ARTICLE: Phoenix New Times

October 25, 2018 | Ashley Naftule


10 Gateway Drugs Into the World of Captured Tracks

There are still record labels out there whose cosign means something, labels whose names on the spine of a record clue you in immediately to the kind of world they're trying to build, whose logos act as a stamp of approval. For indie rock lovers, Captured Tracks is just such a label.

The Brooklyn-based label have hit their "aluminum and tin" anniversary this year. In just 10 years, they've assembled an impressive roster of indie acts, ranging from couch-surfing crooner Mac DeMarco and the dreamy Technicolor pop of Wild Nothing to rampaging grunge-punks in Naomi Punk. They've also been killing it in the reissues game, resurrecting classic British DIY groups like The Wake and The Monochrome Set, bringing cassette kingpin Martin Newell's entire discography back into print, re-releasing New Zealand jangle-pop classics from Flying Nun Records, and even putting out deluxe box sets for groups like Nebraskan post-punks For Against.

To celebrate their big 1-0, the label is doing an anniversary tour. Three of their up-and-coming acts are on the road and coming to Phoenix on Friday, October 26: singer-songwriter Lina Tullgren; warped art-rockers Drahla; and "guitarless guitar music" Auckland band Wax Chattels. They represent the label's future, so we thought it'd be fun to look back at Captured Tracks' past and highlight their "top 10." If you're looking for an introduction into the sprawling Captured Tracks discography, these 10 artists are a great place to start.

Speaking of shoegaze: You can't get much more introverted and gaze-y than the gentle dream pop of deardarkhead. A group of Anglophile rockers from New Jersey, they took their name from an Irish-language poem called “Cean Dubh Dilis” by Sir Samuel Ferguson. Captured Tracks put out a comp of their early work called Oceanside: 1991-1993 which chronicles the band's evolution from moody, Cure-esque post-punk copycats to a sound that's more lush and dreamy. While so many U.S. shoegaze groups tried (and failed) to beat My Bloody Valentine and Ride at their own game by going loud, deardarkhead eschewed tinnitus-guitars for the kind of dreamier, softer dynamic sounds that Slowdive and The Pale Saints were putting out. It’s music that wafts in and out of your ears like smoke: twisting, languorous, and ethereal.

Read the full article here:

INTERVIEW: 2/12/17 Somewherecold

February 12, 2017 | Jason Lamoreaux

Deardarkhead is a New Jersey based band which consists of Kevin Harrington (Guitar), Robert Weiss (Drums), and Kevin McCauley (Bass). The band been active since 1988 and has six releases over that period of time. 2016 saw their first new release since 1998, Strange Weather, and it is a triumphant return, demonstrating that the band has lost none of its chops. Deardarkheadanswered my various questions including those about the history of the band, their new album, and what gear they currently use.

Hello Members of Deardarkhead. Could you please introduce yourselves to our readers and let us know what each of you do in the band?

Kevin McCauley: Bass guitar and newest member of deardarkhead.

Kevin Harrington: Hello, this is Kevin Harrington, and I’m the guitarist for Deardarkhead.

Robert Weiss: I’m the drummer and founder of deardarkhead.

So, how did each of you get started in music and were there other bands you were in prior to Deardarkhead and, perhaps, during the years of this current band?

Kevin McCauley: A friend of mine had a second drum set and since I always wanted to play percussion, he agreed to let me have it for several months. Fast forward more than a few years and another friend started giving me acoustic and electric guitar lessons. At the same time, the cover band he started with his wife needed a bass player. So I borrowed his Fender Precision bass and began learning the 40 plus songs that they covered. Shortly thereafter, I saw an advertisement from Deardarkhead looking for a new bassist so I begged and pleaded until they graciously accepted me into the world of deardarkhead.

Kevin Harrington: I got my first guitar for my thirteenth birthday and I had the normal lessons for a year or so. I jammed with other friends during high school just like everyone else does. It was never anything serious, just having fun. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I actually started taking it seriously and started developing my guitar sound and style. I never played in any real bands until I met up with DDH and I haven’t since joining DDH mostly due to contractual obligations and limitations, just kidding.

Robert Weiss: I’ve been playing drums since I was in grade school, but didn’t start playing in a band until my first year of college. My original group was called Aslan’s Pride, which only lasted for about a year around 1987-1988. We were quite U2-esque. DDH arose from the ashes of that group, at which point I started writing songs and got a 4-track cassette recorder. That really helped me to develop my ideas much more fully.

Since Deardarkhead has been a band since 1988, can you talk a bit about the history of the band and how you’ve seen your approach to writing and recording change over the period, especially considering the change in technology?

Kevin Harrington: I’ll leave the history aspect to Rob. We’ve always had great writers in the band, so we’ve been very lucky. There was never a shortage of great musical ideas swirling around for us to explore. Everyone contributed which made the writing process seem quite fast and easy. We’ve always worked in a very structured way, so at this point I feel that we kind of know when things are or aren’t working. I think my approach to writing has been relatively consistent over the years. Now with the help of some computer recording programs, writing has gotten much easier to do alone. At this point, us getting together happens a lot less frequently, so we have to make those rehearsals worthwhile.  Developing ideas with the help of some recording programs allows us to really expand on ideas and developing them into more finished ideas before driving the rest of the band crazy with every little idea or change. As far as recording goes, be prepared and be ready to go when you get in the studio.

Robert Weiss: Ok since our history is fairly long, I’m going to be super lazy and copy and paste the facts from another interview:

I started the band in 1988. The first lineup was with Kurt Douglass (guitar), Blakely Parent (guitar & vocals), Josh Minor (bass) and myself (drums). We recorded a 7 song demo tape called Greetings From The Infernal Village, which we did by ourselves on a 4 track cassette recorder. Soon after that around 1990, Josh left and Michael Amper joined the band as our vocalist, he also played keyboard and guitar. Blakely moved over to bass at that point and we released a 4 song tape Spiral Down and Vibrate in 1991 and then a 4 song cd Melt Away Too Soon in 1992. Kurt left after that in 1992 with Kevin Harrington replacing him as the guitarist. We then released the Ultraviolet cd in 1993 and Blakely left in 1994. After that we became a three piece with Mike on vocals & bass, Kevin on guitar and myself on drums. We next released Unlock the Valves of Feeling in 1998. Mike then left the group at the end of 2009 leaving the future of DDH uncertain. Luckily Kevin McCauley came on board as our bassist during the fall of 2010 and we have been playing as an instrumental three piece ever since.

As for recording, the technology has changed over the years so we’ve used many different methods in the studio, both analog and digital. At the end of the day we always just try to be well prepared and do things in as few takes as possible. What you hear on the records is a pretty good representation of how we sound live.

There were 18 years between albums and the new album is markedly different not having a singer. Can you talk about why such a long gap and the decision to finally record a new album without vocals (a brilliant album by the way)?

Robert Weiss: The crazy thing is that we have never stopped playing since we started in 1988. We’ve had very stable lineups over the years, we just didn’t have any label interest. We released records in very small amounts on our own label, Fertile Crescent Records, when we could. Now there are a ton of bands in our vein, but back then we just did not fit in with the American scene at all. In general, we definitely identify more with British music, as that’s where most of our influences and favorite bands come from.

After our singer/bassist, Michael Amper, left in 2009 we searched for a replacement but had absolutely no luck in finding anyone we liked. Once Kevin McCauley joined us we just started working on material assuming that we’d find a vocalist. It never happened, so we focused on being solely instrumental. Even when we had a vocalist, we always played a few instrumental songs at most shows. It really was an organic transition. We just worked with what we had, trying to make the songs interesting and dynamic enough so that they would stand on their own. We’re glad you like the record! We’ve had some great reviews, so I guess people get what we are trying to do. As much as I love having a vocalist, being instrumental has been challenging and it was a change of pace for us.

I think most bands would have packed it in after all this time without being able to make a decent living from it, however we’re gluttons for punishment and we really do enjoy the creative process. There’s been an evolution of our sound over time and we wanted to make a record that reflected that, while still sounding like classic DDH.

Strange Weather is this album that just has so many wonderful phrasings and sonic choices. How did you approach writing the songs on this particular album and how did you approach the tones and sonics on it?

Kevin Harrington: Often Rob will present ideas that are halfway to three-quarters the way finished. At that point, I help to arrange or to put leads on top of what’s already there to help finish out the song. Sometimes that happens right away, sometimes it doesn’t. As far as guitar tones and sonics go, I’m surprised I’m not deaf yet. It takes a lot of fine tuning of all of the eq’s, distortions, effects, etc., during band rehearsals and working at home. I’m constantly tweaking sounds, always trying to make it better.

Robert Weiss: Other than the fact that it’s an all instrumental record I don’t think we approached Strange Weather any differently. We’ve always encouraged everyone in the band to present song ideas, so it really depends on who has a good one. Sometimes one person has an entire song written and we arrange it together, while adding our individual parts. Other times we jam on something at rehearsal and build it piece by piece. Currently I use Garageband to demo all my song ideas. I tend to layer a lot of multiple guitars to get the ballpark sound I am going for. After that I kick things over to the rest of the group and we refine it, changing and arranging things together till we are happy with it. Mr. Harrington spends a lot of time dialing in the effects, as that’s a huge part of our sound. Since he carries the melody of the songs he has to work a bit harder, so things don’t get boring from section to section.

I must ask. Were there any tracks that did not make it onto Strange Weather and will we get a chance to hear them at some point?

Robert Weiss: We had planned on recording a few more songs, but we were on a tight schedule. Hopefully we will record them for a future release. We did have two of the songs from Strange Weather remixed, which you can download for free over at the When The Sun Hits blog.

I usually like to ask bands about a few tracks on their latest album to get more specific details about writing and recording. Can you talk a bit about the writing, recording, and thought processes behind the opening track “Falling Upward” and the closer “Thinking Back”?

Kevin Harrington: “Falling Upward” came about very quickly. A few years ago, thanks to my girlfriend Dawn, I got a guitar for Christmas! This one was the Fender Squire Strat with the usb output. The first thing that came out of it was “Falling Upward”. I think I recorded all the parts over one weekend. The intro came later. To be precise, it was after having a few drinks and then listening to something off of MBV’s Loveless on the way home. I powered up the rig and out came the intro. There was some band development of course, but all in all, it fell into place quickly.

For the closer, “Thinking Back”, well that’s another story. That one started with the opening just like you hear on the recording, but the parts in the rest of the structure went through quite a development process lol! The song was probably three-quarters of the way finished when I had the brilliant idea to totally change the style of the song lol!!  Fortunately, Rob reeled me back in and we picked up where we left off. That was a close one. That’s why I trust Rob and his voice of reason, most of the time lol. I think I drove Rob and Kevin crazy on that one, but in the end, I’m very happy with it. 

Robert Weiss: Mr. Harrington had come up with demos for Falling Upward and Thinking Back, but when we were finally finished working on both of them as a band, it was pretty obvious they’d make great opening and closing tracks. I think they bookended the ep very nicely. Falling Upward sets the tone for the ep with its long building, atmospheric intro and Thinking Back resolves things sonically and emotionally like an exclamation point at the end of a sentence.

For our gearheads, what sort of equipment do you all use while recording and, if different, live? 

Kevin McCauley: For recording, Line 6 Bass Pod XT, Hartke amp and miked 4×10 cabinet, and a glorious 1970s Fender Jazz Bass found in a local yard sale by guitarist Kevin Harrington. Most of the time playing live, I use a Fender Jazz bass Mark Hoppus Signature model paired to the aforementioned rig.

Kevin Harrington: I’ve been using a DigiTech 2101 Artist rack unit as my processor since the mid 90’s until now. It goes thru a Rocktron Velocity 300 rack unit which I run in stereo to two 2×12 cabs with Celestion Seventy 80’s. The only pedal I use is a Morley Bad Horsie wah. The guitars I used on Strange Weather are my Squire Strat from the late 80’s, it has a Hot Rails in the bridge. My Les Paul Pro with Burst Bucker pickups and my 12 string Strat. This is my normal rig for everything I do. The guitars have changed over the years depending on what we’re playing. I like to rotate them from time to time for various reasons.

Robert Weiss: Live I use a 4 piece, Tama Granstar Custom drum kit (14” x 6” stainless steel snare, 13”x 9” mounted tom, 16” x 16”  floor tom, 16” x 22” bass drum), Paiste cymbals (3000 series 14” Sound Edge Hi-hats, 2002 series 22” Heavy Ride, 2002 series 18” Crash, 802 series Splash) and a 16” Custom Projection Zildjian Crash. For Strange Weather, I used a house kit at Miner Street Recordings with my snare and cymbals.

If you would Kevin, could you tell us how you get that dreamy tone like in “Ice Age”?

Kevin Harrington: Like all the songs on Strange Weather, except for “Falling Upward”, which has only one guitar part, I layered two guitar parts. One rhythm and one lead of course. I recorded each part twice, one panned left, one panned right. Generally I used lightly distorted, chorused, delayed and reverbed sounds for the rhythm tracks and more full blown versions for the lead tracks. The tremolo effect at the end of Ice Age was something we did in the studio.

As individual musicians, do you have artists or writers that you consider to be influences on how you write, approach, or generally think about music?

Kevin Harrington: Yes definitely, over the years there have been many influences, too many to mention. Sometimes the mood that a song evokes or the tempo or the effects on the guitar etc. There is so much great music of all styles out there, that it’s hard not to always be wanting to grab an element from a song or an artist or a style of music. With so much great music out there, the challenge of writing becomes greater.

Robert Weiss: I could talk about bands I like all day long, so on some level everything I hear is an influence. I am a music junkie and I’m always listening to a wide variety of music every day. I’d say initially, 4AD, Creation Records and Factory Records were huge influences on our sound. Those labels all had a certain aesthetic to their approach even though not all the bands sounded the same. The Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Church, the Cocteau Twins, the Jesus and Mary Chain, U2, The Police, and Joy Division were all big influences on me when we started out.

Thanks so much for doing this. I have one last question. What’s next for Deardarkhead?

Robert Weiss: Thank you for the interview! We just hope to be able to keep making music and putting out records that we like. The past few years have been extremely difficult for me personally, as I’ve been taking care of my mother who has Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s a terrible thing to see someone you love slip away every day. All I can say is use your time wisely while you are alive, do the things which bring you joy, and love the people who are important to you.

REVIEW: Strange Weather, Somewhere Cold

December 31, 2016 | Jason Lamoreaux


Deardarkhead is a shoegaze band made up of Kevin Harrington (guitar), Robert Weiss (drums), and Kevin McCauley (bass). They hail from Linwood, New Jersey and formed in 1988. Between their last album, Unlock the Valves of Feeling and Strange Weather, there is an 18-year silence. Thankfully, Deardarkhead has reemerged on Saint Marie Records joining a resurgence of shoegaze and dream-pop music. Strange Weather sees the band return as a trio, producing six pieces of ethereal, blissed out tunes. They deftly merge the best of post-punk and shoegaze to create addictive instrumental tracks.

“Falling Upward” sets the tone for Strange Weather and it begins with subdued, whirling drones and muffled guitars. Then the volume begins to rise and the drums and bass explode into the speakers. The guitar tones here are reminiscent of early post-punk music mixed with the best elements of shoegaze with glittering guitar tones and expressive melodies. “Sunshine Through the Rain” has a bright tone to it, with mid-tempo drums, driving bass, and jangly guitar. The hooks here are brilliant. They are the kind that get stuck in your head and having you humming along. Deardarkhead produce addictive music and it’s a wonderful mix of new musical elements and tones with dabs of post-punk nostalgia.

“Juxta Mare” is a fast tempo piece with racing high-hat that turns into a tom oriented beat. There are splashes of The Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen mixed with the wonders of early Lush here. Again, Deardarkhead’s output is deeply addictive and hypnotic. “March Hares” has a deep rumbling bass with this amazingly wonderful aggressive guitar hook playing over mid-tempo drums. This is a post-punk masterpiece right here, unapologetic and in your face. With only three elements to the band’s musical make-up, each one must be strong and Harrington, Weiss, and McCauley deliver on their various pieces. There is no weak link here.

“Ice Age” is another track filled with catchy riffs and perfectly phrased bass and drums. There is a sort of galloping beat with reverbed-out guitars that play off the animated bassline. If there is a stand-out piece on this album, for me it’s “Ice Age”, but that’s like picking among six solid tracks. “Thinking Back” begins with subtle guitar and a slower beat. The guitar work creates a hazy wall of sound with touches of fuzz. As “Thinking Back” builds, the guitars get bigger and louder with the percussion and bass becoming more and more syncopated and aggressive. A fantastic ending to the album.

Deardarkhead has made a striking comeback with Strange Weather. Blending post-punk and shoegaze elements, Strange Weather is a must have album for any discerning listener. Further, if you were a Deardarkhead fan before and were nervous about them lacking a lead singer, you shouldn’t be. The compositions are deep, full, and will certainly get you hooked.

EXCLUSIVE: When The Sun Hits, Free DDH Remix Download by Big Beautiful Bluebottle

Shoegaze pioneers deardarkhead started releasing music in 1988. Their career has spanned decades because they continually create music that is beautiful, timeless and compelling. The band represents the very best of both the classic and current shoegaze movements. 

This is the second exclusive remix deardarkhead plans to release for absolutely free via When The Sun Hits. The remix is by Big Beautiful Bluebottle, which is the duo of Ian Masters (Pale Saints/Spoonfed Hybrid/ESP Summer) and Terako Terao. The song is taken from the band's highly lauded Strange Weather LP, which was released in March 2016 by Saint Marie Records.

Download MP3 here.

EXCLUSIVE: When The Sun Hits, Free DDH Remix Download by RxGibbs

Shoegaze pioneers deardarkhead started releasing music in 1988. Their most recent release, the highly lauded Strange Weather, came out earlier this year via Saint Marie Records. Their career has spanned decades because they continually create music that is beautiful, timeless and compelling. The band represents the very best of both the classic and current shoegaze movements. 

RxGibbs’ remix of “Sunshine Through the Rain” is the first of several exclusive remixes deardarkhead plan to release (for absolutely free) via When The Sun Hits. The original songs are taken from Strange Weather and the exclusive remixes are done by true innovators in the field.

Download MP3 here.

REVIEW: Strange Weather, The Big Takeover

2016 | Elizabeth Klisiewicz

Atlantic City might seem like a strange home for shoegaze, but despite their EP title, there is nothing strange about Deardarkhead’s majestic, instrumental brand. They pull out all the stops on this madly whirling dervish, throwing down shimmering walls of feedback, then pulling back to dreamy textures to make you swoon. “Falling Upward” starts like old school Chameleons before jacking up the energy to 11; “Ice Age” has cool bass and percussion lines that skitter along in the best post punk tradition, and its companion, “Juxta Mare,” skids more toward classic shoegaze; “March Hares” sounds massive with booming drums and guitar that reminds me of “She Sells Sanctuary”-era Cult; “Thinking Back” is a crowning achievement, with towering shards of blissed out guitar and thick bass. The entire ep slips by in a flash, leaving the listener wanting much more.

REVIEW: Strange Weather, Jersey Beat

June 16, 2016 | Joe Wawrzyniak

Beautifully moody and dynamic, with a stunning wealth of pungent brooding atmosphere and a wealth of tasty big meaty hooks, this six song album of all instrumental music manages to convey a remarkably expressive soundscape rife with crackling vitality and naked emotion despite the absence of any words or vocals. The tight and tuneful arrangements hit the bull's eye with bracing accuracy and aptitude: The cutting guitars slice away with remorseless precision, the teeming basslines provide lots of gutty undertow, and the powerful drums lay down a steady succession of massive steamrolling beats. An ideal album to get lost in whenever you need a break from the tiresome grind of basic everyday existence.

REVIEW: Strange Weather, Shore Local News

May 6, 2016 | Bob Portella

Deardarkhead’s Strange Weather 

South Jersey's deardarkhead have been toiling away in somewhat obscurity for what seems like decades...28 years to be exact. They play an atmospheric, instrumental rock style (self-described as "oceanic") that owes debt to British post-punk bands like The Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen and Cocteau Twins.The Linwood-based band, which formed in 1988, has had their fortunes change recently. A new deardarkhead record "Strange Weather" was released on March 25th on the Texas-based label Saint Marie Records. Reviews and response to Strange Weather have been very positive so far from many corners of the world. A previous compilation of their earlier material from the 1990’s was released in 2011 on the Brooklyn label Captured Tracks, home to popular indie rock artists such as Mac DeMarco and Beach Fossils. 

The recent resurgence and reunions of many similar-sounding bands, defined as “dream pop” or “shoegaze" (such as My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, and Lush) have helped lesser known, yet hard-working bands such as deardarkhead find a wider audience. “Unlike the well known bands from the original shoegaze scene, we’ve never stopped playing since we started and people are finally beginning to discover us. Although we have evolved over the years, we have tried to remain true to our sound while still being modern and not stuck in the past. We don’t make music for the masses, and given the sorry state of mainstream music today we wouldn’t want to,” says drummer and founding member Robert Weiss. 

The band also comprises guitarist Kevin Harrington who joined in 1992 and bassist Kevin McCauley who joined in 2010, replacing former bassist/vocalist Michael Amper. They remain an instrumental trio to this point,but would be willing to find a vocalist if one came along. “Losing your singer would be a major setback for most bands, but it has forced us to be more creative in our songwriting and we are very happy exploring our new direction; it would really have to be the right person,” says Weiss of the situation. 

For now, deardarkhead's power resides in Harrington's melodic,flowing effects-laden guitar lines and the sturdy rhythm section of Weiss and McCauley.Recording and production was done in Philadelphia's Miner Street studio, bringing out perhaps the finest sounding piece of music in the band's career. For now, who needs vocals? There is so much to take in and get lost in their epic, shimmering sound. Hopefully, deardarkhead's fortunes will continue "Falling Upward"-- as noted in the propulsive opening track-- proving that persistence does indeed pay off.

REVIEW: Strange Weather, The Vinyl District

May 4, 2016 | Joseph Neff

Record labels have long served a necessary if occasionally nefarious function, and predictions of their eventual obsolescence to the contrary, they remain very important in getting music into earholes and physical product into covetous mitts, and more to the point the appropriate audience; one of the advantages of the smaller independent sector is the ability to craft an identity that consumers will potentially return to again and again.

That’s the case with Saint Marie. If the indie business is still healthy the margin for error has certainly decreased in the digital era; too many missteps and an enterprise will probably find itself kaput. One smart maneuver is to embrace the longevity of substance over the ephemerality of style; Saint Marie has done so by signing up deardarkhead, an Atlantic City NJ-based combo active since 1988.

For the majority of their existence they featured the bass and voice of Michael Amper. Upon his exit in 2009 guitarist Kevin Harrington and drummer Robert Weiss chose not to cease operations until a full-on replacement was found, instead grabbing bassist Kevin McCauley and recording Strange Weather as an instrumental while continuing to seek a suitable vocalist.

Those wishing to absorb how deardarkhead sounded early are advised to investigate Oceanside: 1991-1993 compilation issued in 2011. They shouldn’t do so at the expense of the group’s latest however, as Strange Weather’s six tracks, at 25 minutes hovering in that gray zone betwixt EP and LP, offer fully-formed songs that tease the ears for a lengthier listen.

Oceanside was the second installment in Captured Tracks’ Shoegaze Archives, and while elements of the form can surely be detected here, the set also explores deardarkhead’s cited tendency toward post-punk with emphasis on catchiness, tightness, and drive throughout. The songs play to their instrumental strengths as incompleteness is pleasantly absent; nothing connects as being conceived with a singer in mind.

Combining crisp guitar and a tough Joy Div/ Cure-descended rhythmic foundation, the set’s opener “Falling Upward” avoids the mopey and gradually elevates to an energetic conclusion. “Sunshine Through the Rain” follows with an excursion into dream-popish territory as “Juxta Mare” provides a lively tempo to showcase Harrington’s axe.

“March Hares” begins side two to deliver the record its rousing standout, “Ice Age” is a deft blend of atmospherics and momentum and “Thinking Back” spreads out with rolling bass notes, sharp guitar tones and drum kit gallop to bestow Strange Weather a sturdy finale. Harnessing a sustained, fertile environment, the album’s main sticking point is its relative shortness.


REVIEW: Strange Weather, Tuning Into The Obscure

May 3, 2016 | Tuning Into The Obscure

A rare reemergence of a band that’s been around since 1988! Leaning on post rock and shoegaze mainly, I can also pick up hints of new wave, psyche and electro-rock. This album is made up entirely of instrumentals, a first out of my pile of albums from this label thus far. Think Ozric Tentacles meets the Cure with dashes of psyche and a lot more shoegaze…this is what you’d get.  And really, it’s pretty good. Certainly a surprise. (4.7 out of 5)

REVIEW: Strange Weather, Music For Lunch/Get It On Vinyl

April 30, 2016 | Deann S.

The beginning for deardarkhead was in 1988 while the true beginning and origin of the band name came in 1867. Post-punk-shoegaze-dream rockers, deardarkhead, derived their band name from an old Irish poem by Sir Samuel Ferguson about a beautiful woman with jet black locks called “Cean Dubh Dilis”. The trio hails from New Jersey with current band members Kevin Harrington, Robert Weiss and Kevin McCauley who joined after Michael Amper, member of over 10 years, left. This turnover in band members inspired an interesting alteration to deardarkhead’s sound: lack of vocals until the right voice is found. The latest EP, Strange Weather, features six thickly layered, high energy instrumental tracks that make up for the lack of vocals with quality instrumentals and stunning song structure.

Within the lack of vocals, the mind is free to wander, wonder and contemplate the only text associated with the record, the EP title (Strange Weather) and the track titles. It opens subtly with “Falling Upward”, creeping into your consciousness, sounding as if coming from far away, rapidly moving closer. It is here the sonic journey that is Strange Weather, begins and deardarkhead’s journey into the 21st Century. Strange Weather is the first record from deardarkhead since the 90’s and it’s clear the group has found their place here in this new century.

Following “Falling Upward” is the bright and uplifting track, “Sunshine Through the Rain.” The sound captures the spectacle of sunlight bursting through streams of rain, the confusion in our mind as both warm sunlight and cool drops of rain simultaneously contact our skin. Herein lies the beauty of deardarkhead sans, vocals: they are forced to more deeply create and conceptualize their music. And despite their current instrument-only state, the trio is still able to create music with such diversity in tempo, sound and overall mood, coloring their six-track EP in stark and vivid shades.

The B side begins with a bang with “March Hares”, a catchy track with an infectious hook and more than memorable melody. The lead guitar really shines through on this piece and the following track, “Ice Age”, dually acting as the lead vocals. The EP finishes out with the contemplative, “Thinking Back”, which reflects perfectly upon the rest of the album and brilliantly leads back to the opening cut, full circle.

Strange Weather is a triumphant work for deardarkhead and proof to them that they can create music that is equally as compelling, communicative and cutting edge without the work of the human voice. Strange Weather is out now on Saint Marie Records and can be purchased on iTunes and through Saint Marie.

REVIEW: Strange Weather, Wilfully Obscure

April 28, 2016 | Spavid

I don't often listen to instrumental rock, but when I do. I listen to Deardarkhead. Unlike most contingents in the Saint Marie stable, this trio isn't exactly oven fresh, as its first iteration had their antecedents back to the Bush-era (and I'm not referring to "W"). Minted in Atlantic City in 1988 Deardarkhead originally had a microphone fiend in their lineup, one Michael Amper, who commandeered the band through a series of demos and short-form releases before taking a break in the mid '90s, and resurfacing with their first full length in 1998. Another hiatus ensued, but when DDH resumed in 2009, Amper opted to excuse himself. In a nutshell, they carried on sans vocalist and emerged with a new EP this year, Strange Weather. Guitar slinger Kevin Harrington sounds like he's lived in the distortion pedals of Marty Wilson Piper, Billy Duffy (The Cult) and John Ashton (Psych Furs) as he doles out spindles of echoing lines that arpeggio and recoil into heady, robust swirls that always manage to make a smooth descent back to Earth.  "Juxta Mare" works the most magic for me, and though I'd be open for more variety on a DDH follow-up, Strange Weather's allure is downright invigorating.

REVIEW: Strange Weather, Collective Zine

April 20, 2016 | MH

Apparently this is "arctic shoegaze". That's what the email said that this came in on anyway. If I'd been a bit more alert I would've been aware of them by now as they have been around since 1988. I must've been half asleep when Captured Tracks put out a retrospective by them in 2012 too. So here I am I'm hearing them now for the first time in 2016 and what I'm hearing is something like upbeat rhythm-focused and melodic instrumental shoegaze with a fairly clean production. I like it - the guitar sound fits in great with stuff like Diiv - there's even guitar lines that sound like The Cure gone upbeat. At six tracks long I'm keen to hear more.

God Is In The TV Zine Premieres "Ice Age" video

April 8, 2016 | Bill Cummings


"Majestic grandeur from New Jersey post-gaze band deardarkhead in the shape of the premiere for their video ‘Ice Age‘ lifted from their new album ‘Strange Weather’ out now on Saint Marie records. ‘Ice Age’ carefully balances the sensuous baselines, clattering drums and shimmering guitar lines into a cinematic wistful, melancholic instrumental that’s carved from the same frozen terrain as cuts of yore from Ride and Mogwai, it is sure to haunt and beguile every listener. Watch the video below here, hold tight:"

“deardarkhead started all the way back in 1988, Captured Tracks put out a retrospective of their early work in 2012, and the band’s still going strong today, making dreamy melodic music that fills the spaces in your head. 2016 sees the release of Strange Weather, When their longtime singer left in 2009 they decided to continue as an instrumental act. These New Jersey shoegazers practice a kind of sonic ju-jitsu, turning their perceived weakness into a strength. With only the titles to guide us, an incomplete road map, there’s more room here for the listener to get lost in what’s happening, to create their own meaning. deardarkhead make cinematic music, and in this movie the listener is the star.”

REVIEW: Strange Weather, Bloodbuzzed

April 3, 2016 | Raül Jiménez

A very very late finding, I admit. Formed in 1988, the veteran New Jersey band consisted of guitarist Kevin Harrington, drummer Robert Weiss, and bassist/singer Michael Amper, who recorded, under their own label Fertile Crescent, two initial tapes, the mini-album 'Greetings from the Infernal Village' in 1988, and the EP 'Spiral Down and Vibrate', in 1991, followed by EPs 'Melt Away Too Soon' in 1992 and 'Ultraviolet' a year later. In what can be considered a first long hiatus, the group didn't come back to action until 1998, when first LP 'Unlock the Valves of Feeling' appeared, vanishing again throughout the 2000s and somewhat reforming as an instrumental trio after the departure of Amper in 2009, with new bassist Kevin McCauley joining in 2010. In 2012 Captured Tracks compiled the group's three EPs in the album 'Oceanside: 1991-1993', second installment of the label's Shoegaze Archives series, pushing the momentum back for the band. And now the trio is back with their first proper release in nearly two decades, the instrumental EP 'Strange Weather', out via Saint Marie Records since this March. Kaleidoscopic, cinematic, moody and slightly psychedelic yet elegant, Deardarkhead are here to provide you the soundtrack of your emotions.

REVIEW: Strange Weather, The LookOut

March 30, 2016 | Tommy Leahy

Previously known as an established shoegazing act, New Jersey’s Deardarkhead made the decision to morph into an instrumental project following their lead vocalist’s departure. Unlike previously mentioned instrumental bands, Deardarkhead keeps things short, sweet, yet interesting. The loss of a frontman generated pressure for the trio to create atmospheres and soundscapes far more captivating than their previous works. Long story short: they pulled it off. Give Deardarkhead a try if you’re looking for vocal-free tunes that are not necessarily centered in long, build ups.

REVIEW: Strange Weather, Soundblab

March 24, 2016 | D R Pautsch

7 out of 10

Pop quiz, hot shot: You are a band who have existed for 22 years [sic]. You have supported some big acts, have a style that is a throwback to the late 80s, and have not released anything since 1993 [sic]. Your lead singer leaves. What do you do?

Well, in the case of deardarkhead, you don't do what most people would do and call it quits. You double down and release a six track instrumental only EP, while still claiming you haven't yet found the singer of your choice.

Now if you are not familiar with deardarkhead, their musical style is shoegaze. So imagine a shoegaze instrumental sound which leans towards that genre of dispute known as post-rock. If you can imagine than, then you are in the ballpark of Strange Weather their latest offering.

It's interesting to imagine these track with lyrics, would they work? Is the music too dense to support the lines that have been written? Have the lyrics actually been written. During the 25 minutes that Strange Weather swoons around you these thoughts and more swim to the surface.

From the slow build of opening track Falling Upward to the final notes of Thinking Back you are filled with jangly guitars, circular hooks and progressive melody that hints at where a chorus might be. The insistent guitars and music is best exemplified by March Hares. With a bass and drum section leading the way and propelling the guitars into a happy jangly pop song that screams to be used in a soundtrack somewhere, but almost feels a little hollow without lyrics. The songs work instrumentally but if they ever find a vocalist you could image this being re-released with vocals.

This is an intriguing album that jangles its way along merrily enough but doesn't quite enough to hook you fully.

REVIEW: Strange Weather, Raised By Gypsies

March 28, 2016 | Joshua Macala

There comes a time in every person's life- I believe- where they have to admit that music does not need vocals/words to be good. You can go all the way back to classical music if you really want to, but if you prefer to stay closer to the present then I suggest not looking any further than Deardarkhead's "Strange Weather", an EP full of instrumental numbers which are more powerful than a lot of songs with words I've heard before.

Of course I struggle to find a genre to put Deardarkhead in simply because they don't have vocals and I tend to feel like the singing style of someone can dictate where to put them if you, say, own a record store. For the most part, these songs are a throwback to earlier years but not too long ago- maybe the 1980's or early 1990's.   It's what I would call post-punk if I believed punk was dead, pulling influences in from Thursday (without the -core) and in their own way Deardarkhead even manages to sound a bit like an upbeat version of The Cure. 

Aside from the fact that you could think of any number of bands such as Modern English to compare this with- depending upon your own personal influences growing up- I think you just have to sit back and admire the pure musicianship of it all. The fourth song really begins to sing on its own, even without vocals, and that's something not many bands can or have ever been able to pull off. 

It should go without saying that the musical instruments are the stars of this EP (Well, the humans playing them technically) but if you don't feel these thunderous bass lines, infectious guitar riffs or just the all around stellar drum work on "Strange Weather" then you are really not listening to it properly. It's not like you have to find it hiding behind vocals about whatever-- it's all just right there, in your face (specifically your ears) and it's very easy for me to have this serve as a soundtrack to my life.

REVIEW: Strange Weather, AllMusic

March 25, 2016 | Paul Simpson

Active since the late '80s, New Jersey-based dream poppers Deardarkhead only have a handful of releases to their name, and merely one of them is a proper full-length. That album, Unlock the Valves of Feeling, appeared back in 1998; since then, the group's original bass player and vocalist Michael Amper departed from the group in 2009, and the band soldiered on as a vocal-free trio along with replacement bassist Kevin McCauley, who joined in 2010. Following Captured Tracks' 2011 anthology of the group's early-'90s EPs (Oceanside: 1991-1993), Strange Weather is Deardarkhead's first newly released material of the 21st century, and it reveals them as an impressive instrumental unit with no apparent need for useless, empty words. The EP is far more focused than one might expect of an instrumental EP from a band that formerly had a vocalist. The group's music has often had an urgency to it -- they've never been the type of shoegaze band to stick to hazy, stoned-sounding slow tempos -- and here they sound positively energized and vibrant. There's a bit of a post-punk, Cure-esque jangle to the guitars, but they don't drown them in effects. The melodies are clear and upfront, and strangely enough, it almost seems like the band has gained more of a pop sensibility since losing its vocalist. All of the tracks sound different, from the thundering toms of "March Hares" to the slightly heavier, more psychedelic guitar textures of "Thinking Back," so the songs all have distinct personalities rather than just sounding like variations on a similar groove. There's a tinge of wistfulness to the melodies, but overall they sound bright and summery. Deardarkhead are commendable for their preference of the EP format, as their releases usually don't wear out their welcome. Strange Weather feels like a fresh new start, even if it's been at least half a decade in the making.

3 1/2 stars out of 5

REVIEW: Strange Weather, The RingMaster Review

March 23, 2016 | Pete RingMaster

Rousingly fascinating is probably the best way to describe Strange Weather, the new EP from New Jersey trio deardarkhead, that and gloriously suggestive. Across six tracks as cinematic as they are emotionally intimate upon the imagination, band and release immerses the listener in its and their own sculpted exploits. The release is an anthem to the conjuring of bold imaginative adventures and a tapestry of creative virulence for ears to bask in.

The beginnings of deardarkhead go way back to 1988 since when the band has released five recordings on their own Fertile Crescent Records label with a retrospective of their early work additionally released in 2012 by Captured Tracks. Their distinctive fusion of post punk, indie rock, shoe gaze, and dream pop has been greedily devoured by an increasing many whilst their live presence has seen the band play with the likes of Supergrass, The Psychedelic Furs, Everclear and The Lilys amongst numerous other. Despite numerous compilation appearances, and that 2011 retrospective  Oceanside: 1991-1993 since last album Unlock the Valves of Feeling was released in 1998, you might say that deardarkhead have been a ‘forgotten’ treat by many; if so that is set to inescapably change with the release of Strange Weather.

Always luring inquiring interest with each release, the band has probably ignited the strongest intrigue with the new EP as it is their first without long time singer/bassist Michael Amper who left the band in 2009. His departure only seemed to ignite a hunger to explore their instrumental side as remaining members, guitarist Kevin Harrington and drummer Robert Weiss proceeded to move in that direction and perform instrumental shows after linking up with bassist Kevin McCauley the following year. The suggestion is that the band is looking for the right vocalist to bring in but on the evidence of Strange Weather, and its empowering potency, you wonder if it will be any loss not finding the right man.

From its first track Strange Weather has ears and emotions enthralled, the imagination just as swiftly ignited as Falling Upward emerges from chilling winds within a dank atmosphere. It is pulled from the wasteland by a nagging guitar, its sonic lure soon colluding with the resonating bait of the bass and crispy textured beats. With them comes a tenacious catchy resourcefulness which infectiously lines the post punk hook and bass groove which subsequently entwine and enslave ears. All the tracks to the EP spark ideas and mental imagery, ones sure to differ person to person, but a cold war like landscape is ours adventure for the opener no doubt helped by having recently watched Deutschland 83. There feels a cinematic kinship between the band’s sound and those visuals with every leap into the sonic tapestry of the song pushing the story along.

With a touch of Leitmotiv to it, the track is a riveting start, leaving ears and pleasure lively and ready to embrace the warmer jangle of Sunshine Through The Rain which follows. There is a calmer air altogether to the song, a melodic radiance which wears the scent of eighties indie pop yet contrasts it with a steely proposal from bass and hypnotic beats. Again captivation is a given to its My Bloody Valentine aired persuasion though it is soon outshone by the thrills and dramas of both Juxta Mare and March Hares. The first of the pair unveils a sultry atmosphere around a delicious melodic hook and bassline which would not feel out of play of a sixties/seventies TV spy thriller. Its lean but thick lure is the spring for an evocative weave of sonic enterprise and suggestive melodies, all courted by the dark shadows of bass and the persistently jabbing swings of Weiss.

As outstanding as it is, it too gets eclipsed by its successor, March Hares stealing the whole show. From the pulsating rhythms of Weiss to the snarling tone of McCauley’s bass, the track has ears and an already lustful appetite enslaved. Their irresistible bait is then entangled in bewitching tendrils of sonic imagination from Harrington; the song subsequently swinging along in the web of their united craft and invention to entice body and spirit further. In full stride, the track has a great feel of The Monochrome Set to it, indeed Harrington’s stringed adventure carries a touch of the English band’s guitarist Lester Square to it as a House of Love shimmer and Birdland like rowdiness add to the slavery.

Ice Age immerses the listener into chillier post punk climes next; its nippy atmosphere and almost bleak ambience tempered by the sonic elegance seeping from the guitar within the anthemic tenacity of the drums. Again it is fair to say that the song lures physical and emotional involvement with ease before Thinking Back explores a maze of reflective melodies and evocative grooves within another addictive rhythmic frame. There is an essence of Echo & The Bunnymen and Bauhaus to the track as post punk and gothic lit shadows and depths spread through sound and thoughts.

The track is an imposingly mesmeric end to a spellbinding release. Strange Weather will have you breathless, excited, reflective, and going on a myriad of imagination bred adventures with its suggestive incitement. We are no experts on deardarkhead and their releases to date but the EP has to be up there as possibly their greatest moment yet.