by The Swizard (ATX)
A389 Recordings is running their label the right way: they put out bands they love. The proof is in their roster. Established hardcore legends like Ringworm and Integrity? Check. Metal bands taking things to unique places, like Pale Creation and Mindsnare? Affirmative. Youthful chaos of varying degrees in Children Of God, The Love Below, Seven Sisters Of Sleep, and Low Places? Check, check, check. Hell yeah. And while all of these bands are generating buzz and holding their own in the grand scheme of “the scene at large," none of these bands are cash cows for the label; they are bands believed in by someone who cares about putting out quality music. Knowing this about A389 makes their recent release of Portland, Ore., shoegazers Anne’s Dream Punx LP even more special.
Making their first A389 appearance on a free compilation the label released in late 2010, Anne couldn’t have been less like any of their labelmates. The swirling guitars and subtle-yet-catchy synth lines were absent from every other band on that compilation. In the context of a compilation that was heavy on aggression, Anne were able to be every bit as haunting and moving, but without beating the listener over the head with aggression. Their Demo and Mixtape One releases were in heavy rotation for most of 2011, and I probably emailed Dom over at A389 no less than twice a month for the entire year wondering what was going on with the band. It was a rather brutal wait.
The reward, Dream Punx, was worth every minute of anticipation. The same haunting, melancholy shoegaze was there but this time with better production value. While Anne aren’t quite as in your face as Deafheaven or Alcest, any fan of “black-gaze” needs Dream Punx to be the anchoring the “mellow” side of their loud, somber music spectrum. Reworked older songs like “Stripping” and “Punk Bike” jerk harder at heartstrings and respectfully nod to bands like My Bloody Valentine and The Swirlies. The intensity and volume of Anne’s live set haven’t quite come across recorded as well as bands like Floor or Boris have managed to do on recent releases, which may not sit well with some of you more “loud-as-fuck”-oriented readers. Dream Punx is just as captivating even if isn't crushing you with volume.
Anne recently wrapped up their second West Coast tour and Dream Punx is fresh off the presses and waiting for you to pick it up at the A389 Recordings webstore. Cop this. Definitely one of the best releases of 2011.