March 9, 2015

Review: Winter | Supreme Blue Dream

Samira Winter and Nolan Eley's rich musical partnership tomorrow returns at long last, and as promised, with the release of the pair's wholly charming first dream-pop long-player, Supreme Blue Dream. While the set is being released under the Winter b(r)and name, Ms. Winter relentlessly gigs with a fresh cohort of players now that she has relocated from Boston to Los Angeles, and even Mr. Eley no longer calls Boston home (although he remains on the east coast). None of that change, however, and none of the 2,800 miles that now separates the erstwhile bandmates, has disrupted the duo's facility for casting classic pop hooks in inventive dream-pop settings.

Ms. Winter's seemingly effortless and pleasantly pure songwriting is not new to Clicky Clicky readers, no matter the alias. And she doesn't dramatically change up her game on Supreme Blue Dream. Here she is consistently arresting as a vocalist, particularly on the album highlight "Some Kind Of Surprise." She lifts the boundlessly romantic ballad up and up with a committed performance, elongating her vowels as if she knows each breath makes the song more and more buoyant. Her final line "I'm just sitting lonely looking into nowhere waiting for some kind of surprise" hangs in the air as the accompaniment drops away, equal parts vulnerable and ready to take a risk.

The songwriter/producer dynamic is considered a commercial-radio pop phenomenon, and is less prevalent (or at least less visible) in indie pop. But given the perfectly synthesized results in evidence here and stretching back to the debut Winter EP, we're game to hear more of it. While this may change now that she has assembled a band on the left coast, Ms. Winter typically works with producers; her sparkling solo set Tudo Azul from last summer was produced by Rodrigo Lemos in Brazil, for example.

Eley, who Clicky Clicky readers know primarily from his work fronting Brooklyn's devastating shoegaze unit Infinity Girl, performed, recorded and mixed all of the music for Supreme Blue Dream's 10 songs. He chases solid, song-serving instincts that surprise without shocking, and excels in applying varied and thoughtful textures to -- and amplifying moments and moods in -- Ms. Winter's compositions. Supreme Blue Dream is introduced with a burbling, melodic jumble of synth tones that precipitously slips beneath swaying synth and guitar chords that are foundation of the solid opener "Someone Like You," and a similar electronic fantasia is presented in the deep-album cut "Don't Stay Away." "Crazy" bobs along on top of heavily distorted guitar chords and ringing feedback that echo the joyful cacaphony of The Magnetic Fields' delightful Distortion album. A perky, canned beat provides a particularly delicious foil for the sampled alto saxophone on "Strange Emotions," which is also appointed with curious voices lurking in the channels in its final moments. Similarly spectral sounds haunt the stereo field of the hypnotic, bilingual incantation "Like I Do." While their manifestations are relatively subtle given their even weighting in the mixes, Mr. Eley is similarly creative in his treatment of Ms. Winter's vocals, which were sung on the West Coast and sent through the Intertubes for Mr. Eley to integrate into the tracks.

Ms. Winter and Eley probably had no idea how much many of us would be needing this record right now (given the snowpocalypse) when they were making it. There is a sunshiney, estival ease to Supreme Blue Dream, a coolness that unsurprisingly persists throughout the Winter catalog. It is emphasized, perhaps, by the repetition of the word blue on Ms. Winter's two most recent outings (recall her aforementioned June 2014 EP is titled Tudo Azul). Supreme Blue Blue Dream will be released tomorrow by L.A.-based indie label Lolipop Records on vinyl, CD and cassette and as a digital download. Pre-orders were not offered and there is presently no way to buy the set on the Lolipop web site as far as we can tell, so we suggest checking back later in the week. While you wait, stream the swaying lead single "Someone Like You" via the Soundcloud embed below. The current band incarnation of Winter includes guitarist Matt Hogan, bassist Edward Breckenridge and drummer Christina Gaillard, and it embarks Wednesday on a tour down to and back from the annual South By Southwest corporate branding exercise. Full tour dates are listed below.

Winter: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instapants | Soundcloud

03.11 -- Santa Ana, CA -- Wayfarer
03.12 -- Phoenix, AZ -- Time Out
03.13 -- El Paso, TX -- Monarch
03.15 -- Marfa, TX -- Padres
03.16 -- San Antonio, TX -- 502
03.17 -- Austin, TX -- Hotel Vegas
03.18 -- Austin, TX -- Hotel Vegas
03.19 -- Austin, TX -- Whip-In
03.20 -- Austin, TX -- Reverb Records
03.22 -- Houstin, TX -- Walters
03.23 -- Dallas, TX -- Pariah Arts
03.24 -- Albequerque, NM -- Sisters
03.25 -- Flagstaff, AZ -- Firecreek Coffee
03.26 -- Las Vegas, NV -- Bunkhouse

Prior Winter Coverage:
Today's Hotness: Samira Winter
Today's Hotness: Samira Winter
Clicky Clicky's Choice: Our Abridged Version Of Samira Winter's Song A Day... Did You Know That's A Thing?
Today's Hotness: Winter
Today's Hotness: Winter
Premiere: Winter's Dreamy, Innocent "Bedroom Philosophies"
Today's Hotness: Winter

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