“Oh, To Be Weightless in the Sky” (2022)
Big Takeover Magazine, Print Issue 91: This is indeed a tougher sound – again a bit like Swervedriver, especially on the fully-rockin’ “Shipwreck” and “Words Disappear” – and Julie D’s and Gary Thorstensen’s clear, resolute vocals aren’t remotely buried in the mix like most shoegaze. The Ron Asheton-wah wah psychedelia of “Hidden Silos” is another good side too – the icing on such a tasty cake.
Thoughts Words Action: Maybe Guest Directors prefer the term post-shoegaze, but these compositions aren’t overwhelmed with reverb, echo, and delay effects like many bands do in their works. There’s a reasonable dosage of studio reverb lurking around, but you’ll hear every vocal part, melody, harmony, chord progression, bassline, and rhythm sequence without any difficulties. The band thought about so many details while working on these songs, so you’ll probably notice how every intro, verse, pre-chorus, chorus, or other segment bursts with many complex orchestrations, which are more characteristic of a progressive and psychedelic rock than post-shoegaze. There are many moments where the entire band shapes up a cathartic ambiance where you’ll hear a couple of instruments dueling, while the exceptional lyricism and vocal performance serve as guidance throughout each composition. Oh, To Be Weightless In The Sky carries so many qualities it would be such a shame not to discover them by yourself.
Sound Read Six (From “The New Guest Directors Album Is Here And It’s Astonishing”): Since 2016’s These Beautiful Things, the group have made progress in several directions with thematic and philosophical influences mirrored in their music. On the track “Another Round,” the full band rework the original home recorded version that featured on the Connected Heavens EP from 2021. Produced by Jack Endino, the legend behind works by Soundgarden, Nirvana, and Mudhoney, this new release enjoys full support from the quality and experience that comes with perfecting the loud rock band sound.
The music begins with a tonally rich guitar riff that swelters away to its own private groove. As we’re drawn in to the magic implied by the progressive melody the band rise up to greet the rhythm with clarity and composure. Drums volley and splash in vibrant displays of accented percussion as guitars roar and duel with harmonising dance manoeuvres. Vocals burst like flowers at dawn with time-lapse photography in cinematic lines of uplifting lyrics. The transparency in the band lets us hear the delicate musicianship that twinkles behind acute distortion and the energetic delivery. A serious fire burns in the heart of this punchy and enlightening track by Guest Directors.
Rosy Overdrive: The latest EP from Seattle reverb-rock band Guest Directors opens with “Another Round (An Echo)”, which draws from shoegaze and psychedelia in its dramatic instrumental to match the impassioned, clear vocals and lyrics of singer/guitarist Julie D. Although “Another Round (An Echo)” doesn’t tip its hand with any specifics, it draws on the band’s hometown’s recent musical past in its description of a musician trapped in a dark spiral of addiction and hurt.
“Connected Heavens” (2021)
Zine Musical (translated from Portuguese): When listening to the EP, it is noticeable and surprising the subtlety with which they unite the elements in their music. Connected Heavens has a more subtle and delicate identity, pointing to new directions in the harmonic and melodic journeys so well done by the band. Perfect invitation to a sound world of sad harmonies and beautiful combinations of melodies.
“Unknown Skies” already announced when opening the EP, that the band is coming to new routes, assuming a very minimalist identity and with a lot of concept. The weight that enters the middle of the song is interesting. It’s like a Massive Attack intervention, but with a lot of weight. A mix of industrial and dreampop, but the one conceived by shoegaze, that one.
“When It’s All “is as if two different storms meet in the sky, which become entangled with each other, causing a beautiful sound show. The song has a unique atmosphere, is chaotically beautiful and makes you travel through the sound waves of this “musical cinema” called Guest Directors.
The ecstatic “Another Round “gets you drunk. Julie D interprets very well when it comes to harmonizing with these guitars, which reverberate in different dimensions at all times. “Dreaming Dreams” closes the EP, heavily layered with endless guitars.
“Dream the Currents” (2019)
Big Takeover Magazine (print edition #84) in Jack’s Top 40: “… this Seattle group’s third EP over three years finds a distinct landing spot. Imagine Swervedriver’s slower, moodier material if Adam Franklin and Jimmy Hartridge dug Television’s Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine more than The Stooges’ James Williamson; that’s “Parachute On.” Whereas “Minor Mendings” comes from ’80s pre-shoegaze post-punk, like Savages, mashing McGeoch-period Banshees with Bickers-era House of Love…. Mostly, Dream is a galvanizing guitar fiesta, squalling, kneading, gnashing and glimmering into the night.”
KEXP: “This Seattle band’s third EP is a fine set of shoegazerish dream-pop.”
Take Effect Reviews: “…timeless and captivating musicianship…swirling guitar work…intricate drumming. A very accomplishing [sic] outing, the tunes here all embrace dream-pop, psyche-pop and the adventurous side of indie-rock in the most mature ways, and the only real flaw to be found is that 5 tracks from Guest Directors is just not enough. An LP, please?”
Ball of Wax (reviewing the song “Parachute On”): “…occupies an interesting space between (or inclusive of) shoegaze and power pop. The song starts with a fairly straightforward verse/chorus arrangement, with singer/guitarist Julie D’s vocals both understated and commanding, her guitar and Gary Thorstensen’s intertwining playfully yet intentionally. (None of that tired rhythm/lead dichotomy for Guest Directors.) The rhythm section of Rian Turner and Charlie Russo provide the perfect support system to keep this sonic parachute aloft. After two verses, the entire second half of the song is given over to a mostly instrumental coda, the guitars further winding themselves up and releasing tension, building and folding in on themselves before the whole band comes crashing down together in a carefully controlled detonation. I can only imagine how delightful this joyous noise is live; I look forward to seeing for myself.”
AltRevue: “Guest Directors’ sound will evoke comps to earlier alt favorites such as Breeders, in short they’re stellar.”
Divide and Conquer (4.0 out of 5): “…dynamic and catchy but not predictable… “Minor Mendings” was the strongest song to me. The song starts with a slick drum pattern and dark waves of guitar feedback. There is a syncopated bass line that mirrors a similar pattern to “Airbag” by Radiohead. All the elements come together on the verse and I also thought the uplifting almost angelic vocals was where the singer shined. The song falls into beautiful chaos before getting back to the verse. Around the four-minute mark the song gets into post-rock territory with a wall of sound…..There are a lot of things in this EP which made me love music so much in the first place. Don’t pass this up.”
“Captured in the Light” (2018)
The Blog That Celebrates Itself (translated from Portuguese): An absolutely inspirational guitars work, which picks up references in 80’s icons, read: Johnny Marr and Will Sergeant, combined with the experimental quality of Sonic Youth.
Captured in the Light has exactly these two focal angles, the melody and the distortion confront each other in the four sound pearls.
The Guest Directors are literally a direct descendant of the guitar bands of the 90’s, and with a plus, it succeeds in absorbing other elements sounding absolutely modern.
“These Beautiful Things” (2016)
Northwest Music Scene: Guest Directors’ debut EP These Beautiful Things is jam-packed with ear-caressing reverb-soaked soundscapes, toned-down and mood-setting vocals, and really sharp songwriting all throughout its four tracks.
The Blog That Celebrates Itself (translated from Portuguese): ...powerful melodies, evoking sound walls, sometimes violent in dense ones and charged with melancholy, all of which generating connections with people of the caliber of a Swervedriver or Autolux.
- “Oh, To Be Weightless in the Sky” available now October 21, 2022