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Alternative & Indie - Released March 1, 2019 | Run For Cover Records, LLC

Losing more than half the band after the release of their first album, 2015's Last Forever, the Swedish noise pop band Westkust reconfigured and returned with an album that slashed away the dreamier aspects of their sound in favor of a more intense and aggressive approach. On 2019's self-titled album, Julia Bjernelind takes full control over the vocal chores and she and new member Brian Cukrowski handle the guitar duties. They eschew the subtleties of dream pop that the last album exhibited and set their guitars on stun throughout, churning and flashing behind Bjernelind's much more present vocals. Coupled with a punchier bass/drums attack, the record hits like a bomb cyclone right away and rarely lets up. Tracks like "Swebeach" and "Junior" dash by in a whirl of overdriven guitars and crashing cymbals, "Drive" and "Cotton Skies" bathe their hooks in chiming, echoing fuzz and when they dial the energy down a touch, like on "Adore" or "Daylight," they keep the wall of blown-out sound intact. Despite the more intense musical backing, the songs are still achingly melancholic and melodic, which makes for a satisfying juxtaposition. Bjernelind proves more than up for the expanded vocal role and she's able to cut through the maelstrom of sound to transmit real emotions. Lots of times when a band trades out members, it means disaster, but for Westkust it means improvement. Their first album was fine dream pop, but this is thrilling shoegaze on par with the best work of the original wave of '90s band who pioneered the style. ~ Tim Sendra
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 13, 2019 | Run For Cover Records, LLC

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 10, 2015 | Run For Cover Records, LLC

The number of shoegaze revival bands operating in 2015 dwarfs the number of bands active during the sound's '90s heyday. One of the many, many revivalists, Swedish quintet Westkust do their best to distance themselves from the droning and hypnotic herd on their debut album, Last Forever. Yes, they have overloaded guitars and shop at the same pedal store where Kevin Shields once shopped. Yes, they are dreamy and hypnotic and atmospheric on the sleepy songs, while being super-loud and dramatic on the songs that drive all over the listeners. They check off all the requisite boxes that everyone else does so faithfully, it's true. But Westkust manage to pull ahead of the competition in a couple of important ways. Firstly, they utilize the time-honored (because it almost always works) male-female vocal approach to perfection. Whether duetting wistfully or trading off lines in almost conversational tones, Julia Bjernelind's earthy tones and Gustav Andersson's boyish croon blend together in all the right ways. Bjernelind's solo track "Jonna" shows she can carry the vocal load all by herself just fine, too. Secondly, while the guitars-bass-drums whip up a roiling cauldron of sound that can be soothing or lacerating, the lead guitar lines over the top are always wonderfully melodic and bright, giving the sound a nice light topping that's as sweet as sugar. Thirdly, they flat-out wrote a batch of really good songs that are dramatic, emotionally satisfying, and stand up to repeated listens. There are no bum tracks, no songs that sound borrowed from the original wave, and in "Swirl" they have one that would fit in between Ride and Moose on a playlist and nobody would bat an eye. The rest of Last Forever is almost that strong and as a debut it's pretty remarkable. Definitely good enough that anyone who has ever had a fondness for shoegaze or a predilection for dream pop needs to check it out right away. ~ Tim Sendra

Alternative & Indie - Released January 9, 2019 | Run For Cover Records, LLC

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