The second full-length release from The High Violets finds the band continuing to mine the ethereal territory of their impressive first record. A band not afraid to wear their inspirations on their sleeve, these are kids who, much to our benefit, got obsessed with My Bloody Valentine, Ride, and the Cocteau Twins and can’t let go of it. And by “it,” I don’t mean the things these marvelous bands did; rather that they seem to have felt that, somehow, this musical terrain craved more exploration.
In a certain sense, it’s not that people lost interest in shoegazer sounds as much as the bands themselves lost interest, in particular Kevin Shields. Personally, I listened to the entire Creation Records catalog over and over (and still do) and thought, “This is under-explored territory. Let’s keep going. Full speed ahead! Lash me to the mast and sail into the storm.” Then we waited. For a good long while. I began to think, “am I the only person on this planet who found these kinds of sounds intriguing and wanted more?”
The High Violets answer this question. Shoegazer fans, you are not alone. If the phrase, “To here knows when” rings a bell, you may want to check out the High Violets’ latest, titled To Where You Are. If this record were on a British label it would be 4AD. While, to my ears, their first release was more akin to Ride, this one sounds more Cocteau Twins (The dark undercurrents and dissonant noise are more subtle). If you liked either, (my fellow sad bastards), you may want to give this record a spin. This is not music that will grab you by the throat, rather it is elegant and seducing. Their live shows don't whack you in the face or force you to do anything. It beckons you to let go and bliss-out, and let the waves of bittersweet pop happily wash over you like the delightfully grey and drizzly weather of the High Violets’ hometown of Portland itself.
If you know Kaitlyn ni Donovan’s solo work on Hush Records then you know her voice is wonderfully agile and sexy. She's able to sound sultry or angelic, utilizing a vast range in terms of pitch as well as vocal colors. She writes sublime, entrancing music. There are other bands exploring, mining and, I hope, expanding this sonic terrain. A bunch of them are in the Pacific Northwest (Shoegazers Ball, PDX and Seattle). This band is one of them and they are not afraid for music to be subtle, melancholy and beautiful.
To the rock snob it may sound somehow too accessible. Don’t be fooled. There's more to this record than first meets the ear. To Where You Are is a subtle, thoughtfully crafted record that rewards repeated listening. This music isn’t for everyone, nor is it ground-breaking. But on the other hand, it’s highly listenable. And it leaves one hoping that this band continues to hone their craft and explore. And if you like any of the aforementioned bands or current artists such as Autolux, Experimental Aircraft or Voyager One, you should check this record out.