Has there ever been so much shoegazing since those halcyon daze, circa 1990? Especially coming out of the USA? Probably not, but it's certainly our gain. Ether Aura repeat the trick pretty well. (Or to coin a UK phrase, "well pretty"!) Of course, there was Shoegaze and there was Shoegaze. Ether Aura doesn't subscribe to the Slowdive manifesto of dreamy atmospherics. As you'll no doubt read elsewhere, the Detroit band are cast squarely in the mold of Curve, Lush, or even Garbage.
Yet this isn't the limit of their aspirations. Rather, it's the beginning,
because to define Ether Aura in terms of either their contemporaries (Soundpool, The
Lost Patrol, etc), or their aforementioned influences, rather overlooks
their undeniable excellence. Or should I say "brilliance", because in both
senses of the word, Ether Aura delivers. These songs are crafted with a loving
sheen. Eleven glossy Polaroids, these songs and not a duff track in sight.
We mentioned Curve, Lush, and Garbage,
and I guess so will probably every other jobbing scribe. However, this latest
release shows considerable maturity and wider ambition than the last Ether
Aura record I heard (Crash).
Yeah, maybe the opening…(hmmm let's see?) ...three tracks are in usual suspect
territory. You only have to check Tell Me That I'm Nothing! This is
absolute Garbage. And I mean absolute Garbage (Absolute
the name of the forthcoming best of Garbage retrospective – Brendan) only
in so far as it is absolutely fantastic, easily at home alongside such classics
When It Rains.
Once past the opening trio, Ether Aura raise the stakes. So rather like a
wine tasting, I get hints of all manner of musical flavours such as House of
Love (Twist), or Cocteau
Twins (Your Favourite Song). I swear the "ooh" on I Follow echoes
the Blondie classic Heart of Glass. Even pedal steel makes an appearance
(The Other End). Later, One Hand Away From Out almost steals
a riff from Catherine Wheel's I Want To Touch You, only with a feminine
twist. In fact all of these songs have feminine twists, with Kate Hinote's
vocal as a lovely foil to Tony Hamera's fretwork. And if those two are inclined
to scene-steal; they're still gracious enough to give some of their best
lines to the supporting cast because this rhythm section is TIGHT.
I can only conclude, therefore, that this is a lovely record and one that really deserves more than just niche or genre attention. These tracks are so crafted - nicely written, lovingly sequenced and extremely skillfully performed. Believe me when I say so, Ether Aura have delivered here probably my favourite nu-gaze album to date.