Hailing from the District of Columbia and finding a large fan base over the last five or so years, Alcian Blue displays a penchant for shoegaze that is normally associated with bands “across the pond.” A mixture of progressive rock and shoegaze ala Slowdive, they produce dreamy moments of psychedelic bliss behind walls of sound and flittering vocals. Fall Behind boasts a prior line-up of the band, which reformed in 2006 with the loss of their drummer among other changes. Released in 2005, this EP portends glorious success on their forthcoming full-length on Elephant Stone Records.
Fall Behind begins with the title track. It has the feel of nu-gaze (third wave shoegaze, or whatever people are calling it these days). They have a straightforward drumbeat that is aggressive, but not too aggressive. As the song progresses, there are moments when the drums are changed up, giving a slightly random feel to the tempo. The vocals are embedded ala My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, or Airiel. They create a world of sonic pleasure that is brilliant and huge. My only criticism is they do sound a lot like many other shoegaze bands. That said, they are obviously talented and I can’t wait till they find their own voice, which I suspect will break through on their new full length. “A Strange Day” is a cover of a Cure song, with a shoegaze twist. This song is a brilliant take on an old favorite and a proper tribute to The Cure.
“Fall Behind” makes another appearance in the form of the demo version. The guitars are much more angry at the outset and shimmer and grind to make a wall of sound. The vocals are even set farther back in the mix, which makes them almost not audible. “Darkest Days” begins with a trip-hop beat and a swelling roar. The keys and bass are brought into the mix and add an 80’s vibe to the song while Cure inspired guitar plays in the background. The vocals are low and set deep within the mix. Of the four tracks on this EP, I think this one brings a unique voice to this band’s style. It’s brilliant in all its parts and, I hope, this is the direction they are going with their sound. The programming on this track is exquisite and intricate. Eventually, the wall of fuzz comes into the mix, adding to the layers. This song must be a show stopper live, creating an atmosphere that mixes shoegaze and dance club mixes ala New Order.
Also included on the disc is a video for “Fall Behind.” A black and white video, the video paints a picture of being lost as picture of tall grass and woods float over guitars and shadows of the band. The floating images compliment the shoegaze feel and give the song an ethereal look. In a lot of ways, this video harkens back to the days when MTV actually discovered bands and had interesting artistic videos played here and there. For me, the music video has all but died, but this version one is aesthetically pleasing and visually reflects the movement, passion, and mood of the track.
This is a great EP that introduces the listener to one of the rare, US shoegaze bands. Playing walls of sound inside a melodic structure, Alcian Blue are on the rise and, as their sound develops, I look forward to see them grow into Shoegaze giants!