With its 2016 self-titled debut, Canadian band Living Hour was immediately slapped with the “Shoegaze” label, which was appropriate enough given the noisier waves of engulfing guitar and ethereal melodies on the album. But with subsequent releases, the group has trended away from the big noise of genre forbearers like My Bloody Valentine or Swervedriver, showing off an alluring side of its artistry that is a more intricate — and even more entrancing and enchanting — brand of dreamy, cinematic Indie Rock. Singer Sam Sarty’s voice is a gorgeous mix of classic leading-edge chanteuses like Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser and The Velvet Underground’s Nico, and her bandmates (guitarists Gil Carroll and Adam Soloway, drummer Alex Chochinov and bassist Brett Ticzon) artfully wrap dynamic textures around her melodies instead of simply erecting a proverbial “wall of sound” atop which she can sing.
Living Hour first came together in a Winnipeg basement in 2015. An appearance on a British compilation that year and a limited cassette release of the group’s debut album led to Portland, Oregon indie label Lefse re-releasing the LP, which helped attract the attention of Dreamgaze fans worldwide fairly quickly. Living Hour has since toured extensively in North America and Europe, and dropped an EP of Françoise Hardy, Avi Buffalo, The Ink Spots and Nico covers in 2017, which, with an elegant smudge of Vaseline on the lens, offers a good view of where the band is coming from.
Living Hour’s anticipated new album, Softer Faces, was just released (on March 1) on Kanine Records — home to recordings by artists like Grizzly Bear, Chairlift and Surfer Blood — so Cincinnati fans will have a chance to see the band while the musicians are still on a release-day high when they pull through MOTR Pub on Monday (March 4) for a free show. (Click here for more show details.)
As the sublime Dream Pop sounds of singles like “Hallboy,” “Bottom Step” and “Water” suggest, Softer Faces would have been one of the best releases of the year on the 4AD label had it come out in 1983. In 2019, although it is still early, the album stands a chance of being one of the best Indie Pop releases of the year overall.
Living Hour isn’t just gazing at its shoes — its eyes are on the entire expansive sky above… and beyond.