Swimming Bell. (Photo: Contributed)

In Notes From Left of the Dial this week, Nooga.com spends time with new songs from Swimming Bell, The Cigarettes, Dreambeaches and Nonconnah. What have you been listening to lately?

Swimming Bell, “Ealing Common”

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The work of Brooklyn-based folk singer Katie Schottland, Swimming Bell came about after she broke her foot in the fall of 2015. She had previously spent time in other bands, but after the injury, she began to write songs that felt too personal to belong to anyone but herself. Never formally trained, she downloaded the chords to Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” and used it as a template for her own instinctual methods of writing harmonies and melodic progressions.  Personal and intimately descriptive, her songs tend to feel uncluttered and free from any emotional artifice or pale sentiment. For her forthcoming record, “The Golden Heart” (due out Oct. 6), she teamed up with producer Oli Deacon in his studio in London to create a casual folk atmosphere where her songs could evolve at their own pace.

On her latest single, “Ealing Common,” she conjures early ’70s Laurel Canyon vibes, with gentle harmonies overlapping a blend of acoustic guitars and lush backwoods folk melodies. It feels so comfortable, as if you could fall into its welcoming embrace free of consequence. The hallmark of remarkable folk music is its ability to completely submerge its audience in the hushed atmospheres that the genre is known for, the rural landscapes that hold secrets and offer answers for those who take the time to seek them out. With “Ealing Common,” Schottland delivers an intimate and conversational story where experience and forgotten memories blur into the last trailing rays from the setting sun.

The Cigarettes, “Just About Everything Before”
Formed in Rio de Janeiro in 1994 by band architect Marcelo Colares, The Cigarettes are a Brazilian band that focuses on the various sides of modern indie rock while still adhering to the fundamental ideals that sprang forth from the genre in the mid-’90s. Clattering percussion and dense guitar work resolve alongside a more pop-centric aesthetic, with ringing melodies and fuzz-drenched licks melding together in a rush of noise and introspection. With over two decades of experience, the band has had a great deal of time to refine and evolve their brew of assorted indie rock revelations, resulting in their latest release, a six-song EP called “The Lights.”

With “Just About Everything Before,” the closing track from their new EP, the band channels the roughed-up indie rock sounds of bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Superchunk while still working through some incredibly catchy melodies. The guitars crunch and stomp alongside Colares’ homespun lyrics, creating a distortion-filled landscape where classic rock sounds are filtered through a decidedly lo-fi DIY atmosphere. It makes sense that a band with such a long history of work would be able to effortlessly construct a song that feels so timeless, so set apart from modern trends. A reflection of the amalgamated Brazilian indie rock scene, “Just About Everything Before” feels drawn from multiple influences while evincing a singular creative vision.

Dreambeaches, “Trademark”
An art rock band based out of Buffalo, New York, Dreambeaches takes their cue from weirdo rock bands like Of Montreal and Deerhoof while keeping one ear fixed on melodies that stretch out for miles. Composed of singer-guitarist Corey Bzibziak, bassist Jacob Peter, drummer Gabe Wells and guitarist Andrew Kothen, the band blends a riotous number of influences into a kaleidoscopic mass of vivid sounds and rhythms. Veins of pop, rock and even folk music make appearances throughout their work, which functions as a vehicle for their collective memories and inspirations. They’re currently gearing up for the release of their new EP, “Disappearing Act,” which is due out Oct. 13 via Admirable Traits Records.

On their new single, “Trademark,” the band rushes through a baroque rock roar, a twisted, surf-indebted pop tornado that spins and collects influences like castoff debris. A collection of chiming guitars, tremulous melodies and propulsive percussive beats drives the song to some inevitable clash of experience and inspiration. Evincing a series of infectious hooks and ear-catching rhythms, the track burns like the midday sun, coating everything in sunny rivulets of warmth and affection.  This is the sound of immaculate intuition, the kind of understanding that either comes from long years on the road or a perfect combination of personalities and talent.

Nonconnah, “Only Darkness Beyond the Frame”
Previously known as Lost Trail, the Memphis-based duo of Zachary Corsa and Denny Wilkerson Corsa now explores the recesses of ambient drones and subtle field recordings as Nonconnah. But their work possesses an adaptive personality that reveals itself without the use of simple labels—it’s an intoxicating mix of repetitive melodies and ephemeral layers that seems to dissolve in the light of day. It operates within a shadowy middle ground where clear intentions and obscured motivations vie for dominance. They’ve recently released their debut full-length, “The Gloom & The Glowing,” which further develops their wondrously perceptive strain of musical history.

On “Only Darkness Beyond the Frame,” the middle song from their new record, the band continues to wallow in dreamy harmonies and ethereal drones, working through a continuous ebb and flow of tones and textures. There’s a spiritual feel to the sounds, as if some greater instinct were directing each wash of noise in a cyclical pattern. As the track progresses, it becomes almost overwhelming, building a rapturous dissonance that collects in the space behind your eyes. As the music seeps down into your skin, you get a sense that these particular sounds weren’t merely created—they were passed on through some experiential process of expression and memory, revealing an osmotic musical genealogy.

Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on FacebookTwitter or by emailThe opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.

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