In our ongoing journey through the vast melodic topography of blissed-out shoegaze and post-punk, we’ve acquired a growing admiration for Dreamwheel, a duo whose artistic chemistry predates the digital buzz of the hashtag era. Fronted by Julia Gaeta (Madrigal, ex-Albez Duz, ex-Restless Ghosts) and Evan Linger (of Skeletonwitch and Cultist), Dreamwheel has consistently captivated us with their evolving soundscapes. Their latest offering through Nefarious Industries is a testament to their musical evolution, seamlessly blending various sonic elements while staying true to their roots.
Dreamwheel turns the volume down from their metal and punk origins, but don’t be fooled – their music packs a punch as potent as a well-aged whiskey. Gaeta’s voice, as whimsical as a magician’s rabbit yet always in the spotlight, dances through Linger’s guitars with the urgency of a New York commuter. Their sound is as unique as a unicorn in a subway, pulling from the isolated echoes of shoegaze, the flirtatious melodies of new wave, and the raw catharsis of post-punk. Together, they craft a vibe where the ethereal meets the earthy, creating a musical rendezvous at the crossroads of nostalgia and novelty.
Their lighter touch has previously birthed two demo releases of the tracks Wild Days and Chain Of Fear, which conjured a sound that invokes the atmospheric oeuvre of luminaries such as DIIV, The Chameleons, and Siouxsie And The Banshees.
Their latest EP, Redeemer, is a labyrinth of themes ranging from the bittersweet nostalgia of yesteryears to the complex weave of religious upbringing. It’s a musical odyssey that’s as much about unearthing buried memories as it is about creating new ones. Gaeta’s vocals are the thread that ties the album together, while Linger’s multi-instrumental prowess on guitars, bass, piano, and synth creates a rich backdrop. They’re joined by James Stewart on drums and Tom Zwanzger, who adds his percussive flair and auditory garnishes.
Redeemer showcases Dreamwheel’s ability to refine their sound while maintaining an air of authenticity, resulting in an EP that feels both innovative and true to the duo’s artistic vision, eschewing the overwrought theatrics typical of modern goth rock. Instead, they embrace the genre’s finest elements into a carefully curated exhibit of darkness.
The album opens with the title track, Redeemer, a sonic collage that melds bright, jangly guitars with a fluttery, ethereal quality, typical of college rock’s experimental vibe. It’s a shoegaze chimera, weaving dreamy soundscapes reminiscent of Cocteau Twins, the melodic jangle of The Ocean Blue and The Smiths, and Aztec Camera’s introspective lyricism, creating a nostalgic yet novel auditory experience. Chain of Fear strikes a compelling balance between light and dark, blending a catchy, brooding riff with dreamy buoyancy. Gaeta’s voice infuses the song with a dynamic interplay of shadow and luminescence, creating an atmosphere that is both haunting and uplifting, bringing in some of the dynamism of Lush.
The next track, Promised Land, moves back into the college rock vibe with a grimy post-punk intro, setting the stage for a forlorn yet soaring guitar riff. This shimmers across a valley of gloom, perfectly complemented by Gaeta’s layered, haunting vocals, which add depth and emotion. Concurrently, Bayou Rouge showcases masterful guitar work, evoking both 60s-70s pop and an imaginary dream pop ensemble formed by Billy Duffy and Johnny Marr, complemented by an ethereal touch from Julianne Regan of All About Eve. The EP ends with Wild Days, a song, a song which spirals like a summer daydream, or the memory of warmth in the dead of winter.
“What started as a back-and-forth across many miles during the pandemic lockdowns has evolved into this moment, and we’re excited to share it as we gear up for 2024 and playing our first live shows,” says Gaeta. “Redeemer is about being your own saviour when things get rough. It’s about casting aside the ideological temptations we’re fed, breaking through the chains. We wanted to put a new sound to this tale as old as time. But more importantly, we’re two friends making the music we want to make, and that’s what makes this EP special to us.”
Listen to Redeemer below and pick up the EP here:
Redeemer was tracked by Torben Utecht in Berlin, Germany and Tom Zwanzger at Stress Studios in Graz, Austria, Jaime Gomez Arellano handled the latter also handling mixing duties, and the mastering at Orgone Studios in Porto, Portugal. The EP’s art was handled by Nyle Rosenbaum, featuring model Anahita Saifollahi, photography by Emma Matsuda, and layout/design by Joe Spagnuolo.