Audio Mixer: Elliott Frazier .
Recording information: Sky Lab, Los Angeles, CA; Storage Town, Austin, TX.
Ringo Deathstarr's 2015 effort Pure Mood is another excellent example of how to make a modern-age shoegaze album. Pile layers of fuzzy, grungy guitar noise on top of sugary tunes sung in breathless tones, add the occasional twist, and stir. It's a formula bands have been using since Kevin Shields bought his first Jazzmaster, but as on previous albums, RDS show the kind of melodic skill and sonic ability here that allow them to leap ahead of the pack of shoegaze imitators and wannabes. Along with the raft of songs are perfect male/female vocal harmonies and swooning hooks -- the kind of stuff they've been doling out for years. The album takes a couple of stylistic left turns that are bracing and welcome. "Heavy Metal Suicide" pretty much lives up to its title, swaggering darkly with the guitars giving some serious metal attitude in the verses. The choruses switch back to gauzier realms, but the punch of the guitars helps give the album a boost right out of the gate -- especially coming as it does after one of the album's dreamier interludes, the aptly titled "Dream Again." That song's wispy atmosphere is very 4AD and, along with the also very cloud-like and drifty "California Car Collection," shows another side of the band's sound. So does the super poppy "Old Again." Diversions aside, the real power of the album is in songs like "Frisbee" and "Never" that pummel the listener with guitar noise and giant melodies. There are plenty of bands doing roughly the same thing as Ringo Deathstarr, but there are few who do it as well as they do. Pure Mood is proof of that. ~ Tim Sendra