Seattle’s Fotoform released their eponymous debut LP in April. The band is an incarnation of a previous act called C’est La Mort, in which several of the band members did their apprenticeship recording a promising album and a couple of fairly faithful covers of Pale Saints and Smiths songs. The new record is still firmly rooted in the same field of late 80s-early 90s British music, heavily influenced by bands such as the Cure, Lush, Ride and the House of Love. Though a bit uneven, it’s a pretty lovely rendition of the mixture of dreamy beauty, literate melancholy and poppy exuberance that characterised that great era of indie guitar bands. The best moments of the album for me are the ones where the sound crosses over from loveliness into edgy sonorities, interweaving metallic guitar riffs, overtones and feedbacks with looming basslines and intense drumming in the Joy Division mould. At these moments the music shines with all the squiggly lines, spills, spurts and stains of an abstract expressionist painting. I wish they had pushed the vocals a little bit into the mix, and let the true shimmering power of this compact 8-song album come to the fore.
Another 8-song debut LP that came out last spring is The Homesick’s Youth Hunt. They hail from a small town in the north of the Netherlands, and their record duly comes across as less the product of clear familiar influences than the unique fruit of an encounter between three attuned yet outlying musicians. Yes, one can drop a few names as references: Wire, Polvo, Krautrock, Bowie, the Go-Betweens with added noise. But really, it feels like a rich and personal home brew: fluid and experimental, brave and brimming with ideas, organic in its inventiveness. The distinctive and affecting, dramatic yet sincere vocals perhaps encapsulate the spirit of this versatile record. Reminiscent of the bold psychedelic vision of Preoccupations, its motoric and irregular rhythms, driving basslines and angular and drizzly guitars are beautifully accommodated by a multi-layered and multi-depth mix.