October 31, 2012

Heaven's Gate


The shoegaze revival over the last several years has been enjoyable from a nostalgic standpoint, but that kind of backfired on the next gen the very moment its seminal predecessors decided to reunite, blow everyone's ear drums out live and ultimately show the world exactly how it was meant to be done. Part of the problem AwkwardSound notices with up-and-coming "nu-gaze" / "noise pop" / whatever-gaze bands is very few of them dare to take risks sonically, as if shoegaze is some sort of set-in-stone style that isn't to be deviated from. It's as if the influences are intended to be obvious, which is ridiculous from the perspective of a listener that wants to be challenged and hear something "different." While a large number of these kids would probably be better off billing themselves as a My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive cover band, Brooklyn-based quintet Heaven's Gate have seemingly figured out how to use a wave of distortion pedals and its signature woozy production as the background noise of their music instead of the focal point that envelops everything interesting around it. Formed in 2011 from the dissolution of Sweet Bulb, Michael Sheffield (also of Alan Watts) and Jack Wolf recruited Alex Cvetovich, Patrick Stankard and a strong force in chanteuse Jess Paps to reinvigorate a tired sound by fast-tracking the tempo, needling away at the haze with aggressively angled post-punk riffs and letting Paps' sultry pipes burst over the sound boards instead of evaporating behind it. You can hear the difference makers come into effect on Heaven's Gate debut EP, High Riser, which was just released on Fire Talk this week. They've also just come off a string of lauded appearances at this year's CMJ on top of becoming promising fixtures in the young BK scene by sharing the stage with the likes of BUZZSound alumni Life Size Maps and members of the Godmode family. Tonight, they'll be joining the latter for a special Halloween covers show at Death by Audio (yes, they'll be reopening their doors for the first time since this weekend's horrific damage done by Hurricane Sandy) in which they won't be donning any sort of Kevin Shields or Bilinda Butcher costumes, as they'll be playing as Joy Division instead.



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