DreamVacation available at:
Window Room– 9.4
Press Play– 9.5
End of Time– 9.4
BEFORE coming to my featured act and what they offer…
I am reminded again of Los Angeles and making an impression with E.P.s; in addition to the more serene and dreamy side of music. With Christmas fast approaching I have been looking around for music that takes my mind away from the relentless jingle and bonhomie of Christmas songs. It has got to that stage where these songs are filling the head and everywhere you go. I am sort of glad Christmas is almost over as it gets a bit much in the end- you want something else to distract and bring you back into the world of new music. The last few weeks I have heard a great array of sounds and some distinct acts- each with their own projection and sense of promise. When it comes to music in general I tend to find there are a lot of acts at the moment going for urgency and passion- rather than presenting something introspective and dreamy. I shall raise that point soon, but for now- and for the final time this year- I want to concentrate a bit on L.A. and the U.S. I have been paying tribute to U.S. music for a while now, and with good reason. The U.K. acts I have been reviewing are fairly similar in nature- or at least do not break too far away from the predictable- and tend not to be as expansive and diverse as U.S. acts. It may be an over-generalisation yet I find American artists have a bit more depth and ambition with regards their music. Perhaps it is just an issue of numbers- the population of the U.S. far outranks that of the U.K.- yet it may be something to do with the media and expectations; the support artists get from their peers- or something else entirely. I have never visited L.A. but am compelled to next year: the music coming from here is among the most exciting and varied you will witness. I am not sure what is creating this trend and sway but it is great to investigate the music of L.A. and the U.S. – every week some stunning and fascinating act is coming through. When you are embarking on an E.P. it is crucial you make an impression right from the off. I have heard too many bands and artists come out with E.P.s that are so slight and forgettable it is disappointing and heartbreaking to hear. It costs a lot to create an E.P.- from the studio costs to the musicians- so you have got to ensure your finished product is as sharp and exceptional as it possibly is. Maybe musicians are giving it their all but I find there is still too much vague and unimpressive sounds coming out- a general fatigue and lack of inspiration and ambition. When an act does get it right- and creates something that is scintillating and memorable- it gives the listener a lot of hope and thought. This brings me to my featured act DreamVacation who compel you with their name alone:
“DreamVacation’s stunning new self-titled EP sweeps you away with a brooding melodic power and hard-edged yet atmospheric guitars behind lead singer Ray Silva’s emotional vocals. The EP was produced by John Rausch, engineer and track architect for such powerhouses as Taylor Swift, Pink, Florence and the Machine, Foxes and Birdie. DreamVacation’s stellar lineup includes Gerry Matthews on bass and backing vocals, Morgan Terrinoni on guitar, and Noah Alexander on drums. The band members previously supported live acts such as Foster the People, Airborne Toxic Event, The War On Drugs and Matt & Kim. The EP was written at a rehearsal space in downtown LA, and recorded in Kingsize Soundlabs in Eagle Rock. “LA is such a juxtaposition of opposing landscapes,” says Ray Silva. “One minute your rolling through a really upscale area and the next you find yourself on 6th Ave passing the inner city refugee camps of the homeless.” The band members’ personal stories over the last three years have been equally up and down. They’ve endured breakups, living out of rehearsal spaces or cars, marriages falling apart, and family deaths. But they learned to write as a group, and that forged songs such as “Window Room,” “Press Play,” and “End of Time”.
The L.A. group has made impressive strides this year. Their music has been featured on T.V. shows and they have worked with some fantastic producers- gaining a great reputation and a lot of new fans. Their social media numbers are rising but I find they have a lot more ground to conquer. DreamVacation are a relatively unknown quantity in the U.K. so it would be great to see them get more support here- and perform at some of our best venues. I mention this because the U.K. does not have many acts like DreamVacation at all. The band has gone through some turbulent times and has managed to funnel the highs and lows into music that goes straight to heart and elicits dreamy scenes and vivid imagery. It has been a busy and productive year for the guys so let’s hope the following year provides them with a lot more success and possibility. If they manage to get to the U.K. it would be wonderful to see them in London. The self-titled E.P. is not just dream-laden landscape and introspection: there is plenty of drama and emotion; rich compositions that inspire passion and smile- rounded sounds that compel your mind to imagine and conspire. As Christmas is fully upon us it is worth retreating into music that does something rather special and distracts you from that nauseating and overly-gleeful sound. DreamVacation are embarking upon their first steps but have already made big impressions so far. It is not surprising to see a band with so much confidence and originality gain respect and acclaim- let’s hope this continues into 2016. Their self-titled E.P. is a three-track collection that shows a lot of heart and beauty; something every listener will be able to relate to.
The L.A. band plays Shoegaze/Alternative sounds that have very few comparisons. If you are looking for any comparable acts, then it might be quite challenging. The new band is an act that is starting out so it is also hard to compare their new sounds with old. The best thing you can do is embrace the new music on its own merit and think where the band could head from here. Being such a unique and distinct band, it is going to be fascinating to see whether they vary their sounds or offer something new (when it comes to future E.P.s). Having few direct comparisons, I can see the L.A. band coming out with another similar E.P. (to their self-titled debut) and continuing their fascinating charge.
Keen to see what the band’s E.P. would produce, the opening track Window Room is a tender and impassioned track that begins on subtle and atmospheric foundations. Sparse notes melt with handclasp to create something that contrasts urgency with dreaminess and relaxation. Our hero comes to the microphone and presents some vivid images and stark emotions. With skin being pulled back; blood id drawn. Whether insights into a troubled mind or a representation of a breaking love; there is a bold and troubling series of words that come from our man. With his voice haunted and firm, you wonder just what inspires the song. A heroine/hero watches him through “the open door”; perhaps he is attesting a relationship or a lover- maybe an argument or debate has raged; a tough time in their bond. Things are quite oblique and emotive in the early stages making it hard to dig to any clear truths. The song brilliantly compels myriad themes and ideas. Our hero is stepping outside himself some more; laying down his soul is being laid out on the line. The composition builds from tender and slight strings before exploding into something intense and drama-filled. Backing the seriousness and heartache of the lyrics; the band whip-up a wonderfully evocative and passionate coda that augments those emotions and takes the song in a new direction. After the band combine in this moment; build up the atmosphere and take the song to its sonic peak- our hero returns to the microphone. The lyrics remain oblique and detached soon. Our man moves to the sound of his heroine’s voice; caught in a boring love and a conundrum, you can sense something anxious and unsettling come through in the vocal. Whilst the composition sees fiery and tight strings fuse with sturdy and impassioned percussion- held together and firm by the bass- our hero’s voice has a strange romantic edge to it; a swooning and gliding tone that adds some heart and lightness to the lyrics. It appears a relationship is still going but the bond between the two is starting to break. This view that “ain’t the truth” is deceiving and confusing. Maybe things are not as ideal and special as they once were; perhaps they are just going through the motions- perhaps deeper and more personal doubts are in mind. Lyrics concerning mortality and death are brought in; some rather stark sentiments come into the track creating something quite haunted and wracked. It is not sure what has inspired this song and whether our hero is in a better place. Window Room is a track whose truth is perhaps only known to the band itself. From listening to the opening verses I was torn between issues of love and personal investigation. It appears a great deal of tension is being assessed; our man’s mind and head is in a worrying place- that need for escape and answers. As “my body falls apart” you cannot help but feel that surrender and lack of hope. Maybe he needs a pure love to revive him; wasted words are being traded- our man is sacrificing a lot himself and desires something of a saviour. As the song progresses- and our hero implores a girl to lay here for real- you feel like things might work out; perhaps there is going to be hope. The beauty of the song is those contradictions and possibilities. Early on you get ideas of shattered love and a dislocation. As the song progresses there seems to be that desire to find and embrace passion- just lay alongside a heroine and drift away. I am not sure whether personal events have compelled the song- or whether it is something fictional- but you cannot ignore that urgency and performance from DreamVacation. One of the most impressive aspects of the song is the composition which continues to grow and develop; it goes through motions and moments- creating something quite beautiful. The composition reminds me of Wild Beasts- the terrific and legendary U.K. act- and the sound they play. Part-dreamy, part-emotive there is so many colours and layers built into the instrumentation. A fantastic way to kick off the E.P.; Window Room is a wonderful insight into the L.A. band and what the E.P. will provide.
Press Play is the E.P.’s most stunning moment (in my mind) in no small part because of its introduction. Again you get those slight and sparse strings; there is an echo and ghostliness to them that really gets inside the mind. Starting things off with a haunting and emotive sound; you wonder what is coming next and just where the song will lead. The band provide their most rounded and deep composition; from the very first stages it ducks and dives; mutates and evolves- summoning so much emotion and possibility. From that hollow and spectral start, the instruments build and combine- leading to something hugely atmospheric and dream-like. The E.P.’s longest track; Press Play boasts a wonderful introduction that stretches and journeys far. Constantly revolving and driving, you get caught in the magic of the thing; the way it keeps on growing and grabbing- huge evocation and promise is built before a single note is sung. When our man does come to the microphone, his voice is firmer than before; less haunted perhaps. It seems like a love is breaking down once more- or there is some dispute and disconnection- as the images provoke your mind to go there. Whilst our hero is cast into the freezing rain, it seems like he is being ostracised and pushed away. Maybe his intentions are pure and he is being open- and is suffering as a result- but it is another song whose meanings and clarity may only be known to the band. What is most impressive about the song is the vocal and composition. The former has a rich and sonorous tone to it- without being too heavy- reminding me of Jim Morrison in places. The composition continues to engage and sparkle; lovely little touches and moments are brought together to create a wonderful rich and emotive harmony. What I would say to the band here- and is an issue on the E.P. – is the vocal is mixed too low in the song. The clarity suffers and it is hard to understand what lyrics are being sung. Perhaps composition is being ranked ahead of the vocal but it does cause a lot of the song to be lost in translation- you can only really pick out the odd word here and there. That said; Press Play is a triumph or mood and performance over clarity and decipherability. The title compels images of stop-start. Perhaps the love has frozen and stalled somewhat- the two might be growing distant and drifting- but by pressing play you can reignite that spark and get things back on track. Images of doom and struggle are juxtaposed against hopefulness and making time- there is a lot of personal anxiety being explored in the song. The band is at their tightest and most compelling here. That composition keeps building and changing; always utterly insistent and emotive. Allowing the vocal to really shine- our hero climbs into a wordless falsetto- it is the perfect blend of their talents and voices; something that leads to near-transcendent promise. Towards the end you see our man wander into empty space; somewhere his girl used to be perhaps things have taken a sour turn- it may not be possible to rekindle the flame and get things back. The raw emotion of the vocals draws you into things and makes you root for the man. Maybe the song is that need to rewind and recapture what is being lost; get that love back and the happiness- things as they are not causing a lot of haunt and upset. It is perhaps worth noting how intense the vocal gets towards the final stages: a howling and ecstatic outpouring that takes you by surprise. A stunning moment from the L.A. band; Press Play is a hard track to forget.
End of Time is another slow-building and moody introduction that builds as time ticks. An eerie electronic sound is matched with the occasional electric guitar note that melts wonderfully. The song develops a bouncing and emotional kick that once again brings me to thoughts of Wild Beasts. Lighter and more accessible than previous numbers, the song has a slight sense of optimism and hope to the beginnings. More radiant and sprite than before; that power and panache comes through strong. When our hero comes to the microphone he is looking across the distant and divide- staring into a million eyes- and casting his mind out. Maybe reflecting on things or reaching deep inside; he is searching his soul and at his most tender. That vocal soundtracks a love and affection that is very important. “I’ll still care for you” claims our man; he has a passion for a girl that is deep in his mind. Wanting her to be there with him, you can feel that intensity and need. Drawing his girl back into the world, you begin to wonder what the origins of this song are. That necessity to spend more time (and have more time) is clear; perhaps opportunities have been wasted and needless moments have been wasted- our hero wants to recapture some of the past and make up for lost time. Letting his voice emote and stretch, you become captivated by the honest and purity that is being expounded. The band combines in one of their most rapturous and explosive compositions- that properly and nobly back the song’s plight and ideals. Twanging strings and sturdy bass; tender percussion all unite to elicit something quite tingling and impassioned. A song that never wastes time itself- always busy and fascinated throughout- there are “bright lights” and satellites; the idea to settle down and be together- maybe the two lovers have different intentions and goals in life. The vocals are lyrics are clear and more decipherable than previous tracks making it easier to appreciate and understand what is being said. With that said, there is obliqueness and mystery lingering at the heart of matters. The band are a little cagey when it comes to full disclosure; never really revealing too much of themselves- leaving the listener to piece things together and interpret things their own way. With End of Time being such a stunning and sparkling work; you find yourself powerless to resist the weight of that composition- the raw urgency of the vocals and the emotions being explored.
Congratulations must go to the L.A. band who has crafted an assured and constant E.P. DreamVacation is a trio of songs that has a unique identity and a lot to say. The band have honed a very particular sound and model- that ranks them as one of the most distinct in music- which is something you do not find a lot. Reminding me of early-days Wild Beasts- not sure if the L.A. group have heard them- you get plenty of emotion, depth and atmosphere. From dreamy and haunted moments you get explosions of sound and vocals- colours burst and emotions sizzle. The percussion is notable for creating a huge backbone and leadership. The ticking and beating heartbeat of the record; it is a sound and sensation that provides the most urgent and pulsating moments. Impressively restrained- it never needlessly gets too heavy- you get a hell of a lot of depth and nuance; an authorities sound from a stunning percussionist. The bass guides proceedings and keeps things leveled and tight. With so many emotions and ideas being explored, you need a bass part that keeps all the strands held together- and ensures every sight and lyric is given appropriate energy. Plenty of melody and rhythm comes through; acres of command and authority- making sure DreamVacation is an E.P. that remains controlled and firm. Throw in the guitars which are at the heart of everything; they give the record its colour and life; the passion and soul- so many ideas and contrasts are brought in. It is amazing how much depth and innovation comes out in the guitars; there are some fantastic riffs and beautiful notes- giving the music such a rich and stunning sound. Our hero’s voice ranges between emotionally cracked and disarmingly passionate. Few vocalists have such an original voice- again you can’t compare it with anyone else- that is backed by the stunning musicianship and tight performances. Eliciting cinematic drama and dreamy introspection; you have a vocalist that leads the song with terrific lust, sensitivity and heart. The only minor drawback is the decipherability and lack of clarity. Sometimes the vocal gets buried in the composition making it tricky to understand the lyrics. It only affects about a third of the E.P. but it would be nice to hear the composition mixed a little lower- so there is more balance and get that vocal singing loud and clear. Toss away that slight missive and you have an E.P. with stunning production values and a lot of nuance. One of the most bracing and atmospheric things I have heard in a long time; DreamVacation is a stunning statement from a band that are doing their own thing- that should inspire other acts to follow their lead.
Having listened to DreamVacation’s debut E.P. it shows a band with a bright future and a very original voice. There are few acts emerging that sound as distinct and hungry as the L.A. group- every note and moment resonates with a very special passion. Across the trio of tracks you get introduced to some very vivid scenes and emotions; your mind is taken away and seduced- every listener will comes away with a different experience. Before taking things to a close it is worth mentioning L.A. music and E.P.s in general- and what is to come across the following year. The U.S.A. has been very busy this year and given the music world some of the best and most spectacular music of 2015. I love the British acts at the moment yet I find our U.S. counterparts have a little more verve and originality- music that is more ambitious and far-reaching. I have tried to speculate the reasons behind this, but perhaps there isn’t a particular one- it is just the way things are at the moment. Whilst New York bands and acts fascinated me earlier in the year, it is L.A. that has been making a charge towards the end of the year. This past few weeks has seen a lot of great Los Angeles acts come to my attention- each one has a distinct sound and projection. Critics and media in the U.K. only really assess L.A. acts rarely; they tend to focus more on the homegrown acts and what is coming through here. There is so much hungry and originality coming from the city (and state) we should be spending more time over there- really embracing what is happening right now. DreamVacation have shown how important it is to make big strides when you put down your very first sounds. If you create an E.P. or album that does not hit you upon first listen it is unlikely listeners will return again to see if there’s anything they have missed. Most bands and acts take this as an invitation to play very heavy and unsubtle sounds- essentially inject as much power into the mix as they can. Even if you are a Rock/Alternative band, you can do something wonderful and memorable without creating needless pummel and noise. Subtlety and intelligence go a long way in music- commodities that are not often traded and promoted- and is something to think about. DreamVacation have created a sturdy and impressive E.P. that hints at what their future could hold. Not going in with five or six tracks- they have managed to elicit huge amount of beauty from a trio of tracks. It is clear a lot of thought and detail has gone into the music; the boys have not simply rushed a release to get their names out there. An E.P. is a statement of your music and sound; something that should sell you to the public- for that reason, you need to come up with something that does you justice. DreamVacation’s self-titled cut is a great insight into a young band that has a lot more to say. As stunning as the E.P. is you feel their best and finest moments are still ahead of them. Few bands play the type of music DreamVacation play. Forsaking the necessity to go in hard and rushing; the band take things down and offer something more contemplative, emotive and honest. Each member has gone through a turbulent and fractious year- this has not come at the expense of musical excellence and focus. Instead, the band has channeled their strains and upheaval into something cathartic and emotionally bare. The following year will be quite an interesting one for music and what is emerging. A few acts have shown they are going to be names to behold; it is always challenging focusing on the very finest out there- hard to say just who is going to be in the mindset into 2016. I am confident in saying DreamVacation will be creating quite a buzz next year and building on this early promise. Whether they decide to release another or E.P. we can only speculate yet they should be congratulated on their progress and achievements thus far. L.A. is a contrast of neighbourhoods, landscapes and scenery. From moment to moment you can witness something vastly different; it has such a variation and diversity it is perhaps compelling musicians to write and create sounds. The big cities have that cosmopolitanism and ability to really inspire musicians into action- try to capture the magic their city creates. DreamVacation want to present music that promotes kindness and a new way of thinking; does something wonderful and gets the listener thinking more clearly and widely. When listening to the E.P. you will certainly be engrossed by the colours, contrasts and atmospherics- ranging from jagged and raw to deliriously escapist. Dive into DreamVacation and an E.P. that compels and stuns the imagination. A band to be taken very seriously; make sure you surrender to the beauty of…
ONE of L.A.’s very finest new acts.