Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Review: A Shoreline Dream - Recollections of Memory (* * * *)

Music is a tough business, and the four member of A Shoreline Dream know it better than anyone. The band recorded, produced and released their debut album, Avoiding the Consequences, on their own, then formed a label to distribute the record while they toured incessantly to gain recognition. Singer/guitarist Ryan Policky even put his house on the line to keep the dream alive. Eventually, they were noticed by ambient/shoegaze artist Ulrich Schnauss, who promoted the band's work and later became a collaborator for their more recent material, including several tracks on Recollections of Memory, A Shoreline Dream's second full-length album scheduled for release on February 10th.

A Shoreline Dream have been described as 'Melodipsych Rockers,' and I guess that's as fitting a label as any. The band create slow-burning ambient rock with plenty of atmospheric guitar and vocal effects backed by a solid drum and bass rhythm section which seems to fight against the smooth outer layers of noise. Opener "Manhattan Beach" drowns Policky's hazy vocals into near-obscurity behind a wall of guitar fuzz and staccato drumming that sets the stage for the following nine tracks. The effect is a sort of dense, driving shoegaze rock that is equal parts beauty and brawn.

The slowly shifting arrangements and washed-out melodies have a unique, engaging quality to them that allow the music to work its way under your skin if you give it time.While much of 'Recollections' is cut from a similar pattern, there are some slight (and enjoyable) detours along the way. The instrumental "The Night Before" includes acoustic guitar for a much more organic feel while "The Missing" and "Seattle" contain heavier, direct rock moments that provide some clarity in the fuzz.

The band's production fits the feel of the record and they keep things tight and focused at just under 40 minutes, avoiding any excess or unwanted diversions. Recollections of Memory is a solid record all the way through and another step in the right direciton for A Shoreline Dream. While too abstract for a more mainstream crowd, fans of the ambient/shoegaze genre shouldn't pass this up.

Check out the band's MySpace page to hear a few tracks from the upcoming album.


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