Highspire – Sleight Of Hand For The Down And Out (Reverse Reverb Records)

Unfamiliar with Highspire’s music? Stop reading this and check out their two excellent albums, Your Everything and Aquatic. If you already own them and want more of their modern take on shoegaze then this rarities collection is highly recommended. As you would expect from an album of rarities, alternate versions, live tracks and other ephemera from over a decade of activity, the recording quality changes from song to song, but the band’s sugary melodies drenched in every kind of guitar noise possible is consistent throughout. You want great previously unreleased songs? Check out “Believe” (available in both regular and acoustic forms), “Flight” or “The World Is Waiting”. You want Highspire’s take on the shoegaze classics? Well they’ve got you covered with their spin on Slowdive’s “Dagger” (really nice arrangement on this one) and Ride’s “Close My Eyes”. Do you yearn for inventive zero-gravity soundscapes? Not problem – give “Arthur Dent” and “Left In Shadows” a spin. Whatever you do, don’t wait long because Sleight Of Hand For The Down And Out is only available in a limited run from their label Reverse Reverb (has there ever been a  label with a more shoegazer-friendly name?), so you might just want to click over here: http://reversereverb.bigcartel.com/product/highspire-sleight-of-hand-for-the-down-and-out-ltd-cd


1. Believe

2. Flight

3. Shattered (EP version)

4. To Tomorrow’s Highways

5. Believe (Acoustic)

6. Skies You Climb (Live)

7. Chipping Campden (Vox Remix)

8. Close My Eyes (Ride Cover)

9. Dagger (Slowdive Cover)

10. Arthur Dent

11. Left In Shadows

12. The World Is Waiting

Highspire – Aquatic (Reverse Reverb Records)

After lying dormant for six years since 2004’s excellent Your Everything, Highspire are back with a new album, Aquatic. The group (now thinned down to a duo of Alex White and EJ Hagen, both from similarly-minded group The Morning After Girls) still remain singularly dedicated to recreating the sound and style of the earlier years of shoegaze (their label being named Reverse Reverb is a pretty obvious signpost), and they clearly know their way around the genre. However, there’s a few things holding Aquatic back from being more than just an album for shoegaze die-hards. The vocals are muffled, the lyrics are hard to decipher (even by shoegaze standards), and the drums sound like they were mixed with no regard for the other instruments. Originality is also an issue. I’m OK with bands ripping each other off, but you have to add something interesting of your own – the stolen bits can’t be the most interesting part of a song. “Glacier” is a complete lift of Ride’s “Dreams Burn Down”, but nowhere near as good as the original, and album-opener “Just Begun” has the same chords as “Boys Better” by The Dandy Warhols. Those quips aside, Aquatic is enjoyable for anyone who fell in love with the original wave of shoegaze and wants more of that sound.