A389 Recordings switches it up a bit with "Dream Punx", the debut full-length outing from Portland, OR "shoegaze" act Anne. The nine-song, 31-minute album includes five new, unreleased songs (one of which is a re-recording) alongside remixed and remastered versions of the band's favorite tracks from their 2010 mixtape and demo recordings (which I've yet to hear at the time of this writing). As I've mentioned here a number of times in the past, I've never been particularly knowledgeable about the whole "shoegaze" thing, but when I encounter it done well my ears definitely seem to perk up. Anne's take on the niche of course presents the staples of fuzzy guitars and soft, distant singing loaded with reverberating effects, but occasionally accents the standards with surprisingly prominent washes of lush, droning synth melodies. I can't say I find "Dream Punx" to be the strongest album title in the world, and a song title like "Punk Bike" sort of rubs me the wrong way (though I can't decipher the lyrics, and it's actually a damn strong tune) in that both almost suggest something of a lighthearted or sarcastic attitude, but... trust me, nothing of the sort comes across in the music whatsoever. The only reason I'm even pointing this out is because, if you're like me and can have overly critical initial reactions to stuff like that, you should absolutely not allow such assumptions to turn you away from this material. It can get a little bit jangly and ever so slightly "poppy" here and there ("Perfect Teeth" definitely has some catchiness to it), neither of which is a bad thing, but as a whole Anne creates excellently somber, moody, slow-paced atmospheres that totally hit the spot. There's certainly a swirling "dreaminess" to the whole vibe, so I definitely get that aspect of it. Just expect a nice, chilled out ambiance, great songwriting... it's really, really good is the point I'm trying to make here. There have been a surprising number of incredibly solid bands exploring this style as of late, and I'm all for it. Longtime "shoegaze" fans that have more of a history with the genre should be way the fuck into this, too.
As usual, vinyl copies include digital download cards, and the LP's are pressed on black or marbled purple/white vinyl (which, from the photos I've seen, looks gorgeous alongside the album sleeve). Plus, mp3's are available for just $5.00 from the label, so why go anywhere else?