Little reviews of projects that stand out to me on first listen: pathetic attempts to try to describe sound.

Jessica Bailiff
Even in Silence
Some time near the start of December 2023 I was sifting through RYM forums discussing the 'women of shoegaze.' After reading posts (some of them rather horny) about staple female shoegaze band members such as Belinda Butcher of My Bloody Valentine and Rachel Goswell of Slowdive, I came across a post suggesting that a woman by the name of Jessica Bailiff should be included amongst the Mount Rushmore of genre.

By no means am I a 'shoegaze enthusiast.' I'm a casual at best. But considering how popular shoegaze has become over the past couple of years, I thought I had thoroughly explored the genre--it's considered one of the more narrow genres within the greater categorization of music. So hearing that there was, according to the poster, an essential shoegaze artist that I had never heard of, I decided to familiarize myself with this Jessica Bailiff.

She's incredible.

A little history according to her biography: Jessica had recorded and sent a demo to Kranky Records at the recommendation of Low's Alan Sparhawk in 1995. Although she got critical acclaim from outsider publications, such as The Wire, she never reached the level of mainstream success that other shoegaze artists/bands; like MBV, Slowdive, and Low did during the 90's. Much of her career in music consisted of collaborations more than solo work. She was involved in a multitude of different projects in the 2000's: Odd Nosdam, Flashpapr, Casino Versus Japan, and many others.

This album starts off with "Overcast", a very drone-heavy and hazy track that washes your ears with echoing guitars throughout it's 5 minute runtime. It's a very ambient track without any vocals, which set an environment in my head. Foggy, gray, arms-length render distance. The following track "Failing Yesterday" features Jessica's sort of soft vocals, backed by a textured guitar melodies and sparse drums. Her vocals are mixed in the track the way I like them to be in shoegaze songs: barely audible, incomprehensible without careful scrutiny. I also like it when vocalists drag out words in tandem with the instrumentals, which Jessica does on this particular track.

"Shine" is a much more dreamy track and is probably my favorite. Her vocals in this particular track are much clearer than they are in "Failing Yesterday", but they carry a sort of haunting tone over the subdued, harsh guitar haze backing them. The song also nicely transitions into the next, "Sunshower" (which is adequately titled).

It's par for course in terms of slowcore and shoegaze, but it's really good at being what it is. Previously my non-"Big Three" (MBV, Slowdive, Lush) shoegaze project favorite was Forsaken Autumn's "Whenere", but this Jessica Bailiff record might take the cake.

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Started listening to this album on a whim because I saw how highly praised it was. God this is incredible. It might be one of my favorite albums of all time.

It's nothing groundbreaking, but it's one of the most complete projects I've listened to. I'm not sure how to explain it. I'll be honest, it's usually a hassle to listen to entire album. I often find myself wanting to listen to something else halfway through and then switch to another project by another artist. But this one I listened the whole way through, no pauses.

Jesus, Etc. is easily my favorite song. It's just perfect. It's unexplainable how much it resonated with me, it just hit every beat and activated every neuron in my brain. It captures a certain nostalgic feeling. It's melancholic yet hopeful. Beautiful and sad. Thank God I found this album. I will listen to this for many years to come.

Brian Eno
My first foray into Brian Eno's music. Very calm, serene, and spacey. Really good reading music. I think I blasted through 40 pages of The Castle in under 2 hours, which is a miracle since it usually takes me 2 days to break 20.

Really beautiful soundscapes. Not familiar with ambient music from the 80's but it surprised me when I found out this was made in 1983. Apparently this was supposed to be a soundtrack for a film about the Apollo mission but most of the tracks on here didn't make the final cut.

Going to listen to a lot more Brian Eno now. Definitely added to the music reading playlist.

Mayo Thompson
Corky's Debt to his Father
One of the most unique and breathtaking albums I've ever stumbled across. This project was mentioned in a music podcast that I just started listening to, and good golly Miss Molly am I glad I took a listen.

Something about Mayo Thompson's voice is hypnotic and sort of charming in a way. The folk instrumentation is something worth fawning over too. The lyrics are incredible too. A lot of artists are good at writing like they know how to write good lyrics. Mayo just writes good lyrics. Each verse is just authentically eccentric, no word is wasted.Give this a listen if you're into more avant-garde folk and unique singer-songwriter shit.