Just within the past few weeks, the date and lineup for the Midwest Kalama-Shoegazer event has been revealed. This event is an all day Dreampop and Shoegaze extravaganza held in Kalamazoo, Michigan; that offers a full day of the best bands in the US and beyond. I have had the pleasure to attend for the past several years and got to know a lot of the midwestern bands that play. One of those bands is Brief Candles, who hail from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When proclaiming all of my excitement regarding the event, I was contacted by Jenifer Boniger Dixon; who shared that while Brief Candles is not on bill this year; an offshoot band featuring several of the members; Blue Unit will be. I was provided with a preview of this project’s upcoming EP and as a fan of Brief Candles, I wasn’t disappointed.
Upon listening, I understood why this is a side project and not another album by the aforementioned band. Brief Candles can at times sound a bit more indie rock (think Sonic Youth) than Dreampop; not that the comparison there is a bad one. Blue Unit seems more firmly settled in dreamy Shoegazer territory; and here are my thoughts on a few of the standout tracks.
“Evergreen” opens the EP and ends up serving up some echoes of The Cure – sounding a bit like something that would have been in the B-side collection from the “Wish” era. With The Cure, being my all time favourite musical act ever; this is one of the highest compliments I can pay. Jenifer pulls the listener out of that space of being too derivative with her signature vocal sound. This track is dreamy, lush, and full of longing.
The next track, “Ground”; is a hit replay and listen to it again song. I dare you to listen and not have some kind of physical reaction, whether you end up tapping your feet or bobbing your head. This track also has that perfect dichotomy of a floating guitar hook in the verses that shifts perfectly into big and buzzy once the chorus hits.
“From Above” immediately sent me into one of my narrative prompts. I could just envision myself getting ready for a summer road trip; loading up the car and selecting that one song that would set of the mood and get things on the right foot. “Ground” has me turning up the volume, feeling the warmth of sunshine on my face, and grinning ear to ear as I drive off towards a new adventure. There’s a New Order vibe to the bass-line and an overall epic feeling contained within this track.
The EP works well as a whole and has something for everyone who enjoys the lush soundscapes of the genre. I highly recommend this album and cannot wait to see it performed live in August.