Article by Del Chaney
I know that it's probably too early to be discussing the dreaded "Best Of 2016" albums list. And that it's also probably way too early in the year to waxing lyrical about the best singles, but I'm so happy that I had the chance to hear and then to write about this debut, self-titled, eight track release from Winnipeg based dreamy four piece Living Hour, as I believe that this release will feature heavily on the year end lists for 2016, especially within the dreampop and shoegazing fraternities when the time comes around. The band initially peaked my attention before, way back in 2014 when they were known as their previous incarnation The Hours, and even back then I had fallen head over heels in love with their reverb induced and luscious single 'Steady Glazed Eyes'. The band will release this self-titled full-length debut worldwide through Lefse Records (Portland) on February 19th, 2016.
In a haze of shimmering, reverberating brilliance, the opening bars of 'Summer Smog' grace this listener's ears and I'm instantly floating in a world of melodic tone and shape where addictive dreamy vocals are king and where the crackling, jangling, effected guitar lines stand guard for what will be one of the best releases of 2016 come years' end. I am in no doubt of that. There's a sort of unplanned understanding between the vocals and guitars on this track, as they vie for space within the wide expanses of the reverb-laden production. It works really well and helps to catapult Living Hour to somewhere special within the dream-gazing world as we know it. A jangling guitar line greets us as we wait for track two, 'Seagull', to break free and let fly. The chorus soars and there's a brilliant crescendo of sound before it breaks back into the verse parts again. The vocal lines are divine and allowed to stray within the layers of reverb-laden guitar whilst the drum pattern keeps the whole affair firmly fixed to solid ground. A triumphant track full of expressive soaring hints of shoegaze and interspersed with heavenly dreampop flair.
The atmospheric awakenings of track three, 'This Is The Place', shatter the sound sphere as yet another reverb-laden jangling guitar track ambles into the musical ether. There’s a definite psychedelic feel to this unlike the previous two tracks. It sounds like a cross between Spacemen 3 and early Creation Records-era Telescopes that have been melded together with Melbourne-based underground psych-gazing stalwarts Fire Behaving As Air. Truly remarkable. I'm transfixed as the track shuffles through its sonic algorithms. Again, it's the floating. almost whispering vocal track that grabs my attention and I swoon within its grasp. Track four is a slice of shoegazing brilliance. Originally appearing at the back end of 2014 and into early 2015 when the band were known as The Hours, 'Steady Glazed Eyes is a dream-gazing phenomenon. Swirling, layered guitars and strong percussion form a droning wall of sound that's purposely built to envelope and caress that immense vocal track. This is three minutes and fifty four seconds of pure gazing indulgence. A masterful track that deserves plaudits for its songwriting structure and production.
We've comfortably landed from our previous flight and settled back into proceedings as track five, 'There Is No Substance Between', arrives into the arena. A slow, menacing affair that's full of dark and light sonic shading but also expertly buffered by duel vocal lines, shimmering guitars and pounding drums. This light and dark theme is carried right through to that singular rock 'n' roll break, five minutes into the track, when Living Hour buck the trend and give us a glimpse of a subtle "baggy" Manchester vibe! 'Mind Goodbyes' is reminiscent of Philadelphia based dream-gazers 'The Morelings'. It swims in reverb-soaked guitars as melodic tremolo and delay intertwine with that glorious vocal and we're treated to a two minute display of dreamy percussion-less melodic dreampop. The track then explodes into a droning, mesmerising piece of emotive shoegaze. Sure to be a favourite of the underground dream-gazing fraternity on its release.
There's a psychedelic, droning entrance for the next track on this immense release before we're again treated to a masterful melodic chord structure. 'Miss Emerald Green' shuffles along on its reverberating sonic axis as shimmering guitars and dreamy vocals again occupy centre stage. But there is an alt-rock tinge to proceedings as the the track progresses and as tempos change, but this just showcases the band's ability to switch it up when needed. The closing track on the magnificent eight track release from Winnipeg-based dreamy dream-gazers Living Hour is nothing short of brilliant. I expected it to be if I'm honest. A swirling, droning maelstrom of sound heralds in that stunning vocal as 'Feel Shy', the album's longest track at 6.51, cranks up and brings with it images of dreamy Cocteau Twins, the droning abilities of The Cranes, and the more modern dreampop sounds of Welsh-based Golden Fable. You simply have to listen to this track via headphones. Trust me, it will blow your mind. A truly remarkable track to finish off a wonderful album. Bravo Living Hour, and welcome back.
Living Hour's website
Pre-order: 'Living Hour'.
Catch them live:
March 3 Winnipeg, MB The Good Will Social Club
March 4 Fargo, ND The Aquarium
March 6 Des Moines, IA Des Moines Social Club
March 7 Rock Island, IL Rozz Tox
March 9 St Louis, MO Foam
March 11 Denver, CO Lion's Lair
March 13 Phoenix, AZ Trunk Space
March 18 Santa Barbara CA FUNZONE
March 19 Fresno CA Peeves Pub
March 22 Santa Cruz CA Bocci's Cellar
March 25 Davis CA Third Art Space Collective
March 29 Portland OR The Analog Cafe
March 31 Bellingham WA Loudhouse
April 2 Rossland BC The Flying Steamshovel
April 3 Kamloops BC Zacks Coffee
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