ARTIST: The High Violets
RELEASE: Heroes And Halos
RELEASE DATE: 01/04/16
RECORD COMPANY: Saint Marie Records
With the sheer momentum of Slowdive, splendid melodies of Cocteau Twins, the ethereal sounds of Secret Shine, and smooth outpour of musical purity of The Sundays, the band beloved by so many in their home town of Portland, Oregon grace the music scene once again and blow our minds with truly beautiful sonic bliss. This musically inclined four piece is also well known for creating grand spectacles of guitar skyscraping sound akin to bands like The Sleep Over Disaster and Solar Powered People. The High Violets have it all!
Unequivocally the essence of categorical dream pop and shoegazers, this super group has been consistently making remarkable music over the course of two decades. Since the first two band member’s inception as The Bella Low back in 1996, Clint Sargent and Luke Strahota briefly made music with lead singer Violet Bianca Grace, before disbanding in 1998. It has been said that things happen for a reason and as providence would have it within a year they reunited in 1999. This time the two original band members struck gold with the life changing addition of Kaitlyn Ni Donavan on lead vocals and guitar also with Colin Sheridan currently on bass guitar – to form The High Violets. This is a band that even critics have widely praised over the years due to their sustained dedication to the purest of shoegaze and dream pop sound. From their first EP entitled “Dream Away” released in October of 1999 these incredible musicians have proven their innate ability to create irreproachable music with every following full length album and remix collection within the shoegaze, dream pop and alternative rock genres. This latest release will be their fifth since their last sonic wonder “Cinéma” released in September of 2010. Band members decided to take a well deserved hiatus not long after their last full album release; but you would have never known they were temporarily quiet after listening to their latest creation. If you have ever wondered what the voice of an angel sounds like, one listen to Kaitlyn Ni Donavan on lead vocals and you will know. Clint Sargent is the mastermind behind The High Violets’ signature guitar sound, synthesizer and sings lead in specific tracks as well.
Heroes and Halos is the latest magnum opus created by the dream pop and shoegaze masters. To the long time fan of this outstanding band Clint Sargent’s trademark, lingering, beautifully drawn out guitar riffs coalesced with Kaitlyn’s highly melodic singing, ring true right from the first track. The new listener will become blissfully ensnared right from the opening song entitled ‘How I Love (Everything About You)’. This Love ballad is one for the ages. When the sonic magicians begin to play they already know how to grab your senses and get you hooked on more aural ecstasy. The first track appropriates you by the ears and commands listening time. The masterfully crafted sonic bliss will promulgate to your auditory cortex right from the awesome intro. The shoegazed out dream guitar laced with fuzz filled goodness is permeating. Then Kaitlyn begins to sing and time stands still. The exceedingly perfect melody of Kaitlyn’s singing is an inbred part of accomplished sound The High Violets have mastered. Goose bumps will ensue and everything around you will fade into a blurry background when Kaitlyn evokes deep emotion through her proclamation of Love, singing lyrics like “Belladonna Eyes, I love everything about you” infused with all the band members singing backup vocals in the chorus, and like a human metronome Luke’s drumming is perfectly in sync in every track. It is very easy to see why fans of this band are absolutely in love with them.
The clever onomatopoeia opening sounds of the track ‘Dum Dum’ have a message to convey in this semi ballad about the tensions experienced in a relationship when a counterpart is actually dumb enough to lie about infidelity. I love the more than catchy beat and the deep sonic waves of guitar sounds in this track mingled with poignant lyrics that are almost playful yet straightforward, awesome track! Up next, ‘Long Last Night’ Reminiscent of a sweet low whisper in your ear Kaitlyn sounds soothing, giving us more beautiful melodies. The signature guitar Clint performs in this track consists of a long perfectly executed, climbing skyward, feel which is just mesmerizing. Kaitlyn’s voice is masterfully mixed with her own in the chorus and a fluently, sinuous bassline played by Colin. This song embodies true High Violets dreamy perfection. ‘Break A Heart’ is an awesome ballad about the woes of being in love with someone that just might break a heart. Truly feverish and dizzying heights are reached when this track is launched into orbit with the guitar solo which is incredible! If you ever heard bands like The Sleep Over Disaster with their catapulting, majestically huge guitar riffs you will love and madly appreciate the guitar playing of The High Violets. Track 5
‘Bells’, begins with great reverberated drum beats and Kaitlyn singing almost immediately. The highly melodic and guitar drenched chorus of Bells is very easy and pleasing to music receptors. This track is a densely packed sonic experience an inspirational, lyrically infused, dynamo!
The title track ‘Heroes and Halos’ is without a doubt epic in sound and scope and just as awe inspiring are the lyrics from the refrain which indicate “It’s hard for me not see the beauty in our troubled lives/minds” Kaitlyn reminds us “don’t become something cold”. These lyrics are of course a testament inciting the hope that there still are Heroes with Halos visible to those of us who still search for the good in others. Kaitlyn’s voice really shines like the sun in this track. The deep reverberated guitar and flowing, swirling trademark sound throughout the track is classic High Violets sound kicked up many notches. This is my favorite song on the album. The very majestic Inspiration and hope given to us in this track is marvellous. The guitar sound flows like an ominous river, along with a drum beat that sustains a bold almost minacious impact to the song, yet very outright gorgeous. The presaged and at the same time emancipating lyrics, add to the luster of this sinister sounding track. The band brings a bold, dark experience in ‘Longitude’ while maintaining that awesome High Violets neo-psychedelic bliss. If you are familiar with bands like Whispering Sons and/or Nervous Light, you will be overcome by a mad rush of precipitous pleasure upon listening to this haunting loveliness.
Track 9 ‘Comfort in Light’ is bathed in a lovely dream enhancing sound. Wow! The intro transports your mind to shoegazer dream land then Kaitlyn’s ethereally mesmerizing voice is actually very comforting to absorb into your psyche. Comfort in Light is a masterpiece in dream pop and shoegaze amalgamation. I love how the albums closing track ‘Hearts in Our Throats’ begins with the sound of the musicians picking up their instruments then as the guitar and flute become audible they coalesce into an acoustic heaven. Kaitlyn’s voice fades into join in and is beyond ethereal, it is sensationally angelic and if anyone could sing in a tone reminiscent of a whisper and have the same impact as singing loudly Kaitlyn accomplishes this with ease. Her voice in this track is strikingly enchanting. And when you truly absorb the gravity of this track you will feel that “lump in your throat” of gently flowing deep emotion. This is a gorgeous slow motion track consisting of heartrending lyrics with an incredibly talented lead at the helm, breathing pure sonic bliss into the brain of the super fortunate listener.
It is of no surprise and monumentally apparent that Heroes and Halos has brought the gorgeous sound of The High Violets to full realization. This Venerable group of talented musicians are not only making music again, they are re-writing dream pop, shoegaze and alternative music history. Their new album is a mass inspiration not only to long time fans, but will also gain this brilliant four piece a myriad of new admirers. Long Live the legendary musicians that are The High Violets.
‘Heroes and Halos’ gets it’s official release on the 1st April 2016 via Saint Marie Records and is available to pre-order right now from: www.saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com/album/heros-and-halos
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Joe S. Giangrave has always felt like he’s a musician trapped in a non-musically talented body. But whatever delusions this guy might have of lacking any talent, he makes up for in his unwavering support of the worldwide underground shoegazing scene. ‘Shoegazer Sanctuary’ & ‘Shoegazer Sanctuary Radio’ are two social media music groups on Facebook that he founded over a year ago. He also has a freeform Internet Journal called ‘Shoegazer Sanctuary Music’ on Tumblr. His dedicated radio show ‘Shoegazer Sanctuary Radio’ also known as ‘The Sanctuary’, is aired over on Primal Radio on the first Friday of every month & features a wealth of underground shoegaze, dreampop & ambient artists from all around the world.