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Beautiful Noise Returns to Mesa Amid a Shoegaze Revival

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This lineup features some old-school acts -- Half String, Astrobrite -- and some great new acts. What about the new bands spoke to you?

Tennis System put out a self-released record called Teenagers that I couldn't stop listening to last year. Every time I've seen them perform in L.A., they absolutely kill it.

Dead Leaf Echo just self-released a record called Thought & Language that has a super-sophisticated sound and aspects that remind me of some of my favorite bands connected to shoegaze, Pale Saints and A.R. Kane. For this release, they recruited the house graphic designer Vaughan Oliver and producer John Fryer from the vintage 4AD days; this definitely perked my interest.

What impresses me most about both of these bands is that great songs exist at the core of their revivalist shoegaze sound. There are neatly organized layers of melody and movement that you rarely hear from the current wave. So many bands today can cope a great sound but don't write interesting songs.

Half String seems to be really experiencing a new life. Obviously, you guys are busy with your individual lives, but it seems like you've been doing shows with a little more regularity. Recordings too, correct? Can tell me more about that?

The band and its "new life" certainly breathes on its own and is energized by the interest from a new generation of listeners. I credit Captured Tracks for the revival. As a label, they have a huge fan base that seems to trust their ear and what they choose to release. That's pretty rare these days, and it reminds me of when I used to buy any record that donned the logo of Creation, 4AD, and Factory.

All in all, the four of us just feel fortunate to have an opportunity to hang out again and plug in to an activity that was a real life source for us when the band was active. The recording process has been a bit happenstance. Michael Stock (a.k.a. Part Time Punks) has a radio show at KXLU and invites the bands that play his PTP events an opportunity the record sessions, à la John Peel Sessions. We played at Part Time Punks shoegaze festival in Echo Park last summer and got invited to record the day after.

We used the session to revive the last song we wrote together, back in 1996, but never had a chance to record properly. Matt, Dave, and I are actually going into the same PTP studio this weekend and hope to track three more songs. It's been very tempting to plan a new album -- the material is there, but coordinating a transcontinental recording would take some time and patience. We'll see how inspired we're feeling after this next rendezvous.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.