter" in your name and "snow" in the cassette title seems pretty cool and not just in the cold way.
Through dreamy rock ala "Pretty in Pink" with big cymbal crashes vocals can be found hidden in the background. I can hear anything from the guitar stylings of The Cranberries to The Cure in these songs but make no mistake about it- they have that 1980's feel to them that I have come to know and love (if only because I am a child of the 1980's). Sometimes there is a rambling blissed-out chaos and other times there is a static crackling but overall these songs remain in the same genre of bliss and being dreamy, which might be more of a description than a genre but you still get the idea.
What you need to know the most about these four songs though is that they are so much bigger and so much greater than simply being verse/chorus/verse. For a lot of artists, four songs is nothing. It's an EP that can last ten minutes and feel like only five. But for Shojo Winter these songs have enough going on in them to think of this- and to experience this- as if it was a full length cassette just because of the layers and many facets going on within the background which you may not catch the first time or just continue to make these songs that much more complex each time you listen to them.
I don't have a good comparison for artists who have these sort of deep songs that feel like albums instead of tracks, though I know I've written about it before on an occasion or two, but just know that this does not in any real way feel like what you are probably thinking of as four songs but it can be just so much more and for that reason combined with the musicianship qualities to it you will find this to be most delightful.