If psychedelic music had a voice in '90s post-punk, today's artists may have been its strongest reincarnation. They much preferred the dark side of psychedelia, as exemplified by the most distended tracks of the Doors and the Velvet Underground. Their fuzzy guitar workouts and plaintive folky compositions are often suffused in a dissociative ennui that is very much of the '90s, however much their textures may recall the drug-induced states of vintage psychedelia. ..... N'Joy
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Mazzy Star has deep roots within the Californian Paisley Underground movement of the early 1980s. David Roback, along with his brother Steven, was one of the main architects of leading Los Angeles psychedelic revival band, the Rain Parade. Leaving that band after their first LP, he founded Clay Allison in 1983 with then-girlfriend, ex-Dream Syndicate bassist Kendra Smith. Soon after the publication of their sole release, the 1983 double A-sided single "Fell From the Sun"/"All Souls", Clay Allison renamed themselves Opal and released the LP Happy Nightmare Baby on Rough Trade on December 14, 1987. With Roback as its musical catalyst, Opal were a direct precursor to Mazzy Star musically — often featuring the same psychedelic guitar drones and similar hints of blues and folk that would later appear on Mazzy Star recordings. Meanwhile, Sandoval – who was in high school at the time – formed the folk music duo Going Home in the early 1980s with fellow student Sylvia Gomez, and went on to tour with Sonic Youth and Minutemen. Both were devoted followers of the Rain Parade, and after a 1983 concert by the band in the Los Angeles area, Gomez entered the backstage area of the venue and gave Roback a copy of Going Home's demo tape, featuring Sandoval on vocals and Gomez on guitar. Upon hearing the tape, Roback offered to produce a still-unreleased album by the pair. When Smith left Opal under cloudy circumstances in the middle of a tour supporting The Jesus & Mary Chain, Sandoval was tapped as her replacement.
Despite Smith's departure, Rough Trade retained Roback's original record deal, contractually obligating him to supply a follow-up to Opal's debut LP. As a result, Roback and Sandoval continued to tour under the Opal alias for the next two years, during which time they completed production on Opal's planned second album, titled Ghost Highway. Composed mainly of songs written by Roback and Smith, Sandoval stated that she was unhappy with the material, and expressed an interest in wanting to "start something completely new." The pair quickly composed and recorded seven new tracks in Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco, and renamed the band Mazzy Star.
She Hangs Brightly was released in April 1990 on Rough Trade and, although it was not an immediate commercial success, the album established the duo as a recurrent fixture on alternative rock radio, with lead single "Blue Flower" – a cover of the Slapp Happy track – peaking at No. 29 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart. The album would go on to sell over 70,000 copies in the UK, and 500,000 in the US
The American branch of Rough Trade folded in late 1990, briefly leaving Mazzy Star without a record label. Within weeks, the duo's contract was picked up by Capitol, who re-released She Hangs Brightly and released their follow-up, So Tonight That I Might See on September 27, 1993. A year after its release, the album yielded an unexpected hit single. "Fade Into You" peaked at No. 44 to become their first Billboard Hot 100 single, while also reaching a career-high peak of No. 3 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. On April 19, 1995, the album was certified platinum by the RIAA for shipments in excess of 1 million units. Following the success of "Fade Into You", She Hangs Brightly album opener "Halah" began to receive heavy airplay in the US and peaked at No. 19 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart, a position based solely on airplay. In 1995, She Hangs Brightly was awarded a gold certification from the RIAA for shipments in excess of 500,000 units.
Their final album for Capitol, Among My Swan, was released on October 29, 1996. Entering the Billboard 200 at No. 68 and, as of September 2001, selling 214,000 copies in the United States, the album was less commercially successful than its predecessors, although it produced their highest-peaking single in the United Kingdom, when "Flowers In December" entered at No. 40 to become their only top forty entry on the chart. The band promoted the album with a five-month tour of the US and Europe, after which Sandoval and Roback began work on new material. Over the course of these sessions, Sandoval reportedly "begged" Capitol to be released from her contract, later elaborating, "It seemed record companies wanted bands to be creative because they didn't know how to manufacture underground music. We could do our own thing and go at our own pace. But that changed when major labels started wanting bands that would sell 7 million records. They had a formula. And suddenly all these people wanted to come to the studio to keep track of what we were doing and make sure we were following that formula. So we got out.
After 1996, Sandoval collaborated with a series of artists, including Air, Bert Jansch, Death in Vegas, Le Volume Courbe, Richard X, The Chemical Brothers, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Twilight Singers, Vetiver, and Massive Attack. Sandoval formed The Warm Inventions in 2000 and released her first solo album Bavarian Fruit Bread in 2001, which she recorded with My Bloody Valentine drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig. The album differed in terms of theme, voice, and instrumentation from that of her work with Mazzy Star. They released two EPs, At the Doorway Again in 2000 and Suzanne in 2002 but did not win commercial success, with one video on MTV and little radio play. Sandoval recorded a song, "Wild Roses", for a compilation CD released by Air France, In the Air (2008). Hope Sandoval and The Warm Inventions released their second album, Through the Devil Softly, on September 29, 2009.
In 2009, Sandoval confirmed in an interview with Rolling Stone that Mazzy Star was still active: "It's true we're still together. We're almost finished [with the record]. But I have no idea what that means." In October 2011, the group released the single "Common Burn"/"Lay Myself Down", their first material in 15 years. The band completed an 18-date Californian and European tour in 2012, their first since 2000, performing at several major European festivals. After the final date of the tour in August 2012, David Roback stated that production on the album had completed and that it would see release "soon." In July 2013, "California", the first single from the new album was released. The album, Seasons of Your Day, was released in September 2013. The band began a North American tour on November 3, 2013 in support of the album, with a European tour expected to be announced after the New Year.
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Mazzy Star's debut, She Hangs Brightly, picks up where Opal's Happy Nightmare Baby left off; merely exchanging Kendra Smith's languorous vocals for the more sultry presence of Hope Sandoval, David Roback continues chasing the neo-psychedelic holy grail he's pursued since his days with the Rain Parade, albeit with mixed success here. After opening with a pair of standouts, the dreamy "Halah" and the garage-inspired "Blue Flower," the album quickly loses focus, and even the group's solid grasp of atmosphere and texture can't overcome the songs' distinctly unmemorable melodies.
Mazzy Star - She Hangs Brightly (flac 251mb)
01 Halah 3:12
02 Blue Flower 3:32
03 Ride It On 2:58
04 She Hangs Brightly 6:22
05 I'm Sailin 3:10
06 Give You My Lovin 3:47
07 Be My Angel 3:14
08 Taste Of Blood 5:33
09 Ghost Highway 3:25
10 Free 3:06
11 Before I Sleep 2:09
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Thanks to the fluke hit "Fade Into You" -- one of the better beneficiaries of alt-rock's radio prominence in the early '90s, a gentle descent of a lead melody accompanied by piano, a steady beat, and above all else, Hope Sandoval's lovely lead vocal -- Mazzy Star's second album became something of a commercial success. All without changing much at all from where the band was before -- David Roback oversaw all the production, the core emphasis remained a nexus point between country, folk, psych, and classic rock all shrouded in mystery, and Sandoval's trademark drowsy drawl remained swathed in echo. But grand as She Hangs Brightly was, So Tonight That I Might See remains the group's undisputed high point, mixing in plenty of variety among its tracks without losing sight of what made the group so special to begin with. Though many songs work with full arrangements like "Fade Into You," a thick but never once overpowering combination, two heavily stripped-down songs demonstrate in different ways how Mazzy Star makes a virtue out of simplicity. "Mary of Silence" is an organ-led slow shuffle that easily ranks with the best of the Doors, strung-out and captivating all at once, Sandoval's singing and Roback's careful acid soloing perfect foils. "Wasted," meanwhile, revisits a classic blues riff slowed down to near-soporific levels, but the snarling crunch of Roback's guitar works wonders against Sandoval's vocals, a careful balance that holds. If there's a left-field standout, then unquestionably it's "Five String Serenade." A cover of an Arthur Lee song -- for once not a Love-era number, but a then-recent effort -- Roback's delicate acoustic guitar effortlessly brings out its simple beauty. Tambourine and violin add just enough to the arrangement here and there, and Sandoval's calm singing makes for the icing on the cake.
Mazzy Star- So Tonight That I Might See (flac 362mb)
01 Fade Into You 4:55
02 Bells Ring 4:32
03 Mary Of Silence 6:02
04 Five String Serenade 4:24
05 Blue Light 5:10
06 She's My Baby 4:25
07 Unreflected 3:42
08 Wasted 5:31
09 Into Dust 5:36
10 So Tonight That I Might See 7:19
From the Fade Into You EP
11 I'm Gonna Bake My Biscuit 3:38
12 Under My Car 3:36
13 Bells Ring (Acoustic Version) 4:35
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Having built up a considerable reputation thanks to So Tonight That I Might See, Mazzy Star reappeared after three years with Among My Swan, only to receive widespread indifference. It's a touch surprising -- unlike, say, fellow 1993 breakthroughs the Cranberries, David Roback and Hope Sandoval didn't rapidly descend into self-parody crossed with delusions of grandeur. Instead, they kept on keeping on, proffering the same combination of psych, blues, folk, and art-pop touches that made their earlier releases so captivating. That said, though, at base Among My Swan just isn't as quietly involving as the earlier records, that magical fusion of styles somehow coming across as a little been-there, done-that here. There's nothing quite as immediate as "Fade Into You," nothing as awesomely delicate as "Five String Serenade," as woozy and powerful as "Mary of Silence." There are plenty of songs that try for that, though, and even if Among My Swan won't raise the dead or heal the sick, it's still pleasant enough listening, and sometimes the secret of success is in the details. Keep an ear out for the soft chimes that punctuate "Happy," for instance, or how William Reid from the Jesus and Mary Chain's guest guitar helps turn "Take Everything" into the slow-burning monster it is. Sandoval's singing is as drowsily intoxicating as before, while Roback's ability to create atmospheres is equally fine. Among the better moments: "Rhymes of an Hour," which carefully balances a quieter arrangement with sudden moments that almost but don't quite lead to a full-band jam; the acoustic-based mood-out "All Your Sisters," suggesting such earlier guitar/violin efforts as "Into Dust"; and the soft-landing conclusion, "Look on Down from the Bridge," a bit of a church hymn in its own way, thanks to the organ-led melody.
Mazzy Star - Among My Swan (flac 298mb)
01 Disappear 4:04
02 Flowers In December 4:57
03 Rhymes Of An Hour 4:12
04 Cry, Cry 3:58
05 Take Everything 4:53
06 Still Cold 4:48
07 All Your Sisters 5:16
08 I've Been Let Down 3:17
09 Roseblood 4:51
10 Happy 3:58
11 Umbilical 4:59
12 Look On Down From The Bridge 4:47
Mazzy Star - Among My Swan (ogg 113mb)
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